One of the most temptations is to interpret our situation based on WHAT WE SEE and not on WHAT WE KNOW. The disciples in our passages this morning do that, too. Even with Jesus right there in the flesh they struggled with it.
Review where we are in Mark’s storyline. Still in Galilee. These opening chapter are building toward the middle of Mark 8. The moment Jesus will ask his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter will answer, “You are the Christ” (8:29). From that point on the cross and the resurrection will loom large. But the chapters before Peter’s answer are who Jesus is.
Beginning with our passage this morning we’ll encounter Jesus doing ten miracles, all before that question of Jesus to Peter:
In our text this morning the disciples will ask, “Who then is this?”
That’s the point of our series “Introducing…Jesus.” To get an answer to that. Who is this Jesus?
In these chapters of Mark we get a number of answers. This morning we’ll get insight into that questions.
If you’re not a Christian, this question is very relevant, “Who then is this Jesus?”
But for Christians, why do we need a series like this as well?
John Owen reminds us:
A continual contemplation of the glory of Christ, in his person, office, and grace…will carry us cheerfully, comfortably, and victoriously through life and death, and all that we have to conflict with in either of them.
John Owen, The Glory of Christ
Today’s text helps us in that “continual contemplation of the glory of Christ” to give us joy and victory.
What we’ll find in these two stories is that he loves us more than we think, he’s more powerful than we think.
Read 4:35–41 and Pray.
Sermon: Each passage in two parts. 4:35–41, “A Great Storm,” “A Great Fear.” 6:45–52, “Walking on the Sea,” “I AM.”
“On that day”—The same day as the parable of the soils, parables of the kingdom. A lot has happened.
“Across to the other side”—Sea of Galilee (64-sq mi; Lake Norman 50-sq mi; Jordan 20-sq mi. Sea of Galilee’s depth is 141-ft at deepest (Jordan Lake is 141-ft). But for comparison, Lake Michigan next to Chicago is 22,000-sq feet and deepest is over 900-ft.
He taught “beside the sea” (4:1). This is the sea where Peter, Andrew, James, and John had spent years as fishermen. And they were fishing on Galilee when Jesus called them to become “fishers of men.”
After a day of teaching it was time to pull away.
And then, “a great (adjective mega) windstorm arose,” something common on the Sea of Galilee.
To appreciate the situation, you need to remember their boat. In 1986 a boat was discovered buried in the mud of the Sea of Galilee. They dug it up and discovered it dates to exactly the time of Christ (at least, close, 100 BC to AD 70). Doesn’t look like modern fishing boats you see off the coast of NC when you go to the beach—rise 10-feet above the water, large storage below deck, big cabin above deck (well insulated from elements). The boat found in 1986 in the Sea of Galilee was 24-ft long, 6.5-ft wide, 3.5-ft deep. Could carry 15 people or so. Online it’s called “The Jesus Boat” and for good reason. Easy to imagine Jesus and the disciples in a boat exactly like it.
I add those comments just to remind us that as archaeological finds occur—hundreds and thousands of them connected to biblical people and events—they continue to prove what the Bible says. They don’t disprove it. This is very different from, say, Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon. History and archaelogical continue to disprove the Book of Mormon.
To encounter a storm with a boat so shallow and exposed wouldn’t be fun at all. To encounter “a great windstorm” with “waves…breaking into the boat” would be terrible.
Jesus asleep on the cushion. Might remind you of Jonah, who was also asleep during a storm.
They woke him up: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (v. 38).
We know how the story ends, so it’s easy to mock the disciples.
Their question reveals another error in their thinking.
They’re completely backwards: What they should KNOW is that Jesus cares for them. What they DON’T KNOW is whether they’ll perish or not.
The storms of life:
And then, Mark 4:39. The high point of the story.
This is a word of divine authority. The voice of God commanding his creation to do what he wants it to do.
Notice he doesn’t pray to the Father and then the answer. “He rebuked the wind.”
Jesus rebukes the sea and rebukes the wind. Where a storm, now “A GREAT CALM.”
Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem?
Or have I no power to deliver?
Behold, by my rebuke I dry up the sea,
I make the rivers a desert (Isa 50:2)
And Psalm 65:
7 who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth
are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning
and the evening to shout for joy. (Ps 65:7–8)
You hear these pictures of deity? When we read the OT, we’re tempted to think of it as poetic license.
But encounter in the person of Christ, you realize God really is behind the events of nature. In a technical sense there’s no such thing as “natural phenomenon.” There’s only “displays of God’s providence.”
