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THE CASE OF THE GALILEAN SUPERSTORM
Intro: This text finds the Lord Jesus at the end of a long, difficult day. During the long hours of this day, Jesus had a confrontation with the Pharisees, v. 22-30. Some of His friends and family thought He had lost His mind and tried to kidnap Him, v. 21; 31-35. During the latter part of the day Jesus sat in a little boat just off the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He used that boat as a pulpit from which He preached to the multitudes that gathered to hear Him, 4:1. When the day ended, He called His disciples into the boat and commanded them to set sail for the other side of the lake.
Nighttime found the disciples rowing across that little lake. While they guided the boat, an exhausted Jesus lay fast asleep in the rear of the boat. The Lord was weary from the business of the day. By the way, this passage clearly presents the humanity of the Lord. I praise the Lord that He understands our weakness. He is able to sympathize with us when we grow weary, Psa. 103:14.
The Lord’s disciples were accustomed to being on the Sea of Galilee at night, they fishermen after all. While they rowed for the other side, a tremendous storm engulfed their boat. They found themselves in a fight for their very lives. The storm that threatened the disciples was a “superstorm.” It was a storm of unusual power and intensity. It terrified the disciples and caused them to fear for their lives.
As I studied this passage, I was reminded of Super Storm Sandy that struck the northeast in October, 2012. Sandy was an immense Atlantic hurricane that collided with two other storms to create what meteorologists dubbed a “Superstorm.” Superstorm Sandy was a rare, freak storm that left amazing devastation in its wake. It was powerful beyond belief. Sandy caused billions of dollars in damage and killed at least 113 people. Sandy was a terrible, tragic, devastating storm.
That’s the kind of storm the disciples faced that night. Their storm didn’t have the size of Superstorm Sandy, but it was just as intense. In that storm, on that dark, terrifying night, they experienced the Lord’s power to deliver them from the storm that threatened to kill them. I would like for us to join the Lord and HIs men as they face the storm of their lives. They found themselves in a hopeless situation, from which there seemed to be no escape. What they experienced that night has much to teach us today.
The disciples found themselves in a powerful, overwhelming storm. It was so intense that they feared for their lives. To them, it was a hard case from which there was no escape. They learned that night that there is Hope For The Hard Cases. That is the lesson I want you to learn as well.
We all find ourselves in storms from time to time. Everyone here is on a journey. The redeemed are sailing toward a place called Heaven. The lost are sailing toward a place called Hell. As we sail, storms will arise and threaten our vessels. Often, like the disciples, we come to believe that the storms will destroy us. I want to remind you that your storm was not sent to destroy you, but to develop you. The storms of life may grind you at times, but the Lord will use them to grow you for His glory.
No matter how severe and intense your storm may be, it is not hopeless. There is hope and Hope’s name is Jesus. I want to talk to you about The Case Of The Galilean Superstorm. I pray that God will use the truths from this passage to teach us that there is hope. Let’s explore these verses together today.
I. V. 37 THE REALITIES OF THIS STORM
A. This Storm Was Unexpected - Mark tells us “there arose a great storm of wind.” Storms like this are very common on the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is a most unusual body of water. It is relatively small, only thirteen miles long, and seven miles wide, but it is 150 feet deep, and the shoreline is 680 feet below sea level. Because the Sea of Galilee is below sea level and is surrounded by mountains, it is susceptible to sudden storms. Winds sweeping across the land come up and over the mountains, creating downdrafts over the lake. Combine those conditions with a thunderstorm that appearing suddenly over the surrounding mountains, the water of Galilee can instantly stir up into violent twenty-foot waves. The sea can be calm one minute and savage the next.
Storms like this one did not usually occur at night. So, the disciples did not set out in a storm, and they did not expect to encounter a storm, but a storm came anyway!
That’s life isn’t it? It can be calm sailing on minute, and the next, you are fighting for your life! One minute you can be enjoying fair weather and the next, you find yourself in the middle of a terrible and horrible storm. One phone call, one twenty-four hour period of time, one doctor visit, one tick of the clock, and you are in the storm of your life.
This shouldn’t surprise us. The Bible says that the storms will come our way, Job 14:1; John 16:33. In fact, you are in one of three places today. You are either in a storm, just coming out of a storm, or headed into a storm. Sudden storms are a part of our lives. As I said, it shouldn’t surprise us, but it always does!
B. This Storm Was Unrelenting - The storm continued its assault on that little boat until Mark tells us “the ship was now full”. Mark also tells us that this was a “great” storm. The words means, “Exceeding, loud, large, mighty.” It refers to a storm of extraordinary ferocity. Matthew calls this same storm “a great tempest,” Matt. 8:24. The word “tempest” refers to “a violent upheaval like and earthquake.” The sea rose and fell under the disciple’s boat. The waves were “beating” the ship, v. 37.
