Meet Jesus, Who Calmed a Storm

Mark 4:35-41

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 in the boat. And other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 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 afraid? 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!”

It was Jesus’ idea to cross the lake. It seemed He had a reason why, and as we read this we understand His motives. It’s obvious that Jesus understood that there was “people to see, and places to go,” (Mark 5:1-19). There were crowds of others who “tailed” Him, wanting to see what would happen next. Jesus was a magnet it seemed.

It seems that the boat belonged to Peter, and the journey across the water would take some time, it was 5–6 miles at this crossing point. It’s important to know that many of Jesus’ disciples were seasoned fisherman and I imagine that the trip would be fairly routine to them. But what’s going to happen next isn’t anything but.

The storm picked up quickly as they often do.

For these experienced sailors this wasn’t a big issue. Storms were manageable, however the text tells us that there came a point when the winds and waves began to fill the boat. They couldn’t bail it out fast enough. The storm seemed to ‘explode’ and it seems that they weren’t prepared to deal with this. It wasn’t in their plans.

That’s often the way things happen isn’t it? Following Jesus isn’t always smooth sailing in calm waters.

Things got so bad so quick that they turned to Jesus. Apparently He was catching 40 winks on a cushion in the back of the boat. (Why He was sleeping I have no idea; He must’ve been worn out by a full day of ministry.) When everything is spinning out-of–control it’s at the point they finally call on Him.

They woke Jesus up. (I guess if you’re about to drown it’s probably a good thing to be aware of it anyway.)

The disciples knew they had lost the battle. The storm was about to send them to the bottom of the Sea of Gaililee. In just a few moments they all were going to drown. Imminent death is a great time to call out to Him.

It was at this point that the disciples turned to Jesus. Why the delay? It doesn’t make sense, but knowing myself I only seem to call on Him when things get out-of-hand. My first response is trimming the sails and to start bailing. I don’t think about calling on Jesus until I realize that I’m not really in control.

In tradition it was God who was able to control storms, (see Psalm 107:29 and Jonah 1:4). When Jesus stood up and took on that authority over the wind and waves He was acting as the Messiah. But more than that, He was behaving as God.

Jesus’ question to them drills right to the heart of things in verse 40.

This is what triggered the response of the disciples in verse 41. Perhaps they were more scared of Jesus than the storm?

Incidently, the words Jesus used as He spoke to the storm means “be muzzled.” He uses the exact same words as He casts out the demons of the man in the very next event (Mark 5:7-9). I wonder. Could it be that the storm was a satanic/demonic attack? Maybe?

“O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty like You, O LORD? Your faithfulness surrounds You. You rule the raging of the sea; when waves rise, You still them.” 

Psalm 89:8-9

Meet the Deaf and Mute Man

“Some people brought a man who could neither hear nor speak and asked Jesus to lay a healing hand on him. He took the man off by himself, put his fingers in the man’s ears and some spit on the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up in prayer, groaned mightily, and commanded, “Ephphatha!—Open up!” And it happened. The man’s hearing was clear and his speech plain—just like that.”

36-37 “Jesus urged them to keep it quiet, but they talked it up all the more, beside themselves with excitement. “He’s done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless.”

Mark 7:34-37, The Message

Jesus enjoyed carrying the good news to distant places. His ministry wasn’t confined. He went to places that orthodox people avoided. Jesus penetrated these places and found a rich mission field. (This should speak volumes to us.)

It was in Decapolis that He met this man. He was deaf and mute, and it seems no doctor could help him. Close friends brought this man to Jesus. They begged Jesus to heal him–perhaps this shows their faith and love. (Again this should speak to us. Do we care for others–or not?)

The Lord led this man away from the crowd (interesting.) It seems Jesus wanted privacy. I think that He wanted to avoid the “carnival” atmosphere that healing would cause. Jesus was God–not a showman. (This dear one should clarify things for us.)

