Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.
The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew…. (Uh, oh stop the music…courage, fearless? Not on this voyage, and probably the lyrics to this 1960’s sitcom is an exaggeration concerning Gilligan’s Island crew, also (ha-ha))
As I wrote in the previous entry, Trouble! Hard times! Stuff! One moment things seem to be sailing pretty smooth then the next moment chaos. It comes out of nowhere. Normally, you do not decide to go sailing when you know there is a storm brewing on the high seas. That would be absurd. But on occasion, even though you start your journey in the warm summer breeze, the weather starts to get rough, unexpectedly. Trouble! Hard times! Stuff!
In the previous entry I attempted to highlight 3 points.
1 – “On that same day [when] evening had come, He said to them, Let us go over to the other side [of the lake].”
2 – “And leaving the throng, they took Him with them, [just] as He was, in the boat [in which He was sitting].”
3 – “And other boats were with Him.”
This scene is taking place when all is good. The disciples receive an invite from Jesus to a specified destination, He has secured the mode of transportation and was joining them and there was an entourage. Smooth sailing. But then out of the blue comes a “are you kidding me” moment or as a good friend of mine likes to say “what the devil” moment. Let’s look at this moment through the lens of the next three points I would like us to consider:
1 – “And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled.”
2- “But He [Himself] was in the stern [of the boat], asleep on the [leather] cushion;”
3- “and they awoke Him and said to Him, Master, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Point 1 – “And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled.”
As I was thinking on this verse, the Father would refer me back to the beginning of this chapter time and time again. Remember, Jesus is teaching the multitude via parables. He starts with a parable of the sower sowing seed and the different types of ground that the seed lands on. Later on in a private more detailed explanation of the parable Jesus describes the seed as “word” to His disciples. On the same day of Jesus teaching not only the multitude, but His disciples also, a storm arises later that evening. Wow, same day teaching, same day storm. Then I heard five words resound in my spirit that I use to hear quite frequently in middle school, “ok class, close your books”. At that time I would think “oh no a pop quiz”. Wait a minute, EUREKA! That’s it! Pop Quiz!!! You know, where the teacher spends a good portion of the time in class teaching you an important concept or lesson and they go into detail and you are able to ask questions and you think you got the concept but then they spring it on you, before the class is even over, the same day, the same hour …Pop Quiz!
What was the lesson? Mark 4:15 – 17 “And these are they by the way side, where the Word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts.”
What was the pop quiz? “And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose…”
In times past I interpreted “Satan cometh immediately” as the angelic character that we commonly call Satan. In doing so I limited my mind into thinking narrowly and locking me into a religious concept which prohibited me from having a “new mind” transformation. In its primitive root, the word Satan means “to be or act as an adversary, to resist, or oppose.” This does not limit its definition to be a person or as we identify, the devil, but it can also be a circumstance, a storm. Now do not get me wrong, it can be the one we commonly call the devil, or Lucifer (which is Latin) or his Hebrew name Heylel, but the definition of Satan is not limited to this angelic being. In its purest, simplest form the word Satan means “an adversary”. Now with this definition we open up a plethora, indeed a surplus of possibilities to fill the role of adversary.
So what “word” was sowed? Jesus said “let us go to the other side”. What was the opposition to the Word? “And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose”, an adversary act. You know it has happened to you many times. You leave your place of worship on a spiritual high because of something said “about loving one another and forbearing one another and after the service you get in your car on your way to Red Lobster and some “idiot” cuts in front of you causing you to have to swerve from hitting them and then on top of that they flip you a gesture as if you did something wrong and suddenly you do not feel that feeling of love towards all mankind but of rage and anger. Satan cometh immediately, and takes away the Word that was sown in their hearts”.
Now, hold on, just because there is a storm that does not mean there has to be failure. Jesus Himself gives an example. After Jesus is baptized of John in the Jordan, a voice is heard from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. Then immediately led by the Spirit He is taken to the wilderness to be tempted of the devil…STORM, opposition. The adversary says “if thou be the Son of God, notice he left out the word “beloved”…then do these things to prove it. The “word” from Heaven said Jesus was beloved and pleasing, the opposition says prove it. Jesus did not fail the “word” although the adversary, Satan, came to challenge it.
So in Mark 4, Jesus says, let’s go to the other side… the adversary says “I don’t think so! Storm”! My question to you is what “word” have you heard from the Father? You feel you trust in this “word” but a storm, an adversary, an opposition to what you know you heard has arisen. I know I heard what I heard with my ear but did I RECEIVE and lock in what I heard in my heart? I submit to you the emphasis should not be on the storm that you WILL encounter, but the emphasis, the focus should be on the sowed “word” which you have heard and it being received, locked in on good ground.
