What Was He Doing?

The sky had been blue, the lake calm.

These men knew the water, loved it, and had made their living from it since childhood.

Now, as the sun began to set across the beautiful azure sea, he said to the men, “Let’s cross to the other side.”

The crowds had been large and attentive but his relentless teaching had taken its toll.

Jesus was tired.

When he told the disciples to come with him into the boat to cross over, they understood and obeyed. It wasn’t long after they launched that Jesus took a pillow, climbed to the stern and fell asleep.

Mark tells us in his account of this incident that very suddenly and without warning a fierce storm swept down across the Sea of Galilee. The sea is small – more like a lake. It is surrounded by hills, especially to the east, that rise in some places 2,000 feet. These mountains are the source of dry, cool air. In contrast, the climate around the sea itself is almost tropical; warm and moist.

This can create strong winds that quickly descend upon the water to the center of the lake like a giant funnel. The result is a violent and dangerous storm.

In a small boat is not where you want to be.

The disciples were seasoned fishermen but this storm had taken them by surprise and was threatening their lives. The huge squall sent high waves crashing over the boat. The ferocious winds lashed the rain hard across their faces until they were nearly blinded by it.

The boat was taking in water – a lot of it. Their hearts pounded with fear. And where was Jesus? Awake? Worried?


Mark says he was in the back of the boat, “asleep on a pillow” (Mark 4:38, KJV). In the midst of this storm, surrounded by the violence of the natural world and men scared out of their wits, the Savior of the world was … sleeping!

Some folks can sleep through anything. Jesus apparently was one of them.

These men were in this desperate situation because the man now sleeping had told them to get into this boat. They had obeyed their Lord’s command and done his will.

And now here they were – and here he was.

Christians may be tempted to think that as long as they are living good lives in accordance with God’s word and purpose, he will protect them from all danger and difficulty. This is not so. As quickly as these men found themselves in the midst of a severe storm, our lives can turn from peace to trouble without a moment’s notice.

If you’ve been a Christian for very long then you know this is true.

The disciples obeyed but they were still in trouble – “in this world.” If our best life is now then we are, as Paul told the Corinthians, most to be pitied.

In their desperation, powerless to change circumstances beyond their control, these men turned to Jesus.

Hundreds of years ago, when believers faced cultural and religion storms that buffeted their new faith, the future martyr Savonarola preached in the great Cathedral of Florence.

“Sirs,” he told his congregation, “the light of faith is being extinguished; the soul of the Church is perishing. The ark of the Lord is going under. The billows of unbelief are going over her. The waves of trouble are swamping her … Sirs,” he cried, “what are we do to do? What can we do?”

Then in a thunderous chorus that shook the stately edifice and signaled the coming Reformation, the crowd shouted, “Wake Christ! Wake Christ!”

And so the disciples did. They roused the Savior from his slumber with a question:

“Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to drown?” (Mark 4:38, NLT).

“Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (KJV).

“Carest thou not?”

This was the first concern these terrified men had.

Is it not ours? In our despondency, discouragement and fear, the devil whispers to our heart that God doesn’t care.

Our nation and the world are in great crisis.

“Carest thou not?”

You don’t know when or from where your next job is coming.

“Carest thou not?”

You’ve prayed for years for your unsaved family to believe in Christ.

“Carest thou not?”

You’ve struggled with illness; perhaps you son or daughter is in the grip of drug addiction; maybe your marriage is on the rocks.

“Carest thou not that we perish?”

Jesus stood up and “rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, ‘Peace, be still’” (verse 39, KJV).

And suddenly there was a great calm.

“Why are you so fearful?” Jesus asked them. “How is it that you have no faith?” (verse 40, NKJV).

Oh yes, he cares. Do you believe that he does?

Is it not enough that Jesus was in the boat with his disciples? That he was present in their storm? Would this boat – or any boat – sink with Jesus in it?

We shall not perish in the presence of Christ – no matter the fierceness of our storm.

What was Jesus doing? Strengthening the disciples’ faith with his power and comforting their fear with his presence.

He did that in their storm.

He does the same in ours.

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Filed under Christian World View, Faith, Religion

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