The disciples felt no stability, no safety, and no security. These men are terrified by the severity of this storm. They are fishermen, and they are used to storms, but this storm was so intensely violent that it filled them with terror for their lives.
The ship is rocking and reeling; it is full of water and they are afraid it will sink. It was a violent storm, it was the middle of the night. They could not see where they were. They could not determine their proximity to the shore. They could not see the other ships around them, v. 36. They were in terrible danger, and they knew it. In verse 39, they said, “we perish.” The phrase literally means, “we are being destroyed.” They awoke the sleeping Savior and they cried, “Help us Lord! This thing is killing us!”
When our storms come, very often they are severe and they terrify us. They fill us with fear and worry. The storms blow in without warning and they increase in their intensity until it seems that they will never end.
• The storms of suffering come. They devastate us with heartache, heartbreak and turmoil. One problem will arise after another until we are buried under a avalanche of affliction. Many could testify about the storms of suffering.
• The storms of sorrow toss your vessel. Someone you love is taken away in death and it leaves you broken, grief stricken and shaken by your loss. Sorrow touches every life, even the lives of the saints of God! It even touches those who walk close to the Lord. Jesus was in their boat and they were still afflicted by a storm of sorrow.
• The storms of sin arise. It rages within us and around us. When sin enters our hearts, it always comes in as a pleasant, calm breeze. It promises us the best, but it soon displays its darker side. It will rip through your life like a tornado leaving a trail of damage and destruction that can only be repaired by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and His forgiveness. Some are in that storm today!
So, the storms come and they bring with them fear, anxiety and pain. I just want you to know that there is no storm on earth that Heaven cannot calm! There is no problem so great that Jesus cannot fix. Bring that storm to Him and watch His deal with it!
C. This Storm Was Unusual - Where did this storm come from? It may have been natural, after all, the Sea of Galilee was susceptible to storms of this nature. Yet, it did come at night and that was extremely rare. There is a strong possibility that this storm was supernatural in nature. Let me show you why I say that.
God may have sent this for the very purpose of teaching these men to trust in Jesus. I will say more about that later.
Satan may have sent this storm to kill Jesus. After all, Satan had been trying to stop the Lord Jesus before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Let me show you why I say that Satan might have been behind this storm.
When Jesus calmed the storm in verse 39, and said “be still”; it is the same word that is translated “hold thy peace” in Mark 1:25. The word means “to be muzzled”. It has the idea of muzzling a violent animal. When Jesus used that word in Mark 1:25, He was speaking to demons, commanding them to be quiet. This storm was an attempt by Satan to destroy the Lord Jesus.
The Bible does not reveal the source of this storm, but there was something unusual about this storm.
The storms that arise in our own lives come from various sources as well.
• Sometimes we cause the storms. We act foolishly get us into trouble, when we do, we have to pay the price. Jonah discovered that truth. So did Naomi and her family. We always reap what we sow, Gal. 6:7. Sometimes we cause our own storms.
• Sometimes God sends the storms. Why would He do that? Sometimes He does it to discipline us and draw us closer to Him. This was the case with David after he had sinned with Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11-12. Sometimes He does it to teach us to trust His more deeply. This was the case with Job and all that he was forced to endure, Job 2:3. When God sends the storm it is always to draw us closer.
• Sometimes Satan is behind the storms. Satan will whip up a storm in your life to defeat you, discourage you, and drive you away from the Lord. He will do everything in His power to destroy you and your faith in God. We have a real enemy, who is seeking to defeat and destroy God’s children and he will do whatever it takes to accomplish that, 1 Pet. 5:8. Satan is limited in his ability to torment us by the sovereign will of God.
Regardless of the source, the storms of life come, and we are forced to deal with them.
I. The Realities Of This Storm
II. V. 35, 38 THE REALM OF THIS STORM
A. The Storm Was In Their Face - I say this for the sake of repetition: this storm was real! It was right there in their faces. They could feel the wind. They could feel the waves as they battered the boat. They were soaked to the skin as the waves broke over the boat and filled the vessel with water. They were tired and overcome with weariness from struggling with the oars. There was nothing pretend about this storm.
When our storms come, we can feel them too. They shake our world. Sometimes they touch our flesh and we feel it. They touch our heart and we feel it. They rock our minds and we feel it. They storms are very real. They batter our lives. They wear us down. They leave us broken and wounded. They storms of life are like trie storm the disciples faced on Galilee that night; they hit us in the face and they wear us out.
