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MARK 4:35-41

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
June 3, 2007

How many of you have seen the latest Pirates’ movie?  There’s a scene where two ships - The Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman are locked in combat.  Literally locked - their rigging is stuck together.  Canons are firing back and forth - sailors are fighting on the decks - pieces of the ships are flying around.  With all that pandemonium - the ships are caught in a maelstrom.  This huge turbulent whirlpool - swirling around - is sucking these two ships down into the bottomless depths of the ocean.

Massive confusion - extreme danger - no way out - getting sucked down into oblivion.

Question:  What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches?  Answer:  A nervous wreck.

There are times when we fear the whirlpool - fear getting sucked in - pulled down..

According to Phobialist.com there are 530 recognized phobias.  Fears that are found in reference books.  See if you can recognize some of these.

Algophobia - the fear of pain.
Cyberphobia - the fear of computers - anyone relate?
Arachibutyrophobia - the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.

Two more…

Phobophobia - the fear of fear
Homilophobia - the fear of sermons.

a lot of things in life that can cause us to be fearful.  Airplanes being flown into buildings - children being kidnapped - an uncertain future - the moral degradation of our society - struggles in our homes - trying to make ends meet - employment or lack of it - illness - and we could go on.  As we go through the experiences of our lives fear touches us deep in our hearts.  We see the maelstrom.  Can feel the deck giving way.  It is easy for us to become fearful - to feel like we’re getting sucked down into oblivion.

our focus this morning.  What do we do when the bottom drops out?  Who do we turn to?  How do we handle fear?

Please turn to with me to Mark 4 - starting at verse 35.  Jesus is by the Sea of Galilee teaching in parables. 
A large crowd had gathered there - so large that there was no room on the shore for Jesus.  He was being pushed into the sea.  So Jesus got into a boat and used it like a floating pulpit - teaching from the boat to the people on the shore.

Mark 4:35: 
On that day, when evening came, He - Jesus - said to them - His disciples - “Let us go over to the other side.”

After a long day of this ministry - when evening came - Jesus - exhausted - said to His disciples,
“Let’s get away from the crowd and go unwind.  Lets go over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. 

Verse 36: 
Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.  And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.  Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Let’s pause here
.  The scene is familiar.  But let’s make sure we’re up to speed on what’s going on.

Out here this morning - out here by the lake - its not hard to imagine wind. 
The mountains that surround the Sea of Galilee create winds that gather and suddenly rush down on the sea.  When the Jesus and the disciples set out for the other shore it was probably a calm restful evening.  After a long day of ministry they could look forward to a relaxing - restful trip - a little cruise across the lake.  Within minutes the sea was churning - the wind is roaring - the boat is taking on water.

though these guys are experienced sailors - the disciples knew this storm was really - really bad.  Worse - its now dark out on the lake and they can’t see anything.  The disciples are panicked - expecting to die - fearful.  They’re rushing around trying to save the boat - bailing water - making things fast - throwing excess weight overboard.

In the stern of the boat -
in the back of the boat on the cushion reserved for important passengers - Jesus is sleeping through it all.  Panicked - fearful - the disciples wake Jesus - probably screaming at Him over the howling wind - “Don’t you care that we’re all going to die?”

Can you tie into what these guys were feeling? 
We all have times when we feel like this - overwhelmed by pressures and demands and stresses.  There are anxious and threatening circumstances - times when life is treacherous.  Its easy to become fearful - to panic - to rush around trying to find our way out - to feel alone and sorry for ourselves - to scream about how unfair things are. 

There are times when we wonder if Jesus has fallen asleep - like God has forgotten about us
.  Dial a prayer has been disconnected.  We pray and pray and nothing seems to happen.  We often feel like everything is about to be lost - when its not.

The disciples came to Jesus - asleep in the boat - screaming at Him,
“Don’t you care that we’re all going to die?”

Verse 39: 
And He - Jesus - got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.”  And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.

Jesus is never
fearful of the storm.  As Mark writes about this event - the storm almost seems inconsequential - irrelevant - not important.  Jesus calmly gets up - tells the wind and sea to knock it off - the wind goes away and the sea becomes perfectly still.

Its a God thing.

Weatherman will say,
“There’s a 50% chance of rain tomorrow.”  Which means they have no clue.  50% it may rain.  50% it may not.  Scientists can predict the path of a storm but they can’t take control of it.

