“Peace, Be Still!”
(Mark 4:35-41 – Pentecost 5 – June 27, 2021)
Mark 4:35-41 – 35On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Dear Redeemed in Christ Jesus:
A baby is red-faced, trembling and shaking, crying out frantically in the middle of the night. If we could put words to those screams, what would Baby be saying? “Where is Mom? I can’t see her now; has she abandoned me? Doesn’t she know I’m hungry; is she going to leave me starving?” And here comes Mom with those familiar footsteps that have padded to Baby’s crib, those tender hands that have held Baby close to her heart, and that comforting voice that has soothed Baby many times. Mom would never leave Baby. Mom knows just what Baby needs.
Jesus’ disciples were full-grown, strong, and experienced fishermen. They knew life on the sea with its changeable ways very well. Yet this present storm that hit them was off the charts, and they found themselves crying out in the darkness of a storm-tossed sea, fearing for their lives as the waves came crashing into the boat, threatening to sink it. “Where are you Jesus? Have you abandoned us? Don’t you know we are in danger? Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And just like many other times before, once again they heard that familiar voice of their loving Savior and Friend: “Peace, be still!” They were powerful words that calmed the storm. They were comforting words that calmed their overwhelming fears and anxieties. Jesus would never leave them. Jesus knew just what they needed. He would always be there for them.
From newborn infants who haven’t a clue about life in this world, to full-grown fishermen who have weathered the roughest storms of life, we all need to hear that comforting voice, that powerful voice of our Savior who is always with us: “Peace, Be Still!” Jesus sees 1) Our lack of peace in the storms of life, yet we see 2) The true peace Jesus gives as our Savior.
1) Our lack of peace in the storms of life
From the day of our birth, we all have faced storms of life in many forms. We face storms that rage around us in nature, because of the corruption sin has brought on this world. Thus we may experience violent storms of weather in high winds and waves of hurricanes and flooding; or in firestorms that sweep forests and civilizations. Such natural disasters can bring fearful destruction and loss of life. But the same can happen by unseen forces, in the smallest virus that can enter the body or the cancer that grows unseen. We all have felt that storm brought by the fall into sin when we are struck with sickness, debilitating disease, or tragic accident. And we all face that final storm of death which comes with all its sorrows to every fallen child of Adam.
Not only do we face storms of life in the sin-corrupted natural order of the world; but how many times haven’t we faced storms caused by the sin-corrupted human nature? We all have felt the forces of sin that bring storms to relationships in jealousy, hatred, and anger; in hurtful words and actions that bring conflict, division, divorce. Around the globe, storms continue to threaten in the winds and waves of political and ideological factions, wars and rumors of wars.
And behind all the storms of life we face in the fallen world, we face the storms brought on us by the evil corrupter, Satan. He is hell-bent on bringing us down to destruction. Already, he has a great number of sinners in his grasp, separated from their Savior by unbelief. So his most vicious efforts are against us who are in the same boat with Jesus, the Savior of sinners, by faith. Satan will bring on us storms to test and shake our faith, in temptations and trials we face. We are led to wonder what kinds of storms are brewing on the horizon, with evil winds of change in society, with waves of persecution against those who stand up for Jesus and His truth.
In what ways have you felt overwhelmed by troubles, fears, and anxieties, facing the dark storms of life in this fallen world with all its evils and temptations? As we see in our text, Jesus’ disciples are not immune to such storms. In fact, they are to be expected. But then, Jesus is with them in the same boat. He would deliver them from this present storm, in His way and His time.
Yet in the midst of the storm, when as yet the disciples could not see His deliverance, their hearts lacked peace. As the waves were filling the boat and threatening to sink them in the dark depths, they may have wondered: “Where is Jesus in the storm? Why is He not helping us?” At last they found Him: “But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow.” Trembling and shaking in fear, they awoke Him with their frantic cries: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Already they had seen Jesus’ power over nature, even in its corrupted form, in His miracles of healing the sick and raising the dead. Already they had seen His power over Satan’s kingdom, when He had commanded demons to come out of the possessed. Already, they had seen how Jesus cared for them as they walked in this fallen world, faithfully providing their daily needs, showing them His love and protection. Was there any reason why they should have doubted Him now; was there any reason they should have accused Him of being distant and uncaring?
Are there times when we react this way, when tossed about by the storms of life? Already, Jesus has proven His saving power and love for us – by going to the cross and giving His life to deliver us from sin; by doing all it took to defeat Satan’s power over us; and by rising from the dead to give us eternal life in His Kingdom. Why should we ever doubt His loving care, even in the storms of this life? Hasn’t Jesus told us in His Word: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)? “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Yet how easily we trust our own reason and senses more than His Word. We have seen how He has kept His Word, continuing to provide for us and work all things together for our good, from the day of our birth to this day. Yet suddenly, we find ourselves facing tempest and trial. We are hit with a life-changing storm of health problems, loss of ability, pains and sorrows, frustrations and disappointments. We feel our boat being cast about by contrary winds driving us where we do not want to go. We feel waves threatening to sink us in hopelessness and despair. Perhaps in the midst of the storm when we have prayed, we have taken Jesus’ silence to mean that He is sleeping, not paying attention, not caring if we drown in our troubles.