But then “They were filled with great fear” (3rdmega)—no mention of fear in this story UNTIL Jesus “rebuked the wind.”
Their question, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
It’s one thing to be in the presence of a great man. Or a holy man. Someone who prays bold things and they happen. Moses and Elijah are like that.
But that’s not what’s going on here. Jesus rebuked the storm and the storm responded. The only person in the OT who does that…is God himself.
He’s the only one to “REBUKE…the sea” and to “STILL the roaring of the seas.”
There they are…in the same boat with him.
The book, The Life of Pi, 2001 novel by Yann Martel.
This seen with Jesus and the disciples is like that. They thought they were in a boat with a guy from Nazareth. They didn’t realize they were in a boat with a bengal tiger. NOW they’re scared.
In 6:1 “came to his hometown” (Nazareth) and now “to the other side, to Bethsaida” (6:45). Again, the Sea of Galilee the center of Jesus’ ministry in these chapters.
Immediately before this Jesus fed 5k. Hard not to have the Israelites in the wilderness here. A sea crossing right next to a miracle of getting bread from the Lord.
Jesus sends the disciples on ahead across the sea. He goes “on the mountain to pray” (v. 46).
“Making headway painfully, for the wind was against them” (v. 48).
“Fourth watch” (v. 48) = refers to dividing up night from 6pm-6am into four equal watches. “4th watch” is 3am–6am.
Of course, at this point they’re thinking, “Why do we always travel by boat? We have got to find a different way to get places!”
Jesus is “walking on the sea.” See Jesus and think it’s a “ghost”—Greek word is phantasma. A phantom.
They’re “terrified” (v. 50). Not of the sea but of this “ghost,” this phantasma.
Jesus walking on the sea isn’t a random act of power. E.g., “You want to see me juggle boulders? I can do that, too!”
Jesus walking on the sea connects him to a theme in the Old Testament. God is portrayed as walking on the sea throughout the OT.
One vivid passage is Job 9:
4 He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —
who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?—
5 he who removes mountains, and they know it not,
when he overturns them in his anger,
6 who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble;
7 who commands the sun, and it does not rise; who seals up the stars;
8 who alone stretched out the heavens
and [walks on the sea as on dry ground],
9 who made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
10 who does great things beyond searching out,
and marvelous things beyond number.
11 Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not;
he moves on, but I do not perceive him. (Job 9:4–11)
Earlier the disciples asked, “Who then is this?” This passage causes us to ask that same question, “Who then is this that walks on the waves of the sea?”
Job gives us the answer. He’s the one “who made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south” (9:9). The stars in all their magnificence and order are the work of Jesus Christ.
He’s the one who “commands the sun, and it does not rise.” Day and night, months and years, all this is the handiwork of Jesus Christ.
In Part Two of this story we want to look at Jesus’ words to the disciples: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (v. 50).
The one they thought was a ghost is now talking to them. Not sure that would make them less terrified or MORE.
First Jesus speaks comfort. But then he speaks REVELATION. When he says, “It is I,” it’s like Phil Sasser says, “I think he’s saying something.”
Jesus speaks, “It is I” in Greek, egō eimi, “I AM.” Double-meaning for informed readers. Clarifies it’s Jesus and not a ghost. But also clarifies WHO JESUS IS, he is “I AM.”
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exod 3:13–14)
Gets in the boat “and the wind ceased” (v. 51).
But “they were utterly astounded” (v. 51). Mark says it’s because “their hearts were hardened.”
Once again they don’t have any hand holds. Godly men or powerful men or prayerful men—they have categories for those things. But a man who can walk on water is impossible. It’s simply not possible.
But Job tells us the answer, God “walks on the sea as on dry land” (9:8). This is no man. It’s God himself.
The same God there at the beginning of it all: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen 1:2).
The disciples in 4:41 ask, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
The answer in these passages is clear. He’s the living God. Not simply a powerful teacher or gifted healer or fiery prophet. He is the living God.
He is the God who made all things in six days. Creation is proclaiming the glory of Christ right now. It is Christ that establishes the law of gravity and keeps it consistent. It is Christ that enables the cells in our body to sustain our bodies until the moment Christ decides we have reached our final day.
And on the last day it will be Christ who will be on the judgment throne to judge the works of all people and decide where they will spend eternity.
You’re move loved than you think, he’s more powerful than you think, and that means, this situation is smaller than you think.
Prayer and closing song
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