It interests me the approach He took. Jesus’ fingers went into the man’s ears. He spits (!) and touched the man’s tongue with His saliva. (Oh if He could do this to us!) Jesus looked up to heaven and said one word, “Ephphatha!” Which in English means “be opened.”

The man suddenly began to speak!

Everyone who witnessed was amazed. Jesus looked at those and told them not to say a thing about what just happened. (Is this humility or what?) Of course, it interests me that the crowd ignored His command; they couldn’t help but spread the news. They must have figured that Jesus was the Messiah, and this miracle proved it.

But the way He went about this amazes me–why the fingers and obviously why the spit? Perhaps this man, (and his friends) needed to see something more “physical.” Maybe? Could it have communicated something to Jesus’ disciples who were watching? Could it be that this can guide us as we now carry Jesus’ power?

I’m thinking through these things.

One: Jesus does impossible things He extends Himself to the “unorthodox”

Two: He seems to heal in ways we really don’t quite understand.

Three: What Jesus does is not about “showmanship,” He avoids publicity and self-promotion.

And there must be other points. It’s good I think, to roll these thoughts around.

Encountering the Feeding of the 5000

Luke 9:12-17

As the sunset, the Twelve said, “Dismiss the crowd so they can go to the farms or villages around here and get a room for the night and a bite to eat. We’re out in the middle of nowhere.”

“You feed them,” Jesus said.

They said, “We couldn’t scrape up more than five loaves of bread and a couple of fish—unless, of course, you want us to go to town ourselves and buy food for everybody.” (There were more than five thousand people in the crowd.)

But he went ahead and directed his disciples, “Sit them down in groups of about fifty.” They did what he said and soon had everyone seated. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread and fish to the disciples to hand out to the crowd. After the people had all eaten their fill, twelve baskets of leftovers were gathered up.

Jesus had been healing many. Five thousand people sat enraptured by Jesus’ teaching. It was like nothing they had never heard before. It was definitely a testimony to Jesus’ fantastic presence. Where the all came from, I haven’t the slightest. To gather a crowd like this, in the middle of nowhere was amazing. None of us had ever heard of this ever happening.

Seventy of us had just returned from preaching ourselves, with stories of deliverance and healing. Herod had also heard, and that was a bit spooky. We certainly didn’t want his scrutiny, that’s for sure-I know he known about us.

It was getting dark and, quite honestly, we realized that we had a problem. We met with Jesus and expressed this development. We really didn’t have a solution. It came as a shock to us (and maybe absurd) that He told us to “feed them.”

The crowd concerned us.

After a search, we came up with five loaves and a few fish. We wanted Jesus to see the absurdity of this, and to emphasize the problem. Perhaps this meager discovery would help Him understand,

Jesus told us to reseat the crowds in groups of fifty, I’ve always wondered about that, but I suppose that He wanted to see the size of the crowd–and to oversee a better and more even distribution of the food. That was indeed wisdom, but it was far more than that.

He covered His head, looked to heaven to give thanks.

He then began to take the fish and bread to distribute to the crowds. I still don’t quite grasp what exactly happened. It still seems absurd.

The bread and fish just kept coming.

As we filled our baskets, the food never ran out! It just kept coming and coming! Our baskets were always full, and all 5000 were fed. As a matter of fact, everyone had more than they wanted–all from a measly five loaves and two fish!

And to emphasize all of this, each of us had our own baskets filled.

What happened then and there staggered us. Obviously, on a purely rational level, it was quite impossible. Surely Jesus had the ability to do anything He wanted to do. This miracle only confirmed the absolute power of Jesus–each of us had a full basket for ourselves. Jesus had made it clear that He was in full control of every situation.

Even now, how can we ever doubt Him?

“Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:32

For further reading: “Meet the Master of Ceremonies in Cana

Art is public domain, the passage is taken from The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson.

Mastered by Jesus

“A Christian is not a person who believes in his head the teachings of the Bible. Satan believes in his head the teachings of the Bible!”

