My friends welcome to tonight’s Radio program, “Simple Faith”, I am your host Cathy Merritt and we continue in Mark – Chapter 4
Right after Jesus wrapped up His teaching in parables, He was tired and ready to leave, so the disciples joined Him in the boat, and they began to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. As they were rowing, a storm came up and the boat was nearly flooded by the waves, as Jesus slept. As Mark 4:37-38 reads
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
We might expect that the disciples of Jesus would have been exempt from storms, drowning and danger, but they weren’t. We might expect that the Son of God is never hungry, thirsty or exhausted, but He was. He was tired enough that this great storm didn’t wake Him up! In the midst of the storm, the disciples, filled with fear for their very lives and did the smart thing; they woke up Jesus and brought the situation to His attention. I’d say we can learn from this.
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
Jesus, so entirely human in the last couple of verses, was now entirely divine and intervened in nature. He was human, He was divine, and now as the Word that caused all of creation to come into existence, rebuked the storm. Pretty smart of those disciples to take their storm to Jesus, wouldn’t you agree?
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
I think Jesus’ remark is less a criticism of the disciples, and more an underscore of what He spent the day teaching about the Kingdom. In that little boat was the Kingdom Incarnate, along with the very men who would take the Kingdom to the world. Can’t they see that God’s eternal plan isn’t going to fail because of a storm? Well, maybe they didn’t have the whole picture just yet, but we do have the whole picture.
Here we are, little mustard seeds for God to use in a mighty way to further His Kingdom. We will endure storms throughout our lives, but those storms will not divert us from our purpose… will they? If our purpose and God’s purpose are in sync, we have nothing to fear.
By the way, how do you think we get in sync with God – by reading and being in his word like on this Radio Program.
Matthew 8:28-33; Luke 8:26-39
Right after Jesus completed His teaching in parables, He and His disciples began to make their way across the Sea of Galilee, where they encountered a fierce storm that threatened to swamp their boat; Jesus calmed that storm. Their journey comes to its destination on the far shore, and immediately Jesus encounters a storm of a different sort, much more fierce and dangerous, for He encounters a storm of the soul in the form of a man tortured by unclean spirits. More often than not, this text is taught by getting into the details, how many soldiers in a legion, the man was naked, chains couldn’t bind him, he cut himself, how many pigs were there, everyone was afraid, the guy lived in the tombs…
I’d like to focus on the big picture instead.
To really get the full impact of what is going on, you need to remember that Jesus just calmed the storm, and to keep in mind that in pro-phetic passages, the sea is often used to represent this world; always churning, tossing and turbulent. The winds came, the waves tossed and Jesus spoke the Word and brought peace. Not only can He intervene in Nature with authority, He will bring calm to this world in due course. Then, after calming the storm, He arrives at the shore, and a crazed and demon possessed man comes running.
Mark goes into great detail showing us just how far gone this fellow was, and how he was uncontrollable. He is dirty, naked and crazy. He lives near the unclean pigs and in the unclean tombs,
oh yes, he pushes all of the Jewish buttons for “unclean” and is inhabited by unclean spirits!
You could almost say that this man represents the reasons for the tempest-tossed and always churning seas… as though this was representative of the spiritual causes of the condition of this world.
Into all of this comes Jesus and His Kingdom Tour; we might expect a clash, right?
A war, a storm of thunder, lightning, fireworks, armies of angels… all that end-time stuff. And what to our wondering eyes should appear?
Surrender of all forces hostile to the Kingdom in Jesus’ presence.
Dear friends we should reflect on this! Jesus proves he has power and he calmed the sea and the demons all in one day!!!
It turns out that the man was inhabited by many demons. How many, whether dozens, hundreds or thousands, I don’t know, the text says “many” and all of the numbers in the commentaries are speculative, but they were all surrendering to Christ, and they were driven into a herd of pigs and drowned. Of all creatures, pigs! Of course the people in town were afraid, that seems a rational thing to me, for who could grasp the full picture of what was going on at that point? Isn’t it interesting that Jesus told the man, now restored, to go home and give his testimony? Yes, that is another interesting piece to the puzzle.
When this story is viewed in its context, there is so much more than we usually hear about. The context is: 1) Kingdom Tour, Jesus announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and demonstrating certain aspects of it as we have already seen. 2) Jesus has just calmed the storm, showing He has command over both Nature and this world. Now, He confronts the storm within the human soul and His enemies immediately surrender, and the human soul is restored to wholeness… and sent out to share his testimony with others. This, my friends, is a picture of redemption and the age to come; that age is the one in which you and I are living.
Our adversary is cunning and dangerous, and we must not take him lightly. Yet, we must also not over-estimate his strength, for greater is He who is in us that he who is in this world. I always like to add one more thing here: We are also the ones who are on the offensive while our enemy is on the defensive, desperately trying to hold on to what he has, in a cause he knows will fail.
Parallel Texts: Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 7:41-56
In this section, Jesus responds to the plea of a synagogue leader in Capernaum to go to the man’s house to heal his 12-year-old daughter who was seriously ill. On the way, the crowd is pressing against Him and moves slowly along, when a woman who has been suffering for years with a bleeding disorder reaches out to touch his garment believing that she would be healed if she managed just to touch it… and succeeds. She is healed immediately.
Jesus, sensing this wants to identify who had done this, and the terrified woman kneels at His feet. Jesus tells her all is well, and then receives the news that the little girl He was going to heal has died.
When He finally arrives at the scene, He tells the people there that the girl is only sleeping, but they do not believe that. He goes in with the girl’s parents and a few disciples to the girl’s room, takes her hand and bids her to stand, which she does, fully restored, and asks her parents not to discuss what has happened.
