Riding the Storm
Mark 4:35 – 5:19
In the earlier days of my ministry I regularly travelled to and from the mainland on the Larne-Stranraer or the Belfast -Liverpool Ferry. On many occasions the crossing was “choppy” to say the least, and once or twice my crossing was delayed by more severe weather conditions. On one I spent three days on board the ferry in dock at Liverpool, as the stormy weather prevented our departure, and when we eventually did sail, I wished we hadn’t? In my sermon today entitled “Riding the Storm” I want us to focus on the account in Marks Gospel of a stormy crossing which Jesus and his
disciples once made on the Galilee.
We take up the story in Mark 4, at verse 35 …
“And the same day, when the evening was come, he (Jesus) saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
In order to understand the context in which this event takes place it is necessary for us to look ahead into the next Chapter,
and read from Mark 5, 1-19.
(which we did earlier in today’s Service)
for when Jesus said “let us cross over unto the other side” He had a reason, he was on a mission, he had a motive for the journey. There, on the other side of the Galilee, in the country
of the Gadarenes. there lived a man, a demon possessed man, whom the Bible says “had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him” Mark 5:1-4. Jesus was on a mission to “tame” or change this man, and change that whole environment. This man was terrorizing that entire coastline, and Jesus was on his way to put a stop to it.
(But more about that later!)
So then Jesus and his disciples, accompanied (Mark says) by other smaller vessels, sets out on the Galilee heading for the other side … not long into the journey, the skies darken, the wind rises and the waves begin to beat and batter the boat. So severe became the storm that the boat was taking in water, and the disciples were anxious that it might fill and sink?
We need to understand that the Devil hates it when there is an attack being planned or mounted against him, or against his territory. Remember that Satan is legally “god” of this world,
Paul confirms this in 2 Corinthians 4:4 where he says “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them”.
And you remember when Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness, we read that “the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” Matthew 4: 8&9
Ownership had been surrendered to Satan when Adam fell in the Garden of Eden. What God had given to Adam, in the fall, he lost it to Satan. So remember that Satan is territorial, and he had a lot riding on this demon possessed man. In him, Satan had gained control of this whole coastline, this region, and he was not going to give it up or give him up, without a fight. So he throws a storm at the boat in which lay the Son of God. Wave after wave of attack, – and while “great fear” had gripped the disciples, Jesus nevertheless was not rattled or roused, he lay fast asleep in the stern of the vessel. He was “Riding the Storm“.
For all of us who are anxiously seeking to serve and please God, we too will encounter many storms on our journey, the voyage of life. Satan also knows what God can do with the man or women who has surrendered their lives and livelihoods to His Service. Satan knows the threat that such people are to his plans, so don’t be surprised if you encounter a few storms this week, especially if you are seeking to advance the Kingdom of God, and win men and women, boys and girls, for Jesus Christ.
I go through a storm every week to bring you these Sermons
and this broadcast. Pray for me! I don’t think I know of any Pastor or Priest right now not facing a storm of some kind?
Of course there are those in the Church, calling themselves Christian, who know nothing of the “storms” or the “attacks” or the “Spiritual battles” which the rest of us have to fight. They will not experience such things, since they are not bothering Satan nor are they thwarting his plans in their prayers, nor damaging his empire by their example.
They mix and mingle with the world, and are so worldly
minded and worldly moored that they never launch out into the deep to fight the storms for Jesus sake. Sadly for them I fear they will come home at the last with empty nets, having caught no fish. Jesus said of those who would truly follow him, that HE would make them “Fishers of men”. Matt 4:19. Are you catching fish, are you battling the storms every day to catch fish, … to catch men and women for God?
Did you notice the “panic” and “fear” that the storm was generating amongst the disciples? This is exactly what the Devil tries to do in every storm, and if you are facing a storm right now, then the Devil is trying to get you to panic and fear also, – to become insecure in your relationship with God,
and uncertain of your faith and doubtful of His word.
Satan does not change!
I said a moment ago that the Devil
throws a storm at the boat in which lay the Son of God!
Can you imagine such stupidity, or such foolishness? Did he really think that he the Devil, could “drown” Jesus in the sea of Galilee? Jesus knew about the storm, long before the Devil planned it! This is why he went back into the stern of the ship and lay down to sleep, why he took a nap!
He was Riding the Storm!
So in come the disciples to wake Him, and instead of blaming the Devil, they blame HIM? “Master, carest thou not that we perish” Their focus shifts from their own lack of faith to his lack of care? Things would not have gotten to this stage if HE really cared for them. Here they were on the brink of drowning, and all he could do was to sleep? The storms that you and I will face along the course of our earthly journey, will most often, and more likely, distract and disturb us, … but they will never distract God nor disturb His plans and purposes in our lives.
If we focus on the storm, then we too, like the disciples will panic and fear, but if we focus on the Saviour and have faith in His words, then we also will ride out every storm! “Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep“. Psalm 121:4. God sees every storm that comes or is coming your way and mine, He does not slumber and sleep, so that we can. There’s no point in both of us being awake?
Now let us see what happens when “faith” steps up? We read
“And Jesus arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm“. The word “great” here in the Greek, is the word “Megas” from which we get the word Mega, meaning huge!
There was a huge calm. The wind and the sea just lay down.