“A Christian is a person who has died with Christ, whose stiff neck has been broken, whose brazen forehead has been shattered, whose stony heart has been crushed, whose pride has been slain, and whose life is now mastered by Jesus Christ.”

–John Piper

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

John 15:15

It seems that the purpose of life is not to find our freedom. It’s really meant to find our Master.

Yes, the idea of being a slave to anyone is repugnant. We chafe at this, and yet man was never meant to be seperated from the Lordship of Jesus. We’re instructed repeatedly with the New Testament idea that “our life is not our own”  Over and over God proclaims Himself as the King.

That troubles us somewhat.

Not so much when life is fairly good, granted, but in those hard moments when a decision must be made between enjoying the titillating “lusts of the flesh,” or accepting the fruits of the Spirit. This is one of those “lordship moments.” They come, and go, and they show us exactly who we are.

If you’re really going to be authentic–a legitimate and real disciple, then you must determine who is going to be “boss.” This isn’t one of those casual decisions. You must securely fix it in your heart.

Your decision must become a settled issue.

The thief on the cross knew salvation, he was promised an eternity with God simply by faith. But I submit to you that he had put himself under the Lordship of Jesus, simply by recognizing the sign, “the King of the Jews.” I believe he saw and understood its imlications. Jesus was King!

This is a very hard word for some, but many of our personal issues hinge on this.

I know this first-hand. It can be a monumental struggle. You must admit to not only having Jesus as your Savior, but you also must put your life under His total Lordship.  You need to pick up your cross daily in order to follow.  You need to learn how to kneel.

I’ve chosen a crown to open up this post–it’s done on purpose.  I simply want you to to understand the supreme call He has on your life. Here’s Bob Dylan, and he nails this idea down:

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You must learn here and now how to kneel before the Sovereign King

 

Related: “Am I Like Peter”; “The Scum of the Earth;” “Those Strange Christians.”

A Question: Am I Like Peter?

To follow Him can be really hard. There doesn’t seem to be any contingency plans for any who are looking to escape such a drastic call. Jesus either is, or He isn’t our Lord. “Do you also want to leave?” This is a question that will be asked to every disciple–sometimes once, and sometimes repeatedly.

There are these crystalline moments when I must make a decision. Will I take up my cross and go with Him? There doesn’t seem to be any room in Jesus’ band for ‘almost’ disciples. That scares me sometimes.

Today’s cross is waiting for me. I’m afraid at times that I won’t be able to take the next step as a true follower. Am I just fooling myself?

All of heaven seems to stand on tiptoe to see what I’m going to do next.

Who am I really?

Being obedient to Jesus is far from easy. We must have His Spirit.

“After this, many of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance:

“Do you also want to leave?”

“Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:66-69, The Message

Image from Wikipedia, verses are from The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson.

Meet the Master of Ceremonies in Cana

John 2:9-10

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants did), he called the bridegroom over.

10 “This is wonderful stuff!” he said. “You’re different from most. Usually, a host uses the best wine first, and afterwards, when everyone is full and doesn’t care, then he brings out the less expensive brands. But you have kept the best for the last!”

Full account: John 2:1-10

I really don’t believe in miracles. But something happened when I was overseeing a wedding in Cana that I can’t explain. I’ve thought a lot about it and as I uncovered some of the details–well, part of me believes, and part of me can’t.

My duty was to oversee the details that are part of every wedding. That includes having a sufficient source of wine for the party. If I made a mistake or miscalculated the thirst of the guests, it’s the absolute worst thing I could do. Not too much wine (as it could be expensive) or not too little either. If I blew it, it would go down as a shameful thing.

Essentially I freed up the bride and the groom so they could enjoy their day–I handled all of the logistical stuff. It was my ministry you could say, I had a knack for managing these events, it was how I made my living. (It’s all about having a good reputation, and I suppose the shekels were also a part of my thinking too.)

This particular wedding in Cana sort of got out-of-hand.

