Really, Another Storm?

Mark 6:45-52

Message #23

Have you ever felt like you’ve had enough? That you just can’t take one more storm, one more difficulty, one more crisis? And have you ever felt like instead of giving you a break, God has sent you into another storm? If you have, then you can relate to where the Disciples are today. Really, Another Storm?

Back in Mark Chapter 4 (8 messages ago), Jesus took his Disciples into a killer storm on the Galilee in order to prove a critical truth to them. That message was called, “When the Storm Hits.”

And since then, the Disciples had seen Jesus deal with
  • A legion of demons
  • Some desperate faith healings
  • And unbelievable unbelief from his home town of Nazareth

Then, Jesus sent the Disciples out on their first mission’s trip without him, which was certainly grueling for them. Then, they had to deal with the emotional trauma of John the Baptist being beheaded as soon as they got back. And at the same time, the ministry was hitting so hard that they didn’t even have time to eat.

And so, Jesus takes the Disciples away, and they were thinking they’d get some rest, but instead they (literally) become the hands and feet of Jesus – feeding 5,000 people as Jesus proved to them that he was their source for all they needed, in every situation that he called them into.

And then, after all that, today, Jesus sends his Disciples into another storm.
We pick it up just as the Disciples are picking up the leftovers from 5,000 people they had just served a free lunch to. Then, their next lesson starts immediately in Mark 6:45.

Mark 6:45 (NLT)
45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home.


Let’s back up to the events of this same day.
  • First, the Disciples had to search for a sack lunch among 5,000 people
  • Then they had to sit all those people down in groups
  • Then, they had to feed them all
  • Then, they had to clean up after them

Then (verse 45) Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat - and HEAD OUT. And notice this urgent language. Verse 45 says immediately – Jesus insisted… that the Disciples jump back into the boat and head back onto the Sea of Galilee.

This is the urgent language of Jesus having a specific purpose and a time-sensitive plan. And it becomes clear here that this lesson in “The School of Exhaustion” is not yet over.

With all the people still sitting on the hillside patting their bellies from the free fish lunch, Jesus makes his very weary and still “stretched-to-the-breaking-point” Disciples head back out onto the sea very late in the day.

Now, as many as seven of these Disciples may have been fishermen, and four were fishing boat captains, and boat captains learn to sense a storm before it hits. The barometric pressure drops, the sky turns a little different and the wind changes just slightly and a seasoned fisherman can sense a storm’s a-comin’. And Peter, Andrew, James and John were those seasoned fishermen.

And I could see Peter standing on the shore of the Galilee and saying to John, “Can’t you feel it in the air? I’m pretty sure there’s a storm a-comin’. Are you sure we should obey Jesus on this one?”

Guys, if you are following Jesus, there will come a time when you are standing on the shore, and you know that God is sending you into rough waters, you can sense the storm coming, you can feel it in your bones. And at that moment, you must choose to either obey God or disobey God, and it will always be a defining moment in your life.

In January 2001, nineteen years ago, a set of back-to-back miracles brought my family around the kitchen table, and together we sat on the shore, and we looked out into a very likely stormy sea that God was calling us into. And that was the moment that each member of our family chose to obey God and come to Nuevo to start this church.

The miracles had made God’s direction clear, but we still had a choice – to obey or disobey. We had already spent ten years building another church, and many of the wounds of that sacrifice were still healing. And as we looked out onto the sea of doing that all again, we knew that it likely meant more rough seas were comin’.

And so, we went around the table that night, and each of the five of us made a choice. We each cast one vote to either obey Jesus and get in the boat or stay safely on the shore where we were. And every member of our family, starting with our teenage kids, said, “We have no choice, we have to do what God has called us to do.” And within weeks, we started this work of God, in this town, and honestly, we had no idea just how difficult the storm was going to get.

And I believe the Disciples were making the same choice. I believe they could sense the weather changing and were concerned about the coming storm, but still obeyed Jesus and got into the boat and set out.

And to make matters worse, Jesus did not get into the boat with them. Instead, we read in Mark 6:46 (in the ESV for one word).

Mark 6:46 (ESV)
46 And after he
(Jesus) had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.

A mountain, in scripture, is often used as a symbol of authority or a place of authority. So, Jesus sends his Disciples into what he knows is going to be a storm, and then goes to a place of authority to pray for them.

The Book of Hebrews says Jesus is right now sitting in the place of authority at the Father’s right hand. And Hebrews 7:25 says,

Hebrews 7:25 (NLT)
25 . . . [Jesus] is able . . . to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.


That is what Jesus is doing on your behalf now. He is interceding for you from his place of authority.

So, Jesus is in the place of authority, praying. And any concerns the Disciples did have about going out on the water that night were all coming to pass. Look at Mark 6:47.

Mark 6:47 (NLT)
47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land.


Late that night means they had already been on the water for a long time. And for the boat to be in the middle of the lake means it had been blown off course, which means that the storm had settled into the deadly bowl that the Sea of Galilee sits in.

The Disciples were back in another killer storm, and this time Jesus was not with them. But… Jesus… saw them. Look at Mark 6:48(a).

Mark 6:48(a) (NLT)
48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves . . .


The Disciples were in serious trouble in the middle of a lake that becomes a washing machine when a storm hits. They were rowing with everything they had to keep the boat from capsizing. And this word “struggling” in verse 48 means, literally, they were being tortured by the wind and waves. Jesus had (again) sent them into a man-eating storm and it looked like this one might take their lives.

