Did you know that giraffes only need between twenty to one hundred twenty minutes of sleep every twenty four hours? They have the lowest sleep requirement among mammals. Most of us need varying amounts of sleep. While I can think of ways I could use the time I spend sleeping for others things, I must admit, I enjoy sleeping. My body lets me know when I need sleep. Scripture assures us that God neither sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:4). Wait a minute! Didn’t Jesus, the Son of God, sleep? If God never sleeps, why did Jesus sleep? Is He sleeping through your storm?
One day Jesus instructed His disciples to get into a boat and go to the other side of the lake. In Mark 4:35-41, we read that a strong storm suddenly arose. Waves were breaking over into the boat so that the boat was filling with water. The disciples, some of whom were fishermen and had been on this lake many times, were scared. In the middle of all this, Jesus was sleeping on a cushion in the back of the boat. The disciples woke Jesus and asked Him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?” That’s not a good question to ask Jesus but we will leave that for another day.
Can you relate to the feelings of desperation the disciples experienced? Maybe you have wondered whether or not God is watching or that He is even aware of what is happening in your life.
Before we look at this issue of Jesus sleeping in the middle of the storm, I want to point out a couple of details surrounding this story that will help us to have the proper context.
First of all, we must consider all that Jesus recently encountered prior to this event. His family thought He was crazy and tried to take Him home (Mark 3:21). The Pharisees confronted Jesus and accused Him of being possessed by the prince of demons (Mark 3:21). Jesus had been the people and His disciples using many parables which they were slow to understand. That is not to mention all the time Jesus spent healing the sick wherever He went. Jesus, in the flesh, had every reason to be exhausted.
Early in the book of John, we learn Jesus was with God in the beginning and through Jesus all things were created (John 1:1-5). Jesus took on flesh and lived among us (John 1:14). This is reaffirmed in Colossians 1:15-17 which reads, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.” The author of Hebrews said, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).
God the Son, Jesus Christ, took on a human nature, yet remained fully God at the same time. The addition of the human nature to the divine nature is Jesus, the God-man. This is called the hypostatic union; Jesus Christ, one Person, fully God and fully man. His two natures, human and divine, are inseparable. Also notice that Jesus sustaina all things by His Word.
What an incredible picture! While Jesus, fully human, was sleeping in the back of the boat, He was at the exact same time sustaining the world that He created. He may have been asleep in the flesh but He was wide awake in His divine nature. Jesus preserved the disciples in the boat with Him and all those in the “other boats” with Him (Mark 4:36). His command and promise was, “Let us cross over to the other side” (Mark 4:35). Jesus never sleeps and He will certainly fulfill His promise to all those in His fleet to get them to the other side!