Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Mark 4:35-41

In 1986 two brothers, both fishermen/amateur archeologists, found remains of a buried boat on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. A drought had receded the shoreline and exposed the long-hidden remains. The boat was determined to be of the New Testament era—the same kind of boat that would have been used by Jesus’ fishermen-disciples. Once uncovered, it was examined and determined to be 27 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, and 4.3 feet high. It was of shallow draft and flat bottom that it might be able to get close to shore while fishing. Great for fishing—not so great for surviving a great storm at sea.

Jesus was in such a boat with His disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee. “A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling” (Mark 4:37). Those disciples were experienced sea-men. They knew how that sea was prone to such sudden changes. And they knew what to do on such occasions. But this storm was too great. And their boat was about to sink. They feared for their lives.

It was at this point that they cried out to Jesus: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? (Mark 4:38). They were anxious. He was sleeping. “How can He sleep in the midst of this gale?” they thought. Doesn’t He care that we are about to capsize and sink to the depths?

“Do you not care?” They may not verbalize it, but Christ’s followers are oftentimes prone to think it. “Sin and despair like the sea-waves cold threaten the soul with infinite loss.” Too often our response is to curse the storm and try by any means to escape. The disciples were fortunate to have Jesus in their boat. The believer in Christ has Him too. He merely spoke a word to the wind and the sea and there was “a great calm” (Mark 4:39). Their fear of the storm was exchanged for “a great fear” that caused them to ask amongst themselves: “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:41).

Does He care? He has proven that He does (Romans 8:32; 1 John 3:16). Does He care? He pleads for us to bring our cares to Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Does He care? Yes indeed. He may not suspend the adverse winds and waves, but He can impart to our hearts and minds a peace “which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

John Newton was a wicked and blasphemous unbeliever. His life was characterized by sinful rebellion and tortured and ruined relationships. As a slave ship captain he was responsible for the suffering, torture, and deaths of hundreds of slaves. On March 10th, 1748 he was on board a much bigger boat (ship) in the middle of the sea. That ship too was confronted by a terrible storm. When the ship went plunging down into a trough of the sea there were few on board who expected her to come up again. The hold was filling up rapidly with water. As Newton hurried to his place at the pumps he said to the captain, “If this will not do, the Lord have mercy upon us!” His own words startled him. “Mercy!” he said to himself in astonishment. “Mercy! Mercy! What mercy can there be for me? This was the first desire I had breathed for many years!” About six in the evening the hold was free of water, and then came a gleam of hope. “I thought I saw the hand of God displayed in our favor. I began to pray. I could not utter the prayer of faith. I could not draw near to a reconciled God and call Him Father. My prayer for mercy was like the cry of the ravens, which yet the Lord does not disdain to hear.” Later Newton would say, “That 10th of March is a day much to be remembered by me; and I have never allowed it to pass unnoticed since the year 1748. For on that day the Lord came from on high and delivered me out of the deep waters.” It would be many years hence until Newton would sincerely begin a walk with the Savior, and years after that when he would pen his famous hymn, Amazing Grace. But seeds of faith were planted on that day when he first realized—in a boat--that indeed God does care. At the end of his life he would utter those wonderful words: “Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” In other words: “He cares—even for such a one as I!”

Those storms were no accidents. Storms happen. They touch on every part of the planet. And the troubles and trials of life touch every soul. God has a purpose in them—to illicit faith in Him. The disciples had no need to fear—having Jesus, “the master of the seas,” in their boat. But they remained anxious ‘til they asked Jesus for help. The believer in Christ is indwelt with the “great Savior.” God’s purpose in our troubles is that we might turn to Him for help. If you have Jesus in your life you have no need to fear. He knows about your troubles. He can bring peace to your heart if you but trust Him. He is trustworthy. And He cares!

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more;
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, Now safe am I.

Pastor Jerry

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