I preach twice on Sundays. A typical service at the church where I pastor runs for two hours, with half of that time given to preaching. That means I preach two one-hour messages each week. I also usually have short meetings with the church leaders before or after church. Plus I enjoy a mid-morning brunch with my wife, our kids and the grandkids.
Needless to say, by Sunday afternoon, I’m tired. That’s when I head straight for my favorite chair to rest. But before I know it, I’m asleep. No bed needed. No blanket required. No pillow necessary. If football is on, I nod off in front of the game and miss a quarter or two. Every week I think this is going to be the week I’ll be man enough to just “rest” for a while, and I won’t fall asleep. But I usually do.
Jesus wasn’t reclining in an easy chair in Mark 4. He didn’t nod off in front of a football game with His stomach full from a hearty brunch. It was night. It was dark. It was windy. The boat was rocking fiercely in the middle of a savage storm that threatened to sink it. How do you fall asleep during that? Granted, Jesus was surely exhausted after a long day of teaching and ministry, but He did more than just nod off. When Jesus went to sleep on the boat, he did so on purpose.
How do I know this? The passage tells us. Verse 38 says He was “sleeping on the cushion.” Jesus had grabbed a pillow and moved to the stern—the back of the boat—where He could stretch out and get comfortable! When you’re stretched out, asleep on a pillow, you meant to go to sleep. If you’ve got a pillow tucked under your head, that’s purposeful snoring.
So how could Jesus sleep through such a squall, even as His disciples feared for their lives? Perhaps He wanted to test whether they would trust His word or the weather. He wanted to see if they would trust what He had said more than the circumstances around them.
Jesus had already told them what they were going to do. He had said, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” Jesus could sleep in the midst of the storm because of that one sentence. He didn’t say, “Let’s go to the middle of the sea and then sink and drown.” Rather, Jesus said, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” No storm would alter His plan.
Jesus’ disciples did what we often do when we go to church. They did what we often do when we listen to a sermon or participate in a Bible study. We often hear the message without applying the meaning. Had the disciples heard the intended implication of what Jesus had said, perhaps they would have grabbed their own pillows. Instead, they had heard the words but missed the promise.
When you find yourself in a problem, don’t forget the promise. Remember what Jesus said. He is right there with you. Grab a pillow, and trust Him to calm the waves.