Mark 4:35-41 | "35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 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. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
DREW: Today we are going to look at the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4, verses 35 to 41, Jesus is the Lord of the Wind and the Waves. Let’s begin with prayer.
Father, we thank you for this opportunity to come together. We pray that as we read, study, and discuss your word that you would enlighten us, give us wisdom and understanding, stir not only our minds, but our hearts and our wills as well. In Christ’s name, amen.
Mark 4:35-41, “On that day, when evening had come, he” -- that’s Jesus -- “said to them” -- the disciples -- “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 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. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the sea and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
I’m going to be using the English Standard Version of the Bible. There is a big question today and that is, ‘Who is Jesus?’ A lot of people are writing and speaking about who they believe Jesus to be or different aspects of who He really is. Some say that He’s a prophet and no more, others a teacher, some say He was a martyr, or just a historical figure. Now, we know He was a historical figure, but He’s a lot more than that. And some will say He’s one of many religious gurus, all of whom are equal. But who is Jesus? And it’s interesting that in the last verse of today’s passage the disciples asked that very question, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
So at this point in Jesus’s life and ministry and in His relationship with the disciples, the disciples are asking the question, ‘Who is Jesus?’ And when we ask that question, since the Bible asks it here through the disciples, we have to answer it with the Bible itself and that’s what we’re going to do as we move into our first point, which is this: Jesus’s control over the wind and the waves -- the sea -- points to His true identity as the God of Israel incarnate. Verse 37, “And a great wind storm arose and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.” Verse 39, “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Verse 41, “And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” So in this passage, Jesus is rebuking the wind and the sea. He was causing the wind to stop and the sea to calm and the disciples are asking, ‘Who then is this that does these things?’
What I want you to do is think about these four passages or verses that I’m going to bring up to you from the Old Testament. Exodus, chapter 14, verses 21 and 22, when Israel crossed the Red Sea. Here is the quote, “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and the Lord drove back by a strong east wind all that night the sea and made it dry land and the waters were divided.” So in Exodus, the Lord is showing His control over the wind and the sea. That’s significant, because in Mark when the disciples are asking that question, the Bible is screaming out the answer. If you just make the connection who has control over the wind and the seas, you wouldn’t have to ask that question, “Who then is this?” Psalm, chapter 65, verse 7, “O God of our salvation who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves.” There it is again. Psalm 89 in verse 9, speaking of the Lord, “You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.” Psalm 107, verses 29 and 30, “He made the storm be still and the waves of the sea were hushed” -- speaking of the Lord -- “then they were glad that the waters were quiet and he brought them to their desired haven.” Now, that passage, those two verses, that’s exactly what happens here. Jesus comes, the storm, the waves, and the sea are hushed, then the waters were quiet and He brought them to their desired haven.
Look here in this passage today at verse 35, “On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” The wind storm comes upon them, Jesus calms the wind and the waves. And then chapter 5, verse 1 says, “They came to the other side of the sea.” It’s a direct fulfillment. Jesus quiets the storm, then they -- the disciples -- were glad that the waters were quiet and He brought them to their desired haven. That was their destination, the other side of the sea. In order to get there, Jesus calmed the storm.
The Bible is telling us by connecting these Old Testament verses and passages to Mark chapter 4, that Jesus is God, but it doesn’t say in Mark 4:35-41 the three words, ‘Jesus is God.’ It’s telling us that Jesus is God by showing us that Jesus has the power to do what only Israel’s God can do. He has control over the waters, over the sea, and over the wind. That’s oftentimes how the Bible works. We live in this scientific culture, you know, post-enlightenment, in which you have an emphasis on needing to see the words ‘Jesus is God.’ Well, it says that in Romans chapter 9 in verse 5, but that’s what Mark’s doing here. He’s showing us that Jesus is God by displaying Jesus’s powers, which are God’s powers.
So the Bible does say in this passage that Jesus is God. We’re meant to answer it when they ask that question based on the works of the God of Israel in the Old Testament and the works of the God of Israel enfleshed in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a different way of communicating, but we piece it together the way the authors intended it originally. So in verse 38 the disciples say to Jesus, “Teacher.” And then in verse 41, they’re asking the question, because now they know He’s more than Teacher, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
All right. That’s the teaching. A couple of questions. Why is it important for us to see that Jesus is God in this passage?
PENNY: Well, at this point, I mean, obviously, He’s still trying to present himself to Jewish -- to Israel to the Jewish people, so His presentation is still very much drawing on the Old Testament of what happened before, as you pointed out, I think to signal everyone, to the hearers, ‘listen, wake up, I’m God of the old and I’m God of the new; I am the Messiah.’ So I think that should have been some kind of awakening that they should have immediately seen. Wait, there’s only one other time we know about this where God actually caused the waters to be still and there was peace. We haven’t seen anyone be able to do this, to cause the waters to be still and peaceful, and it should have taken them back to their exodus out of, you know, their heritage, of their lineage, of their genealogy, which they would have heard and known well at this point.
