I was with Trevin Wax the other night at a training session for bible teachers in Memphis, Tennessee. During Trevin’s session he used this story to illustrate why it is important not to jump right to application before leading people to awe at the power of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli, in his book, Jesus Mean and Wild, illustrates this point wonderfully when telling about the time a group of Laotian refugees started attending the church he led in Sacramento.
After the service one Sunday, they approached him and asked to become members. They had only a rudimentary understanding of the Christian faith, so Pastor Mark suggested they study the Gospel of Mark together for a few weeks to make sure they knew what a commitment to Christ and his church entailed. They happily agreed.
Mark says, “Those Bible studies were some of the most interesting he has ever led.” After they read the passage in which Jesus calms the storm, Mark began as he usually did with more theologically sophisticated groups: he asked them about the storms in their lives.
There was a puzzled look among his Laotian friends, so he elaborated: “We all have storms—problems, worries, troubles, crises—and this story teaches that Jesus can give us peace in the midst of those storms. So what are your storms?” he asked.
Again, more puzzled silence. Finally, one of the men hesitantly asked, “Do you mean that Jesus actually calmed the wind and sea in the middle of a storm?”
Mark thought the man was finding the story incredulous, and Mark didn’t want to get distracted with the problem of miracles. So he replied: “Yes, but we should not get hung up on the details of the miracle. We should remember that Jesus can calm the storms in our lives.”
There was another stretch of awkward silence until another replied, “Well, if Jesus calmed the wind and the waves, he must be a powerful man!” At this, they all nodded vigorously and chattered excitedly to one another in Lao.
Mark says, “Except for me, the room was full of wonder. I suddenly realized that they grasped the story better than I did.”
(Mark Galli, Jesus Mean and Wild, Baker, 2006, p. 112)