In which the story of Jesus stilling the tempest demonstrates Jesus’ unlimited power and the two ways we can respond to this power.
Every so often I hear a story about someone drowning in the ocean. A child dragged to her death by the undertow.
That’s why my wife and I give ample, rigid warning to our own children when we visit the ocean:
“Hold our hands tight.”
Our last two visits to the ocean–the Atlantic and the Gulf–occurred just days after hurricanes bull rushed the coast. So winds remained fierce. Waves, relentless. We barely even set foot into the sea.
The Storm Descending on the Boat
Similar circumstances–gale-like winds, wall-like waves–were common on another sea. The Sea of Galilee.
Long ago Jesus and his disciples were on the western shore of this sea. Jesus wanted to escape the crush of the crowd. So he and his disciples climbed into a boat. They sailed to the eastern shore where there was no large city, thus fewer people.
But at some point during their trip a severe storm pushed its way across the sea. Jesus’ disciples–aware of what could happen if trapped in such a storm–feared they would drown.
Jesus, on the other hand, slept.
Eventually his disciples woke him up. They pointed to the storm and screamed, “We’re going to die!” And what happened next demonstrates Jesus’ unlimited power over the natural world.
The Storm Subdued by a Man
Storms don’t die quickly. Nor on cue from a human command. Yet, on that day, Jesus immediately muzzled the storm with the words, “Hush, be still.” And when the storm ceased, the disciples’ hearts sank. Not in sadness nor relief.
Terror that something more powerful than a boat-crushing, human-drowning force was in the boat with them. And it was this terror that precipitated the question, “Who is this that the wind and the sea obey him?”
The Conquered Storm Points to Christ
This story of the sea being stilled occurred well before Peter’s confession that Jesus was Christ.
In Mark, it occurs after Jesus heals many people of illness, deformities and demon possession. Thus, this story of the sea being stilled rises in the Markian narrative above all supernatural events before it and culminates with the question, “Who is this?”
It’s like a primer for the ultimate question: “Who do you say that I am?”
At that point in Mark 8:29…is there any question who Jesus is? Any resistance? Any doubt to his authority over sin and death? Jesus cast out demons. Restored mangled limbs. Cured lingering diseases. Lifted children from the dead. And subdued the sea.
The Storm Submitted–Will You?
Of course, doubters existed. Judas was more than likely in the boat. And doubters exist today.
Why did Judas doubt? Why do people doubt today? Here’s a clue: “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
This is what breaks my heart: In the face of mounting evidence to the authority of Christ, people who reject Jesus needlessly incite God’s wrath and judgment against themselves.
In the end, Jesus offers two ways: Submit to his power. Or suffer under it. There is no middle ground.
**Part of The Messiah: Eleven Meditations from the Book of Mark series.**