DON: When I was reading it, I was thinking about where prior to this did Jesus show His authority. So if you go back to Mark, chapter 3, He heals the man with the paralyzed hand. So I’m thinking to myself, okay, so now they’re in a boat and it’s being swamped and the disciples didn’t put the fact that He was able to heal a man’s hand. How much more difficult is it to calm the sea and the winds? But maybe their thinking was, well, you know, that healing thing, you know, maybe that’s something that a lot of people might be able to do. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a stretch, maybe I’m stretching it, but that’s what I was trying to see. Where did He show His authority prior to this incident? And how it would affect the disciples thought process that caused them to ask the question, ‘Who is this?’ Well, it’s the same guy that healed that man’s hand.
DREW: So throughout the Gospel their understanding of Jesus is progressive, it’s incremental, and you see that especially in chapter 8 when there’s actually the confession that He is the Messiah. They do come to that, but it takes a while for them.
NANCY: Your question -- I thought it was interesting -- why is it important to see here that Jesus is God? And I guess to my thinking it’s important, because Jesus wants the disciples to know the authority that He has and by whose authority He is doing these things and that He is one in the same and this was probably a new concept for them that He waned them to be in greater understanding of that and it’s important for them to know that because of everything that is going to come from this point forward.
DREW: One more question: How does it strengthen our faith when we see a passage like this and know that what God is showing us is without telling us in words, that Jesus is God? He is showing us by Jesus’s actions, His authority and power over the wind and the waves that He and the Lord God from the Old Testament are one in the same, He’s just now come in the flesh. What does that do to our faith? Anything?
NANCY: Well, I think all of us have always come across the phrase actions speak louder than words, so by doing these actions, it’s -- you know, when we as humans see that we have a stronger belief than if somebody just tells us something, so having it demonstrated to you depends your understanding and then depends your faith.
PENNY: I was just going to say thinking about the Old Testament with the tabernacle and the temple and then what Nancy was eluding to that He’s deepening our faith and breaking into the world, it’s just a fuller picture of what God has always been with us. He’s always been with His people. He’s always been there from the very beginning. He’s always wanted a relationship with them and now Jesus is coming to fulfill everything to make this final and possible for every single person, it’s available to everyone, and it is a beautiful reminder of His presence that’s always with us.
DREW: It does bring the God of scripture -- I mean, in Jesus that’s what happened, the God of scripture came to earth and there was a flesh and blood revelation of that God and that does a lot for the faith of God’s people to have him enter into space and time and do those works.
Good. Let’s look at point two. While Jesus is God, He’s also fully human and in this passage there is a great display of His humanity. Verses 37 and the first part of 38, “And a great wind storm arose and the waves were breaking into the boat so that was already filling, but he” -- Jesus -- “was in the stern asleep on the cushion and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Jesus is tired. He was asleep. And you have to think of the reasons why. It was ministerial exhaustion; He was a human being. He’d been confronting demons, training His disciples, constantly interacting with people, dealing with rebellious people. In chapter 3, He was dealing with difficult family members who were on the outside. They didn’t believe that Jesus was who He said He was. He was just plain tired. Remember in John chapter 4 in verse 6, when He met the woman at the well, the woman of Samaria? Jesus was wearied as He was from His journey. He was sitting beside the well. So He was wearied from His journey, just sitting down to get some rest. So that’s one reason Jesus was asleep.
Another is that He had a mighty trust in God. To sleep when surrounded by danger is a sign of trust in God. Psalm chapter 4, verse 8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” That’s a great sign of trust in God. Think about that, that in the middle of the storm He was still sleeping. It’s interesting. We’re going to get to this and I’ll just mention it here: It wasn’t the storm outside of the boat that woke Jesus. It was the storm going on within and among the disciples that woke Jesus.
Now, how does Jesus’s humanity enrich the Gospel message as we know it? What does the fact of the humanity of Jesus do for the Gospel?
DON: Well, part of the humanity, obviously, was that He was exhausted and He was tired and He was sleeping, but the other part of it is that like us we have faith in Him, He had faith in the Father, and that’s who He’s always pointing to and encouraging us to have faith in God, that He will see us through the storm. Now, obviously, if He was sleeping, He didn’t know there was a storm, but He had enough faith that they set out on a journey, He fell asleep, and when they got there, they got there.
DREW: Okay. Good. One other question: Is the humanity of Jesus a bridge for communicating the good news to unbelievers? If so, how? Anyone have any -- I’m not going to labor that point. I just thought I’d ask the question and if you think so. I think it does. I think it really helps in that if you think of the God of the Old Testament calming the waves, stilling the storms as He did, and now there’s a human being who’s tired, who’s sleeping, who’s doing the same things. One of the ways it enriches the Gospel is in a good way. It makes it more tangible for people. It doesn’t detract from His divinity at all. What it does is it elevates humanity that that same God from the Old Testament would become a human being. Now, He’s perfect and He was as we are in every way except sin, but nonetheless He really pronounces His divine blessing or benediction on humanity by coming to earth as a human being. And that can be a very good bridge for us as we’re communicating the Gospel. In other words, He’s a man; He’s not just a man. He’s the God of Israel, but He is a man -- see -- or a human being. That can be very, very powerful.