It’s all in a day’s work on the Kingdom Tour.
On this tour, Jesus has created quite a sensation. He has preached the Kingdom, repentance and righteousness. He has healed scores of people, forgiven sins, chased out demons, and now brought a dead girl back to life. As spectacular as this is, it’s only a foretaste of what is to come. Yes the Kingdom is at hand, but only at hand… just wait!
You might recall that when sin entered the world, there were consequences. The man and woman were cut off from God’s presence, and now the Son of God was walking in their midst. Adam and Eve would experience suffering and pain, and now the Son was healing and removing pain and suffering. Adam and Eve had been influenced by the serpent, and the Son is now chasing away demons. Adam and Eve were cut off from the Tree of Life, but Jesus just raised a dead girl to life. Humanity carried the guilt of sins, and Jesus was forgiving sins.
The Kingdom of Heaven would undo what was done in Eden all those centuries before, the people who were following Jesus from place to place were witnessing the most amazing developments of all history, and yet did they quite understand what they were seeing?
Do we fully comprehend what we are reading in these accounts?
We should comprehend it, but I guess we’ll see as we move into the next chapter.
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,[a] Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Parallel Texts: Matthew 13:54-58; Luke 4:16-31
My family really doesn’t recognize me either when it comes to all the things I have done over the years. The military years and civil servant duties and jobs over the years. They do not recognize how involved I am in the work of God either. So when they hear me talking about teaching or being on the radio – they eyes glaze over. So many really do not recognize the Cathy who has made the commitment to serve God first.
In this text, Jesus runs into this phenomenon in Nazareth. He speaks in the synagogue, the people are amazed just like the people have been all over the rest of Galilee, and then they remember who He is… the carpenter’s kid. How can the carpenter’s kid announce the Kingdom? No, that’s nuts… it can’t be! Remember the time he and those other boys…? Think about it… they saw him grow they saw him be a kid and act like a kid!!!
It is very interesting that Mark puts this immediately after the previous section. Remember that we have just looked at what happened when Jesus brought the Kingdom message to His home town of Nazareth for the first time; they rejected Him. Now, He leaves Nazareth and sends out the twelve for the third circuit of Galilee in what almost seems like a dry run of what would happen later, after Pentecost.
Jesus was rejected in his home town, and uttered the famous line: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” (v. 4)
All through his early Galilean ministry, Jesus has preached the Kingdom, healed the sick and lame. He has driven out demons, forgiven sins and even raised a girl from the dead. During this time, He was showing what the Kingdom of Heaven is all about: Restoring people to God by the forgiveness of sins, making us whole again, chasing away the influence of evil and bringing eternal life and relationship with God. After being rejected in Nazareth, a new picture emerges of what was to come.
Jesus preached to His own, and they rejected His message, then He sent His disciples out to the farthest parts of the region to proclaim the message there, and they would be better received. After Pentecost, the Apostles would first preach in Jerusalem, then in Judea, by even though some came to faith, their own would by and largely reject the message, and then it would be sent to far corners of the globe, where it would be better received.
After this time, there will be more contact with the authorities, more and more they will oppose Him, and the drama will increase as the time begins to grow shorter. But first, there will be news from Judea.
Parallel Texts: Matthew 14:22-36; John 6:15-21
After feeding the five thousand, a murmur went through the crowd: “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus knew they were about to seize Him and make Him king by force. (John 6:14-15) This is why the politicians, Herod, the Pharisees and priests, were so concerned about Him. They had two problems, first, they didn’t want to be replaced by Jesus, and they couldn’t have cared less if He was really the Messiah. Second, they had to be concerned about the Romans. Rome did not permit rebellion. They would allow a considerable amount of local autonomy and local rule, which as it turns out, was the secret to their success as an Empire. Rebellion, however, would be crushed with a brutality that had become well-known. Yes, these political types were in a tough spot.
Jesus sent the disciples across the lake in the boat and sent the crowds home; all things considered, that might have been another miracle. Then, He went off to pray alone. That He did so is probably material enough for an entire lesson, for please take note: If Jesus had intended any sort of a Kingdom in this world, He could have had it right then and there.
During the night, another storm comes up out on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus knowing that the boys were struggling against the elements walked out on the Sea in their direction shortly before dawn.
One can hardly be surprised that they mistook Him for a ghost… or something… after all I haven’t seen a guy walking across a lake in the midst of a storm, and if I did, would I think it was Jesus when I first saw him? Well, that might not be the first thought to pop into my mind, and I have heard of this; they hadn’t. They cry out in fear, Jesus identifies Himself. According to John, Jesus calls Peter out to walk on the water, which he does until he thinks about what he is doing, and then begins to sink; Jesus rescues him. Mark, however, didn’t mention this detail, and says Jesus climbed into the boat and the winds were still. Here’s an interesting thought: Mark, who left Peter’s incident out of the story, is thought by most scholars to have written his gospel under Peter’s supervision: Hmmm…
Matthew recounts something interesting when they reached the shore that Mark only hinted at. Mark says that their hearts had been hardened, but Matthew goes on to say that when they arrived at the shore, the disciples worshiped Jesus, saying that surely He is the Son of God. (Matt. 14:33). This is the first time they realize this, even though they should have understood it when He fed all those people, and from time-to-time, they would seem to forget it in the months ahead.
They reach the shore after sun up, and are immediately recognized, and the people begin to bring their sick and lame for healing, and many were healed as the Kingdom Tour resumes, and the Pharisees are on the attack!
And that is where we will pick up again next week.
My friends – thank you for joining me and I hope to see you again next week. My name is Cathy Merritt and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to pray with you to the end.