The Other Little Ships
May 8th, 1966 @ 7:30 PM
THE OTHER LITTLE SHIPS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-8-66 7:30 p.m.
In your Bible turn to the Second Gospel, the Gospel of Mark chapter 4. Mark chapter 4, beginning at verse 35 and we shall read together to the end of the chapter; Mark chapter 4, verse 35 to the end. And on the radio WRR, if you are sharing this service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, open your Bible if you have one and can reach it. Open your Bible and read out loud with us. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Other Little Ships. And you will see it mentioned in the text as we read it. Now together, Mark 4:35:
And the same day, when the even was come, He saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship. And there were also with Him other little ships.
And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish?
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.
And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?
And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?
This story that we have just read, in following through the life of Christ, occurred immediately after His delivery of the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5:1-7:29]. And that is what it means here when it says, “Let us pass over unto the other side” [Mark 4:35]. They made this journey to the eastern side, a side that was far less populated, mostly desert like. And after the intensity of His Galilean ministry, climaxing that day in the Sermon on the Mount, they went over unto the other side, largely for rest and relaxation.
Then the next verse says that they took Jesus into the boat even as He was [Mark 4:36], that is, without preparation. Just as He was, they encouraged the Master to get in the boat, and they were going on the other side of the sea to escape the tremendous pressures that the multitudes were bringing to bear upon the Master. Now you have an instance of the weariness that overtook Him in the intensity of His ministry when it said that in the back part of that little boat He was asleep on a pillow, and even in the midst of the storm [Mark 4:37-38].
The reason why those storms come so quickly and so violently lies in the vast differential of the elevation. If you have been in Palestine, you could not but notice the topography of the land. It is an astonishing contradiction and distinction. Mount Hermon is right there, ten thousand feet high, just right there, the peak of the Anti-Lebanon range. Mount Hermon right there, ten thousand feet in the Anti-Lebanon range, and here is the Sea of Galilee, 680 feet below sea level. And it is a hot country in the summertime, very hot. And those gorges that come down from that high elevation of the Anti-Lebanon range down into that gorge, that trough that falls from the Sea of Galilee, which is 680 feet below the level, down the Jordan decline—and that is what Jordan means, “declining”––down to the Dead Sea, which is 1294 feet below sea level. That vast gorge there draws into it the cold air from the top of the mountain, falling-cold air always falls down into that valley, and that’s why the storms can be so sudden and so violent.
Now this is what took place in that little journey across the sea to escape the pressure of His Galilean ministry. And suddenly, as they were going across the sea, the violent winds began to beat, and the waves to rise, and the lapping of the water into the boat, so much that the boat was about full and almost ready to sink. So in their jeopardy, they come to the Master and awaken Him and say, “Master, carest Thou not that we perish? [Mark 4:38] Save Lord, save! Our ship is going down. It is sinking.” And the Lord arose and thus spoke the word, no effort, no agony of trials, no toiling, He arose and He spoke to the wind and to the sea, “Peace, Be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was suddenly a great calm [Mark 4:39].
As you know, in the aftermath of a storm there is still the lowering of the clouds, and the thunder and the lighting the children sang about, and the moving of those mountainous waves. Nothing; when He spoke the word, there was stillness, stillness in the heavens above, stillness in the raging winds around, and stillness in the sea of glass before. And the disciples were afraid; such a miraculous intervention! And in the presence of the great sovereignty of God all of us tremble, and they were afraid, and they said, “What kind of a man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” [Mark 4:41] They’re in His hands. He is their Master, and they feared exceedingly [Mark 4:41].
How many times do you find that in the Word of God, in the story of our Master, His humanity? A man like any other man, weary like any other man wearies, tired, weeping, brokenhearted like any other man, just a human being as we are. And then in a flash, in a moment, in the next breath, in the next sentence, there is unveiled the glory of His deity. And they will be side by side, spoken in the same breath and delineated in the same sentence. Like when He was born in Bethlehem [Luke 2:11], we go inside the stable and look. Anybody would be welcome in a stable. You have no timidity entering a stable. And we enter into the stable, and there we see a child in His mother’s arms. A child like any other child, a babe like any other babe, loved like a mother, any other, would love her babe, especially poor in this instance. They are plainly peasants; and there is the mother and there is the Child in a stable [Luke 2:11-12, 16], just like any other mother, like any other child.
