Calvary Road Baptist Church

“HOW ROUGH IS YOUR RIDE?”

Mark 4-35-41

 

Life is hard. Moms and dads do right by their children when they prepare them for the hardness of life, the disappointments of life, the discouragements of life, the challenges of life, and, as I preached about this morning, the insecurities of life.

Imagine a lovely young Christian woman, who rejoices in the hope of the glory of God. If you know anything about young women, you know that a great portion of their lives are spent hoping, dreaming, anticipating, planning, imagining, aspiring, and otherwise looking forward to the fulfillment of their cherished desires. How would you react if you knew the soul-liberating joy of sins forgiven, if you discovered that you were one of God’s most favorite children, if you were the object not only of God’s great affection but also the treasured friend and ally of many other Christians? Would you not think it reasonable to assume that as one of God’s favorites you would be the recipient of special grace, and that God would draw you especially close to Him to experience the depths of His love and favor?

This evening I want to you turn with me to Mark 4.35-41, a passage that I would like to think God opened my mind to as my wife and I were visiting with one of our young women in the church and her mother, at the City of Hope on Friday. Before we begin to read, I want you to know ahead of time that I am going to take one of the memorable experiences recorded by three gospel writers and attempt to show how the experiences of those few hours parallels a person’s entire life. Read with me at this time:

 

35     And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

36     And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

37     And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

38     And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

39     And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

40     And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

41     And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

 

For a few minutes, imagine the course of your life being somewhat like the journey a Galilean fisherman would take across the Sea of Galilee, and your life’s experiences represented by that boat ride. Is your mind flexible enough to imagine that basic scenario with me? If it is, there are two variations I would like you to consider:

 

First, IMAGINE BEING IN THE SMALL BOAT WITH THE SAVIOR

 

First, you embark on your journey.

 

35     And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

36     And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

 

From verse 35, you know that the journey was begun at night, so it is dark. However, you also know that Jesus said, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ is going to be in the boat with you throughout the journey, and He has declared the destination you are to arrive at. What He has not told you is what kind of a boat ride you will experience. From verse 36, you know that the journey began after a great many people had been dismissed, but that there were other little ships along with the boat Jesus and His apostles are with you in. As the journey begins, you think to yourself: “Would I want to attempt to sail without Jesus in this vessel with me?” Most people do not attempt to sail through life, as they live mindlessly and without goals of any kind. However, even among those few who apply some thought to their lives, and earnestly seek to sail through life, most have no concern that Jesus is not with them as they travel. Does it matter whether or not Jesus is with you as you travel through life, seeking to arrive at your intended destination on other shore? As we shall soon see, it matters.

Next, you are caught up in a great storm, verse 37: “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.” By the way, storms very frequently appeared on the Sea of Galilee. They rush down from the north, around the west side of Mount Hermon, and blast through the Jordan River Valley between the Golan Heights to the east and Mount Arbel to the west, that looms over Magdala on the western shore. Usually blowing fiercely from north to south, the storms whip up the waves to surprising violence for such a small body of water. You have, by this time, fallen asleep in the small boat. It is pitch black in the middle of the night, with the stars twinkling in the clear sky overhead. Your westward journey has been slow in the very light breeze. Then, all of a sudden, your little boat tips as the brutal wind pushes violently against the full sail on your single mast and you wake up with a start. In no time at all, the crashing waves coming in over the low sides of the ship, intentionally low sides to make for easier fishing, have filled the tiny boat with water.

