Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation. Psalm 38:22
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 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?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41
As I consider this account, I notice that the disciples took Jesus along with them “just as he was.” This sets up the later observation that Jesus was asleep in the middle of the storm. It also sets up the severity of the sudden storm. It is so severe that the disciples fear for their lives. The storm is so severe that the boat is filling with water. These fishermen who were likely familiar with sudden severe storms such as this fear for their lives. This must have been some bodacious storm!
This also sets up the acts of Jesus. In bold relief of the cowering fishermen/disciples, Jesus stands, rebukes the wind and sea. And all is still. Centuries earlier God confronted Job:
“Who kept the sea inside its boundaries
as it burst from the womb,
9 and as I clothed it with clouds
and wrapped it in thick darkness?
10 For I locked it behind barred gates,
limiting its shores.
11 I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.
Here your proud waves must stop!’ – Job 38:8-11
The obvious is that God does all these things. God alone. No man can do this. But now, Jesus who is asleep on a cushion in the stern stands and does what only God can do. Who is this man!?!
Then comes the even more undoing question: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (v. 40). This is a question that only God can ask – at least in the way that Jesus asks them.
The question makes no sense to me. Is it not a very appropriate response to sudden severe storms at sea to be afraid? Is it not appropriate that in the terror of the moment they would ask Jesus for help. So what’s the problem with their fear and their request? Why does it betray a lack of faith?
It might be that they should simply have taken Jesus at his word: “Let’s go over to the other side.” If he sent them, he – as Lord of all creation – would see to it that they got there. It might be that they should have known that he had powers and authority over the seas and the wind. It’s obvious that they really didn’t get it all; that Jesus is God in the flesh, and that he had all authority over all of creation.
From my perspective Jesus is being a bit hard on his disciples. Should they really have known they were going to be OK? Perhaps all this has to do with what faith in God really looks like. It’s a confidence in the goodness of God in every and all situations. It is what Jesus displayed on the cross as he died, saying in the end, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” – Luke 23:46
Perfect faith is all about God’s goodness, faithfulness, love, and grace. It’s not about what is happening to us or around us. It is how we can be calm enough as we repose in the kindness of God – no matter what storms may come. Perfect faith looks to God and says, “Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation.”