Too many guests too soon, and man were they thirsty. I brought in the wine, and it wasn’t enough–I was blowing it, and honestly, I really didn’t know how I was going to extricate myself and avoid this incredible goof. Word was spreading fast; we were running out. (People were starting to panic!)

My employees, my servants, gathered around to help me think. They basically gave me the news, and they expected me to do what was out of my power to do. I rarely had encountered a predicament like this. Poor planning on my part and now the groom would take the rap.

I was surprised when the servant came with a cup for me to sample!

Tasting that wine I realized then and there that this was not the usual plonk–as a matter of fact, it was the best that could be found (and I know all about wine, believe me). When I found the groom and told him…”Most serve the best at first, but you rascal, you saved the very best for last!”

I was dumbfounded when I investigated its source. It was water, coming from six purification jars (each one could hold up to 30 gallons). Each one was filled to the brim, and each one became excellent wine. Some have told me that Jesus didn’t add anything–but He transformed it. Now dear reader, perhaps I understood the incredible power of Jesus.

I’m not really a believer quite yet, but maybe?

I suppose that this miracle describes having a life that’s being transformed. As we grow we start to realize that He’s taking us higher up and deeper in. Look for your next step, there’s always much more in “becoming.”

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV

Art by Paolo Caliari, (1528-88). Scripture is from the Living Bible, by Tyndale House.

Meet the Gentile Woman

Matthew 15:21-28

Jesus then left that part of the country and walked fifty miles to Tyre and Sidon.

22 A woman from Canaan who was living there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, King David’s Son! For my daughter has a demon within her, and it torments her constantly.”

23 But Jesus gave her no reply—not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to get going,” they said, “for she is bothering us with all her begging.”

24 Then he said to the woman, “I was sent to help the Jews—the lost sheep of Israel—not the Gentiles.”

25 But she came and worshiped him and pled again, “Sir, help me!”

26 “It doesn’t seem right to take bread from the children and throw it to the dogs,” he said.

27 “Yes, it is!” she replied, “for even the puppies beneath the table are permitted to eat the crumbs that fall.”

28 “Woman,” Jesus told her, “your faith is large, and your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed right then.

“Please Lord Jesus, there is no one else who can rescue me!”

I believe that Jesus must’ve come just for me. He had made a long trip to the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon to find me, a pagan woman, despised by the Jewish people. I mustn’t forget that. He came for me, he reached out for my daughter and myself.

My daughter had a demon living inside her.

I knew this, and I also knew that no power on earth could rescue her–but Jesus could. I begged and I worshiped, I learned that this combination goes together like peas and carrots. You see, my daughter was possessed, filled with a satanic entity that was taking over to destroy her, I would do anything to set her free.

I was ‘blocked’ by Jesus’ followers, perhaps they didn’t understand. And yet I knew that they weren’t my obstacles, but I needed to push right through them–perhaps this is sometimes true of those who call themselves disciples. They wouldn’t let me see Jesus. And yet I had to bring her desperate need to Him.

There was no one else.

I begged and pleaded, and yet they refused me. Over and over I tried to see Jesus, to bring my terrible need to Him–the healer, the teacher—the One who worked miracles for undeserving people. I was coming to Him, not for myself but for my daughter.

It was then saw me. When He spoke it seemed that it was a hard word. He had been sent to the lost sheep of Israel, not to Gentiles like me.

But I didn’t stop pleading, I knew I was undeserving. I wasn’t righteous and I certainly didn’t belong. Trust me, I had no merit, no real right to come to Him. I had nothing, definitely not a holy life. I had zero and I knew it.

But I remembered my daughter, picking flowers and making ‘daisy chains.’ The way she used to be–she was innocent and so gentle. But recently something dark had taken over, and she had changed.

Jesus met me.