Yet, the greatest danger the disciples faced that night was not physical. The real storm was not the storm that battered their boat. The real storm they faced that night was the storm that struck them at the very heart of their walk with Jesus. That storm was the most dangerous storm they faced that night. That storm was the most devastating. Let me say something about that storm.
B. The Storm Was In Their Faith - “carest thou not” – They accused the Lord of not caring about what they were facing. Why this doubt? After all, they had already seen His compassion and goodness in action. They had seen Jesus face and conquer every imaginable situation in life, Mark 1:22-2:12.
Now, they are faced with a storm and they are afraid. They should have known that a puff of wind on a little pond could not thwart sovereign omnipotence! Do you know what their problem was? They were looking at their situation and not at their Savior. They had their eyes on the problem and not on the Problem-solver.
We are just like that, aren’t we? Have there been times, when the storms are raging in your life, that you have questioned God’s concern for you? You might not have said it out loud, but I am sure there have been times when your flesh has cried, “Lord, don’t you care about what is happening to me?” Or, “If the Lord really loves me, then why is this happening?” We’ve all been there!
He cares! He cares more than you can imagine, Heb. 4:15-16. He cares and He is working in your situation, even though you might not see it now.
C. The Storm Was In Their Fears - While the storm is raging about them, Jesus is fast asleep in the back of the boat. They run to Him and wake Him up. The word “awaken” means “to rouse from sleep”. It was used to speak of “a calm sea that was just beginning to be agitated.” They went to where Jesus was sleeping and they began to shake Him to wake Him up. These men are terrified and have lost all hope of ever surviving this storm. Let’s examine the doubts of these men today.
They ran to Him and they cried “we perish”. Remember, it was Jesus Who had sent them out onto the sea in the first place. These men had left everything to follow Jesus and now He has led them into an impossibly dangerous situation. They are afraid the Jesus is just going to let them all die.
Jesus did not save you just to abandon you when times get tough. He is absolutely committed to you and will never forsake you, Heb. 13:5. The word “leave” means “to let sink”. The word “forsake” means that He won’t “abandon you, desert you or leave you under any circumstances”. When the storm is raging; when your boat is rocking and reeling; when the adverse winds are blowing; when the waves are crashing against your vessel; He will not let you sink! He will hold you up and never desert you under any circumstances. The Lord Jesus Christ is absolutely committed to you!
The city of Jerusalem once felt forsaken by the Lord. Here is what they said and what the Lord said in reply: “But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me,” Isa. 49:14-16. If the Lord would love the nation of Israel, whom He had redeemed out of Egypt; how much more will He love and protect His Own Church Whom He has redeemed by the blood of His Darling Son? He is committed to you! He will be present with you and He will give you grace sufficient for your need, 2 Cor. 12:9.
They need not have feared. They had His promise, “Let us pass over unto the other side,” v. 35. Jesus had already told these men what was going to happen. He told them before the journey started that they were headed to the other side of the lake. If they had believed His words, they could have laughed in the face of the storm.
Of course, this is just like us, isn’t it?
• The Lord has promised us that everything is going to be all right too, Rom. 8:28.
• He has promised us that He will take care of us, Matt. 6:25-34; Luke 12:32.
If we could just learn to take Him at His Word, then we could face the storms of life without fear. We would understand Who controls the storms and we would enjoy His peace, even while the winds blow and the waves beat against us.
I. The Realities Of This Storm
II. The Realm Of This Storm
III. V. 39-41 THE REASONS FOR THIS STORM
There are all types of storms that we face in life. Most can be filed under the following three headings.
• There are storms of Correction - Sometimes God will send a storm into our lives to turn us back to Him when we wander away.
• There are storms of Perfection - Sometimes God will use the storms of life to help us become more like Jesus.
• There are storms of Instruction - Sometimes God will use the storms of life to teach us new ways of understanding Him. He uses this kind of storm to help us come to know HIm better.
Regardless of the kind of storm we face, all of God’s storms are designed to help us grow. They are all designed to develop us and to help us become more like Jesus, Rom. 8:28-29; 1 Pet. 1:7.
This storm was a storm of instruction. The Lord was using the storm to teach the disciples more about HImself. He was about to display a side of His character they had never before seen. In this storm that learned some valuable lessons about:
A. They Learned Something About His Character - They learned some things about the Person of Jesus they had never understood before.
They learned that He is the all powerful, sovereign Creator. They learned that He is Lord of all! The storm that so terrified these men posed no problem for the Lord Jesus. He rebuked the wind and spoke to the sea. When He did, the winds fell silent and the sea became as flat as a sheet of glass. Stilling this storm was as easy for Him as healing the sick and casting out devils. He easily controlled the storm.
