“The Weather Changer”
In the part of the country in which I live, the weather can change rather drastically on a daily basis. It may be quite cold in the morning but in the afternoon the temperature is rather hot. There may be no clouds in the sky in the evening but thirty minutes later there is lots of rain, wind, and even hail. Oh, it is quite interesting to live where I do, as the weather changes quite often. The same is true with the Sea of Galilee; without much notice, a severe wind storm can sweep down onto that inland lake and cause all kinds of damage. Boats and the people in them who happen to be on the lake are at risk of experiencing great loss. And that was the case in the story that is the focus of our study today, on “Key to the Kingdom.” Jesus and His disciples were on the Sea of Galilee when a violent storm arose. The strong winds blew water into the boat and everyone quickly became afraid, everyone, that is, except for Jesus. He knew everything would be okay, and that He was in complete control. Now, that sea in the land of Israel represents our lives, doesn’t it? Very quickly and without much warning storms can blow into our lives, that cause all kinds of damage and loss. And yet as we will see in today’s story, there is no need to be afraid when Jesus is by our side. As quickly as our situation got bad it can get much better, for Jesus is truly a weather changer. I hope you will join us for this lesson as we consider how Jesus is our source of help and rescue when storms invade our lives. Stay tuned to this station for the next few minutes as we open our Bibles and study together.
One of life’s greatest challenges is to live it without any problems; and indeed, that would be nice. To go from day to day without any cares or concerns or problems would be most enjoyable; and yet, that is not very realistic, is it? When problems do come, however, and we can be sure they will, the question is, how do we deal with them? How do we handle the storms that suddenly and often times unexpectedly invade our lives? Well, we have several options; we can create our own plan; we can turn to some friends for help or advice. But here is one thought, have we ever considered going to Jesus and asking for His help? Well, one day Jesus’ disciples were in a mess. They had a problem they could not fix on their own. No solution was in sight and their last but yet their best option was to turn to Jesus for help; and, that’s what they did according to the story we have before us in the gospel of Mark, chapter 4 beginning with verse 35. <That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion, and the disciples woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still.” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 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 that even the wind and the waves obey Him?”> The Sea of Galilee is some thirteen miles from the north to the south and about seven and a half miles from the east to the west. It is surrounded by hills on three sides, the east and the north, and also the west. And the south is opened up, as the water from the sea flows to the Jordan River and eventually empties out into the Dead Sea. Now very easily and very quickly, wind can sweep down over those three hills and cause a great deal of damage and create a violent storm there on the Sea of Galilee. It can stir up the water, even to the point it begins to quickly fill up a first century fishing boat. Well, the disciples and Jesus were in such a storm. They were going from one side of the Sea across to the other side when all of a sudden a storm arose. And we can just imagine that, can’t we? We can imagine the wind. We can imagine the waves leaping high above the boat. We can imagine the fear that has overcome the disciples. We can imagine how the water was coming into the boat the disciples were wondering; what’s going to happen; will we live or will we die. Perhaps they made every effort to take control of that situation. Maybe they lowered the sail. Perhaps they threw some cargo overboard. They might have even considered going back to the shore from which they came. They did everything they knew to do, but yet still they were afraid they would die. Sometimes fear is like that for us, isn’t it? It paralyzes us to the point we don’t know for sure what to do. We’ve exhausted our resources. We have no other options, but we are afraid to do anything else, and that’s the condition in which we find these disciples. And when they realize their situation was completely out of control and they were about to drown, they woke up Jesus. He was taking a nap there in the stern of the boat, as we just read. Perhaps He was busy, with the ministry, He was tired, He needed to take some rest, and the disciples did not want to disturb Him because they knew He needed that rest. Perhaps you’ve experienced something like that. Do you remember those times when perhaps your parents told you, “I don’t want to be disturbed as I take my two hour Sunday afternoon nap. If a problem arises, you take care of it. If something happens and you don’t know what to do, then figure out a solution.” And you respected that. Your parents perhaps had a long week of work and they needed some extra rest. Or maybe they knew what was on the horizon and they wanted to get some sleep before it came about. And the last thing you wanted to do was wake up your parents when a situation arose. Now, I don’t suppose Jesus said anything like that, but out of respect, for the One who was healing the sick, they let him sleep. In appreciation for His amazing lessons and fascinating stories, they wanted Jesus to get some rest; and so, these disciples tried to take care of the problem themselves. But then, finally, with no other option in sight, they turned to Jesus for assistance. These fishermen, turned followers, have probably been out on the sea before. They knew what it was like to encounter such a storm, and no doubt it caused a great deal of fear, but they perhaps had gone through their check list and done all the things they were supposed to do when a storm came about. But for some reason or another, this time was different and things were out of hand. And once Jesus was awake, He turned His attention to the Sea and He said two words, according to the Greek or the original language, and those two words are, “Be still.” And I know that in our translations, we add a third word, and that is, “Quiet! Be still.” But when Jesus spoke those two words, be still, immediately the wind ceased, the waves stopped and there was a great calm. Perhaps it looked