On Your Mark
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you
still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this?
Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:40,41, NIV)
I’ll never forget the first time I preached from this text.
It was my senior year in seminary, and I had been selected
by the faculty to give the last chapel sermon of the year.
I broke this entire storm-at-sea story into three parts:
High winds — the adversities of life that arise quite
Desperate voices — the panic we feel in the storm.
An unexpected word — Jesus speaks to the
circumstances, “Peace!” and a word of rebuke to the disciples for their lack of
When I finished I was filled with pride. I thought I had
preached a masterpiece, and even made a few listeners seasick with my soaring
rhetoric about the wind and the waves.
All that ended when Dr. Everett Harrison, my New Testament
professor, walked over to me and kindly said, “George, that’s always been a
favorite passage of mine. Have you noticed [I hadn’t!] that perhaps the reason
Jesus accuses them of ‘no faith’ is that at the beginning He had said, ‘Let us
go to the other side.’ In the middle of the storm they forgot His word. When we
forget the word of Jesus, we will always be afraid.”
In his gracious way, Dr. Harrison told me that I had
preached for 25 minutes and missed the main point. But I’ve never forgotten it
You will always be afraid when you forget the promise, the
word of Jesus.
At least the disciples might have had some faith —
but, they had NO faith. They were not able to transpose Jesus’ past acts into a
faith that trusted Him to also deal with this new emergency.
Isn’t that like us though? The Lord brings us through one
trial, and then when we hit the next one, we panic all over again. We fail to
transfer the lesson that if He did not abandon us in the past, then He won’t
leave us now.
The disciples don’t answer Jesus’ question, “Why have you no
faith?” Instead they ask a question of their own, “Who is this?”
For the first time, they are afraid of Jesus. More than
afraid — terrified!
They didn’t fear Him during the storm — they awakened
Him as though He were just a lazy passenger unwilling to help them bail water.
His presence wasn’t making a difference in their situation, or so they thought.
In the wake of His miracle, they no longer regard Him as
ordinary. But even here we can learn from their example — it is far
better to be terrified of Jesus than to treat Him as just another person.
This is the One who has power alone to grant eternal life,
to raise the dead, to forgive sins, and to present us to the Majesty on High!
He is the One alone who will lift us out of time and space into God’s heaven.
Do we have any idea of the magnitude of His power?
Our greatest danger is assuming Jesus has no power to help
or save us, but the greatest reality is that He does.
A prayer of response
Teach me, Lord, to fear You — not the fear that cowers
as a victim thrashed by a bully; but the fear that comes from a healthy respect
for Your power. Help me, Lord, to see You as far more than the cozy Jesus whom
I can treat as an equal. You are greater than my mind can ever embrace.
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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