Mark 4:37-41 “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But 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?”
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. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Have you ever heard of William “the sleeping sentinel” Scott? He was a union soldier during the American Civil War and enlisted as a private in Company K, Third Vermont Regiment, at Montpelier, on July 10, 1861.
On August 31, 1861, an officer of the guard, in making his regular tour of inspection, found William Scott asleep at his post. Subsequently, Scott was court-martialed, found guilty, and sentenced “to be shot to death” on Monday, the 9th of September 1861. On the morning of September 9, the regiments of the Vermont Brigade were drawn up ostensibly to witness the execution of William Scott. The firing squad took its position, the prisoner was brought forth, the death sentence read, and then, a pardon was issued to the prisoner. Just eight months later, on April 16, 1862, William Scott was mortally wounded at Warwick Creek midway between Lee’s Mill and Wynn’s Mill, Virginia.
As details of the story were embellished, the truth became more difficult to determine. In later years, many challenged the idea that Lincoln had pardoned Scott. However, in 1997, the original court-martial and pardon documents were discovered and authenticated. William Scott had indeed been pardoned by President Lincoln at the request of the enlisted man’s regiment.
The serious nature of being a guard that falls asleep during a watch is an error that could have led to many men losing their lives.
Step back about 2000 years and we witness another event that found Jesus asleep as danger came upon He and the disciples as they crossed the sea of Galilee.
Our Perception of God
As the disciples were attempting to cross the sea of Galilee, a violent storm came upon their small fishing vessel. These storms are not so uncommon, due to its low-lying position in the rift valley, surrounded by hills, the sea of Galilee which is more of a large fresh water lake, is prone to have these sudden violent storms just like the one that surprised those with Jesus. The fact that several of the men were fishermen by trade, you would think they were pretty good at predicting the weather. Any good fisherman would know to avoid the storm by taking safe harbor and waiting it out but these storms were known to happen very quickly.
Matthew described the situation this way:
vs. 23 “Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
The fact that Jesus was asleep says something about the level of exhaustion He was experiencing. As the waves were crashing over the boat, the fear that these fishermen were experiencing expressed the critical nature of the situation…and yet Jesus slept on.
What can we learn from this example of how to face perilous circumstances?
- Our view of what we consider dangerous isn’t shared by God.
- The calm nature by which Jesus reacted, reflected a complete lack of fear.
- There is a point when we recognize we are not in control, when we have to turn to the Lord and trust Him for our circumstances.
How could Jesus be so calm in the midst of seeming tragedy?
The situation wasn’t out of control.
God’s Perception of Us
vs. 26 “But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”
When Jesus saw that the men were on the verge of panic, He asked a question.
“Why are you fearful?”
- Our lack of trust in God astounds Him, less in a surprised way and more in a frustrated with us kind of way.
- After all that He has done in history, and all that He has done in our lives now, we still continue to doubt.
- God’s disappointment for our lack of trust is reflected in our perception of Him.
- Our fear is for a lack of knowledge of the unknown, a reality that is known to God.
I’m not saying anything we do surprises the Lord, I just think there is a point when the Lord asks us to reevaluate our position before Him. If we claim to follow Him, when are we going to do it? If we believe He is sovereign, why do we act like some things are above Him? Do we question His love? Do we think that since we aren’t perfect that He might rescind His care for us?
We need to ask ourselves the same question Jesus asked the disciples…Why am I fearful?
“Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
A revelation of the disciples level of understanding became apparent at the moment Jesus calmed the storm. They hadn’t believed Jesus was God, otherwise they would have known He was in control. They wouldn’t have feared, knowing that Jesus loved them and had a purpose for them.
The Lord reveals His glory to us in the midst of our storms.
Have you prayed that God would lead you into a greater depth of a knowledge of Him?
Expect a storm.
It is in the midst of trials, that test our faith, when we grow in knowledge and maturity.
1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”
For Peter, his encouragement was for believers who suffered trials because they lived out their faith. Trials can come in many different ways, through people who are christian and non-christian alike, often by way of those things we attempt to place our trust in apart from God, sometimes in the areas we think are our strength.
The disciples thought they knew the Sea of Galilee, their confidence was soon shaken and their need to cry out to Jesus required them to take a position of humility.
God doesn’t Sleep
Jesus slept because He was not only fully God, but fully man. It was the weakness of His humanity that required Him to rest. The incarnate, resurrected Jesus doesn’t sleep, we are ever in His sight.
Psalm 121:1-4 “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
We need not fear that God will fall asleep while on watch. Unlike poor William Scott who was overtaken by exhaustion, the Lord is no longer subject to the weakness of human frailty. Jesus’ tireless service in teaching, healing, and confronting the false ideologies of His day wore Him out. Today, He reigns victorious over sin and death, and yet He still knows and understands our weakness.
All we need to do is humble ourselves, look to Him, and trust Him for His provision. If He has given you the ability to change your circumstances, then use the gifts He has given. If your circumstances are out of your control, relinquish the outcome into the hands of the Father.
“The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.“
When storms of evil arise or storms of trial come your way, look to your keeper, He is at the ready to defend you, He is positioned perfectly to guide and direct as you grow through your circumstances.
He simply never fails.