Our main scripture is taken from Mark 4:35-41. Please let us take few minutes to go through these verses.
Mark 4:35 and the same day, when the evening has come, he said unto them; Let us cross over unto the other side.
Mark 4:36 and when they had sent away the multitude, they took him along in the boat as he was. And there were also with him other little ships.
Mark 4:37 and there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
Mark 4:38 and he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awoke him, and say unto him, Master, do you not care that we are perishing?
Mark 4:39 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.
Mark 4:40 and he said unto them, why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?
Mark 4:41 and they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
From the account of Mark we see how the disciples and Jesus were caught up in the middle of a windstorm at sea. The Ship or boat can be equated to a ministry, a church, a career, a family, a business, etc. The Ship cannot harbour for ever. We are sometimes comfortable where we are, for we have moored the ship. The question one must ask himself is: does God intend me to remain here all my life?
Our tendency is to stay in our comfort zone; we do not want to take risks, to go on a higher level. It is the fear of the unknown! Some of us have wintered in a particular harbour, and God miraculously provided for us during that season. Jesus is always calling us for a deeper walk with him; He does not want us to stay at the shore eternally. We can hear Him saying “launch out into the deep” in Luke 5:4-6, as long as we stay at the shore where we are comfortable; He cannot give our ship that miraculous, net breaking, catch of fish. And here in our main text Jesus is calling us, not just to launch into the deep but to cross over to the other side; to cross over to a new territory, business, a new land, a new city. We might have never set our foot there before; it is quite understandable to be reluctant at first, for fear of the unknown. The way we respond to that call is entirely our responsibility.
2. Board the boat where Jesus is.
As we can see in Mark 4:36 there were other boats in that place. One always has the choice to board ship other than Jesus’. Since one knows that the command of crossing to the other side has been issued: the boat of Jesus is about to set course. Just like in the wilderness with our fathers, they were told that when the cloud is lifted up or taken away from the tabernacle of meeting it was time to move (Exodus 40:36). They could decide to go where the cloud was going or in a totally different direction from the cloud. The cloud in the day and the pillar of fire at night were representing the glory of God; Christ is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of God (Hebrews 1:3). Hence by following the cloud or the pillar of fire our fathers were following Jesus.
Let us not be like Jonah, who being divinely instructed by God to go to Nineveh entered another boat for Tar shish (Jonah 1:1-3). We sometimes, like Jonah, use our money to buy the boat fare to go to a destination where God did not send us. We wittingly disobey God’s instructions and think our own plans will work out.
3. You could have avoided the Ship wreck.
Just like Israel in the wilderness, the glory of the Lord was their rear guard (Isaiah 58:8) to provide protection for them. In that wilderness there were lots of fiery serpents and scorpions (Deuteronomy 8:15); but as long as the glory of the Lord was their rear guard, they were safe and were provided for. But as soon as they went their own ways, the glory of the Lord was no longer their rear guard therefore the fiery serpents came in the camp and bit them (Numbers 21:6). Not that the Lord was the one sending those serpents but because they went their own ways thus the glory was taken away from them, so the serpents crept into the camp. For what was working as a fence against the serpents and scorpions was the glory of God which was around them.
The angels of the Lord being spirits and His ministers a flame of fire (Hebrews 1:7); they encamp all around those who fear God to deliver them (Psalm 34:7). These angels constitute the wall of fire that the Lord has built around His people (Zechariah 2:5). As long as the glory of the Lord hedged Job, Satan could not touch a single hair of his (Job 1:10). By staying in the same boat with Jesus we enjoy all these benefits.
Jonah not only caused the captain of that ship to lose all his cargo (Jonah 1:5) but he ended up being hurled into the sea (Jonah 1:12). The captain of the ship will think twice next time, if there is a next time, before taking on board a disobedient person like Jonah! May we never have someone like Jonah in our boat, in Jesus name! Paul also warned the people who were with him not to set sail, but they ignored him. The result was the loss of the cargo and the shipwreck at Malta (Acts 27).