Third, there is your fear and your plea, verse 38: “And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Most of you realize that folks can typically sleep through just about anything, so long as it is expected and not dangerous to you. Live next to the railroad tracks and you know that after a night or two of the train rumbling and whistling through at 2:00 AM, your mind begins to adjust and you can generally learn to sleep through it. I no longer wake up when a fire engine roars down the street with sirens blaring. I am used to it. However, if there is a noise outside my window that is out of place or unfamiliar, I wake right up. The disciples woke right up when the storm blew in, didn’t they? Why so? They perceived the storm as a great danger to them, as, indeed, it was. However, the Lord Jesus Christ continued to sleep through the storm? Why so? It was no surprise, first, and it was no danger to Him, second. Why shouldn’t He sleep? It was no big deal to Him, as you will see in a moment. Notice also that the disciples were prompted by their fear to immediately challenge the Lord Jesus Christ’s love and concern for them: “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” It is not unusual for people to question the Lord’s motives when they are overcome with fear and are ignorant of what He is working to accomplish in their lives, though such questioning of His motives is always wrong. “Lord, how could you let this happen?” That question is also running through your mind, as you hang on for dear life, soaking wet and shivering from the cold. “Lord, how could you let this happen?” Let this happen? Let this happen? My friend, the Lord caused it to happen.

Fourth, there is the Lord’s response and rebuke.

 

39     And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

40     And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

 

Verse 39 records the Savior’s response. Let this play out in your mind’s eye. Someone near you shakes Him from His sleep and cries out, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” I can imagine (though no one can see) the Lord yawning and stretching, and then slowly getting to His feet, to rebuke the wind, and then say to the sea, “Peace be still.” No one has to tell you that this is all happening in the pitch-blackness of a now overcast night, when not even starlight falls on anything. You can only feel and hear. However, what you hear in the howling wind and the crashing of the waves are the Master’s words. Then you hear that the wind has stopped howling. Finally, you feel that the waves have calmed, and the boat is now still, with the gentle lap of the water on the hull. There you are, in the boat, alone in your thoughts, with a wild expression of fear on your face that no one else can see. You think to yourself, “I never imagined the journey would be this frightening. I never thought the ride would be this rough. I just assumed that my journey with the Lord would be peaceful, calm, and reassuring.” That is presumption, my friend. That is also why He said, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”

Finally, your instructed fear and wisdom, verse 41: “And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Why do you think Mark records for us “and they feared exceedingly” at this point, and makes no mention of your certain fear when the storm was raging and the waves were crashing in on you? My opinion is that this is a different kind of fear than the terror that obviously overcame you during the storm. This fear is not being scared for your life. No. This is an instructed fear of God. This experience has suddenly provided you with wisdom you did not previously have. At this point, you fear this One Who has just rebuked the wind and spoken to the sea, and who then rebuked you for having the wrong kind of fear in the storm, and for having no faith. Then, groping to feel each other in the pitch-blackness of night, you said to one another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” What manner of Man is this? This is the King of glory. Why do the wind and the sea obey Him? He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, for without Him was not anything made that was made. How beneficial to imagine yourself in such a situation as that.

 

Next, IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE IN A SMALL BOAT, BUT NOT WITH THE SAVIOR

 

First, you embark on your journey across the Sea of Galilee in your little boat; you set off on your journey through life.

 

35     And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

36     And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

 

From verse 35, we know that the journey was begun at night, so it will be dark. However, we also know that Jesus said, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” Of course, the problem is that Jesus is not in the boat with you. You have rejected the gospel, and have never come to Christ. From verse 36, we know that the journey began after a great many people had been dismissed, but you are in one of the other little ships that started out with the boat Jesus and His apostles were in. You have decided to attempt to sail through life without Jesus in the vessel with you. Most people do not attempt to sail through life, as they live mindlessly and without goals of any kind. You have personal goals and aspirations. You choose, however, to try to attain your goals without any concern for Jesus being with you as you travel through life. Does it matter whether or not Jesus is with you as you travel through life, seeking to arrive at your intended destination on the other shore? As I said before, it matters.

Next, we see that you, too, are caught up in a great storm, verse 37: “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.” Your boat is the same kind of boat the disciples and Jesus were traveling in. Therefore, if their boat was full of water from the waves crashing over the sides, your boat is full of water, too. Life is life, and it is hard for everyone. Amen? It is just as pitch black in the middle of the night, with the stars twinkling in the clear sky, as it was for the disciples. Your westward journey is just as slow in the very light breeze. Then, as suddenly as it happened to them, your little boat tipped from the brutal wind. In no time at all your tiny boat is filled with water, just as their boat was.

