Why Are You So Afraid?

Mark 4:35-41

In our last series, we dealt with the ‘tough’ questions we’d like to ask God.   For April, we’re going to turn the tables and look at questions Jesus would ask to us.  This morning’s question is the one He asked to His apostles upon the sea, “Why Are You So Afraid?”.

In London’s British Museum, there’s an old mariner’s map that was drawn in 1525 that outlines the North American coastline. There are notations on where reefs might be and where the best harbors could be found.  But certain sections are nearly blank except for a few notations…like:

  • “Here be giants!”
  • “Here be fiery scorpions!”
  • “Here be dragons.”

In other words: “Be afraid!”

Ever since man has sailed the seven seas, there has always been the fear of the unknown.  Have you ever been afraid?   Everyone has and it’s normal.  But in Mark 4, we find Jesus asking an unusual question of His apostles: “Why are you so afraid?” Let’s stand and read Mark 4:35-41:

“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”

Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 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 afraid? 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!”

All day beside the Sea of Galilee, Jesus preached and taught parables to a ‘great multitude’ of people.   As evening comes, He tells His disciples to get in the boats and cross over to the other side.   Now Jesus being all knowing…knew something bad was coming.  About half way across, a terrible storm comes up.  The winds blow, the waves smash against their small boats and they began to fill with water and the apostles are afraid they might sink.

Now Jesus never promised those who followed Him that they would never see a storm in life.  But He shows them how to deal with it.   When the storm hit, He was in the back of the boat asleep.  And it was a peaceful, deep sleep.   David writes in Psalms 3:8, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep.  For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”   But the apostles were confused and a little angry.  They shook Him and said, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”   Then Jesus gets up, calms the sea, and then asks, “Why are you so afraid?”

Was He calling them ‘cowards’?   Many of them were tough, experienced fishermen who had spent their lives upon the Sea of Galilee.   Even today, the Sea of Galilee is known for its sudden and violent storms.  And I’m sure they had known of men who drowned at sea, so with their boat taking on water… it seems they had a reason to be afraid.

But it wasn’t their fear that bothered Jesus…it was how they were reacting to the fear.  He asks,   “Why are you SO afraid?”   That little word “SO” is from the Greek “Houto” which means “in this way”.   So, literally, Jesus was saying “Why are you reacting to the storm this way?”

And how were they reacting?   By panicking and becoming angry.   Remember, Jesus was asleep and the disciples woke him and said,  “…do You not care that we are perishing?”  Now why would they ask such a question?  Did they really expect Him to calm the storm?  No, they didn’t.

Verse 41 tells us that when Jesus calmed the storm they were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”   They asked ‘if He cared’ because they were angry with Him.   They wanted Him awake and worrying about the storm like they were.   They’re so mad at Jesus they literally shout at Him: “DON’T YOU CARE!”   Now where did all this frustration and anger come from?   It’s from their lack of faith.   Jesus said: “Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?”

I believe that God created this storm to teach the apostles about faith.  In Matthew, Jesus replied, “…O ye of little faith?”   It’s in the midst of our storms that we learn how much faith we have and how much we really trust Jesus.  It’s easy to believe when the skies are clear but when the storm gathers and the wind blows against us and the waves beat us down…it’s then that our faith is tested and we see how much we really trust Him.

When the apostles were out on the sea of Galilee…

  • the storm was real,
  • the storm was frightening,
  • the storm was a threat to their lives,
  • and there was nothing they could do about it.

And that’s why they’re so frustrated and angry. They could not step out of the boat and walk away…they’re trapped and helpless.   Have you ever felt that way?  We all have.  That’s why we can sympathize with those who were all alone in the boat.   But they weren’t alone…Jesus was there.   In fact, that’s WHY Jesus was there.   He was there to deal with the storm…the storm they couldn’t handle.   And that’s what He will do for you.  Learn this phrase: God’s person, who is in the center of God’s Will, is immortal until God is done with them!

Remember the old mariner’s map in the British Museum?   Well, before the map got to the museum, it belonged to a British explorer by the name of Sir John Franklin in the 1800’s.   Sir Franklin was offended by the fear shown by the ancient mariners.   So, he scratched out the inscriptions that once read:

  • “Here be giants!”
  • “Here be fiery scorpions!”
  • “Here be dragons.”

And he wrote across the map: “HERE IS GOD.”

Beloved, we have all had storms in life and we will have even more.  So the question is, “How can I have the peace that Jesus had and find rest in the midst of the storm?”  The real truth is:  Peace is not the absence of storms; Peace is the presence of God!   Fear is a very real emotion and it’s often inscribed upon our hearts.   But when we scratch out that fear and replace it with the statement: HERE IS GOD… that’s when our faith grows strong.  Nobody who has sincerely surrendered to Jesus Christ, who has the Holy Spirit living within their heart…can live in sin and be happy!   It can’t happen.   A true believer, living with unconfessed sin will be afraid and miserable…they will have no peace…no joy…no rest…until they repent and give control back over to their Savior.   Only Jesus can tell the storms in our lives… “Peace, be still.”

Begin your journey to peace. The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Would you like to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior? It begins with a simple prayer:

“Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

Did you pray this prayer?