There is a certain peace that comes from a close walk with our Lord. The Apostle Paul describes it in Philippians 4:7 as, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding… (NKJV).” The NIV uses the word “transcends” instead of “surpasses.” Either way, that peace is nearly inexplicable, and certainly indescribable.
Yet, there are times when Christians will face storms in life. Even those who surrender fully to God and follow in the footsteps of Jesus and pray continuously will face storms. Every Christian will at times face persecution, illness, death of loved ones, financial worries, temptation, and trials. How do I know this? Because Christ faced temptation, trials, and persecution. He lost loved ones to death (Lazarus). He faced death, and death He conquered.
In Mark 4, after a long day of teaching, Jesus falls asleep in a nearby boat, probably one belonging to his disciples. The disciples, also exhausted, decide to launch the boats and escape the massive crowds. They retreat towards the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
Somewhere on their journey, the weather takes a turn, and the waves nearly sink the boats. Jesus sleeps through it… or, more accurately, He sleeps until the disciples shake Him awake.
“Master, does it mean nothing to you that we are drowning?”
To say that the disciples were scared that day is an understatement. These are men who grew up in a fishing culture, who cross the Sea as easily as we cross the street. At least four are professional fishermen who, undoubtedly, have faced many storms on the Sea of Galilee. This storm, however, frightens them, chills them. The winds are as great as one can imagine, and the waves burst onto the deck. They are certain they are going to die.
Why was it necessary that the disciples face this storm? I mean, to look at them, they had done everything right. They had given up everything to follow Jesus. They had left their jobs, their families, and their possessions behind to study at the feet of the Master. Yet, if one believes that Jesus is fully God, and that God can bring even storms into submission (and I do believe that), then why would He find it necessary that the disciples, whose sole desire is to follow in His footsteps, face a life-threatening storm? And, why would Jesus sleep through it.
Jesus knew the trials that the disciples would someday face. He knew that the Big Fisherman, Peter, and his brother Andrew were to be vilified by the Roman government. Jesus knew that Peter would be crucified upside down and Andrew staked to an X-shaped cross, because they felt unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus died.
Jesus knew there, in that boat, that Philip, too, would be crucified, as would Simon the Zealot and Thaddeus. Jesus knew that James would be beheaded. Thomas would be ran through with a spear. Matthew would be stabbed in the back with a sword. James the Lesser, would be stoned at the age of 94. John, Jesus knew, would die a natural death after spending years in prison.
That day in the boat, Jesus knew that the disciples lacked the necessary faith to face such persecution and death. He also knew that without such persecution, the Church would not grow. Persecution scattered the Church from Jerusalem to India, to Africa, and to Europe. Everywhere the disciples went, they made more disciples.
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 4:39-41 KJV
All said and done, the fear that the disciples had felt for the storm is instead given to the man who calms the storm. They begin to see that their Master is no ordinary teacher. He is the Son of God.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:18b-20 NIV