This is where the storm in our heart begins, with all the winds and waves of distrust. Instead of casting our anxiety on the Lord, we focus on the winds and waves, and our strength to battle them. We toss and turn by night, and we fret and worry by day; we become stressed in ways that affect our health. Then we also cast our anxieties on others. We take out our frustrations and disappointments on those around us; we burden them with our dark and stormy moods.
In more ways than we might like to think, we are like that tiny baby, crying out frantically in the middle of the night. Mom has always been there for Baby. There is no reason to think Mom will ever fail to love and care and provide for Baby. And as Jesus is ever-present, He sees our lack of peace in the storms of life. He hears when we cry out in unnecessary fear and anxiety: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” How many times has He needed to say to us what He said to the disciples: “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
2) The true peace Jesus gives as our Savior
But now we see the true peace Jesus gives as our ever-present, all-powerful, always loving, and always caring Savior.
Here in the midst of the storm, we see something about Jesus as our Savior. As true Man, He faced all the storms of life with all its troubles and trials, just as we do. He grew tired and weary just as we do. He was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Yet as the Son of God in our flesh, He had perfect trust in His Father no matter what. This is the perfect trust He showed even in the most violent storm that rocked the boat; and yet “He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow,” entrusting His life His Father in heaven. This is the perfect trust He showed even in the hour of greatest temptation by Satan, when He refused to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger; but He entrusted every need of life to His Father in heaven. This is the perfect trust He showed even in the greatest hour of trial, when He sweat drops of blood in the face of His cross and suffering; and yet He prayed: “Father, Your will be done.” This is the perfect trust He showed when, having suffered and sacrificed Himself to take away our sin, even in the hour of death He prayed: “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.”
Now, that is the perfect trust God the Father counts to us. In fact everything Jesus did, from the very beginning of His life in the womb to His very last breath on the cross, God credits to us. In Christ, God sees us as if we have always responded, even in the darkest storms of life, with perfect trust. For as our Savior, Jesus has also carried all our sins away from us to the cross. All the ways we have responded to the storms of life in fearful lack of trust, all the ways we have added to the storm by our faithless anxiety and sin, Jesus has taken away on the cross. As God looks at us through His crucified Son, He forgives all our sins. So Jesus gives us true peace as our Savior – as we live in that blood-bought peace of His full forgiveness, as we live in that perfect peace of those whom God is counting righteous in Christ.
And now, we are in the same boat with Jesus, as His disciples. For God has united us with His Son through baptism and faith. God has brought us into the ark of His Church. And no matter what storms and floods of evil we face this world, no matter what trials and tribulation come upon us, we are safe and at peace with our Savior. For He who has lived and died for us has also risen again; and therefore He is always with us, always present to help us.
Here, Jesus showed Himself to be that true God and Savior who promised in Psalm 50:15: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” In answer to the disciples’ prayer, He quieted the storm: “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.” As the Lord God, who once spoke His powerful Word and brought all things into being, Jesus spoke again; and at His Word, His creation obeyed. At His voice, the storm that threatened to sink His disciples in their fears and anxieties was silenced. In the Savior’s presence, all was at peace.
This is the same Lord who is with us today, calming the storms of our life, giving us His true peace of heart – peace which the world cannot give. Do we feel threatened by storms that may come on us in a fallen world with all its tragedies and trials, death and decay? Do we feel threatened by storms that may come on us with all the evils Satan and sinful man may impose?
“Peace, be still!” Remember Jesus is the powerful Lord of Life, who rose in victory from the grave to give us eternal life in His Kingdom. No matter what storms we may face, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. No schemes of Satan or sinful mankind, no sword or danger we may face for the sake of Christ and His truth, no loss of loved ones or possessions, no disease or debilitation, and not even death and the grave, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).
As Mom comes to Baby’s crib, and those tender hands hold Baby close to her heart, and that comforting voice soothes Baby, all is at peace once again. In Isaiah 49:15-16 our Savior says: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” As we live in the loving embrace of those nail-marked hands, those all-giving hands of our living Savior, we can cast all our anxieties on Him knowing He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). In every storm of life, our all-powerful, always loving, always caring Savior is here to say: “Peace, be still!” All is well as we are with Him in the boat, joined with Him in eternal life. And at last, in answer to every cry and prayer, He will bring us to safe harbor in His perfect heavenly peace.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.