Point 2- “But He [Himself] was in the stern [of the boat], asleep on the [leather] cushion;”
It’s raining, pouring, yet Jesus is snoring! I can relate a little bit. I have always loved thunderstorms even as a child. (I know …weird) When I lived in Indianapolis, I had a house with a huge covered front porch and many days I would sit on the porch watching the rain, listen to the thunder and see the lightning. In fact I do my best sleeping when it is storming outside. Do not ask me to explain it, I can’t. People would sometimes ask did you hear that storm last night and I would respond what storm? Again, I have no explanation, so just pray for me. (smile)
But we see Jesus, in this verse, sleeping, in the midst of a horrific storm, where the Bible says, “The waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled.” Ok, now He has me beat. I can sleep through the noise of the thunder and rain, but with water splashing on me and around me I think I would wake up. I found it curious that the Bible takes the time to give the location of where Jesus is sleeping. The original Greek says “And Himself was in the stern on the head rest sleeping.” I am not a sailing man, but I do know that the stern of a boat is the rear part of the boat, sometimes called the aft. The stern can carry the added weight of a motor, fuel tank, passengers and gear brought on board. Also the stern is where the rudder is located, the thing that controls the direction of the boat. Do you see it? He is located in the part of the boat that is able to handle the extra weight and where the rudder is located which determines the direction of the boat. He IS in control, and it is no strain on Him, He is resting. One more thing, moving the weight aft or stern is significant because it helps keeps the forward part of the boat, or the bow high to deal with oncoming seas. The bow is designed to break the waves. What are you saying, Douglas? I am saying Jesus has strategically placed Himself in a position to guide your ship, despite the weight, despite your stuff, despite good days, despite stormy days to raise your bow high enough to cut through the oncoming waves of life.
I do find it interesting that the Bible does not give the location of the disciples on the boat leaving me to believe they were all over the place. As my mother would say running around like a chicken with its head cut off. (smile) This leads us to the third point of this entry;
Point 3- “and they awoke Him and said to Him, Master, do you not care that we are perishing?”
There is another type of ground described by Jesus in His parable which He taught earlier that day. “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”
One Greek definition of the word “offended” means to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey, to cause one to judge unfavorably or unjustly of another. They awoke Him saying do you not care? The disciples, the ones that should have had the most intimate trust in Jesus began to judge Him unfavorably. They began to unjustly accuse Him of not caring about them. WHAT? HOW DARE THEY!! Oops, my bad. I need to repent; I have done the same thing a time or two in the midst of some of my storms. Now this is important and we cannot miss this. The storm, the problem, the issue did not awake Jesus. God is not moved by our problems, the storms of life, again He is in control. This might be a controversial statement but your crying, complaining and tears do not wake Him. Visualize this scene. All of that wind, all of the lightning and thunder, all of the rocking and rolling of the boat, all of the water from the waves that was beginning to fill the boat did not awake Jesus. The disciples woke Him up. So what am I saying? In the midst of your storm, when He does not seem to be concerned about what is going on around you… WAKE UP THE WORD…that is within you, inside of you, on board. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper”, WAKE UP THE WORD! “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” , WAKE UP THE WORD! “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me”, WAKE UP THE WORD! “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? ”, WAKE UP THE WORD! “By His stripes I am healed”, WAKE UP THE WORD! “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ”, WAKE UP THE WORD! “For whatsoever is born of God over cometh the world: and this is the victory that over cometh the world, even our faith”, WAKE UP THE WORD!
Now wait… you must have the Word on board in order to wake it up. The disciples physically had Jesus on board who John described in the first chapter of his gospel. He says “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God”. Then John brings it even more closer in verse 14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Today the Word can dwell in us and we can still behold His Glory, full of Grace and Truth.
I am curious about something though. What about the other boats that went with Him? They were in the midst of the same storm, without the Word on board. What was going on in their minds? OMG! It was not like the storm was only affecting the boat that the disciples were on, that would not be logical. Here is another thought. What about the wife on shore whose husband is on one of the boats that is following the boat that Jesus is on? What is her demeanor as she worries about the safety of her love one as he is in the midst of the sea in this storm? Is not the storm affecting her, also?
What I am saying is the storm that is affecting you many times affects others as well. Super storm Sandy that hit the east coast in November of 2012 affected the nation. The devastating implausible storm that hit Newtown, Connecticut and the Sandy Hook Elementary School affected and is still affecting the nation. Storms are all around us, but what are we doing? Are we waking up the Word? We have heard the Word, but are we “doing” the Word? Or are we “offended” by the Word? It’s raining, pouring, yet Jesus is snoring! Well then… WAKE UP THE WORD!