Third, there is your fear and your plea, verse 38: “And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?” You and the others in your boat wake up just as suddenly as the Lord’s disciples did. As well, just as they were blind in the darkness, neither can you or anyone else in your boat see anything. You can only grope and feel your way around that tossing little boat. A sudden storm of life has come upon you. Be it cancer or the loss of your job, a sudden illness that has overtaken your newborn baby or betrayal by a loved one, you are overwhelmed and find yourself groping in the darkness to find your way through the latest storm of life. You are so scared that you cry out. However, whom do you cry out to? The Lord is not in your boat. You decided you did not want Him in your boat. Remember? Therefore, now that the storm has come upon you, the only ones in the boat with you to depend on are people just as scared as you, just as blind as you, and just as helpless as you.

Fourth, there is the Lord’s response and rebuke.

 

39     And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

40     And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

 

Verse 39 records the Savior’s response. Only the Lord is not in your boat. In your journey, there is no one to rebuke the wind. In your journey, there is no one to speak to the sea. Verse 40 records the Savior’s rebuke. Only, He will not rebuke you. Rebukes are for His Own. Rebukes from the Savior are for Christians, for God’s children. The only time you will ever hear the Savior’s voice will be on judgment day. Hear what Jesus said about what He will someday say to you who refuse Him in this life. Matthew 7.22-23:

 

22     Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23     And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 

Finally, your instructed fear and wisdom, verse 41: “And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” The problem, of course, is that since Jesus is not in the boat with you, you are not in a position to take note of His workings in and for your life. He does things, all right. You just do not see what He does because you have chosen to float your boat by yourself. Therefore, though the wind and sea do obey Him, you never see it. As far as you are concerned, the miracles He worked never happened. Thus, you will not acquire instructed fear. Neither will you be wise. Sad for you, and for those around you. Very sad.

 

May I mention one more thing? If you take note of verse 34, notice again that the verse concludes with Jesus saying, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” We know their little boat, even though it was filled with water from the storm (until they bailed the water out), made it to the other shore with no loss of life.

However, though we know no lives were lost from the little boat Jesus traveled in, and the little boat He traveled in with His disciples made its destination, we have no such confidence with respect to the other little boats that set out on their journeys at the same time. Was there any loss of life? We do not know.

What a picture of life with Christ, and without Christ. In both cases, life will be a terribly rough ride, filled with uncertainties and fears. However, with Christ there are two certainties no one in the other boats were comforted with. Though the Savior gives no indication how rough the ride will be in your boat with Him along for the ride, you know that in the storms of life you will have someone to cry out to, and you know you will arrive at your intended destination.

That truth seemed a great comfort to the young woman we visited at the City of Hope. Neither she nor I, nor anyone else, knows how rough our ride through life will be. It is easier for some than it is for others, but there are rough patches for everyone.

The issue is, do you want to reach your destination? Do you want to get to heaven some day? As well, do you want the companionship of the only One who can calm the storm? I am not promising that He will always calm the storm. However, I am saying He always can calm the storm, but only if He is in the storm with you, riding along with you through your life.

I do not know what will happen, short term, with this wonderful young Christian woman. I know that she has had a very rough ride over the last couple of years. I also know that I am personally greatly comforted by the fact that she has a Savior to cry out to in the storm, and that her Savior has promised her safe arrival at his intended destination for her in heaven.

Who but Christians who experience the great trials and tragedies of life would know from their experiences that those God greatly blesses with grace are those He places in situations where great grace is needed, and in which great grace is prayed for?

Pray that the Lord Jesus Christ greatly comforts her by His precious Holy Spirit in her journey to the golden shore.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org