Figure 1 Jonah hurled into the sea
4. I have boarded Jesus’ ship and we are crossing over to the other side.
Once one has obeyed the bidding of Jesus to cross over to the other side and has made the choice to get into the same boat with Jesus, he has made the best decision. For it is not enough to obey the command of the Lord, “go to the other side”; but boarding the same boat with Jesus is very crucial. Though Jonah in this case was disobedient and boarded a boat in the opposite direction.
It is possible for people to act on God’s bidding but board a boat where Jesus is not. Moses knew the call of God upon his life, that he was the deliverer of Israel. But he did not at first carry out this task in God’s way. He started to kill the Egyptians one by one (Exodus 2:14), in a sense he boarded a boat that God was not on. It resulted in a postponement of the fulfilment of the will of God, for his own life and for the lives of all the Israelites. He spent forty years in the wilderness of Midian and all the nations spent thirty more years in slavery, for the promise of God to Abraham was that his children would serve Egypt for four hundred (400) years (Genesis 15:13); but because Moses tried to do it his own way, the people ended up spending four hundred and thirty years in bondage (Galatians 3:17). May God help you to avoid the mistakes of Moses, in Jesus’ name!
Now that we have committed ourselves to not only cross over to the other side but also to be in the same boat with Jesus; we can rest assured that we will make it to the other side. For the word that has gone out of the mouth of Jesus will not return to Him void, but it shall accomplish what He pleases, and it shall prosper in the things for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11). It has nothing to do with us, but with the One who said it. For Jesus is God, stop asking yourself “what manner of man is this (Mark 4:41)?” This is God in the flesh and God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent (Numbers 23:19). All the promises, God makes to us in Christ, are yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20) or so be it!
5. Expect opposition
In our main text we note that in Mark 4:37 the windstorm arose, and the waves of the sea beat into the boat and it was already filling it. Let us not be deceived brethren, it is because the future is bright on the other side, where Jesus is taking us; that all hell is breaking loose. We know, as children of God, that Satan, since he has been kicked out of heaven, is out there to persecute us (Revelation 12:12). Satan’s job is to steal what is ours, to kill us and everyone or everything we care about, and destroy us (John 10:10). No, brethren! We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices and he will not take advantage of us (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Let the waves of the sea beat vehemently, let the windstorm arise; we will not be affected. We have heard and obeyed our rock of ages (Luke 6:47-48), it shall be well with us. There is no reason for us to fear for there are more that are with us, talking about angelic hosts; than with the enemy, demonic hosts (2 kings 6:16).
6. Realise that Jesus is with you in the boat
In Mark 4:38 the disciples realised that the situation was getting out of control and decided to wake Jesus up. Jesus cares for us and is even asking you to cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). There is no need for us to worry about whether Jesus cares that we are perishing or not.
Let us not wait until it is too late to cry out to the Lord for help. He is our very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). There is no situation that is too difficult or hard for our God (Genesis 18:14). The storms, which can be equated to the attacks of the enemy, that come against us one way shall be scattered seven ways (Deuteronomy 28:7).
7. Jesus exercised His Authority
Back to our main text, Jesus was in the stern asleep because the peace of God ruled in His heart (Colossians 3:15).The peace, which surpasses all human understanding, kept His heart and mind from being affected by the external circumstances, was with Him (Philippians 4:7; Philippians 4:9). As born again Christians this peace is in us; for the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17) furthermore that entire kingdom is now inside or within us when we become born again (Luke 17:21). May you experience the same peace in the midst of your storms, in Jesus’ name! Jesus knew the Lord was before Him, just like God went before the children of Israel into the wilderness to fight on their behalf; God was at His right hand therefore He was not moved by the external circumstances (Psalm 16:8). We will not be moved, in the name of Jesus!