The Lord still possesses that same power today, Matt. 28:18; Gen. 18:14; Eph. 3:20. Your storm is no problem for Him! He can silence it with a word, if He desires to. He may, however, desire to allow that storm to rage. When He does this, He is well able to protect you in the midst of the storm. Ill. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – Dan. 3; Ill. Daniel in the lion’s den – Dan. 6.
When Jesus calmed the sea, they were amazed and said, “What manner of man is this?” They learned that He is the One Who is in control of every puff of wind; every angry wave and every storm. He is a good man to know! He can corral the waves; lasso the winds and hog tie the storm.
B. They Learned Something About His Credibility - They passed over, just like Jesus said they would, Mark 5:1. They learned that He was as good as His Word!
He still is! Everything He has promised He will do, Rom. 4:21; Heb. 6:18. He will not back away from any promise He has made in this book! He is God, and He can be trusted to keep His promises to His people!
C. They Learned Something About His Comfort - While they are terrified and waiting to die, what is the Lord Jesus doing? He is sleeping! Why? He knows that He is in the center of His Father’s will. He knows that He will die on a cross and not in a shipwreck. He can sleep during the storm because He trusts His Father to take care of Him. He has peace because He trust His Father!
If a situation doesn’t bother the Lord, we shouldn’t allow it to bother us either! He is the Prince of Peace, and He is able to share His peace with His people. That is His promise, and that is what He will do, John 14:27; Phil. 4:13.
D. They Learned Something About His Cause - Why did the Lord send His men through this storm? One reason was to teach them a lesson they could have learned no other way.
It would have been nice if they would simply have believed Him after seeing Him do all the great things He did in chapters 1 and 2. It would have been great if they could have taken the things the Lord did for others and applied it to their own lives. If they could have said, “You know, if Jesus can heal a leper, cure Peter’s mother-in-law, cast out devils, heal that guy with the palsy and forgive his sins, then I am sure that He can take care of this storm too.” But, they seemed unable to process that information and apply it to their own lives. So, He sent them into this storm to teach them to trust Him.
What about us? We have the Bible. It tells us all the things He has done and can do. We have the testimony of others around us. We have seen what He has done for them. We have even seen Him move in our own lives.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could just trust Him? We don’t, so He uses the storms to teach us that we can lean on Him and trust Him to take care of us.
When they arrived in Gadara they saw Jesus confront that demon possessed man. I wonder if they doubted Him after the storm. When they saw Jairus come for help for his daughter, and even when she died, I wonder if they said, “I believe He can take care of this”. I think the storm increased their faith! That may have been the purpose all along. If it wasn’t the purpose, the Lord surely used it in that fashion. He does the same for us!
Sometimes, He sends the storms to educate us and to teach us to trust Him. His purpose is not to hurt us, but to grow us. You can always trust the Lord to do right in the storms of life.
God has His reasons for sending the storms into our lives. Our duty is not to try and figure our why we are there. Our duty is to trust Him to do what is right in every situation in life. That is a tall order, but that is what He is after. He is after absolute trust and obedience.
Conc: When the Lord is in your vessel, you have an advantage. The Bible says in verse 36 that there “were also with him other little ships.” There were many boats on that sea that night, but only one contained the Lord of glory. That boat was the place to be.
As we sail on the sea of life, we need to remember that every one of us is subject to going through the storms. We are all on the sea, we are all in our boat, and we all voyage together. We need to be sure that Jesus rides with us in our vessel. Having Jesus in your vessel makes all the difference.
The disciples were able to call on Jesus because He was with them.
They were able to see Him move in power because He was with them.
They were able to experience His peace because He was with them.
Is His in your vessel? If He isn’t, how do you weather the storms that arise in your life? If He isn’t today would be a great day to invite Him aboard.
If He is in your vessel, worship Him for His faithfulness to you.
If the storm clouds have gathered; if the fierce winds have begun to blow around you; if the waves of affliction are battering your boat; run to Jesus! Call on Jesus! Reach out to Jesus!
As the hymn writer said:
I must tell Jesus all of my trials;
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me;
He ever loves and cares for His own.
I must tell Jesus all of my troubles;
He is a kind, compassionate Friend;
If I but ask Him, He will deliver,
And in my griefs with me He will blend.
Tempted and tried I need a great Savior,
One who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus;
He all my cares and sorrows will share.
O how the world to evil allures me!
O how my heart is tempted to sin!
I must tell Jesus; He will enable
Over the world the vic’try to win.
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone._
1 Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/787#ixzz2KuYsGr8v_