Immanuel: Ruler of the Waves

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Loving and Trusting God

When evening came, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took Christ along 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. The disciples woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus 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? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” (Mark 4:35-41)

Note: This same true story is recorded in Matthew chapter 8 and Luke chapter 8. And I’ll weave in details from the other Gospels.

Corrie ten Boom and Christ

Corrie ten Boom (1892–1983) was a Dutch Christian who worked with her father and sister to help many Jewish people escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust in World War II. Corrie’s most famous book, The Hiding Place, recounts her family’s efforts and how she found and shared hope in God while she was imprisoned at the concentration camp.

Corrie said:
If your eyes are on the world, you’ll be distressed.
If your eyes are on yourself, you’ll be depressed.
But if your eyes are on Jesus, believers can be at rest.

That’s what we need today, beloved, eyes on Christ, as we carry personal, financial, health, and family concerns. As we pray for Jesus’ people around the world. As we do spiritual battle this week, we need eyes on our Savior. We need to know the Lord better and worship Jesus more. And get bigger, better, wider, longer, higher, deeper views of Christ Himself. The hymn says: Jesus is our God, our help, in ages past, our hope for today, tomorrow, and for years to come. He is our Shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal Home.

Jesus’ miracles are meant to drive us to pray to Him! Scripture says: We have a high priest who can empathize with our weaknesses, who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.1

See the Problem: The Storm

Many of you know this true story, but I’ll re-tell it briefly. After dismissing the crowds, Jesus and friends depart for the other side of the lake in a fishing boat. The Sea of Galilee is a big lake, 13 miles long, and 7 miles wide. Some of you have been there.

Out in the lake, a violent storm comes suddenly! Like a hurricane. It comes out of nowhere and the winds attack the little boat, whipping it around like a plastic toy. The towering waves crash over the sides of the boat, swamping the passengers. It’s no ordinary turbulence. Some of the apostles are veteran fishermen and they can handle bad weather. But this is bigger and worse than they are used to. Now they’re not complaining about the inconvenience. They are begging for their life! They say: “Teacher, Lord, Master, we’re going to drown!” Apart from God’s deliverance, they are in jeopardy.

Now See Jesus’ Miracle

All this time, the Lord Jesus was sleeping peacefully in the back of the boat on a cushion. That detail reminds us that Christ was and is 100% God and 100% human in one person. So He fully understands us. More on this later. The disciples panicked and woke Jesus up. Majestically, Christ arises and rebukes the wind and waves: “Quiet! Silence! Hold your peace! Be still!” He treats the natural elements as His servants and they submit to Him! This is the Savior we have, beloved!

Immediately, the severe storm is muzzled! The sea is smooth as glass! Normally after rough weather, the waters are rocky for hours. But today, God’s Son speaks and the elements stop dead in their tracks. Jesus did many miracles recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Apostle John wrote: “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples….But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.2

Christ is God, equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit. Christians believe that because: Jesus claimed to be God; He lived a sinless life; He performed supernatural works; and He rose bodily from the grave just as He said He would do.

How Do the Disciples Respond?

They are overcome with great awe. During the storm, they fear losing their life and that feeling’s gone. But now Christ’s miracle is so extraordinary, that His friends tremble. They’re overcome with amazement at what Jesus has just done.

They have the good kind of fearing God taught in Proverbs that is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. Now they experience Jesus as God in a new way. This good kind of fearing the Lord helps us to hate evil, especially in ourselves. To hate pride, arrogance, evil behavior, and perverse speech. Proverbs 14:26 says: “Whoever fears the Lord (as a believer) has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.”

These disciples are Jews who know the book of Genesis and grow up singing the Psalms. About God creating and governing the heavens and earth, seas and dry land. They sing about God ruling the surging waters, stilling waves, and hushing storms to a whisper. They sing about God rebuking the Red Sea and blowing it back with His breath. They know the Psalms as well as we know Christian hymns.

Now here, in the boat, is this flesh and blood man. This Nazarene carpenter, Jesus, their friend. This preacher/rabbi who eats, drinks, laughs, and cries with them. Just a minute ago, He was napping. Now He does what only God can do. He commands the storms to stop and they obey!

The disciples ask: “Who is this? What sort of man is He that even the wind and sea obey Him?” They know intellectually and would say the right thing in Sunday School. But right now, they feel overwhelmed by Jesus’ divine majesty, mercy, and might. They’re amazed and astonished at this fresh demonstration that Christ is God Almighty! And they worship, reverence, and respect Him even more than before.

That’s Exactly What We Must Do.  All the Time.

And we need to help one another to keep being overwhelmed that Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. He has absolute power over all people, all nations, in all times in history. He rules righteous and wicked people, kings and wars, death and disease, Satan and angels. And Christ rules the hundreds of things that distress us.

Jesus is the Maker and Master of His universe. He is the Sovereign Ruler of all nature. Let’s remember this truth afresh, for the comfort of our hearts and for comforting others. Let’s be reminded that we live and move and have our being in Jesus’ loving presence. And He has authority, control, and dominion over everyone and everything!

William Carey reminds us: “One person with the LORD on your side is a majority.” And if dangerous days assault us, beloved, and they will, let’s remember that King Jesus is the One who sends it. And He alone has the power to remove it or use it for our good, and to strengthen us to overcome by His grace, until the end.

To be continued

Notes (various Bible translations): 1 Hebrews 4:15-16.     2 See John 21:25, 31.