He Said Peace
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 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!” (Mark 4:35-41)
Picture yourself in this story. Imagine being one of the disciples, there in the boat with Jesus. Now these were strong men, many of them seasoned fishermen. They knew this lake, and they knew the boat. But they were scared to death. Listen to their cry: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Have you ever been in a boat on a stormy lake? I remember one particular canoe camping trip that my wife and I took, to Laurel Lake. We got down to the lake, just as a thunderstorm was rolling in. No sooner had we launched into the lake, the storm hit, the lightning started flashing, and the rain poured down in sheets. There was nothing we could do, but paddle for all we were worth! Desperately, we tried to reach the lake shore, but as we neared the shore, we realized that the waves were so high, we wouldn’t be able to land. It was only by God’s grace that we made it through that storm without capsizing.
Perhaps you can think of a time when you’ve faced a storm in your life. Perhaps you don’t even have to think—you know. Perhaps the storm is not past—it’s now. Perhaps it’s a storm of persecution. Perhaps the fiery trials of affliction, or the winds of temptation. Perhaps the suffering of sickness, or the sharp pangs of loss.
No, we probably don’t need a reminder of the storms we face. But when we look around, it so often seems that we are alone—battling alone against the waves and wind. Where is Jesus, when we feel alone?
Where was Jesus, when the disciples faced that storm on the sea of Galilee? It says in verse 38: “But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow.”
Have you ever looked for Jesus in the midst of your trials, and felt that He must be asleep—felt as though He was far away, and might not even care? Then you understand the anguished cry of those disciples, on the storm-tossed lake: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Do you not care? Did Jesus care for the disciples? Does He ever not care for His children? Why was He asleep, if He cared so much? Why wasn’t he up, straining at the oars, with the disciples? It wasn’t because He didn’t care—it’s because He wasn’t scared. You see, Jesus had something that the other disciples didn’t—He had a deeper understanding of the Father’s love and care. He knew that no power in earth or heaven could destroy that little ship, as long as he was with them. So, he slept on, in perfect trust, until the disciples awoke Him with their frantic pleas for help.
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. (verse 39)
You know, I think we often misunderstand this verse. I’ve often thought to myself, “If only Jesus were here—he could rebuke this storm in my life, and I would be at peace, just like the disciples.” But really, that’s not the point of this story at all! Jesus didn’t rebuke the storm, in order to save His disciples. If they had been in danger, He wouldn’t have been asleep! Jesus rebuked the storm, in order to demonstrate to His disciples that in His presence, they were safe. As long as Jesus was in that boat, nothing could hurt them. While He rides the ship, His hand guides the storm. He calmed the storm, not in order to save them, but in order to show them that they were safe.
In Isaiah 9:6, the coming Messiah is called the “Prince of Peace.”
But what is peace? One definition of peace is the absence of war and conflict. Many people are hoping and longing for the day when we achieve world peace. We have just passed the 100th anniversary of the Great War—the war that was to end all wars. Yet there have been at least two hundred wars since then, with casualties numbering in the millions.
If peace is the absence of war, then it would seem that peace in this world is nothing more than an illusive dream. Is peace only attained in the absence all storm and conflict? Or can one have peace in the storm, through an abiding trust in One Who is greater than the storm?
I believe the answer is yes. Peace more than simply an absence of turmoil. Peace is more than the end of the storm. I believe that, like Jesus, if we can learn to trust, we, too can have peace, even in the midst of the greatest storm.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)
In this story, we see a series of contrasts. Storm and calm. Danger and safety. Fear, and peace. How can we have calm in the storm? How can we have safety in danger? How can we have peace instead of fear?
How can we achieve the kind of peace that Jesus demonstrated, while he slept through the storm? Is peace achieved eventually when our hearts are rid of all fear? If so, then perhaps I just need to learn to face my fear. Perhaps I need to act tough and brave, and maybe my fear will go away. But no—just acting brave will not save us from the storm. To pretend that everything is fine, when it’s not, will not bring true peace. If anything, it will kill the very part of our heart that needs to have true peace.
No, peace is not something that we can achieve. Peace is only something that we can receive: a gift of God that enables us to rise above our fears.
You see, to understand this peace, I think we need to understand the nature of those things that take away our peace.
Take storms, for instance. Storms happen outside of our lives, but because they threaten our lives, they can take away our peace. Storms are extrinsic—they start outside of us; and they’re external—they affect us from the outside, in ways that are often visible and physical.
Jesus used the term “tribulation” to describe these storms that come to our lives. He says in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
But then there are fears. Fears are different from tribulation, not in how they affect us, but in where they come from. Fears can be triggered by storms and tribulation, but fears are inherently intrinsic to us. Often, fears come in response to our perception of the world around us, but fears begin in our minds, and usually they affect us internally. But, just because they are intrinsic, and internal, does not make them any less real.
What are some things that cause fear in your heart?
- Fear of Tight spaces?
- Fear of Heights?
- Fear of Death?
- Fear of Loneliness?
- Fear of Public Speaking?
- Fear of Rejection / Abandonment?
- Fear of Failure?
These are a few of the many, many things that strike fear to our hearts. This is actually a list of things that make me fearful. Perhaps some of these are your fears, too.
Let’s face it, though—we all have fears. Some fear is healthy, but for far to many of us, fear can cripple our lives. Fear is antithetical to peace. And fear is antithetical to love.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
So we have storms, which are extrinsic, and external to us. We have fears, which are intrinsic, and internal within our hearts and minds. But Jesus speaks of peace—true peace.
