In Mark’s Gospel, he tells a story of Jesus taking a nap, causing His disciples to panic. In last week’s Psalms of Ascent post, I asked whether God seems to be asleep sometimes, leaving us feeling adrift the world’s circumstances. Today is a little detour from those Psalms to a time when God literally was asleep.
The story comes from Mark 4:35-41.
On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he 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?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
At the beginning of the story, Jesus told His disciples they were going to cross the Sea of Galilee, then knowing what was coming, “He who keeps Israel” took a nap. Had the disciples understood Jesus, His napping should have reassured them that they were safe, since He was not concerned about the storm. Instead, they thought He didn’t care, which showed that fear of the storm had overcome whatever faith they had. Jesus said they were going across, but they doubted.
Which brings up a very important question.
When did the wind and the sea obey Jesus? At the beginning of the story, at the end, or both? Or at all times? Before Jesus calmed the storm, was the sea being disobedient to God’s laws and will?
I believe Jesus calmed this storm so that next time He wouldn’t have to. He was teaching them that He always cares, regardless of what the circumstances seem to say. He was teaching them that even when it seems like He’s asleep, He is still in control of our circumstances no matter how chaotic they look and feel to us. During the next storm, He wanted them not to panic, but to trust Him because He showed them no circumstance escapes His notice. The storm does not control us; He controls the storm.
When Jesus calmed the storm, He did not create a hedge (See Job 1:10) around His disciples, He just demonstrated that it existed all along. God was not going to let His Son drown before His mission was complete and neither will He let His other children drown before their work is done!
Sometimes when God seems distant and we feel we are sinking, in reality we are being given a divinely designed opportunity to learn to trust that:
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore
He knows sometimes we have to learn the hard way, and He knows best. Even when He is sleeping.
“Let us go across to the other side.”