Then in the next moment, while we are standing there looking, there come breathlessly in shepherds from the Bethlehem fields [Luke 2:8-18], and they describe the heavens opening, and the angels singing, and the announcement of the birth of the Savior of the world! [Luke 2:20]. And no sooner are we amazed at the story of the shepherds, than we fall into the story of the wise men and the miraculous star! [Matthew 2:1-10] And they are bowing before the King of all the earth and the Prince of glory [Matthew 2:11], and in our astonishment we say, “What manner of child is this?” Side by side, His humanity and His deity.
Or again, we mingle with the throngs on the banks of the Jordan River, and the great Baptist preacher named John is announcing the kingdom of heaven, and he is baptizing his converts in the water of the Jordan River. And by the thousands and the thousands, men from every section of Palestine are pouring down there in that Judean wilderness, and are repenting, and are being baptized by John the Baptist [Matthew 3:1-6]. And among those thousands that come, there is a carpenter from Galilee who has walked that sixty miles from Nazareth, down to the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist, and as we look in the crowd and the multitude, He is just one of the thousands of men who are there listening to the Baptist preacher. And He is baptized as any other of that multitude that is baptized [Matthew 3:13-15].
Then in the next sentence, in the next breath, in the next syllable the heavens open, and the Holy Spirit of God in bodily form as a dove lights upon Him, and we hear the voice of sovereignty; the pantokratorian glory from the throne of heaven say, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” [Matthew 3:16-17]. Side by side, His humanity and His glorious deity.
Or again, at the tomb of Lazarus, Martha weeping, Mary weeping, the friends weeping [John 11:33], and in the midst of that bereaved and sorrowing family, He stands with bowed head. And the tears, human tears, fall from His face to the ground [John 11:34-35], so much so that in His compassionate love, even those that hated Him said, “Behold, behold! What a friend, how He loved him!” [John 11:36]. A man like any other man, weeping tears and brokenheartedness, as all of us weep when our hearts are sad.
Then in the next breath, in the next sentence, He stands there before the grave of one who had been dead in a hot and Oriental country for four days [John 11:39]. And He speaks, and the voice of the Son of God is heard by him that had been dead four days, and he comes forth [John 11:43-44]. I wonder how he came forth? He was bound hand and foot [John 11:44]. So mighty and so sovereign, so mandatory, so authoritative that when the voice of the Son of God said to Lazarus, “Lazarus, come forth!” [John 11:43], there came out of the tomb him who had been dead four days, bound hand and foot [John 11:44]. How did he come out? I don’t know. Did an angel present him? Did the Spirit of the living God lift him up and set him out to view? What a miraculous thing! What a marvelous thing! One moment human tears [John 11:33-35], and the next moment deity, sovereign grace, authority in heaven and earth [John 11:43-44]; isn’t it remarkable?
I turn the pages of the Book. Here He is buffeted, beat, scourged, bleeding! The Roman soldiers take advantage of another opportunity to show their contempt and scorn for a despised race, the Jew. And they say, “He is the King of the Jews. Hail, King of the Jews!”[Mark 15:16-19]. And they put a crown on His head, one woven out of thorns. And the blood, where they pressed the crown on His brow, and the blood pours down His face. “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they lash Him with whips and scorpions, and His back turns to pulp [Matthew 27:26]. And they put a reed in His hand for a scepter and an old cast-off robe around His shoulders for royalty, and they bow the knee, “Hail, King of the Jews!” [Matthew 27:28-29]. Beat like any other man is beat; hurt like any other man is hurt. And when they drove nails through His hands and feet [Psalm 22:16; Luke 24:39; John 20:25-27], it was flesh like the flesh of any other man. And when in His death that Roman soldier thrust that spear into His side, there came out blood and water, as of any other man who had died of a broken heart [John 19:32-34]. And the limpid serum came to the top, and the red heavy corpuscles settled to the bottom, and blood and water flowed out; died like any other man died.
Then in the next breath, in the next sentence, in the next paragraph, in the next chapter, then there is the marvelous story. And after He had lain in that tomb for three days, He arose from the dead [Matthew 28:1-10, John 20:1-18], the King and Lord of hell, and of the grave, and of death, and of life, and of heaven and of the earth, and of all eternity! What an amazing, what a remarkable thing! That’s the Lord, asleep in weariness on a pillow, and the next moment awakened, speaking to the elements in their violence, “Peace,” and the whole earth became calm and passive at His command [Mark 4:37-39].
