The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said: Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!(P) The word of the Lord.
They who sailed the sea in ships, trading on the deep waters, these saw the works of the Lord and His wonders in the abyss. (R)
His command raised up a storm wind which tossed its waves on high. They mounted up to heaven; they sank to the depths; their hearts melted away in their plight. (R)
They cried to the Lord in their distress; from their straits He rescued them, He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze, and the billows of the sea were stilled. (R)
They rejoiced that they were calmed, and He brought them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His kindness and His wondrous deeds to the children of men. (R)
Brothers and sisters: The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.(P) The word of the Lord.
On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples; "Let us cross to the other side." Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And the other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not have faith?" They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
An experienced ship captain asked a young cadet: "What will you do if you encounter a situation where you are on the open waters and a sudden storm occurs?" "I'll drop an anchor Captain", the cadet replied. "What will you do if another storm sprang up afterwards?" "I'll drop another anchor", the cadet answered. "And what if another terrific storm hit afterwards?", the captain asked. "I'll drop another anchor", the cadet said. The captain continued, "What if there is another storm?" The cadet said once again, "I'll drop another anchor." "Now hold on, young man, said the captain, "Where are you getting all your anchors from?" "From the same place you're getting your storms, Captain", the cadet answered coolly.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of an anchor in the nautical sense. An anchor is one of the most important safety equipment on any ship. It holds a ship firmly in place and prevents it from drifting away due to the wind or the currents. The term "anchor" is found four times in the New Testament of the Bible. Three times it is used in its literal sense in Acts (27: 29, 30 and 40), when the ship carrying Saint Paul to Rome got stuck in violent storms and was badly damaged. These verses talk about the "anchor" of the ship. The fourth time the word being employed figuratively or metaphorically is in the Letter to the Hebrews. Used figuratively, it refers to stability or security: it is that on which we place our trust and dependence for safety.
Here, the writer directly and specifically describes that our hope in God is "like a steadfast anchor of the soul, secure and firm", Hebrews (6:19). There are also other verses in the Bible that speak of God as our anchor, our hope and place of safety; this highlights that God is the main anchor that would help us claim victory during the turbulence and storms of life, Psalm (61:3; 71:5; 27:1-6; 119:114; 144:2); Isaiah (54:15-17), Jeremiah (17:7, 17).
Let us now look at today's gospel story of Jesus calming the storm. After a day of teaching the crowd and His disciples about the Kingdom of God in parables by the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat to sail across to the other side. The Sea of Galilee is also known as the Sea of Tiberias. In fact, it is not really a sea. It is actually the largest freshwater lake in Israel; hence, it is also called the Lake of Gennesaret. It is about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. It lies 700 feet below the sea level. And due to its low-lying position in the Jordan valley and surrounding hills, it is subject to sudden violent storms, which can come up suddenly and be life- threatening for anyone on its waters which, ordinarily, are so calm.
Such was the storm that the disciples faced when they set off with Jesus across the sea in a wooden fishing boat. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a violent storm came upon the sea and the small boat was being tossed about and was filling up rapidly with water. Many of the disciples who were in the boat with Jesus were fishermen. It is easy to understand someone who was not used to boats, winds and waves to be frightened by any storm, but this storm was so strong that even the professional fishermen were afraid because they knew the danger. Their skill and their lengthy experience of those waters failed to give them courage.
Fearing for their lives, they cried out to Jesus, the carpenter, to save them. But Jesus was a complete contrast to these men. He was sleeping undisturbed on a cushion in the stern of the boat. Of course, any of us could understand that, after such a long day of teaching, Jesus was very tired and so, not long after they sailed, He fell asleep. This testifies to the true humanity of Jesus Christ. He had a physical body like ours that was also subject to fatigue and hunger. He needed rest and time away from the crowds.
In their fear, despair and panic, the disciples turned to accusation. They woke Jesus up and said, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?", Mark (4:38b). It sounds like the disciples were a little bit upset with Jesus for sleeping and not caring about their plight. But Jesus heard their cries. Awakened from His sleep, Jesus arose and rebuked the winds and the waves saying, "Quiet! Be still!". Instantly the winds ceased and the sea became calm. "Quiet! Be still!" were the same exact words that Jesus had used to silence the unclean spirit and to also heal, earlier on, a man possessed by a demon, as narrated in Mark (1), so as to prove Himself the Lord of everything and to demonstrate His power over anything that is destructive, such as sicknesses, evil spirits, natural elements, and even death.
