Summary: Just as earthly fathers sometimes allow their children to face dilemmas so they can grow and mature, Jesus allowed His disciples to face the life-and-death dilemma of a huge storm at sea, so that He could show His power and inspire them to trust Him.
I think it’s safe to say that the drought in Minnesota is over, don’t you? The pictures and video of the flooding in Duluth are stunning. The good news is that our lakes and rivers are filling up, and most of our farmers are happy with the rain. The bad news is that Donna and I have a bumper crop of little bunnies in our yard who want to eat our flowers and little vegetable plants! *In the summer of 1985 the nation of Israel suffered through a horrible drought. It was so bad they had to pump water out of the Sea of Galilee to irrigate their fields. As the level of the lake kept getting lower from the pumping, it created these huge mud flats. One day two brothers walking along the shore noticed the outline of a boat buried in the mud. Archaeologists were called in, and when they dug the boat out, Carbon 14 dating tests showed that the boat was built in 40 B.C. and was used in the first century A.D. It was 26 ½ feet long and 7 ½ feet wide. It could hold up to 15 people, considering the fact that the average man back then was 5 feet 5 and weighed 140 pounds! Jesus was a shorty! The boat probably had a mast as well as a deck on the front and the back.
Even though it’s called the “Jesus Boat” today, there’s no proof it was ever used by Jesus. But it was a common boat for that lake, and it helps us visualize the stories in the New Testament that talk about Jesus being in a boat with His disciples. A few verses before our sermon text today, Jesus is sitting in a boat just off shore, teaching the crowds. Now it’s evening of that same day. Jesus is worn out from all the teaching. He wants to get away from the crowds so He says to His disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side.” The east side of the Sea of Galilee was a pretty barren, lonely place - a perfect spot to rest. So they got in the boat and started sailing across the lake.
Before they knew it, they were in a huge storm, with waves crashing over the boat and water filling it up. The word for storm here is literally a squall - a sudden, violent, brief storm. The Sea of Galilee is famous for its squalls. It’s 680 feet below sea level, where the air is warm and moist. But the air that drops down over the lake comes from mountains thousands of feet high. When that cold air hits the warm lake air, you have instant storms - even today. That’s what happened in our story. Of course, the disciples were freaking out, just like you and I would be. Mark uses the word squall, but in the book of Matthew, Matthew calls it a seismos, an earthquake effect of the waves pounding against the boat and into the boat. Who wouldn’t freak out? But look at Jesus! Sleeping on a cushion in the back of the boat! How could He? *Years ago I went on a fishing trip with my brother Mike off the coast of California a few years ago. We were on a boat that held 40 people. I wanted to get the best view, so I took a spot at the front. I didn’t realize that that was the bumpiest spot too, the spot with the most motion! After an hour or so hour I started heaving into the water. I threw up 25 times that day! Must have been great fish bait because we caught a ton of them!