Well, someone can say, “I don’t understand this. If the Lord is the guide of our lives and the sovereign, elective chooser of the providences in our lives, well, then why did God allow this to happen in the first place? If He is the Lord of the earth and if He shapes destiny, why then was there any storm to begin with? Why didn’t He quell all the storms? Why doesn’t He rob nature of its fang, and its claw, and its fierce talons? Why, in the first place a storm, if this Lord is the Master of all creation? Well, there is a very decided answer to that, a very decided answer. Why do the providences overwhelm us? Why does God allow them to begin with? Why?
These teenagers are shrewd; they are as smart as they can be. And I remember when I came back, September a year ago, when I came back from what could have been so tragic an experience in the Amazon jungle. And I stood here in this pulpit, and I recounted to the congregation the danger wrought in that accident in a jungle bigger than the continental United States, without a road in it, without a bridge across any river, no place to come from and no place to go to; a vast, illimitable jungle, into which if a man falls with a machete knife he might hack all day long and go thirty feet; filled and infested with fever, and rot, vicious animals, and snakes, and reptiles, and animals, and more savage men. And that plane come down in the heart of that jungle. Then I described the marvelous, incomparable providences and goodnesses of God that spared the pilot and me in that tragic hour.
And after the service was over some of these young people came to me, some of these teenagers, and they said, “Now, pastor, if the Lord took care of you in that accident, and He guided that little plane down, and He put a village there, right next to the creek in which you fell; if God did all that, then why did God allow it to happen in the first place? If God’s taking care of you, why did God allow it to come to pass? Now, you tell us why, if you believe God takes care.”
Well, I say, they are smart cookies, these teenagers are; they are as shrewd as they can be. But it just happened, it just happened that that night, when one of those missionaries and I—he and I staying together—that night, one of those missionaries said, “For our devotional tonight, I want to read a passage out of [Paul’s] letters to young churches.” And this is the passage that the missionary read in our devotion on that night; listen as Paul writes:
We should like you, our brothers, to know something of what we went through in Asia. At that time we were completely overwhelmed. The burden was more than we could bear. In fact we told ourselves that this is the end.
Yet we believed now that we had this experience of coming to the end of our tether that we might learn to trust not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead. It was God who preserved us from imminent death, and it is He who still keeps us. Further we trust Him to keep us safe in the future. And here you can join in and help by praying for us so that the good that is done to us in answer to many prayers will eventually mean that many will thank God for our preservation.
[2 Corinthians 1:8-11]
Why does God allow these providences to come to pass? That we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who is able to raise even the dead [2 Corinthians 1:9]. These providences come to pass that we might learn to lean upon God, to trust in the Lord. And there is no one of us—a fellow pilgrim in this earth—there is no one of us who has been along the way but who has learned what it means to find refuge, and succor, and strength, and help in God.
While we have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities: but was at all points tried as we are, though without sin. Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we might find mercy and grace to help in time of need.
These experiences of trials teach us to come to Jesus.
O Jesus! Once rocked on the breast of the billow,
Aroused with a cry of despair from Thy pillow,
Now seated in glory, the poor sinner cherish,
Who cries in his anguish, “Save, Lord, or we perish!”
And oh, when the winds of temptation are raging,
When sin in ours hearts its wild warfare is waging,
Then send down Thy grace, Thy redeemed to cherish.
Rebuke the destroyer; “Save, Lord, or we perish!”
[“Save, Lord, or We Perish!”; Bishop Heber]
These providences lead us to God; trusting in Him and not in ourselves [2 Corinthians 1:9].
Well, I have now come to my sermon, The Other Little Ships. Now, isn’t that something? I tell you, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself, I just don’t. It used to be I would get halfway through the sermon; now I am getting to where I get halfway through the introduction! We have got to quit. There is only three minutes before we go off of this air, but before we go off of the air, I want to give you what my sermon is. What I was going to preach about was these other little ships. Now you listen just as earnestly as you can. You see, when that storm came and hit the ship of the Master, there were other little ships and the storm hit them too [Mark 4:36].
And I had a sermon that I was going to preach on what happens to other people, by virtue of what we do in our lives; think of all that happened after Adam [Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7, 19]; the other little ships, the generations. Think of all that has happened because Ishmael hated Isaac [Genesis 21:9-10], and that tragic story over there in Palestine today of the Arab and the Jew—the bitterest altercations that the world has ever known; the other little ships. Think of the destruction of the northern ten tribes because of Jeroboam and his golden calf [1 Kings 12:28-33]. And think, and think of the tragedy of Judea when God said, “Because of the sins of Manasseh I will not forgive” [Jeremiah 15:1-4], and Judea went into captivity [2 Kings 23:26-27]. Think of our own lives, bound up in the leadership of America; the other little ships [Mark 4:36].
And the other part of my sermon was and how others can be blessed in the devotion of your life. When the Lord calmed that raging sea and the disciples were saved, the other little ships were saved too [Mark 4:36-39]. And I was going to speak about Paul; God said:
Paul, I have spared your life.
And not only you but those two hundred seventy-six souls that are with you in the ship, I have given you those souls also.
[Acts 27:22-24, 37]
I was going to speak about the days of Hezekiah, when God said by Isaiah the prophet, “I will spare the city for My servant David’s sake” [Isaiah 37:35]. And I was going to speak of Sodom. Had there been ten righteous men in Sodom the whole city would have been spared [Genesis 18:32]. And then I was going to close with something that happened in my ministry one time in Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, oh, so many, many years ago! This was a long time ago; I held a revival meeting in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. And when I got through preaching Monday night—the first service, the beginning service Monday night—when I got through preaching Monday night I made an invitation for all of the deacons; all of the ordained deacons to come down the aisle, and then to kneel in a prayer of consecration and asking God to bless the revival meeting. And I want you to know that when those deacons came down the aisle and stood in front of me, down the aisle came a little boy, a little boy. There was something so incongruous about the appeal that I made for those men to come—those deacons to come in their manhood, and maturity, and dedication of life—for those men to come and to bow before the Lord and ask for God’s blessing on the revival, and that little boy came, just a little fellow, nine years old, just a little fellow. There was something so incongruous about that that the kids in the service laughed. Making an appeal for those men and that little boy coming, I turned to the pastor; I said, “Pastor turn around, look at that little boy standing there. Who is that little boy?” He looked at him and said, “Why, why, he’s the son of the chairmen of my deacons.”
I walked down there, and I said, “Son, come here to me.” And the little boy walked over to me, and I asked the chairmen of the deacons to stand up and come over there where I was. And he said, “Son, what are you doing here?” And the little boy replied, “Well, Daddy, when I saw you go, when I saw you go just something in my heart said I want to go too. And, Daddy, I’m here. I want to give my heart to Jesus; I want to take the Lord as my Savior.” The other little ships [Mark 4:36]; you are not thinking about them. I suppose that is the last thing in the world that deacon was thinking about, was his little boy coming down the aisle that night and accepting Jesus and being saved. You don’t know. You don’t know. The other little ships: when God blessed that ship, other ships were blessed; when God calmed that sea, other little ships were saved [Mark 4:36-39]. And when the Lord uses us, other souls are infinitely blessed. Oh, it’s a sweet thing that God does through His people; blessing others through our dedication to the dear Lord! Well, that was it.
Now Lee Roy, let’s sing us a song. And while we sing the song, in this balcony round, you, on this lower floor, you, giving your heart to the blessed Lord Jesus, come, into the aisle and down here to the front, come. A couple you, a family you, one somebody you, make it tonight, decide right now, “Here I come.” And when we stand up in a moment to sing, stand up coming. Make that first step to the Lord, and all the others steps are in His grace and in His strength. Come tonight, “Preacher, I want to put my life in the church, want to take Jesus as my Savior [Romans 10:9-10]; I want to be baptized according to His command [Matthew 28:19-20]. I want to give my life to the Lord in a deeper, newer, finer, more meaningful way.” As the Spirit shall press the appeal to your soul, come; on the first stanza, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.
A. The story
B. The storms of
II. Humanity and deity side by side
A. Jesus asleep, then
stilling the tempest
B. Entering the stable
1. The heavens opening
to the shepherds and wise men following a star
among the thousands at Jordan, then the voice of God is heard (Matthew 3:16-17)
at the tomb of Lazarus, then raising him up (John
and bloody on the cross, then the resurrection (Matthew
27:28-29, John 19:32-34)
III. Why did God even allow the storm?
A. That we might learn
to trust (2 Corinthians 1:8-11)
B. Trials teach us to
come to Jesus (Hebrews 4:15-18)
IV. The other little ships
A. What happens to
others by virtue of what we do (Jeremiah 15:1-4)
others can be blessed in the devotion of your life (Acts
27:24, Isaiah 37:35, Genesis 18:32, 2 Kings 19:34)