like this picture, which I took not long ago when I was on the Sea of Galilee. Everything was calm. Everything was still. No waves were in sight and it was an extremely peaceful time. I live in a place where during the spring and summer months, often times, storms arise quickly and we are caught unprepared. Oh, the weatherman announces that a storm is coming and then we take out our phones and we watch the radar screen as to where it’s going, but sometimes those storms are more severe and more devastating than what we could have imagined. And when that happens, sometimes people are out in the midst of that storm and they need some help. They need to be rescued. Maybe water is coming into their home. Maybe water is coming into their car and they need someone to come along and provide some kind of assistance that will rescue them from that situation. And it is even during times like that when some people will make some kind of statement to God that says, “God, if you will just get me out of this mess, I will rededicate my life to you. If you will solve my problem, this time, then I won’t go down this route next time.” Perhaps we’ve been in those situations, haven’t we? We don’t know for sure what to do. We have no more options and so we cry out to God as our very best, but often times our very last, option. That seems to be what happened here with these disciples. They were talking and they were wondering and they were praying: “What do we do? How do we handle this situation?” They finally wake up Jesus and He immediately provides the solution. At the conclusion of the story, we find four questions; the disciples asked two and Jesus asked two. The first one by the disciples is, “Don’t you care if we drown?” Now, that seems to be a rather rude question, doesn’t it? They awaken Jesus and they asked Him, “Don’t you care about us? Don’t you see what’s going on here? We are about to drown, and you are too. What are you going to do about that? Don’t you care about the problem that is in my life today?” Yes, the disciples weren't sure if they would live or die. They did not know what was going to happen. And at times, we tend to ask those same questions. Lord, don't you care if I'm drowning here in my life? And we may be drowning in a number of different ways. We might be drowning in debt. We might be drowning in relationship issues. We might be drowning in health problems, or a host of other things. And we cry out to the Lord, “Don't you see me, don't you see what's happening in my life, and don't you care what's going on?” And yet, deep down in our heart we know that He does care, don't we? We know Jesus does see. We know that He is fully aware of absolutely everything going on in our life, right now. And Jesus reveals himself to us at just the right time and in just the right way, as the right solution is presented. And no doubt that looks different for all of us. Sometimes those answers come in ways we did not even expect. Oftentimes, those answers come not on our time table, but rather on His time table. And yet, there is one undeniable fact in the midst of all of that, Jesus cares about us. Yes, He does care. He loves us and He comes to our rescue at exactly the right time and He provides the solution which we need. Well, the disciples aren't done. After Jesus calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee, they ask among themselves the question, “Who is this? Who is this one called Jesus? Who is this One in the boat with us? Who is this One whom we have chosen to follow?” Yes, after Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples were amazed. He went far beyond their expectations. He not only took care of their immediate needs, but He also blessed others who were in the boats nearby, as we just read. They too were blessed in that the storm over the entire sea was calmed. When Jesus did something in a moment's notice, the disciples recognized that, indeed, He was special. He had already healed sick people. He had already cleansed people of leprosy, He had already taught some amazing lessons, and now this! No wonder they were talking among themselves. Who is this? Look at what He has just done. Oh, these men were beginning to realize, Jesus was certainly worth following. We might even say it like this; Jesus was a weather changer. He changed the weather in their life, just like He changes the weather in our life. Well, the disciples had asked two, now let's look at Jesus' two questions. Number one: He asked, “Why are you so afraid?” Now, why would Jesus ask a question like that? Was it not obvious to Him that there was a need to be afraid because of the storm on the sea? Was it not as obvious to Him as it was to these disciples? The water was filling the boat. They were in danger. They did not know for sure if they would survive, in the midst of the storm, and hope was quickly vanishing away. And yet it seems that to Jesus, this was just another storm on the Sea of Galilee. He lived nearby. He had seen such storms before. And yet, this was simply another opportunity for Him to demonstrate the power of God. I can just imagine Jesus looking at that storm on the sea and standing up in that small boat and raising His arms and saying, “Be still;” and it was. And that's really all that needed to be done. And in fact, not even that. Simply the presence of the Lord in the midst of the storm is what solved the problem. Yes, Jesus spoke and the winds and waves immediately obeyed His voice. Jesus knew there was no reason for anyone to be afraid, and He showed why. But now there's a second question Jesus asks. He said to the disciples, “Do you still have no faith?” Well, we don't know for sure how long these disciples had been with Jesus; but, evidently they had seen Him perform miracles, they had heard His teaching, they saw Him interact with the people and show compassion and kindness and love to them. But their faith in Jesus was not where it needed to be. Perhaps it was growing. Perhaps they were maturing as His followers, but they weren't where they needed to be at this particular time. Perhaps these men had exhausted all of their resources. Perhaps they did everything they could do in order to keep the boat afloat. But the problem might have been they had more faith in their own abilities than they did in the ability of Jesus. And so, finally, after their resources and abilities were exhausted, they turned to Him for help. That, to, describes some of us, doesn't it? We like to take matters into our own hands, hoping to come up with the solution to the problem that suddenly invades our life. And we