And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. Mark 4:35
Sunday July 30, we celebrated the Lord's Supper. Pastor Jeff Trude preached a wonderful message on the Bread of Life in preparation for observing the ordinance. It was a sweet time of fellowship and tangible unity and peace in the body of Christ as we remembered Jesus our Passover Lamb. Leading up to this month's Lord's Supper God placed Mark 4:35 on my heart. While the words here are not spoken in the context of the Passover or Lord's Supper, they do have some parallels. First, the predominance of God's word. Particularly his promises. After a busy day of ministry, Jesus led his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee. They had just dismissed the multitude after delivering the parable of the sower. Jesus' public address was brought forth as a parable publicly because of the hardness of heart that had already set in among the multitudes who had gathered to see a wonderful sign or miracle. The parable of the sower is only easy to understand because of the clear explanation and definition Jesus gives us via his disciples in Mark 4:10-13. Jesus wants his disciples to understand his word.
Jeff Trude did an excellent job explaining how God uses types and pictures to understand truth. Jesus spoke plainly to his disciples of what they were hearing, giving clear definition and explanation of God's word. Just as Jesus illuminated the truth of the bread of life to HBF, Jesus illustrated the condition of our heart with the laws of sowing and reaping the Galileans were familiar with. Jesus took time with those who had a willing heart, his disciples, to expound the deeper meaning of his parable and the importance in our heart attitude in hearing God's word. As the multitudes were dismissed and Jesus and the disciples launch out into the Sea of Galilee, Jesus makes a simple statement to his disciples concerning their journey. "Let us pass over unto the other side." It seems simple yet it is profound.
Jesus had been ministering to a large multitude who would surely have hindered any travel by foot. It seems logical to move across the sea of Galilee by boat out of expedience. In addition, Jesus needed rest. Though he was God in flesh, he still was limited by his flesh. He got tired just as we do and he used the opportunity to take a very biblical "Baptist" nap, the kind I long for on Sunday before the evening service. At the end of this journey, Jesus would once again pour out his mercy, grace and power as he delivers the demoniac of Gadara. When Jesus told his disciples, they would "pass over" he wasn't using hyperbole, he had every intention of keeping his word. Passover is the thrust of this article. Jesus promised to deliver his disciples, but the circumstances didn't seem to support God's word. Once the wind and the waves kicked up and the boat started taking on water (Luke 8:23) the disciples forgot what Jesus said and started wondering about how far they were from shore and if they could make a life-saving swim in such turbulent conditions. The last thing on their mind was that Jesus promised to get them passage.
This is so often how we approach the Lord's table, which is why we are commanded to "remember" that Jesus is our Passover Lamb. The day we receive Christ Jesus as our Savior we embark on a journey we know by faith will lead us to the other shore (Heaven, the third Heaven to be specific). With this promise in our hearts and heads, we head on the journey God calls us to take. The journey takes us from Believer’s Baptism to the resurrection of the church (via catching away or death, whichever comes first). We know Jesus is our Passover Lamb who takes away our sin and the sin of the world, but when the trials of life come and the winds and waves batter there is a tendency to consider bailing out or even desponding of life. Paul even mentioned this to the Corinthian church in his second epistle.
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 2 Corinthians 1:8
There are times when the trials of life can cause us to have spiritual amnesia. Conversely, when we remember to pray and seek the Lord, we quickly find that he brings a peace that passes understanding even in the midst of the storm. For the disciples, this is exactly what happened. They prayed (sought God's help) by waking him out of his most comfortable slumber to ask him if he cared that they perished. Despite the circumstances, Jesus simply commanded peace and nature obeyed as the winds and the waves ceased at the command of the Creator.
This was a marvelous miracle and obviously much appreciated by the disciples who had forgotten to take the literal interpretation of "let us pass over" to its logical conclusion. Perhaps they thought they would pass over but not pass over alive. Whatever the case, Jesus does not appear to be sympathetic to their concern, though he calmed the storm. Perhaps he was helping them learn another valuable prayer principle.
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. James 4:2
Typically, when we ask for peace God brings it even when our circumstances do not change. I love the 23rd Psalm where David writes that the Lord has provides a table for him in the presence of his enemies. God is not rattled by winds, rains, storms, flash floods, tornados or any natural disaster. God can provide peace in the presence of his enemies and in any circumstance. With just a few words the crisis is over.
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39
God keeps his word
You may be asking, how? Or why is this? I'm glad you asked. The answer is found in scripture. Jesus told his disciples they would pass over, so it was going to happen. God keeps his word. I might add, God keeps his word even when we fail to keep ours. God is faithful and he does care. It is we who are long on action and short on prayer. It is noted that the other little ships were with them, but we don't hear of them taking on water or sinking. Perhaps this storm was designed just for the disciples with Jesus on the boat to see how long it would take them to engage him.