“…and the disciples said one to another, What manner of
man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Let me teach you something about this event that not many fully appreciate. Notice that the disciples asked “What manner of man is this” not what manner of “super-man” or “god-man” or “what sort of God” is this? They, like me, recognised that while here on earth Jesus was Man, not God. He was and always is God in Heaven, but while He was here on this planet Earth,
He was here as a Man, and as a Man full of the Holy Ghost.
(or the Holy Spirit) Jesus continually operated under the appointing and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Everything he did, he did in that anointing. Gods wants all of his children
to walk and work in the “anointing of the Holy Spirit”.
Therein lies an important Biblical Truth which we ignore to
our peril if we are seeking to understand the ways of God.
Let me explain what I believe was going on here.
Satan, we know, was once a “prince in heaven” he was in charge of the “praise of heaven” and was himself a holy and heavenly angel. Although he fell from that exalted position (Isaiah 14:12 & Luke 10:18) we understand that he still retains the ability to access God and retains a mighty and powerful ability himself. (Job Ch:1 &2) There is no doubt in my mind that Satan whipped up this storm on the sea of Galilee that day, and
it took a similar super-natural power to calm it down.
But the point I wish to teach you is that any of the disciples could have equally calmed that storm, had they not given up their faith for fear? For “… Jesus said unto them, Why are
ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”
Jesus was asking why they needed to wake him, why did they not deal with the situation by faith themselves?
Let us examine for a moment what the Bible says that
“a man full of faith” or “under the anointing”
Turn with me if you will to the First Book of Kings and
Chapter 17. We read there …
” And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” 1Kings 17:1 Here under King Ahab’s rule, the worship of Baal was encouraged and it had turned the hearts of the people away from God. So with Gods authority, Elijah, Gods anointed and appointed prophet, with a word – stopped the dew and the rain for a period of 3½ years
(Luke 4:25) so that there was a great famine in the land;
and in 1 Kings 18:45 the record reads that when the nation repented and changed their ways … then the rain returned.
That’s the power of anointed words!
Turn again if you will to the book of Numbers and Chapter 16.
Here under the leadership of a man called Korah, a rebellion was brewing against Moses and Aaron’s leadership. The reason was that Korah felt that Moses and Aaron were lifting themselves up above the congregation, and in his estimation, they were not the only “holy” or “God anointed” ones.
God was angry with this rebellion and told Moses and Aaron
to stand aside while He would consume the whole lot of them. Num.16:21. But Moses pleads with God for leniency saying “shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth (angry) with
all the congregation?”
So Moses takes the matter in hand:
Let us read at Numbers 16 verse 29 … Moses says…
“If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me. But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD. And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods”.
(Numbers 16:29-32) and Numbers 26:10 tells us that 250 men
were slain with Korah that day.
When a Godly man under the anointing of the Holy Spirit opens his mouth, the world should always sit up and listen. God does not anoint nor invest His gifts in fools! The next verse reads
“And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also”. Numbers 16:34
If you turn over to the Book of Joshua in the 10th Chapter, there again is yet another remarkable record of the power of the words
of an anointed and appointed authorized man of God:
The background here is that the
“five kings of the Amorites, …had gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before the city of Gibeon, and made war against it. And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee: and as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them …and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword”. Joshua 10:5-11 paraphrased.
Now look at verse 12
Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it,
that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man:
for the LORD fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:12-14)
That’s the power of anointed words!
Now we know that Elijah and Moses and Joshua were all Old Testament Prophets and we know also without doubt that they were, like Jesus “anointed and appointed” for the tasks God gave to them. They knew who they were in God, and were fully
convinced of the authority and power that had been invested
in them. While the Old Testament regularly contains the “typology” of the matter, the New Testament reveals the “theology” of the matter, and that we find in the story of the
“Riding of the Storm”. There Jesus was showing us that under the powerful anointing of God the Holy Spirit, the world, the material world, the political world, and the visible world must sit up and take note of those anointed, for they speak with the authority of the Divine Name and the Divine Nature.
May God grant His Servants such an anointing in these days
for our present dilemmas.
Now the storm was past, the impending ship-wreck averted, the coast on the far side in sight, and the first thing they see is the demon possessed man awaiting their arrival. The “legion” of demons already knew Jesus was on his way. We read …
“And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit”, Mark 5:2
And he cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many”.
Commentators rarely agree on the exact number of demons that this word “Legion” refers to, (in my opinion, it doesn’t really matter) suffice to say that at this point the man was well and truly “POSESSED”. You know the story how that Jesus cast all the demons out of the man, and into a nearby herd of swine, which subsequently plunged into the sea to their death.
“And they that fed the swine fled, … told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they came to Jesus, and saw him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind:” v15
The Storm was OVER for them all. That’s what Jesus came to do. He came to bring a peace, a calm – to the storms in their lives, and in your life and in mine.
You may be passing through a storm today, maybe its a “Family Storm” a “Business Storm” a “Work place Storm” or a “Health Storm”. It may be that there’s a storm brewing in your finances, in your relationships, in your marriage and in your work and you feel yourself already sinking into despair.
In any storm, the important thing is to have something to hold on to. If you are in a boat, you can drop anchor, and weather or ride out the storm. Jesus wants to be your Anchor, he wants you to hold on to him in life’s storms and if you do, then you are anchored firm and deep in the Saviour Love.
That’s the message of our closing Hymn today
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?