A Bible Bite is a little tidbit that I run across that irks me and controls my thoughts until the Holy Spirit helps me to break through the miasmas to teach me some lesson.
During Paula and my bible study, we were talking about standing stronger by walking in faith (Day 27 of the 28-day study). I grew increasingly distressed during the scriptures of Mark 4: 35-41. Jesus had been teaching using several parables (vv. 1-34) at the side of the Sea of Galilee. As night fell, He told the disciples they were going to go over to the other side of the sea and they all hopped in a boat.
As they sailed, Jesus slept in the aft of the boat and a wind brewed up that whipped up the waves so forcefully that they were crashing over the sides of the boat and threatening to capsize. Yet, Jesus slept.
The disciples woke Him up concerned that He was going to let them drown and He got up and rebuked the wind and the sea with, “Silence, be still!” He turned then to the disciples and asked, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?”
What amazed me most was the next verse, Mark 4:41:
“And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Terrified? Why were they terrified? I didn’t get it. The disciples had been with Jesus for a while at this point and had seen miracle after miracle. What terrified them now?
And they asked each other, “Who is this then?” How could it be that they forgot who Jesus was?
Part of the keys are in Jesus questions. First He asks, “Why are you afraid?” I love being on this side of the situation. We’re reading about an incident in the Bible and have the benefit of being able to take a global view. Do you (like me) often find yourself shaking your head at what some Biblical one is doing or saying at any given time? I do that until I realize that in some way I’m just like them … ahem … and then keep reading to learn from these Saints who have gone before.
“Why are you fearful” (my HCSB states)? Why are they fearful? Jesus said when they got into the boat that they were going to the other side. Surely He knew the boat would be caught in a storm, but He wasn’t worried because He fell asleep. (Another aside: I like to see Jesus’ humanness here – He slept because He’d been teaching all day and was tired. The Son of God gets tired. I love that little bit of insight.)
But back to the question at hand. In Warren W. Weirsbe’s Exposition Commentary, he notes, “… for the greatest danger was not the wind or the waves; it was the unbelief in the hearts of the disciples.” Further, “It was their unbelief that caused their fear, and their fear made them question whether Jesus really cared. “We must aware of an evil heart of unbelief.” (Heb 3:12).1
“Do you still have no faith,” Jesus asks? Jesus asks these questions as a way to test the disciples. Just how far have they come? How much do they or don’t they believe?
How often do we continue to wonder if God is really all that He says He is? How often are we shown His grace, His mercy, His faithfulness, His very deity, and still we forget the works He has done? Can we be that stiff-necked? That hard-hearted? Nincompoops to the core? Yep. And still He loves us! Still He’s patient with us and He who started a good work in us will carry it on to completion. (Phil 1:6)
It was true that the disciples had seen Jesus’ many miracles. They’d seen him cast out demons, heal people, and forgive sins but now – Weirsbe ends the section this way, “Now they discovered that He even had authority over the wind and the sea. This meant that they had no reason ever again to be afraid, for their Lord was in constant control of every situation.”2
Is Jesus your Lord? Then we must understand completely – we have no reason to ever be afraid. Ever.
That, my friends, is freedom.
1 Warren W. Weirsbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament Volume 1, 2nd ed, (Colorado, David C. Cook), 125.
2 Weirsbe, 125.