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)
Peace—true peace—is not something that is intrinsic to the human heart. It’s not something that we can be born with. Complacency and apathy, perhaps, but not true peace. True peace comes for Christ, because only in Him can we truly understand God’s love. Yet unlike this day on the sea of Galilee, rarely does Jesus speak peace to the storms around. He doesn’t say, “Let not your circumstances be troubled.” He doesn’t say “may the world bring only good things to your life.” No, He says, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
True peace is extrinsic to ourselves. It comes from God, through the Holy Spirit, but it works internally, within our hearts, calming our thoughts and teaching us to trust Him through the storm.
Picture an eagle—flying high in the sunshine, far above the storm cloud below. It has been said that when an eagle sees the storm, he will circle higher, and higher, through the clouds, until he breaks through into the sunlight.
But you know, I learned something recently that made me think of this story even more. Why does the eagle fly when the winds are strong, and the storms are sweeping in? Why not hunker down, and wait to fly until the sun shines again? Simply because that storm, itself, gives the eagle its best opportunity to soar. You see, on a calm day, the eagle must flap its wings to stay aloft. But in the storm, the mighty winds turn upwards, and allow the eagle to soar higher than ever before.
Friends—I believe this is what Jesus meant, when He said, “My peace I give you.” Not a peace by quelling the storm, but peace, as it were, in the midst of every storm. Not only peace, but power—so that that on the stormy winds you may ride ever higher and ever closer to Him.
On that sea of Galilee, Jesus did not cause the storm. He didn’t bring the trial, but he permitted it to come. While He rides the ship, His hand guides the storm. I believe that if the storm-clouds could be rolled back, and you could look up into the unseen heavens, you would see the hand of God, guiding the storm-winds in your life, and enabling you to soar like never before.
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
In this nation, the United States, we have relative peace. There are no wars and bombings being carried out within our borders, like there are, or have been, in much of the world. I often wonder, how is it that we have this peace?
Surely this peace is a gift from God, but it is also because of the blood of countless strong, brave men and women, who have not feared to take up arms and fight for the freedoms we hold dear.
The only way we have peace, is because someone else had taken up the sword. Someone else has braved the battles. Someone else has fought and died for the freedoms we hold dear.
The only way the storm is calmed, is for it’s fury to be spent. The only way a wildfire is quenched is for its fuel to be consumed.
The story is told of a wagon train, traveling west across the prairie along the Oregon trail. As they traveled along, through the dry grass, the settlers caught the whiff of smoke. Soon, not only the smoke, but flames could be seen, leaping through the grass, along the horizon. The dry, grassy prairie stretched unbroken, as far as the eye could see. It would only be a matter of time, before oxen, wagons, and everyone in the party would be burned alive in the approaching inferno.
No buckets of water could quench those flames. The fastest runner couldn’t outpace them. Silently, the wise leader of the caravan walked a few paces down-wind, bent over, and lit the grass at his feet on fire. The flames leaped up, and soon became a raging blaze. Now they were surrounded by fire, and it seemed their doom was sure. But as the first wildfire roared ever closer, the wind blew the second fire further in the distance, and the settlers were able to beat out the flames that crept toward their wagons. Quickly, the wise leader guided the settlers and their wagons onto the chard land behind the second fire. As the raging flames of the wildfire approached, they reached the edge of the burned over land, then parted, and passed around the settlers. The land that had been burned, could not be burned again, and the settlers and their wagons were saved.
My friend, are there storms raging in your life today? Are the flames of trial and affliction threatening to destroy your very soul?
My friend, look to Jesus. Look to Him kneeling in the garden of Gethsemane. Look to Him hanging on the cross. My friend, He does not just calm the storm—He stands in front of you, taking its fury for you. He does not just quench the fire—He stands in the flames with you. He is the ground, burned over—on which the flames cannot burn a second time.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
The only way to have true peace, is to let Christ take the storm.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
He Said “Peace”
He said “peace” to the sea above noise and fierce wind;
“Be still! Hush the waves!”—and sweet calm came again.
He said “peace” above clamor and battle’s fierce strife;
“Be still; do not shed one more innocent life.”
He said “peace” in a world filled with chaos and woe;
“Be still, and the true peace of God you may know.”
He said “peace” to my heart that was broken in sorrow;
“I’m with you forever, there’s hope for tomorrow.”
He said “peace” when our fears were pressed down upon us;
“Look up and behold my blessed rainbow of promise!”
He said “peace,” through the trials like a fiery furnace;
Behold—‘tis God’s Son who is walking among us!
He said “peace” when I cried out, “I don’t understand!
Do you still hold me in the palm of your hand?”
He said “peace” at a time when all hope was far gone;
“Be still; look to Me and the gift of My Son.”
He said “peace”, and I saw Him there, hung on that cross,
I knew that for me, His own life was the cost!
He said “peace” and I knew that my life was now changed,
I’m Him, I’m redeemed; I have life once again!
He said “peace” to my life filled with sadness and sin;
“Be still; be forgiven; I’ll make you whole again.”
He said “peace”, and now my new heart can rejoice!
Forever I’ll praise Him with my song and my voice!
– by Daniel McFeeters
My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (Isaiah 32:18)
My friend, do you want the peace of Jesus in your life? Then look to Him, and let Him give you His true peace!
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)