Even after Jesus had been ministering for some time, His followers still failed to fully grasp Who He was. One day, He took them on a little trip. It was one that they would not soon forget.
Mark 4 (see also Matthew 8 and Luke 8)
35 On that day, when evening had come, He told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.”
36 So they left the crowd and took Him along since He was already in the boat. And other boats were with Him.
37 A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.
38 But He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 Then He said to them, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?”
41 And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Who indeed was this Man?
In a recent podcast, Dr. Peter S. Williams pointed out that Jesus may have been sending a stronger message than simply that He was just another miracle worker. Dr. Williams suggests that there are points of remarkable similarity between what Jesus’ followers went through and what a psalmist had written about almost a thousand years before:
23 Others went to sea in ships,
conducting trade on the vast waters.
24 They saw the Lord’s works,
His wonderful works in the deep.
25 He spoke and raised a tempest
that stirred up the waves of the sea.
26 Rising up to the sky, sinking down to the depths,
their courage melting away in anguish,
27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men,
and all their skill was useless.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and He brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a murmur,
and the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107
Dr. Williams notes that the power over the storms and oceans is Yahweh’s and His alone (v. 24), not the Enemy’s. Also in the psalm, it is Yahweh Who speaks and raises the very same tempest (v. 25) that will try these sailors’ souls. Realizing their need for His intervention, the men cry out to Him, and once again it is He that stills the storm and saves them from a watery demise.
Was Jesus drawing from the Hebrew Scriptures to demonstrate to His apostles exactly Who He was?
In the Gospel accounts, we find that the journey across the sea was made on Jesus’ instructions. At least a few of Jesus’ apostles were seasoned fishermen who would have been familiar with storms on the Galilee, and yet they were just as fearful for their lives as the others. Just as in the psalm, the skill of these experienced sailors was not going to help. They were completely powerless and in grave danger.
But they, too, had the good sense to call on their Lord and, borrowing from the words of the psalmist, it was He Who “brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a murmur, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” Just as Yahweh had done in the psalm, so Jesus did for His followers.
Can anyone blame them for asking that question, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
After rebuking the wind and commanding the sea, after He had demonstrated that He had a power only God possesses, power over the forces of nature, Jesus turned to His followers and asked them,
“Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?” (May we never hear Jesus speak those words to us!)
But Dr. Williams pointed out one last thing, and that was that the disciples were terrified at the awesome power that the Man Jesus had just displayed over the elements. Never has a mere man been proven to have this power, not then or since.
And that would be because…
Jesus is Lord!