And maybe you’ve been there. In the middle of a raging storm, in the dark of the night, thinking you’re about to slip under the waves, and you’re crying out, “Lord, where are you?” And maybe even, “Lord, you sent me here? How could you? And now, Lord, are you going to leave me here to die?”

But, look at those first two words in verse 48. He saw – Jesus saw them. How in the world could Jesus see them from the top of a mountain to the middle of the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night?

Jesus saw the Disciples in the storm the same way he sees you and me in our storm today! Jesus sees you in the circumstances you are in today. In the middle of the storms of your life, Jesus sees you – he knows right where you’re at. He has not lost track of you; he has not forgotten you.

Psalm 139 says there is no place you can go that the Spirit of God is not with you.

Romans 8 says there is nothing that can separate you from his love.
 
But maybe that raises another question for you. So, now, maybe you’re saying, “Okay, if Jesus sees me – if he knows I’m in this storm – why isn’t he stopping it?”

Listen to me, please. I’m not being light about this. Maybe he hasn’t stopped it because maybe it isn’t time. Let me read the end of Mark 6:48 out of the ESV, again, for just one critical word.

Mark 6:48(b) (ESV)
48 . . . And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea . . .


The fourth watch was from 3 am to 6 am. The NLT uses 3 am, in case we don’t know what the fourth watch of the night is. But it is very important – because the fourth watch is the last watch. The fourth watch is just before dawn. It was the darkest part of the night, and the Disciples were exhausted, discouraged, and wondering if they were going to survive.

Why would Jesus wait to come to us until our darkest hour? Maybe you’ve heard the analogy of the well-trained lifeguard who sees someone flailing around in the water, about to drown. And so, they swim as fast as they can to get near that person, just out of arms reach, and then they stop and wait until that person runs out of their own strength. And just as they’re about to slip underwater, the lifeguard reaches out and saves them because if they would’ve tried any earlier, the person’s flailing attempts to save themselves would’ve drowned both them and the lifeguard.

Guys, Jesus saw the Disciples the entire time. He was watching over them, and when the time was right, Jesus showed up in the storm with them.

Jesus met them in their storm, and he experienced their storm with them.
 
But here is the massive difference. The Disciples were tormented by the storm, but Jesus was using the storm as pavement for his feet to reach the Disciples. And not just reach the Disciples. Jesus was using the storm to reveal himself to the Disciples in a way that he only could by walking on the storm they thought would kill them. That is the authority of Jesus over the storms of our lives.

Jesus wants to use the storm in your life to reach you in a way that he could not otherwise reach you, and right in the midst of your storm, Jesus wants you to experience his authority as he walks on that storm to reach you!

Dave, are you saying that Jesus wants to use this storm in my life for my good and for his glory? Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. And, are you saying that Jesus may let me flail around until I’m just about ready to drown before he reveals his authority over this storm to me? Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.

And guys, when Jesus does show up in the middle of your storm, don’t miss him like the Disciples almost did. Let’s read Mark 6:48(b)-50.

Mark 6:48(b)-50 (NLT)
48 . . . About three o’clock in the morning
(fourth watch) Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, (the inference is – it SEEMED like he intended. . .)
49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost.
(seriously – if Jesus could use THESE guys, he can use US)
50 They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!”

 
They were all terrified - But Jesus spoke – “Don’t be afraid,” - “Take courage! I am here!”

This is the lesson right here
  • In the midst of the storm
  • In the fourth watch
  • In the darkest hour of the night
Jesus steps into the storm with his Disciples, and he walks on the storm in his authority.

And he says to them – and to us – “Do not be afraid,” – “Take courage! – I am here!” The answer to the storms in our lives is to meet Jesus there as he steps into the storm with us, and he walks on the storm in his authority.

Then, what happened to the Disciples can happen to you and to me. It’s in Mark 6:51(a).

Mark 6:51(a) (NLT)
51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped . . .

 
Meet Jesus as he steps into your storm. Allow Jesus to use the storm in your life as pavement for his feet to reach you, and when you truly do, the wind and the waves will stop.

And finally, we see the connection of this event to the feeding of the 5,000. The next verse proves Jesus is still teaching the Disciples the same lesson!

Mark 6:51(b)-52 (NLT)
51 . . . They were totally amazed, 52 for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.

 
The deadly storm, orchestrated by Jesus, was connected to the lesson of the feeding of the 5,000.

Because . . . the disciples still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves.

Jesus is still trying to teach the Disciples the same lesson. Is it possible that Jesus is still trying to teach us the same lesson? The lesson of the feeding of the 5,000 (for us) was, Jesus is our source – for all that we need – in every situation, to do all that he has called us to do. Is there a chance that we still haven’t learned that? Is there a chance that our hearts, like the Disciples, are too hard to take this lesson in?

Let’s learn this lesson before we have to experience any more life-threatening storms. Jesus is truly our source – for all that we need – in every situation, to do all that he has called us to do.

How do we do that?

Go back and study our previous message, “Is Jesus Your Source, Part 2,” for the answer. And maybe go back to the first message as well, “Is Jesus Your Source, Part 1.”

Jesus will be your source, for all that you need, in every situation, to do all that he has called you to do. You have to receive him and learn how to allow him to be your source.