Figure 2 Jesus asleep in the boat
Jesus took control of His situation, He spoke “Peace be still” because the Kingdom of God was in Him and by implication the peace was already in His heart. From the abundance of peace that was in His heart, His mouth spoke that peace into existence (Matthew 12:34). He decreed what He wanted to see, and it was established to Him (Job 22:28). We are supposed to call those things which do not exist as though they did (Romans 4:17). Let us learn from Jesus!
The same way Jesus expected His disciples to exercise their God given authority, is what Jesus is expecting from us today. After Jesus had rebuked the wind and said to the sea; “peace, be still!” And the elements obeyed Him. Jesus expects us to do the same thing. He marvelled at the fact that the disciples could not exercise their authority. Why are we so fearful? How is it that we have no faith (Mark 4:40)? For God has not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power, love and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). So where does the fear come from? It is definitively not from God! It’s Satan trying to hinder our progress by instilling or infusing drops of fear into our heart. But the perfect love of God will cast that fear out of our heart and the torments which come with it (1 John 4:18). We do not have to strive to get that perfect love; it has already been shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
Figure 3 Jesus rebukes the wind
Jesus is basically telling us, “have faith in God (Mark 11:22).” Even if it were a mountain standing before us, we can say to it, be removed and cast into the sea; the mountain will obey us. Whatever things we decree it will be done (Mark 11:23-24). He gave us the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever we bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth is loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19 ). Therefore He expects us to bind the storms which are raging against us and to loose peace in order to still the sea.
As born again believers we are always supposed to be offensive and not reactive. We know the promise of God concerning our enemies, “they shall come against us one way, and flee seven ways (Deuteronomy 28:7)”. But the Lord wants us to even charge our enemies first, for He tells us, “we shall go out against them one way and they shall flee seven ways (Deuteronomy 28:25)”. David understood the promises of His God. He did not cave in like the rest of the army in 1 Samuel 17; he knew he was coming against Goliath in the name of the Lord God of Israel, whom Goliath and the philistines had taunted. David did not wait for Goliath to attack, he charged first by running toward the entire army of the philistines; they were scattered before him.
We come against the storms of our life, not in our own power or authority but by the delegated power and authority of our God in the name of Jesus. And at the mention of that name, every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). The storms of our respective lives will bow at the mention of the name of Jesus!
We do not need to Jump over board, for if we do so God cannot help us and save our lives, Paul told the people who were with him in the boat to stay there. Though they were caught in the eye of the cyclone, but because God was with Paul, the lives of the people who were with Him will also be saved (Acts 27). Noah and all his family stayed in the ark during the flood; when everybody was drowning in the flood of the judgment of God on the ungodly. Noah and his entire family in the ark were lifted above the flood. For God promised that when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19). As long us one stays in the Boat when he has obeyed God, like Noah did; the Lord will lift him and everything that pertains to him, up above the storms and the flood and will give him rest not just for himself but also for his family, like God did for Noah (Genesis 7, Genesis 8).
Figure 4 Arc of Noah above the flood
Even when one has been going his own ways; like in the case of Paul and the people sailing with him in Acts 27. Though God spoke to Paul “He must go to Rome”, they were not supposed to take that boat but winter in Crete. God is still merciful when we cry out to him for help and humble ourselves. We might have lost our cargo and all our business like them, but let us stay in the same boat. The crew humbled themselves by fasting, God heard their cry and granted them their lives, and they made it to the other side. One might have lost everything while going through the storms of life, even if it were a result of one’s disobedience; but because there is in that boat someone who obeyed God like Paul, the life of everybody in that boat will be saved. God is gracious!
Figure 5 the shipwreck of Paul
Finally Brethren, the storms that have come our way while sailing to the other side is not a surprise to God. He declares the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). God was the one who told Paul he will go to Rome, regardless of the storm and even the shipwreck, Paul made it to Rome (Acts 28). The disciples too made it to the other side to the country of the Gadarenes. No matter what comes our way we will make it to the other side, for all the promises of God in Jesus are yes and so be it!
May God be in your boat, while sailing in your God given promised land!