Mark 4 36-41( KJV)
36And 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.
37And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38And 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?
39And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye yet have no faith?
41And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
This story is in Matthew 8, Mark 4 and Luke 8 and all tell the same story, but from a slightly different viewpoint. The passage in Mark 4 in KJV above, is the most descriptive and gives a little more detail of the seeming direness of their circumstances and the most detail of Jesus’ response and for my purposes here, I chose it for that. I say ’seeming direness’ because that is exactly what it was because of the simple fact that the Son of God was on their boat with them, in the midst of the storm.
So, Who’s asleep on your boat?
I have heard many sermons about this passage and always I am left with a feeling of kindred spirits with the disciples and a good dose of, “Oh no, I do that too at times.” These were well-seasoned fishermen who I am sure had seen their fair share of storms on the Sea of Galilee, so what was the difference now?
If we look at the Greek words describing the great storm mentioned in the passage, it describes the word great as –
Thayer Definition – G3173 μέγας megas –
Big (+ fear) exceedingly, great (-est), high, large, loud, mighty, and also used of intensity and its degrees: of natural events powerfully affecting the senses: violent, mighty, strong.
Strongs Definition G3176 μέγιστος megistos meg’-is-tos
Superlative of G3173; greatest or very great: – exceeding great.
We see very clearly there was something rather different about this storm – it had a definite purpose to it.
The waves are described like this –
Strongs Definition G1911 ἐπιβάλλω epiballō ep-ee-bal’-lo
From G1909 and G906; to throw upon – beat into, cast (up-), on, fall, lay (on),
also taken from
Strongs Definition G4496 ῥίπτω rhiptō̄ hrip’-to
A primary verb (perhaps rather akin to the base of G4474, through the idea of sudden motion); to fling (properly with a quick toss, thus differing from G906, which denotes a deliberate hurl; and from τείνω teinō (see in G1614), which indicates an extended projection); by qualification, to deposit (as if a load); by extension to disperse: – cast (down, out), scatter abroad, throw.
The wind is described as :
G417 ἄνεμος anemos
1) wind, a violent agitation and stream of air
2) a very strong tempestuous wind
3) the four principal or cardinal winds, hence the four corners of heaven
I am sure you clearly get the picture that this could be described as an extraordinarily, violent storm.
And Jesus slept soundly while it was going on around them with all it’s mighty force. Where was He asleep?- the KJV uses an old term – the hinder part of the boat – the helm, the pilot’s place. There is great significance in this too.
Is He at your helm?
How did the disciples, these hardened fishermen react? By calmly sitting down and having a good old natter, perhaps chatting about the weather patterns of their day? No. They did what any person who does not fully understand Who is asleep in their boat, would do. They more than likely took it upon themselves to solve their immediate problem, their own way by reacting as they would have in the past before Jesus came into their lives. They eventually turn to Jesus when they realise they can of themselves do no more to save the situation, and in utter terror, awaken Him.
Lets look a little closer at their wording again ” Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” Do you see something here? The first thing they do in their panic is turn it on the Lord questioning His care of them – “don’t you care about us?” or, “Lord, why is this happening to us?” , “What about ‘me, me, me’.” How many times in our lives have we asked this of the Lord, whilst going through a storm of any size?
I love the fact that they had to waken Him
Jesus knew fully, and lived even before the storm, knowing that there was nothing happening that His Father did not already know about or would possibly overlook or forget. The second thing that Jesus also knew was that His life and the timing in His life was fully in the hands of His Father. He knew that His Father’s will was what His life was all about, and that He came to do the will of His Father, and it is in the confidence of this knowledge and in the confidence of His Father Himself, that He was able to sleep. And when He awoke, He did not panic alongside His disciples, but stood up and rebuked the sea –
Strong’s Definition G2008 ἐπιτιμάω epitimaō ep-ee-tee-mah’-o
From G1909 and G5091; to tax upon, that is, censure or admonish; by implication forbid: – (straitly) charge, rebuke.
