“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’” - Mark 5:35-38
“On that day” – what was the significance of that particular day? Mark clearly wants his readers to consider the context of this story, the events that led up to it. Jesus was at the height of his public ministry. His fame expanded daily, as did the expectant throngs that gathered to hear him speak, to witness the miracles they had heard so much about. On that particular day, Jesus was teaching on the beach. At one point, the assembly grew so large that he got into a boat, pushed off from the shore, and taught the crowd from the water.
Jesus’ preaching style was quite different that day. He spoke to the people in parables, and the lessons were not easy to understand. Even the disciples had to ask him to explain what they meant (See Mark 4:10-20). There is no mention of how long Jesus taught but, as evening came, he left the crowds and told the disciples to head for the opposite shore. Mark’s account highlights just how ambiguous the disciples’ lives were. They did not get an agenda or itinerary; they never knew where they were going next or what Jesus was planning to do. They simply obeyed. When he said push off and head across the sea, that’s exactly what they did.
For a time, they were accompanied by other boats, until a great tempest erupted without warning. The Sea of Galilee rests 696 feet below sea level and is surrounded by mountains, topography that generates violent, sudden windstorms to this day. Local mariners were aware of the dangers, but that did not make the squalls any less terrifying or deadly. We do not know the fate of the other boats, whether they sank to the bottom of the sea or made it back to shore. From this point on, we only read about one boat and one group of men: Jesus and his disciples.
These men had faithfully obeyed Jesus and pushed off from the shore. They were traveling with a man who had demonstrated power over all the forces of nature and evil. Why, then, would they encounter this formidable storm? Even modern readers might ask themselves that question, as we so often ponder why the Lord allows adversity into the lives of devout followers of Jesus Christ.
The disciples are about to learn a valuable lesson about wind, waves, and the power of Jesus. Sometimes storms are not the result of our sin, disobedience, or failure; sometimes they are opportunities to learn about the power and presence of God.
Reflect and Respond:
How do you view the storms/trials in your life and in the lives of others? Do you seem them as the result of sin, failure, and disobedience? Or do you see them as an opportunity to learn about the faithfulness of God? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The Crucified Life small group Christian study is designed to reflect upon the Seven Last Words of Christ from the cross and what they mean for us today. Walk the road of Calvary with Jesus in order to grow closer to Him. The Crucified Life small group study examines human suffering as it is mirrored in Christ’s suffering on the cross and what His seven last words say to a hurting world. Find out incredible insights into these words as Jesus teaches us, even in death, how we can use our suffering and triumph over it for His glory. Begin your Crucified Life today.
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