“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41b ESV)
Our recent expositions in Mark 4 focused on Jesus as the Teacher of Parables. As we bring chapter 4 to a close, we are reminded anew why we are calling this series “The Power of the Son of God.” Though Jesus is the wise Teacher, he is also the powerful, divine King. He not only taught about the kingdom, he is the ruler of the kingdom.
There is, therefore, no disconnect between Jesus’ parabolic teaching and the event recorded in verses 35-42. In many ways, the episode of Jesus calming the storm is a vivid and experiential lesson that illustrates the very truths he taught his disciples through the parables. Perhaps this connection is why Mark emphasizes that this took place “on that day” (v35).
Well, what happened “on that day” – the day he spoke of the soils, the lamp, the seed, and the farmer? That day, Jesus took his disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. That same boat that he used as his pulpit would now be inhabited by Jesus and his disciples alone; the crowd was left on the shore.
Suddenly a powerful and dangerous storm overtook the boat. Much to the surprise of the disciples, Jesus was asleep. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Jesus was asleep after he had given a lesson about a farmer sleeping. This sleep, while certainly pointing to the humanity of Christ, is not a lazy sleep. It is not an uncaring sleep. Like the farmer in the parable who sows his seed and then sleeps well, Jesus was sleeping well, trusting in God, though the waves roared and the disciples panicked around him.
Notice that Mark makes another contrast here. Jesus is the one who rebukes the disciples, even though he was the one sleeping through the storm. Why does he rebuke them? Their fear and their lack of faith. In other words, even though they were very much awake and Jesus was very much asleep, it was Jesus who demonstrated complete trust and faith while they demonstrated complete fear and hopelessness.
Once Jesus was awake, all he had to do was rebuke the wind and sea, and nature itself obeyed. He is the Son of God. He orders all things. Jesus isn’t careless, as his disciples wondered; rather, he demonstrated that all things are subject to his great power.
This amazing display of power caused the disciples to ask a question that many still ask today about Jesus – “who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
There may be times when it seems God is silent while we panic for our lives. But take heart and have faith – Jesus has everything under control. You can trust him with your life.