On Christmas Day 1968, the three astronauts of Apollo 8 circled the dark side of the moon and headed for home.  Suddenly, over the horizon of the moon rose the blue and white Earth garlanded by the glistening light of the sun against the black void of space.  Those sophisticated men - trained in science and technology - they didn’t utter Einstein’s name - not some poetry or a song or the words to some great play.  Only one thing could capture the awe-inspiring thrill of this magnificent observation.

The people of earth heard the voice from space as the astronaut read,
“In the beginning God.”  The only concept worthy enough to describe that unspeakable awe - unutterable in any other way.  “In the beginning God created” - the invasive inescapable sense of the infinite and the eternal.

“Wind.  Knock it off.  Sea.  Be still.” 
And they do.  That’s a God thing.

Then - verse 40 - Jesus turns to His disciples and asks them two questions:  
And He said to them - first question - Why are you afraid? and second - How is it that you have no faith?

By every reasonable working of the grey matter, w
hy shouldn’t they have been afraid?  But, Jesus - whos not afraid - is using the storm to teach the disciples - and us - about fear and faith. 

Here’s His point - hear this: 
Faith is the answer to fear.  Say that with me, “Faith is the answer to fear.”

Faith is always the answer to our fears - regardless of what they are.  We become afraid because we lose faith. 

Ray Stedman - former pastor of Peninsula Bible Church -
over in Palo Alto - in a sermon on this passage in Mark - shared this:

“A year or so ago, a good friend of mine, an evangelist from another country, told me about all the troubles he and his wife were going through.  He was very dejected.  She was struggling with severe physical problems
- ill health arising from asthma and bronchitis which constantly kept her down.  They had gone through years of struggle with this condition of hers already, and it seemed to pull the bottom out of everything he attempted to do.  Here they were planning to go back to their own country, and now she was sick again.  He came to me so discouraged.

I remember turning to this incident in Mark and reciting this story, and saying to him, “Remember, the boat will not sink, and the storm will not last forever.  That is having faith - to remember those facts.”  He thanked me, we prayed together, and he left.  I did not see him for a couple of months; then we ran into each other.  I said, “How are things going?  How is your wife?”  He said, “Oh, not much better.  She's still having terrible struggles.  She can't breathe, and can't take care of the children or the house, and we have a hard time.  But I do remember two things: the boat will not sink, and the storm will not last forever!”  So I prayed with him again.

Just a couple weeks ago I received a note from him.  They had gone back to their country, and there they had found the answer.  A doctor discovered a minor deficiency in her diet which needed to be remedied.  When that was done, the asthma and bronchitis disappeared, and she was in glorious, radiant health, and they were rejoicing together.  At the bottom of the page he had written, “The boat will not sink, and the storm will not last forever.”

Today I received a note that read, “This past week this young man sent word that his wife is in the hospital, and the doctors suspect leukemia.  Her asthma is under control.  Pray that he will remember what you told him about the boat and the storm.”  So a new storm has broken out in their lives.  But remember, the boat will not sink, and the storm will not last forever.

Sometimes we think that when we come to Jesus
and we’re living for Him we’ll never encounter another storm.  Which, of course, is not true.  We live in a fallen world with lots of storms.  Our circumstances are constantly changing - the issues we face are different from year to year.   In every circumstance we have a choice - to respond in fear - or to respond in faith.

A while before this storm on the Sea of Galilee Jesus had been teaching His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount
.  Jesus had told them, “You are more valuable to God than birds and flowers.  God cares for them.  How much more He will care for you.” (Matthew 6:25-34) 

That’s easy to hear - sitting on the gentle slope of a hill on a warm afternoon.
  Or, here on the shore of lake - a beautiful comfortable setting.  Now they’re in a storm.  Do they really have faith in Him?

Jesus - God - the master of the wind and the sea is in the boat with them.  He cares for them.  He will take care of them.  He will take care of us.  Even when we think things are completely out of hand - we’re never out of His hands.  The boat will not sink
.  The storm will not last forever.  Say that with me.  “The boat will not sink.  The storm will not last forever.”

Faith is the answer to fear.  Do we really believe that He has it all under control?

Verse 41 - after Jesus rebukes the wind and the sea -
They - the disciples - became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

In verse 40 the
Greek word for “fear” is “deilos.”  It has the idea of “cowardice.”  Like the Cowardly Lion of Oz - afraid of even his shadow - trembling - panicked fear.  That’s where the disciples were during the storm.

Here - in verse 41 -
there’s a different Greek word for “fear.”  The word “phobos” - which is where we get what?  “Phobia”  Fear that goes to the very core of who we are.  They’ve gained a new appreciation - a powerful deep respect for Jesus.  Realization is setting in.  Jesus - Messiah -  commands even the wind and the sea.  How would we feel?  The Almighty is in the boat with us.

