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The Lord of the Wind and the Waves

February 19, 2023 Speaker: Jonathan McLeod Series: The Christ

Topic: Jesus Scripture: Mark 4:35–41

Who Is This?

Back in 2012, a high school student named Jack Andraka won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for his development of a rapid and inexpensive diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer.

(When I was in high school, I made a Lego model of the Mactaquac Dam, which I thought was quite impressive. It doesn’t seem so impressive now!)

Andraka's invention was a major breakthrough in the field of cancer diagnosis, as it was over 90% accurate and significantly less expensive than existing diagnostic methods. The test used a simple dipstick method to detect the presence of mesothelin, a protein that is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer patients.

When Andraka won the award, people were amazed, and I’m sure lots of them were asking, “Who is this?”

Something more amazing happens in Mark 4. Jesus calms a storm on the Sea of Galilee. And his amazed disciples ask, “Who is this?”

This is actually the most important question we can ask: Who is Jesus?

The Calming of the Storm

After a long day of teaching, Jesus says to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” 

This is the same lake where the miraculous catch of fish took place. It’s known by a few names in the NT: the Lake of Gennesaret, the Sea of Tiberias, and the Sea of Galilee.

Let’s call it the Sea of Galilee. It's the lowest freshwater lake in the world (215 metres below sea level). It’s about 13 km wide, and the main source of its water is the Jordan River.

Jesus and the disciples leave the crowd behind, and begin their trip across the lake. At some point, Jesus falls asleep in the boat’s stern (i.e., the back). (In 1986, an ancient fishing boat was discovered on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was dated around the first century A.D. It was approximately 26.5 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, and 4.5 feet high. It’s known as the Jesus Boat, though there’s no evidence connecting the boat to Jesus or his disciples.)

While Jesus is peacefully sleeping, a furious storm suddenly arises. (The geography of the Sea of Galilee, located as it is in the Jordan Rift with steep hills on all sides, makes it susceptible to sudden storms. Cooler air from the hills can rush down and collide with warm air in the lake’s basin, creating sudden squalls.)

The waves are splashing into the boat, and it’s in danger of sinking. As all of this is happening, Jesus is still sleeping. The disciples wake him and say to him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?” (It must have been an unusually dangerous storm because several of  the disciples were experienced fishermen and had witnessed many other storms.)

Jesus awakes and rebukes the wind and says to the waves, “Peace! Be Still!”

The wind dies down and the water is completely calm.

Jesus turns to the disciples and asks, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Mark tells us that the disciples become “filled with great fear” (v. 41a). They’re no longer afraid of the storm. They’re now afraid of the person in the boat with them … Jesus. 

They ask each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (v. 41b, NIV).

Who Is Jesus?

“Who is this?” Who is Jesus? There are many different beliefs about Jesus.

  • In the Gospels, many people thought (correctly) that Jesus was the Christ, but they had a wrong expectation of what Jesus would do.
  • His enemies saw him as an imposter (not the true Christ) and a blasphemer. (“Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:7).
  • Today, some people believe Jesus is a myth. 
  • Many non-Christians think Jesus was a wise teacher and a great example. 
  • Other religions believe Jesus was merely a prophet.
  • The NT declares that Jesus is God-in-the-flesh.

[Read Ps. 107:23-32.]  Look again at verses 28 and 29: “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” In Psalm 107, it’s the LORD—Yahweh—who stills the storm. But in Mark 4, it’s Jesus who stills the storm.

The disciples don’t realize it yet, but the one in the boat with them—Jesus—is the Lord of the wind and the waves.

In this story, we see both of his natures, human and divine. He’s tired, wanting a break from teaching and falling asleep in the boat. But he also displays his authority over the wind and the waves. He speaks, and they obey.

Be Still

We could put ourselves in the place of the disciples. Sometimes a storm comes into our lives, and our hearts become filled with fear. We might think, “Doesn’t God care?”

When we go through storms, Jesus wants us to believe that he is the Lord of the wind and the waves. He says to our anxious hearts, “Peace! Be still!” This peace is an inner calm. It comes from trusting Jesus.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is be still. [Read Exod. 14:10-14; Ps. 46:10; Isa. 30:15.]

In Psalm 46:10, “Be still” is actually a rebuke. God is saying, “Stop what you’re doing!” He’s saying this to the armies of the nations. But we can apply these words to ourselves. “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Be still and think about who Jesus is. He’s the Lord of the wind and the waves.

Be still and think about what Jesus has done for us. He gave his life for us. We know he cares about us!

Be still and think about what Jesus will still do for us. One day, Jesus will cause every storm to cease. 

Be still, my soul! thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul! the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

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