MARK 4:21-41 (NIV – UK)
A lamp on a stand
21 He said to them, ‘Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.’
24 ‘Consider carefully what you hear,’ he continued. ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.’
The parable of the growing seed
26 He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces corn – first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 As soon as the corn is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.’
The parable of the mustard seed
30 Again he said, ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.’
33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
Jesus calms the storm
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’
41 They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’
IN THE STORM
This life is not all plain sailing. There are most certainly storms in this life. But when the storms come, where is our hope? It is in those times that we surely see what we put our faith in.
Jesus’ disciples are panicked – ‘A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped’ (v. 37). They knew they were in trouble – but they reveal that their hope is in Jesus when they call on him (v. 38). But although their hope is in Jesus, their question does him a dis-service – ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ (v. 38).
Through the storms of our lives we might ask something similar – where are you Jesus? Don’t you care? Jesus’ response is decisive – he has power over all creation and calms the storms (v. 39). Jesus doesn’t leave the disciples throughout the storm – he does not cease to care about them – and he does not abandon them. They put their hope in Jesus and he brings them through the storm. Once the storm has gone, his question is: ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ (v. 40). Jesus invites us to trust in him unreservedly – to have faith that in him all our needs are met – to be fearless in him because we know that he is Lord of all creation!
In the words of the 17th century, welsh born poet and Anglican priest, George Herbert:
When winds and waves assault my keel,
He doth preserve it, he doth steer,
Ev’n when the boat seems most to reel.
Storms are the triumph of his art;
Though he may close his eyes, yet not his heart.
Question: Where do you find you naturally turn when there are storms in your life?