Summary: Jesus wants to displace your fear with faith
The story is told of a man who fell off a cliff, but managed to grab a tree limb on the way down. The following conversation ensued: “Is anyone up there?” “I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe me?” “Yes, Lord, I believe. I really believe, but I can’t hang on much longer.” “That’s all right, if you really believe you have nothing to worry about. I will save you. Just let go of the branch.” A moment of pause, then the man said: “Is anyone else up there?” When the going gets tough, faith is often not our first reaction. Fear and panic usually come much more naturally to us. And we have all kinds of fears.
Peladophobia: fear of bald people. Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple. Chaetophobia: fear of hairy people. Dextrophobia: fear of objects on the right side of the body. Thalassophobia: fear of being seated. Odontophobia: fear of teeth. There’s even such thing as Phobophobia: fear of being afraid.
You may not have a fear of bald people, or hairy people, or teeth, but we all have some fears. And when the going gets tough, in the storms of life, our fears are often exposed. But Jesus wants to displace your fear with faith (4:35-41).
The passage begins with “on that day, when evening came.” It had been a long day of teaching enormous crowds. In fact the crowd was so overwhelming that Jesus had to get in a boat to escape the pressure, and preach from the boat (3:20, 4:1). All day Jesus was pressured and preaching in the hot sun, so by nightfall He was probably exhausted, and He did what He often did. He said, hey guys, lets leave this crowd so I can get some rest. Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, understood the value of resting.
So Jesus climbed in the stern (back) of the boat and fell asleep. But during His sleep a terrible storm came whipping through the Sea of Galilee and caused the disciples to fear for their lives.
If you’ve ever been out to sea when a furious storm hits, you know it’s very scary. I grew up on sailboats and my dad was a little crazy. When the hurricane warnings came out, all other boats were battening down the hatches, but we were raising the sails. So I’ve been out in some horrible storms. I can tell you, when nature’s wrath is unleashed in the power of wind and water together it can be a helpless feeling. I’ve been out to sea on a boat when the wind and waves were so bad it just kept flipping the boat over again and again. And every time I righted the boat, the wind would pick us both right up out of the water and flip us over again, until I just had to hold on and let the storm take me wherever it wanted to. It’s a scary feeling.
The apostles were in that type of wicked storm. A fierce gale of wind was whipping through the deep ravines, pouring into the Sea of Galilee. Those strong winds were creating giant waves that were consistently crashing onto the boat. They were getting absolutely pounded by the sea and the wind, to the point that the boat was on the brink of sinking or coming apart. It was a life-threatening storm.