Lent Reflections @ CEC (3/6/20)
Updated: Mar 7, 2020
"Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in Him a source of sustenance beyond food." -- Dallas Willard
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Mark 4:35-41
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!
Jesus Calms the Storm
It’s evening at the end of a very long day. Jesus has been teaching many people gathered in the natural amphitheater of the hilly coastline. Everyone is tired, and Jesus wants to cross the lake to get some distance from the crowds. The disciples, some of them seasoned fishermen, put the boat out from shore and start across the lake. A furious squall comes up and waves tumble over the sides of the boat, nearly swamping it. Even the fishermen among them grow alarmed. This must be a pretty severe storm. Their safety must really be in jeopardy. Death must be imminent. At first, the fishermen do everything they are trained to do to sail through it. They do it in their own power. Then, they reach a point that they can’t do it. They are out of options. They are about to capsize. And if they capsize, they will be tossed out into the water and they will drown. Fear grips the disciples. They’ve reached the end of their abilities. And now, it’s time to wake up Jesus. How is he sleeping through this anyway?
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus gets up, rebukes the wind and says to the waves, “Quiet! Be still.” The wind dies down and the lake turns completely calm.
What do the disciples do? They obey. They did what Jesus asked them to do. He asked them to take him across the lake. Yet, they sailed right into a storm. Sometimes obedience leads us right into a storm. And it seems like Jesus sleeps right through it. How can he teach anything while he is sleeping?
Jesus knows that a true servant will do his master’s work even if the master isn’t watching. A faithful servant will do the master’s work, even if the master isn’t there. Now, it’s important to remember, that Jesus didn’t tell the disciples, “Okay, everybody! Get in your boats. I’m going to test you tonight to see what you have learned!” Nor did they respond, “Oh, a test? I’m ready for this! I’ve been listening to Jesus intently all day! I’ve got this! I’m going to ace it!” I’ve got the boat skills and now I’ve got the spiritual head knowledge.”
Don’t’ you care? (The disciples)
In their fear and in their confusion, in the dark, wind whipping their face, ankle deep or worse in water already, they go to Jesus. And what do they say? “Teacher, don’t you care that we are going to drown?” They are so scared that they don’t even ask him to do anything. And they’re angry and bewildered, asking themselves why he is unaware of their dire circumstances.
Notice that they call Jesus, “teacher.” These are the same disciples that have already seen Jesus heal many people of all kinds of diseases. They have already seen demons fall down before him and cry out, “You are the Son of God.” (Mark 3) But now, in the dark, in the midst of a storm, when drowning seems to be their fate, the disciples shout out, “Teacher, don’t you care?”
Why are you so afraid? (Jesus)
Jesus knows this isn’t a time for a long discourse. So, he takes immediate action, and by his words, he stills the wind and calms the seas. Then, the teaching moment comes. He switches from omnipotent God back to the role of teacher. He addresses them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
How do the disciples respond to their sudden change in circumstances? With whoops of joy? With a resounding chorus of, “We are Saved!! Three cheers for Jesus of Nazareth!”? Not at all.
Who is this? (The disciples)
They are terrified. And they ask each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” His disciples had to figure out for themselves who he really was. If they were going to bring the world to him, they HAD to be convinced. It would not be enough to heal the sick, cast out demons – His chosen friends needed a personal experience with the Son of God.
Watching the waves turn to still waters, reflecting the sky like glass, and the wind suddenly cease, they asked themselves, “Who is this?” That reached them. That entered their hearts and minds. Just like the enormous catch of fish. Like so many things.
Jesus sent them out, knowing there would be trouble out on the lake. But he went with them. He did not abandon them. He would come to their aid after they had tried to do everything in their own strength and wisdom. This is an evening object lesson in faith, given by the Great Teacher, Jesus Christ, God Almighty. Jesus asked the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
He asks us, too.
PRAYER FOR FEAR
Lord, I know that your will is sovereign; you are the Eternal King. You make all things conform to your desire and your will. I know that following you will give rise to sudden dangerous storms. It will be dark, and I won’t be able to get myself out no matter how hard I try. But you are mighty. I have faith in you. I put my trust in you. I will ask for your help, and I will cry out to you. And you will answer me. You will be good to me. You are a gracious God, giving good things to your children. You are compassionate and slow to anger. You have taken our rebellious deeds and nailed them to the cross. Jesus, you have wiped our sins clean. You set us up in your kingdom with mansions. You bring us into your house, not as servants, but as sons, as heirs, with an eternal inheritance. May we always honor you for the many wonderful things you have done. May our faith never be shaken by our circumstances. May we put all our hope and trust in You. Receive our passionate hearts as an offering, because we love you with all that we have. May the morning come, after the storm. May your light shine in the darkness. May the world bathe in your glory!