Calming Tempests & Causing Terror

A Bible Exposition Of Mark 4:35-41

In the eighth-grade I was assigned a project in my English class. It was one of those doozies. It was a semester long project that required turning in assignments every week until it was complete.

The assignment was to create a so-called, “Me Book”—as if I needed to spend any more time thinking about myself. But now I was supposed to create an entire book, devoted to none other than, yours truly.

My “Me Book” had photos of myself at various stages of life, poetry I had written, awards I had won. I had pages of preferences, and details about who I was and what I liked. I worked diligently until that entire green, three-ring binder was filled with page projectors stuffed with content.

I used markers, colored pencils, glue, scissors, magazines, photo paper, and all my craft skills to finish the book… It was one of those projects that no one other than your mom and maybe your future wife, ever wants to read.

But compared to writing a book report, or creating a timeline for history, this project was so much more enjoyable. Why? Because devoting myself to contemplating myself was… natural! I was already doing that all the time anyway. Now I get class credit for it.

A trite example. But it illustrates a tendency we have as Christians when we come to the Bible.

Very often we open the pages of Scripture and we ask God to speak to us, and our focus is on ourselves, asking, “what am I thinking and feeling today?”

Or we go to the Scriptures to find a nugget to help us throughout day. And in one sense, of course we go to the Scripture to be blessed. And very often we do learn about ourselves. I’m not condemning coming to Scripture expectantly. But what are we expecting.

You see the Bible isn’t primarily about us. The Bible is written for us. But it is about God. It is His self-revelation. Scripture is the unfolding story not about you or I, but rather the story about the God of the universe and His plan, His thoughts, His ways, and how He works in the lives of His people.

The pinnacle of revelation is the person and work of Christ. His past, present and future glory. His mission. His perfections. His attributes. And it is by beholding His glory that we are transformed day by day.

In fact, if I were to level a primary concern about modern preaching it would be this—that somehow we have become the focus of the sermon. Our Bible reading, our Bible studies, and our preaching is focused on the human experience. Our time in the Word is spent, dare I say squandered, focusing on ourselves.

And what we are trading is a fresh awareness the majesty of our God. We are missing His glory as we settle for less. This is what we mean when we say one of our distinctives at CBC is a high view of God. It is an attempt to keep Him our central focus, and recover the awe that He is worthy of.

Take your Bibles this morning, and please turn with me to Mark 4. Mark 4:35-41. Today’s passage is a familiar one about Jesus calming a storm on a lake. And this is a classic passage that gets superficially applied.

You are familiar with the story. It is simple and short. Jesus is in the boat with His disciples. A massive storm almost kills them, Jesus tells it to stop and it does.

Too often, however, the take-a-way becomes: Jesus calms the storms of life. The application then is to think about ourselves—what storm do you have right now? What difficult situation are you in? Jesus is here to calm it down for you, just go to Him.

Certainly, that is one implication of this passage. But it isn’t primarily what is going on. That isn’t the lesson Jesus wants His disciples to learn first and foremost. To read this passage as being about Jesus making our life calm, is to approach the text with a man-centered perspective.

To understand this passage rightly is to understand that Jesus is calming the storm, not to bring comfort to people going through unpleasant circumstances. But rather to reveal His identity as God, and in the process, test the disciples’ untested faith and expose it as wanting.

This is a passage about the majesty and identity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our struggle as His followers to take Him at His word. 

As you remember from last week, Jesus has just claimed to be bringing in a new kingdom. 

Now over the next week Mark records Jesus demonstrating that He has the power to make good on His statements. He can get the job done. He isn’t the big-talking boaster on the playground who makes big claims, but couldn’t deliver on half of what He asserts.

This week it is power over a storm, the next week power over a legion of demonic influences, and the following week His powerful healing of a little girl and a woman with a chronic illness. All provocative displays of His majestic power.

With that said, let’s read our text this morning. This first display of majestic power in this section:

Mark 4:35–41—35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 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. 38 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?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

If you are keeping an outline to follow along in the passage today, it is:

5 Scenes as Jesus Commands Nature’s Obedience, thereby Revealing His Deity & His Disciple’s Unbelief; and the challenge this presents for each of us.

  1. The Unassuming Sunset (35-36)
  2. The Unexpected Storm (37)
  3. The Untroubled Savior (38)
  4. The Unrivaled Sovereign (39)
  5. The Unnerved Supporters (40-41)