After calming the waves, Jesus turned to His disciples and asked why they were so afraid and had no faith. Because with the sea now at peace, the disciples were amazed and became more fearful of what Jesus did than the storm. They were saying to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?", Mark (4:41b). Though they had seen Jesus heal the sick and cast out demons and perform many other miracles before, it was still hard for them to grasp the power of Jesus. It is because their knowledge about Jesus Christ, the Messiah, God in human flesh, and their faith in Him, though real, was not yet complete. Of course, the winds and waves obeyed Him, just as they did in the days of creation. His authority over nature is absolute, for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on the earth.
What is the message for us?
The story of Jesus calming the storm is something which we all can marvel at. It is something which occurred once and cannot occur again; you may never go through a literal storm at sea. In that sense, it can be quite external to us. However, we live in a world where there are many other storms, both literal and figurative. All literal storms - winter storms, summer rain storms, tropical storms such as typhoons, hurricanes, cyclones, tornados, ice storms, etc. - all can be nasty, damaging and destructive.
Some people might be facing many literal storms and suffering loss of lives and livelihoods time after time. Sailors and fishermen might be facing dangers often from rough seas, high winds and monstrous waves. At such times, it might be dark all around us and, just like those first disciples, we may give in to fear, terror and hopelessness. But this great miracle reminds us that, even in the midst of real dangers at sea and stormy weather, we can courageously call on our Lord Jesus, the Creator and the Master of the universe, to protect us from all destructive natural forces which surround us.
While some of us may never experience a literal storm at sea or any other natural catastrophes, all of us can encounter figurative storms. If not right now, certainly we'll all face such storms. Unfortunately, in some people's lives, no sooner would one storm clear out than another one would take its place. However, it is comforting to know that Jesus Christ, who exhibited His power over nature, also has the power to bring about peace, calm and safety in any stormy situation. Now, this is universally true. He has brought "peace that surpasses all understanding" not just to one person, at one time and in one place in history, but to many people, at various times and around the whole world, Philippians (4:7). It is something which He gives to all who are fearful and, even now, He can give it to all of us. He can bring us peace even in the wildest storms in life.
He can give us peace in the storms of grief and sorrow. In such times of grief and sorrow, God often seems distant and out of reach. But that's more about what grief does to us than it is about God. We are not abandoned - even though we feel very alone. The Scripture promises a number of ways that God shows his care for us. We can cling to these promises and find comfort and hope. In times of loss, Jesus tells us the glory of the life to come. He tells us of the love of God and the life eternal. He tells us that those we love have gone home to be with God the Father - this gives us the certainty that we shall meet again those whom we have loved and once lost.
The fact is that Jesus wants us all to be with Him forever. He said, "Do not be troubled! Trust in God and trust in me! In my Father's house there are many rooms; otherwise, I would not have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. After I have gone and prepared a place for you, I shall come again and take you to me, so that where I am, you also may be", John (14:1-3). He also said, "You feel sorrowful now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice; and no one will take your joy from you", John (16:22).
He can give us peace in the storms of distress and the struggles of daily life - problems related to our work, our marriage, our families, our relationships, our businesses, our finances, our health etc. In times of stress, tension, frustration, confusion, helplessness and uncertainty, there may be those who ask, just as the disciples did, "Jesus, don't you care we are dying?"
Remember, if Jesus can calm the sea with one word, He can also calm our fears for He says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not be troubled! Do not be afraid!", John (14:27), and just as the psalmist says, "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and He will act", Psalm (37:5). But it is sadly true of us - that we often say we will humbly submit to Jesus' guidance and, yet, we remain obstinately disobedient. If we humbly surrender and submit ourselves to Him and His will daily, the true Spirit of peace will come as the witness.
He can give us peace in the storms of worry and anxiety. Worry can be the great destroyer of peace. We worry about ourselves, our family, our friends, our work and our state in the world. But Jesus knowing the human heart and the temptations presented by the cares of this life tells us, "not to be worried about food and drink for yourself, or clothes for your body. Is not life more important than food; and is not the body more important than clothes?", Matthew (6:25). This means that God, who has given us life and our physical bodies, which are most valuable, will also give us food and clothes which are of far lesser value. Furthermore, Jesus says that we are creatures made in God's image and are much more valuable than the birds.
If God provides for birds, then, surely, He'll provide for those He made in His own image. God who has given us eternal life through the blood His Son Jesus Christ, will also provide for our temporal life. So, not only should we be unafraid, but we should also look to God who will give us peace and comfort as well.
Let us trust and believe that God will work it out for us, whatever the storm is in our life at the moment, big or small.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!