The words he spoke challenged me. “I’ve come exclusively for the children of Israel.” I understood, and yet I insisted–I fell down on my knees and saw His dirty feet; He had traveled very far. I began to worship Him. He seemed almost contemplative. “I don’t think it right to take what I can offer, and “give it to the dogs.'” But even then I insisted. He alone can heal her, there were no others.

I pleaded with Him, “even dogs can eat what falls off the table.” I may have stuttered. Jesus then spoke to me, and maybe the others. “I see that you have a large faith. I give you what you’ve asked.” And at that very instant my daughter was healed.

————————-

“Lord, help me.”

“I commend this prayer to you because it is such a handy prayer. You can use it when you are in a hurry, you can use it when you are in a fright, you can use it when you have not time to bow your knee. You can use it in the pulpit if you are going to preach, you can use it when you are opening your shop, you can use it when you are rising in the morning. It is such a handy prayer that I hardly know any position in which you could not pray it: ‘Lord, help me.’”

Charles Spurgeon

Art by Free Bible Images: the text is from the Living Bible

Meet Thomas

John 20:25-29

But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”

But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”

Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”

Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”

Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

The others had told me that they had seen Jesus. But this couldn’t be. Either they imagined it or they saw His ghost. I saw him brutalized, crucified, and buried, and I knew He was really dead. I was never into pretending, or wish fulfillment. No, not me. When you’re dead, you’re dead. (At least that’s what I thought.)

I remember telling the others that I would only believe them if I could see and feel the scars–the nail holes and the hole in his side. I needed proof, something tangible or solid before I could believe their stories. Part of me hoped it was so, but I honestly couldn’t join the others in their excitement.

Some would call me a doubter–a skeptic.

And maybe I was, but a realist is how I would describe myself. To go along with the others wasn’t going to cut it. They said that they had seen Him and He was very much alive, that somehow, someway He was now resurrected. But for me, I couldn’t believe it. I myself must know it for myself.

Was Jesus alive after all they had done to Him?

We had all gathered in a large room. The door had been locked–we were afraid that the authorities would come for us next. In spite of the confinement, we had some good fellowship that Sunday morning, catching up and sharing stories of the last three years, thinking about all the things Jesus had taught and done.

And suddenly Jesus showed up. Trust me on this if you can–the door was locked, and there was no other way to get in. When Jesus “dropped in” we were completely amazed. He was very much alive–and how can this be? We were all in shock as He stood right in front of us!

Immediately Jesus looked at me, and I looked back–and it was really Him!!

Jesus immediately focused on me, He asked me to come close; He wanted me to touch Him, to inspect and see for myself that He was as real as you or I. He asked me to come and see the nail prints in His hands, and stick my hand in the hole where the Roman soldiers had thrust a spear into His side.

And I was completely undone.

It was really Him, and I couldn’t explain it away. Jesus was real flesh and blood! In a second I went from doubt to faith. How He knew that I had voiced my hesitation out loud I didn’t know. But I now knew for certain Jesus was very much alive. Death was now dead.

“My Master! My God!” was all I could say.

At that moment I became a believing believer. It wasn’t second-hand anymore; I wept and laughed at the same time! I couldn’t explain it, I must believe it. Jesus had overcome death and He was now commanding me to believe.

Immediately I knew, I saw Him for myself.

Looking back I admit my foolishness and doubt; Jesus had sought me out, and somehow He knew that of all His disciples, I needed that special touch. He understood and had come just for me. To this day I realized how much He really loved me–the doubting Thomas.

[According to common Christian tradition, Thomas, was killed by jealous Hindu priests of Kali India. He was burned to death in 72 AD. A church is now established there and still recognizes him as an apostle.]

Bryan’s note: I can relate to Thomas. I was also one who needed to know for myself that Jesus was really God and that He really did rise from the dead. It was reading “More Than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell that propelled me into belief. If you need to know for yourself, I suggest you buy this book. (If you want, I’ll buy it for you.)

Art: Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, c. 1601-1502, oil on canvas–Verses are from The Message, a translation by Eugene Peterson.