It certainly was used of Jesus to help them understand they were lacking in faith. We don't even see and apology from Jesus for allowing things to go this far. Why is this? Because Jesus doesn't serve us, we serve him. Yes, he does provide for us better than we can ever provide for ourselves. Sometimes it is not until we are worn out and losing the battle of trying to bail ourselves out that we remember, Oh Lord Help! There are too many times I can say "You are my last resort not my first resort.” How refreshing might it have been if the disciples would have woken Jesus with a different prayer other than, "don't you care about us?" That sounds like something I or you would say doesn't it? Perhaps a nudge to Jesus and a prayer saying, "Hey Jesus, you said we would pass over to the other side. Did you mean the lake or Heaven because I know you keep your word so I'm just checking because as much as I believe your word I wasn't planning of dying in the Sea of Galilee? Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done."
What kind of response might a prayer like that solicit from Jesus? Like an armchair quarterback, it's easy to second-guess the way the disciples responded to their crisis of faith. I seriously doubt I would have responded any better under the circumstances. In fact, I may have left Jesus and jumped out of the boat and sealed my fate in faithlessness, who knows. The point is this: Jesus did promise them they would pass over and it was not until things really got dicey they sought his assistance in confirming his care for them. This was not missed by the Lord and he took the occasion to point out their faithlessness.
We should believe his word
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? Mark 4:40 Ouch! Jesus tied them together not me. Jesus was not happy with his the disciples hearing his word, Jesus expects his disciples to believe his word. Jesus didn't say they lacked faith, he told them they were fearful and had no faith. It is clear that fearfulness reflects a lack of faith. Paul encouraged his son in the Lord Timothy to face fear in the unfeigned faith that was delivered him by his mother and grandmother in 2 Timothy 1:7.
Paul was human just like us and faced fear and I'm sure he failed at times. The fact of the matter is our response, even when lacking faith, doesn't change God's promises! Hallelujah, we may not receive the blessings of being faithful ourselves but we do receive the benefits of Christ's faithfulness.
This brings me back around to the Passover and the Lord's Supper. I know you were probably thinking I lost my way but in reality, I can see how the account of the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee coincides with the Lord's Supper. God calls us to remember his bruised and battered body and his shed blood because he is the first fruits of the resurrection. He is the Bread of life and he is the resurrection and the life. If it were not for his faith and faithfulness our faith would be in vain. The church is called to remember that Jesus has already completed to finished work on the cross that allows us to cross over or pass over to the other side. It is also the Lord's table that reminds us that it is Jesus who died, he slept as the bible calls death, and rose again the third day so we have assurance that we too will resurrect even if we die. This is why when we remember the Lord at the Lord's Supper we remember we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:37).
This is why we celebrate the Lord's Supper because Jesus has fulfilled his promises and death has no more sting. So, when Paul and the ministry team despaired of life they didn't despair as those without hope but found the peace amid the storm as they fixed their faith on Christ. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; 2 Corinthians 1:9-10
Notice Paul didn't ensure this alone and neither did the disciples. We cross death's door alone but we shouldn't travel there by ourselves. Just as the disciples had each other and Paul had his ministry team so we have the church. Paul wasn't negligent to leave them out. He attributes his delivery to their prayer.
Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf. 2 Corinthians 1:11
The Lord's Supper causes us to remember two things. One that Jesus has our passage covered. It is written! Secondly, we are in this together. The body of Christ is important to our passage. We are not told who woke Jesus and asked him if he cared, but the other disciples were glad someone got hold of Jesus and put an end to their trial. Taking the Lord's Supper seriously and personally is a key to bringing calm to the storms of life and remembering that Jesus has already promised he will get us, not just "me", safely to the other side.
Just as the Passover Lamb was offered in a moment of crisis for the nation of Israel in Exodus 12 and provided protection from death as the death angel passed over God's children and liberty from the enemy so they would be at liberty to pass over the Red Sea. So the remembrance of the Lord's Supper reminds us Jesus has already given us peace through his sacrifice on the cross. He has won the war over sin and death and purchased our freedom ensuring our entrance into Heaven. We know with confidence that who have trusted Christ as Lord and Savior have all but physically passed over into eternal life! May the Peace of God keep your heart and mind as you travel or "pass over" from shore to shore.
If you do not have a personal relationship with Christ and you would like to know more about the peace of God through Jesus Christ we would be happy to share with you what the bible teaches about being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Please feel free to contact HBF at [email protected]. We will be happy to share from the bible what Jesus says about any question you may have. You may also look at this link to see a simple plan of salvation.