to be quiet –
Strong’s Definition G4623 σιωπάω siōpaō see-o-pah’-o
From σιωπη siōpē (silence, that is, a hush; properly muteness, that is, involuntary stillness
and still –
Strong’s Definition G5392 φιμόω phimoō fee-mo’-o
From φιμός phimos to muzzle
The winds and the waves obeyed Him, not in half-an-hour, but straight away, so there was not a single chance that they could have calmed down ‘naturally’ and the glory gone to anyone else. This now caused an awe and great fear in the disciples. How might it have affected us had we been there, how do we feel when it happens in our lives now?
He was also telling the disciples to be calm and quiet too. He then goes on to say to them, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye yet have no faith?” In other words, “Do you not know Who is asleep on the boat with you? Do you not yet know Who I AM?”
Have you heard Him ask you this question too?
Let me ask you another and one that I still have to face many times myself: Is your life all about what you want and your ideas and your agendas or are you prepared to be taken through absolutely anything that the Lord has ahead of you regardless of the size of the storm, for Him to get you to where He wants you and needs you to be?
I use the words again, “Do you not know Who I AM?”
Is there anything more important in our life here on earth, with Jesus as both Lord and Saviour, than about us getting to know Him and whatever that might involve, no matter the storms involved? – see Philippians 3
The last sentence in this passage reads, ” 41And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Even though they had been with Him for some while and had faith in Him, and had watched Him perform many miracles, they still had not been in a situation like this one. And here they failed. Nothing before had tested and tried their faith in Him like this episode. And as a result of His quieting the storm, they greatly feared Him far more than they ever feared the storm itself.
Strongs: G5399 φοβέω phobeō fob-eh’-o
From G5401; to frighten, that is, (passively) to be alarmed; by analogy to be in awe of, that is, revere: – be (+ sore) afraid, fear (exceedingly), reverence
With this experience, they moved into a new understanding and awe of Him through His command of the storm, just as we do too, when coming through and out the other side of a storm in our own life and have seen that He has indeed been there all along and is in control of it too.
‘This Man’ lived and moved and had His being in God, was man as he was originally intended to be with God from the beginning. Not even Adam, before the fall, was ever such a man. This man was in reality, God Incarnate, God in the flesh. No wonder they were exceedingly, sore-afraid.
So, Who’s asleep in your boat?
Do we go through the storms that are threatening to overload our boat and sink us, reacting in our common sense that prevails often resulting in a state of panic or are we sure and confident in the One Who is at the helm even though it appears he has no tiller in hand? A time comes when our best is not good enough to resolve things and we have no where else to go, but to throw ourselves upon Him in prayer and allow the Lord to do His divine best and that is when He expects us to have utter confidence in His ability and in His power. Will He be able to rely upon us as His children to have calm and steady ’sea-legs’ when the storm hits?
He may at times appear to be asleep as we sleep, but the Bible makes it very clear in Psalm 121:4 that, Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. In the Song of Solomon 5:2 it says, ” I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved!. Jesus is ever before the Father interceding for us, His children. Hebrews 7:25 tells us that, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
Whatever the storm is you are going through, are you prepared to allow the Lord to waken up at His leisure, knowing you can have utter confidence in Him; that He knows already what the outcome is and is already interceding on your behalf before the Throne of Grace and Mercy? Does He not deserve our absolute confidence and trust in Him in each and every situation or circumstance in our lives, as Lord of all?
We need to learn that He Who is asleep on the boat, is more capable than we will ever be, to manage the boat.
I end with some words from Oswald:
Is Jesus Christ a Carpenter, or is He God to me? If He is only man, why let Him take the tiller of the boat? Why pray to Him? But if He be God, then be heroic enough to go to the breaking-point and not break in your confidence in Him.
So, Who’s asleep on your boat?
In His love
All Glory to God
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