And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?Mark 4:35-41
Most of the disciples that were with Jesus on this ship were veteran fishermen. Not only that, they were all regular fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. They knew the waters and temperment of this sea well. If they were afraid, this had to have been a huge storm!
When they go to Jesus, they are not asking Jesus to calm the storm. Verse 41 shows us that they did not know He could do that. No, they went to Jesus in amazement that He did not fear for His life like they did. After all, the ship was full of water! Let’s all be honest with ourselves. If we were in the same situation we would have at least some fear.
But Jesus was not afraid. He simply awakes from His peaceful sleep, rebukes the wind, and calms the sea. Instantly there was peace and safety.
You would think that this would calm the fear of the disciples. However, the gospel record shows that they became exceedingly fearful at point. In the face of mercy, the disciples had great fear.
This is similar to the account found in the book of the Prophet Jonah. Those veteran sailors were more afraid than they had ever been in their lives. They threw the cargo and the gear for the ship overboard. They all prayed to their various gods. Then, they came to Jonah who was asleep in the lower decks of the ship. When they realized what God Jonah worshipped, they question him as to why he wasn’t praying! They even begin praying to the LORD! Jonah tells them to throw him overboard and the sea will calm. Eventually, they do so. The sea calmed, but notice their reaction:
Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.Jonah 1:16
God’s act of mercy toward them brought exceeding fear and a desire to worship God!
There are true dangers in this world, but God has power over all things. When Jesus caused the storm to cease, the disciples saw that He had more power than the thing that had caused them the most fear. They marveled at the power of God in Jesus Christ.
Not all men react this way. The wicked king Pharaoh in the book of Exodus actually hardened against the Lord and His people when God showed mercy stopping each plague. The wicked see the mercy of God as weakness. But those that truly understand the power of God IN His mercy, do not see it as weakness. They see God’s mercy as an expression of His omnipotence! In the presence of almighty power, they are exceedingly fearful and desire to worship this awesome God.
Whether we are going through trials that cause a little trepidation or we are in the midst of a great storm that causes us to be exceedingly fearful, we need to look to the One Who holds all power. In Jesus we will find peace in the middle of the storm. We need to remember that Jesus stills the storms so we can still our souls.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.Katarina von Schlegel (from a hymn in 1752)