Dangerous water is a theme that will come up in the Bible again and again. In fact, it appears within the first two sentences of the Bible. In the creation story one of the first “obstacles” God has to overcome to create life is those waters. So one of the first acts of creation is that God separates the waters so dry ground can appear.
In creation God displays his mercy and grace by subduing the waters, separating them, and creating dry land for humans to live on.
When humans betray God though and commit themselves to evil, God bring judgment. And what is that judgment? The flood. God simply lets creation fall back in on itself. God releases His hold on the waters, and they come crashing back in to destroy the earth. So we see that God has power over the forces of nature, and any circumstance that may threaten humanity.
Mark 4 Questions
1 Read Matthew 14:22-33.
- What do we learn about Jesus?
- What do we learn about Peter?
- What do we learn about Faith?
2 Read Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
- What do we learn about God?
- What was the earth like before God began to create things?
3 Read Isaiah 17:12-13 Listen! The armies of many nations roar like the roaring of the sea. Hear the thunder of the mighty forces as they rush forward like thundering waves. 13 But though they thunder like breakers on a beach, God will silence them, and they will run away.
- What does Isaiah compare the sea to?
- What does Isaiah tell us about God?
4 Read Psalm 89:9 You rule the oceans. You subdue their storm-tossed waves. 10 You crushed the great sea monster. You scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
- What does this verse tell us about God?
5 Based on these verses (and many others) what role does it seem that “stormy water” plays in Biblical metaphor?
What else does God have power over?
Psalm 89 says God crushed the great sea monster. And then it immediately gives more context and says God scattered His enemies.
So what the Bible is talking about a sea monster now? Well if dangerous water can represent harm or evil, then it makes sense that whatever is living in there does as well.
This sea monster language will pop up only a few times in the Bible, and it only ever does in poetry when the author wants to talk about God’s power. And here is why:
The great sea monster is a major icon in other Ancient Near Eastern religions. Ancient Near East is a term that basically just means the middle east. But when scholars talk they like to sound really smart so they say that.
But look at this map- just know it’s Israel and its neighbors.
This sea monster dude will show up in the mythology of many of these other religions. And Israel living there, would have heard about it.
So in creation and the flood we see that God holds ultimate power over nature, through the metaphor we see that God is greater than any threat, even other humans. But for the Biblical authors to say God is greater then the sea monster, they are doing spiritual warfare.
Its an ancient Israelite apologetic. They are pointing to the biggest, badest, most terrifying thing that other people could come up with and saying “My God can handle that.”
He’s not afraid. Like this is the villain in the stories told around the campfire, that would give kids nightmares at night, that all these other people feared. And Israel is saying, actually, my God is not threatened by it. He is so much more powerful, that even if it was a real thing, He would kill it.
The book of Job even goes on to mention this Leviathan, and say it isn’t no god- its just a fish. Even though there may be dangers out there, God reigns supreme over all of them. They are nothing to Him.
Why are we talking about all this: well one to make the point:
- God is greater than nature
- God is greater than our circumstances
- God is greater than any enemy, spiritual or physical
And two, because we are reading Mark 4 and Jesus is about to show He has all these same powers.
Mark 4:35-38 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
Let’s pause there a second. Do you have something that you really understand that other people don’t seem to get?
- Maybe a hobby
- Other interest
But like you really get this thing right? You do something and other people are like no way that’s so hard. But you just get it. So it doesn’t confuse or scare you.
The disciples are out on a large lake. Most of them are fishermen. Most of them had grown up on this lake. In fact, when we first saw them in this story, they were on this lake.
How many of you know a fisherman afraid of the water won’t get very far. Undoubtedly, they had been in a storm on this lake before. But there was something about this storm, that was so intense, and so bad, that all these grown men said- we are all going to die.
So lets make that point- the danger is real. They aren’t exaggerating, or just new to boats. They are all going to die.
So they wake Jesus up. Not with a nice nudge. No, THEY WAKE JESUS UP.
