Summary: Lessons that we can learn when we are going through the storms of life.
Theory Before Practice
In Mark 4:35-41, we find an interesting story about Jesus and the disciples. Here we find them crossing the Sea of Galilee, in order to accomplish an important ministry in the region of the Gerasenes. This episode, in the lives of Jesus and his disciples, is sandwiched between the parables of Mark 4:1-34; relating to the kingdom of God and faith, and Mark 5:1-20; concerning the episode where Jesus drove out Legion from the demoniac. Nothing in scripture is by coincidence.
The fact that these three events: Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of God; the storm at sea; and the demoniac are next to each other in the bible, suggests that they are related, and that they are significant. One could conjecture that it was the purpose of Jesus to explain the theory behind God’s kingdom in these parables. This would be followed by the disciples witnessing Jesus demonstrate his authority before them, when he brought deliverance to the demoniac in the region of the Gerasenes.
As it says in In Mark 5:4-2 (NIV), ’They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him.’ It is important to take note of the fact that Jesus was not demonstrating his authority before the disciples just for the fun of it. On the contrary, he was preparing them for when they too would need to preach the gospel and drive out demons, which would take place just two chapters further along in the book of Mark. As it says in Mark 6:7 (NIV), ’Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.’
The disciples were in the unique position of receiving the theory about God’s kingdom from Jesus; followed by a practical expression of that faith; followed by their own field trip to practice what Jesus had taught them. But sandwiched between theory and practice was a test. This test was something that the disciples needed to go through, at night and in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, which they could not escape from. And this test related to trusting God through a dark storm, which we will now consider in the rest of this sermon.
In Mark 4:35-36 (NIV) it says, ’That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.’ The first point that we need to be aware of here is that Jesus initiated the journey across the Sea of Galilee. Likewise, the Holy Spirit had initiated the testing of Jesus in the desert in Matthew 4:1 (NIV) when it says, ’Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil’.
The second point is that whenever we go through times of testing, such tests can only be initiated by God. At no point would God ever allow anyone to go through a test initiated by the Devil, simply because we are not answerable to Satan. And before you quote Job at me, let us read exactly what happened, just before Job entered his time of testing. In Job 1:8 (NIV) It says, ’Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” ’
Notice that it is God who brings Job to the attention of Satan, and not the other way around. In fact, Satan had not considered testing Job because of the simple fact that God had placed an hedge around him, which he was unable to penetrate. As Satan says in Job 1:9-11 (NIV), “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Clearly, God is in full control of Job’s situation. It is only when God permits Satan to inflict harm on Job that the test begins, under the directions of God. As it says in Job 1:11-12 (NIV), ’But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.’