believe in ourselves; we believe in our abilities and our strengths more so than we do in the abilities and the strengths of Jesus. But when we have no more ideas and no more answers, it is then that we do like these disciples; we turn to Him as our last and yet our best option. Oh, in the midst of persecution or times of stress and anxiety, we also cry out to the Lord for help. We may even wonder whether or not there is a God in heaven who cares about us. And if so, we try to wake Him up as to the needs in our life. But this story reminds us that Jesus is the Lord, even over all of nature. And when we encounter uncertain times, it is only natural for us to take it upon ourselves to come up with a solution. Or, if we don't do that, we are paralyzed by fear; we don't know how to respond and we tend to forget that Jesus is in the boat with us. His presence never leaves us and we can trust Him to be the provider and the rescuer of the problems in our life. Oh, at times we may ask questions like these disciples did: “Aren't you aware of my problem, Lord? Don't you care whether or not I drown in the midst of life; it seems so overwhelming?” Well, not only is the Lord alive and well, He sees exactly what is happening in our life and He has a solution. Oh, there is no reason to be afraid when the storms of life come our way. And as was the case with the disciples during such time, Jesus obviously cares about us; and, there was no reason to wonder about that. He is with us in the boat the whole time, and there is every reason to put our faith in Him. I remember a time in my life that was stormy. I did not know for sure how to handle that. I exhausted all of my resources. I went to other people for help and advice. But when I turned to the Lord, He provided a solution! It wasn't what I thought it might be. It wasn't on my time table, but it was far better than what I had ever imagined. What has happened in your life? Maybe you've encountered a trial, a storm, that seemed so overwhelming, and you're drowning and you wonder if God even sees or cares about you. And yet, He provided a solution, didn't He? He never left you. He was in the boat with you. He brought peace to your troubled life. He eliminated the stress and anxiety that was on your heart. And indeed, He saw exactly what was going on. And now, you are here to tell that story. Now you are here to tell other people about the amazing love and act of God, how He took you out of that situation and He brought a solution to your problem. Yes, in one way or another and against all odds, Jesus came through on your behalf, just like He did on mine and just like He did in the lives of these disciples. He solves our problems. He is our weather changer. And, no doubt, all of us can relate to that. And so as we consider that, we have to ask ourselves the question; how then do we respond to the story that we find here in the gospel of Mark, chapter 4? Well, here is something for us to consider: When there is fear in our life, there is no room for faith in our heart. Let me say that again. When there is fear in our life, there is no room for faith in our heart. When we can eliminate the fear of being in uncertain circumstances, and put our faith in Jesus Christ, then we can know without a doubt that all is well. And that is my encouragement and invitation for us today. When the things of life seem so overwhelming and we are about to drown, don't be paralyzed by fear; but rather, put faith in Jesus Christ. Turn to Him for help as your first and best option, and know that He will provide. I encourage you, today, to turn to Jesus Christ and allow Him to change the weather in your life.
The Sea of Galilee is not a very large body of water. It is about seven and a half miles from east to west and about 13 miles from north to south. It is surrounded by hills on three sides, but opens up to the south as the Jordan River flows out of it. It is 682 feet below sea level. The New Testament also refers to it as the Sea of Tiberius or the Lake of Gennesaret. Needless to say, the Sea of Galilee was a focal point of Jesus’ ministry, as a majority of it takes place on the northern shore. Very quickly and without warning, wind storms can sweep down onto the sea and cause all kinds of damage. On one occasion, Jesus sat in a boat while teaching the people who gathered on the shore. By the end of the day, He was tired and instructed His disciples to take Him to the other side. As they were going, a major windstorm came upon them. The boat was quickly filling up with water, and the disciples were afraid. Jesus, however, was taking rest from an exhausting day, and finally the disciples woke Him from His sleep. He immediately rebuked the waves with the words, “Quiet! Peace! Be still.” That is exactly what happened. The disciples recognized very quickly, Jesus was someone special. He was a weather changer. Even though it may appear Jesus is asleep and not aware of what is going on in your life, He knows all. He sees and understands what is happening in this world. And no matter what kind of storms are confronting you today, remember, Jesus loves you and cares for you. And more than that, He can bring peace to your troubled life because He is the weather changer.
Thank you for tuning in to today's program. It is good to know Jesus sees exactly what is going on in our lives and that He provides exactly what is needed. I hope this message was an encouragement to you. It, along with other previously recorded ones, is available on our website. It is absolutely free and requires no commitment to download in several different formats. Go to keytothekingdom.com and find any which might be of interest. While on the website, please take time to notice some of the other things we offer. Devotional thoughts and videos relating to today's world are also freely accessible. Information about this media effort and the mission work we do in India is there as well. There are a number of other ways to keep up with this ministry. You can find us on Facebook®. Once you do, I hope you will like and then share the weekly post with others. Many have already done so and are being blessed by them. Roku® television and a free phone app can also keep you in touch with us. And all of these are simple and easy ways to access the videos and the information in the lessons we are happy to make available. It is a pleasure to share these weekly messages with you and I trust they are a blessing. Thank you again for being with us today; and, I hope you will join us again next time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”