When your parents wake you up for school how do they do it? Is it with a gentle “time to get up”. Or are they throwing a bucket of water on you? Especially if it’s the third or fourth time?
JESUS. WAKE. UP.
And they don’t wake Him up to say “save us”. They clearly don’t think Jesus can do that. They are just like: “WAKE UP. Hey by the way we are all going to die.”. Why are you sleeping at a time like this? Don’t you even care.
They accuse Jesus of not caring. What does Jesus do.
Mark 4:39-41 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
Jesus wakes up, and like its no bid deal, like He’s done it 1000 times before, tells the storm to shut up. And it does.
Then He turns to the disciples and says what’s the matter with you, after everything you have seen me do, you still have no faith?
This story teaches us a few things. First- it links back to the rest of the Bible and shows us that Jesus has all the same powers God has- and does things only God can do. (Spoiler alert, He is God.) So we see that: Jesus is Lord over Nature.
Jesus is Lord over Nature
Second, since Jesus is clearly displeased with the disciples reaction, He obviously expected people who claim to follow Him to not freak out in dangerous situations, but rather to respond with faith.
The storm came, and instead of the disciples rebuking the storm, they turned and rebuked Jesus. They accuses Him of not caring, and wondered why He wasn’t doing anything.
It seems ridiculous that they would say that to Jesus, but then again how often does life get a little rocky and we immediately turn and blame God?
Something bad happens: God why would you let this happen.
We get betrayed or our feelings hurt and we accuse God of not caring.
Maybe we have a real need or someone we know is dealing with a illness and we blame God for not acting.
The enemy comes at us in a storm to destroy us, and rather then buckeling down in faith and facing the storm, we turn on Jesus.
I know I’ve done it, I hear people doing it all the time, and I think if you were honest tonight- you do it too.
When a storm comes, you have two options. Rebuke the storm, or rebuke Jesus.
You either say to the storm no- you will not have me, my family, my friends, my peace, my joy, my well being, or you join the storm and accuse Jesus.
Did Jesus expect them to tell the storm to stop? Or did He expect them to rebuke fear and still their hearts, resting like He did knowing God was in control? We don’t know.
But we do know He expected them to respond in faith.
Earlier you read a similar story about Jesus walking on water. As long as Peter kept His eyes on Jesus, he could literally walk on water. The storm couldn’t hurt him.
When did that change? When he took his eyes off Jesus and put them back on the waves.
Guys, danger is real. I’m not saying its not. But what I am saying is that when you are in a storm, you have 2 options. You focus on the problem, or you focus on the solution. And the only solution is Jesus. You can let your mind focus on worry or fear or anxiety or depression or all the bad stuff, or stop. Take a step back, rebuke the fear.
Fill your mind with scripture. Memorize it, and go to war. Repeat the promises of God to yourself over and over till you believe them and no longer see the waves, you see Jesus.
Where are your eyes?
We won’t always have the answers. In fact, you may not get them in this life.
We don’t know why that storm happened.
Job never found out why all that stuff happened to him.
In these two stories where the disciples didn’t have faith, Jesus calmed the storm.
In Acts, we find Paul in a similar situation. He is on a boat, and a terrible storm happens that lasts 14 days. Paul’s faith never wavered. He was kept safe, but Jesus never stopped that storm. It destroyed the boat.
Why do things happen? We don’t always know. But we do know that God is greater then any storm. He is not threatened by it, and calls us to have faith that no matter what He is good, and in control.
So today as we close, think about what you are facing in life. It may not be something that intense, but everyday we have to chose to trust God with everything. Cause that will train us to trust God with the big things.
Or maybe you are facing a storm and you feel like its going to take you out. Talk to a leader here, we would love to pray with you. We may not have the answers, but trust Jesus.
As I pray, I encourage you in your own words. Repent, tell Jesus you are sorry for times you rebuked Him instead of the storm. Pray He would grow your faith so that no matter what happens, you can trust in Him.