That’s how God works in our lives
isn’t it?  Testing our faith - pushing us forward out of our comfort zone - and proving Himself to us - time and time again.  Helping us to grow in our trust - our faith in Him - teaching us to be more impressed with Jesus than the storms - to be more impressed with Him than our fearful understanding of our circumstances.

In thinking about how all this relates to us this morning there are two thoughts of application that I’d like to share with you.  First -
FOCUS ON JESUS.  Say that with me.  “Focus on Jesus.” 

How many of you saw the 1997 movie “Titanic”?  Aside from watching 2 hours of adultery and fornication - the movie -
 as you know - takes place during the sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic.  The senseless death of many of the world’s most wealthy and powerful people - over 1500 people dying in horrific circumstances.  A tragic event which has intrigued and captured the hearts and imaginations of generations.

One thing that has always moved me about that disaster occurred during the last minutes before the ship finally went under.  The band - playing on the deck - knowing that they would soon die in the icy waters - began to play the hymn,
“Nearer My God To Thee.”   Can you picture that scene?

I wonder what people felt - out on the water clinging to life - some in life boats - some facing death in the water.  What did they feel on the deck of the
ship - in fearful circumstances - hearing that hymn?  How do we feel - even in circumstances when we face the extreme of death.

Listen to these words,
“Nearer my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee, Even though it be a cross that raiseth me; still all my song would be, nearer, my God to Thee.  Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.”

In all our circumstances - our desire must be to draw nearer - to
put our faith in the One who is able to save us in the storm.  Prayer - Bible study - fellowship and the support of brothers and sisters in Christ - worship - our devotional life - the basics.  It almost sounds trite to say it.  But, we need to do those things that focus our hearts - our faith - on Jesus and to turn from focusing on anything - or anyone - else.

Second thought of application: 
THINK OF OTHERS.  Say that with me, “Think of others.”

There’s probably no
image is more unsettling than what happened after the Titanic sank - the accounts of those who had jumped or fell into the ocean.  Of the twenty lifeboats that had been launched - some of them half-empty - only one returned to rescue those dying in the frigid waters.  Three days after the sinking - when the funeral ships arrived from Nova Scotia - they found 328 life jacketed men, women, and children, floating in the water, frozen to death.

They died, not because the Titanic sank, but because the people who were already saved wouldn’t go back for the people who were not.  Tragically, too many Christians remain content in our own place of safety - of privilege - in Jesus while the world around us is dying in sin. (

Verse 36 says: 
Leaving the crowd, they took Him - Jesus - along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.  

Those six little words are not there by accident.  Only Mark - of the three that record this event - Matthew, Mark, Luke - only Mark includes these six words,
“and other boats were with Him.”

Jesus and His disciples were not alone out on that sea
.  There were others also in other boats.  Mark never tells us why all those boats are out there - what was in the mind of the people in those boats.  Only that they’re with Jesus.

Maybe they saw the great works of Jesus - saw the miracles - and were following along.  Maybe they had illnesses or diseases that they wanted to conquer, and, in seeing Jesus heal, wanted to taste of that healing.  Maybe they were synagogue goers who were doing what they thought was expected of them.  Maybe they were just curious or followers of the crowd.  We don’t know.

We’re not alone out here on the sea.  We’re in a vessel carrying Jesus through a community.  Whether the sea is as still as glass or a maelstrom trying to suck us to the bottom - there’s this flotilla of boats that goes with us.  It the wind is howling in our ears its howling in theirs.  If the water is pouring into our boat its pouring into theirs.

People are watching.  Watching our response to the storm.  Watching us panic.  Watching us bail.  Watching us dump cargo.  Watching to see what we’ll do to survive the storm.  Watching to see if we really trust the guy in the back sleeping on the cushion.

0,000 people live in Merced.  On a given Sunday maybe 10,000 are in church?  70,000 plus people in boats without Jesus.  Struggling - like us - with heavy burdens - fears and pressures - being blown around and tossed about.  They boat is sinking.  They need to know Jesus.  They need us to tell them.  Going back for those who need to believe in the resurrected Savior.

You and God know where you are this morning.  Which boat you’re in and what its like there. 
Faith in Jesus is always the answer to fear.

Say this with me,
“The boat will sink.  The storm will not last forever.”


1. Ray Stedman, Why Are You Afraid? Mark 4:35-5:20, 01.05.75
2. Ron Hutchcraft,
Called to Greatness

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.