“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?” (Mark 4:38 KJV)
At this moment when they woke Jesus up, what were they expecting? They are astonished to the point of fear of what Jesus does. Not just afraid in the sense of waking a sleeping spouse who has not had a proper cup of coffee and says something out of character. Genuinely taken back because they have no concept or point of reference for what the power of His command was capable of accomplishing. To their credit, they realize that making Jesus aware of the situation was likely to improve the situation. They know they need help, the waves are getting rough, and they call on the right person. Yet, what were they expecting Jesus to do?
It is almost a tragedy that we know the rest of the story. At least the rest of this story as it is written. Do we ever find ourselves in the middle of a storm and call on Jesus to wake up and do something? It is a challenging predicament. Some say that the storm ultimately was not as big as we thought it to be at the moment. That is a pretty difficult assessment to make unless you are in the same boat in the same storm too. Others say that we need to have higher expectations of what God can accomplish. There is probably some truth to that as well. Nevertheless, the core question remains. What is the significance of our expectations at that moment? What does the level of our faith content matter at that moment?
Perhaps this would be a better question to understand if we broke it into two parts. First, is the purpose of our increased faith to get us out of a jam? We feel we are sinking and we do not want to sink. A simple reflex. Something is wrong and something needs to be done about it.
Second, is the intent of our increased faith to more firmly establish what the power of God is and is not capable of doing? This may not sound like a separate question if the first question was true because if something needs done about it; we say, Lord here is your chance! Yet whether you felt you were sinking or not, is there not room for demonstrating the power of what God is capable of? Sure, this can be a slippery slope if your heart is not in the right place, but like David hearing the words of Goliath, is there not room to set the record straight?
So, when Jesus actually says, “And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40 KJV) What are we to do with that? How do you adjust expectations such that the unseen that you believe or trust in matches what the Master is expecting?
Even more challenging, this particular account of this particular instance of the story adds another dimension that we may not even be capable of considering. Notice verse two of the next chapter. “And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,” (Mark 5:2 KJV) This is the man who wandered the tombs and broke any chains that were put on him because of the immense demonic power within him. Could the surge of the storm merely been a prelude to the spiritual battle that was assembling ahead of them? The man was right there waiting for Jesus when He arrived. Jesus accomplishes in a few words more than anyone in the entire region would have thought possible. He even sends the guy back to be a witness to the terrified villagers of what Jesus did for him.
How would the disciples have anyway at all to know that the present storm that they were terrified in was only a defense mechanism of some really evil forces that did not want to let their captive free? How does that change the meaning of the words Jesus spoke to them after rebuking the storm? When Jesus questions the disciples fear and faith in verse forty, it fits hand in glove with the story he just explained to them about the seeds scattered on the ground. Faith is a growing process. The more chatter you eliminate, the fewer rocks between you and your water supply, the less weeds you just grow along with, the more capable your soil is of actually producing a harvest. It is a story bathed in surrender to clearing the clutter of how you want things managed and learning that it is God that makes the little seed grow to something much greater. He often uses situations that catch us completely off guard so that we might inspect those expectations so that we might more clearly see what His hand was about the whole time.
“And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” (Mark 4:26-29 KJV)