How on earth did He sleep through it? While a furious sea storm threatened the structure of Jesus’ boat, He was in the stern, snoozing on a sailor’s pillow. As Mark said, “And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion” (Mark 4:37-38a). How was He fast asleep in an uncomfortable position during a raging tempest and while His disciples raced around frantically (cf. Mark 4:38b)?
Because Jesus was a man, and He was incredibly exhausted. The Scripture is clear that Jesus was God (John 1:1; Col. 2:9), but He was also a man just like the rest of us, “yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15b). The Gospels tell us that Jesus became hungry (Matthew 4:2; 21:18), thirsty (John 4:7; 19:28), physically weak (Luke 23:26), and tired (John 4:6). He was so human that He even died (Acts 2:29). Because of this, Jesus knows what it is like to be you—He was you.
This is what the writer of Hebrews meant when he said,
“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested” (Heb. 2:14-18, NLT).
Simultaneously, Jesus is also fully God, with all authority in heaven and on earth, including authority to calm raging storms. As Mark also said, “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39). He was overcome with exhaustion, but He overcame the raging storm by the power of His word. Jesus was “man enough” to sleep and “God enough” to rule creation. That is why the poet Amy Carmichael said,
“Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow,
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea,
What matter beating wind and tossing billow,
If only we are in the boat with Thee?”
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).
For more devotional entries like this, check out Brandon’s latest book, Bible Gleanings Volume II, which features 100 daily devotionals gleaned from God’s word: