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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 28 - Mark 4:39 - The Great Calm Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




The Great Calm.


"The wind ceased and there was a great calm."-Mark 4:39.



     It is written, "He maketh the storm a calm" (Psalm 117:29). Of this our text gives a notable instance; even more notable than in the case of Jonah. In the Psalm it is Jehovah that does it; here it is Christ; identifying the calm-maker, the storm-stiller; and shewing that Jehovah and Jesus are one.

     "He maketh the storm a calm;" he, not man; nor chance; nor the laws of nature. He raised the wind; he stilled it; just as truly as did Jesus on the sea of Galilee, when He arose and "rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm." The one is as directly his doing as the other.

The "calm," then, is the voice of God. It is not the fire, or the earthquake, or the whirlwind; but still it is the divine voice; the still small voice which, like the goodness of God, ought to melt our hard hearts, and lead us to repentance; to revive, and comfort, and cheer, It is the voice,-

     (1.) Of power. The calm is as truly the manifestation of power as the storm. What power to still such storms; to bind such winds; to smooth such waves! Think of God's power in the calm.

     (2.) Of love. He does not delight in the storm or its havoc, in the wind and its terror; his delight is in the calm; for God is love. It was the voice of love that on the lake of Tiberias produced the calm; and, in the calm, love is speaking still.

     (3.) Of peace. The calm reminds us of pardon, and reconciliation, and friendship. "Peace be still" are the words of grace to us. "Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid." The calm is truly the peace-speaking voice of God,-of God, willing to be at peace with us, and asking us to be at peace with Him.

     (4.) Of warning. No earthly calm lasts. It is often the prelude of a greater storm. The four angels held in the four winds; but it was only until the servants of God were sealed. Their very holding in was the warning. They were pent up for a brief season, that they might break loose the more terribly.

     There are many storms and calms here; of all kinds, inner and outer; of the inner man, of the church, of the nation, of the world. All of them speak to us. Let us advert to two of these,-the present calm for the soul, and the future calm for earth.

     I. The inner calm. There has been a storm. In every soul there has been this. Even in man's careless state there is enough of tempest to disturb his quiet. But when aroused by the Spirit, then the greatness of the storm begins. It rages through the man's whole being. But there is a ruler and a stiller of this storm; one who gives rest; who calms every tumult within. Jesus is He whose word produces the great calm in the tempest-driven soul of the awakened sinner. It is a calm in three aspects, or three parts of man's being.

     (1.) In his conscience. For it is chiefly in the conscience that the storm rages. The sense of guilt, remorse, terror, wrath, the prospect of judgment and eternal woe,-all these work together to raise a storm such as man cannot quell. Only the Son of God can lay these winds and waves. He speaks peace to the conscience through his cross and blood; his gospel of righteous peace, meeting all these different points of conflict and commotion, calms the conscience. It produces what the apostle calls no more conscience of sin.

     (2.) A calm in his heart. That heart was the seat of conflicting feelings; loves, fears, hopes, joys, sympathies, antipathies. It was made to be filled; it wanted to be filled; and it had none to fill it. There was a storm in his heart. But now God has come in; Christ has come in; he has something now to love worthy of love; something to fill his heart; it is no longer tossed to and fro with the uncertainties and changes of creature-love. Divine love fills it; and that is calm for the heart; present calm; calm that grows more stable every day; the earnest of the everlasting calm.

     (3.) A calm in his intellect. His mind was distracted. He was perplexed, puzzled, torn in pieces by doubt. What is truth? he asked himself. But no answer was to be had. The ever-rising, ever-shifting opinions of the world kept him in perpetual motion. His mind was not at rest. There was storm in his intellect; and all his powers seemed loosened, broken, unable to fix themselves. But the Son of God has come! With Him the true knowledge has come; the knowledge of the Father and the Son; the knowledge of God's righteous love; the knowledge that satisfies,-that diffuses light through the intellect. There is a great calm. Jesus is teaching him; and in that teaching there is unutterable calm,-a true intellectual calm. His mental distraction and weariness are at an end. Each word from the lips of the great prophet seems so true, so real, so certain, that his whole intellectual being finds repose; it is the repose of activity, yet the activity of repose. There is a great calm.

     II. The future calm for earth. In every aspect ours is a stormy world. In every sense, materially, morally, spiritually, intellectually, externally, internally,-there is the earthquake, the volcano, the whirlwind, the breeze, the tempest, the tide. All is restless. For sin is here. Alienation from God is here. The curse lies still on creation,-the kingdoms of earth are still hostile to God. Satan is still ruler of the darkness of this world. But its day of calm is coming. Jesus will yet speak to it and say, Peace be still; and there shall be a great calm, the calm of the new heavens and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. He comes,-

     (1.) As a prophet; to impart wisdom and knowledge to its inhabitants. That calm shall be the calm of true wisdom,-the calm of the heavenly light,-the calm realized in the fulfillment of the word, "They shall be all taught of God."

     (2.) As a priest; to impart universal pardon and cleansing to earth and its dwellers, through his one sacrifice. It shall be priestly calm; calm diffused over this tempestuous earth by the word of the great High Priest.

     (3.) As a king; to impart royal calm; the calm of heaven; the calm which He only can give who is the King of kings. It is as a king that He comes; it is as a king that He shall say, Peace be still; and then shall be the great calm such as earth has never known.