Authority over the Sea

OVERVIEW - Despite his tremendous miracle when he calmed a tempest on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples still did not understand Jesus – Mark 4:35-41

Stormy Sea Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash
After teaching the multitude near the town of Capernaum, Jesus set out to cross the Sea of Galilee. But a violent storm descended suddenly on the lake, frightening his disciples. Storms were common enough on the Sea of Galilee, and several of the men were fishermen familiar with its moods; thus, their great terror indicated this was a particularly severe storm - [Stormy Sea Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash].

What precipitated the storm was the statement by Jesus - “Let us go over to the other side”; that is, to the vicinity of Gerasenes - (Mark 5:1-20).
  • (Mark 4:35-41) - “And he says to them on that day, evening having come, We should cross over to the other side. And, having dismissed the crowd, they are taking him along as he was in the boat, and other boats were with him. And a great tempest of wind is coming to pass, and the waves were dashing over into the boat, so that already it is being filled. And he was in the stern sleeping on the cushion. And they awaken him and are saying to him, Teacher! Is it no concern to you that we are perishing?’ And having awakened, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Be silent! Be still! And the wind abated, and great calm came to pass. And he said to them, Why are you fearful? Not yet do you have faith?’ And they feared a great fear and were saying to one another, ‘Who, then, is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” - (Exodus 14:16-29, Psalm 89:9, 107:29, Nahum 1:4, Matthew 8:23-27, Luke 8:22-25).
The disciples addressed Jesus as “teacher,” which indicates they did not understand who he really was. He was viewed as little more than a teacher or “rabbi.” At the end of the story, dumbfounded, they will ask: “Who is this man?”

The disciples were in great fear and acted accordingly, waking Jesus out of fear. But he charged them with having no faith. Yet, ironically, they became even more fearful after he had calmed the storm.

A passage from the Book of Jonah is echoed in the story. When Jesus “rebuked” the storm and commanded the wind to “be silent,” he used the same language he used to rebuke demons - (“Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet and come out of him” - Mark 1:25):
  • (Jonah 1:4-17) – “But Yahweh sent out a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid and cried every man unto his god; and they cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it unto them. But Jonah was gone down into the innermost parts of the ship; and he lay fast asleep.”
In the ancient mind, the sea was associated with chaos. But no opposition to Jesus could succeed until his mission was finished, not even the forces of nature. This “opposition” arose after he had instructed the disciples to proceed to the other side of the lake. In the passage, the storm’s “reaction” to his determination to cross to the other side was virtually instantaneous.
Not only did the wind cease at his command, immediately, the sea became calm. This demonstrated the miraculous nature of what occurred. Winds may suddenly cease, but a body of water with its surface stirred by a storm takes time to return to a peaceful state.

Next, Jesus questioned his disciples, “How is it that you have no faith.” Apparently, by this time, he expected them to acquire faith, yet even this tremendous ‘nature miracle’ failed to produce real faith, and, instead, it raised the question: “Who is this man?”

As powerful as this miracle was, by itself it did not answer the question. Even though the disciples formed his inner circle, they reacted like the crowds on the “outside” to whom Jesus spoke in parables. Nevertheless, even though they requested his help from fear, and not from faith, he responded by delivering them from the immediate danger.




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