Some stories even in the Bible stand out in special ways. One of the most unusual stories in the life of Jesus in found in Mark 4:35-41. Jesus had been teaching through the day near the Sea of Galilee. At the end of the day He said to the apostles “Let us to cross to the other side.” They left the crowd and “Took Jesus in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher do you not care that we are perishing?”
Think about a couple of things in this story before proceeding. I always wonder in reading this story what it means when it says that they took Jesus just as he was. I suppose that means there was no special preparations for Him. He just got into the boat to leave. After all, many of these men were professional fishermen. They knew the Sea of Galilee as well as anyone could. This Sea is in the valley between the mountains and storms often arise quickly and the wind comes as through a funnel onto the Sea. This storm must have been particularly strong for it to arouse such fear among the disciples. I also wonder what was going on with all the other boats that had come along with them. What is so amazing to me in the story is that Jesus is sound asleep. It had been a long day of teaching. So He crawled into the back of the boat, found a cushion and took a nap. Now I’ve met several people in life that could sleep through a storm. But you would think that with the water flashing over the sides of the boat that it would have awakened Him already. When the disciples began to yell for Him to awake, it is obvious they didn’t think of Him stopping the storm. They were shocked by that. But they were frustrated that He was sleeping while they were overwhelmed with fear.
There is something common about strong emotions, whether fear, anger, or excitement that we expect others to share those emotions. If someone just seems calm as can be while we are overcome with anger, we wonder what is wrong with them. That was the case with the disciples. Their feeling was that He didn’t care that they were perishing. It seems they just wanted Him to be awake and involved with them in this fearful time.
“And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
This is different from so many occasions with Jesus and His miracles. He didn’t pause to pray. He spoke immediately, almost abruptly to the wind and waves. There was no time spent on answering the apostle’s charge of not caring. He spoke and the winds ceased, the waves settled and everything was calm. The very authority of God was demonstrated by Jesus. Jesus’ authority wasn’t limited to cures of major illnesses or even to taking enough fish and bread to feed a small boy and multiplying it to feed 5,000 people. He was Lord over the nature. The creator of it all was able to say to different aspects of nature to calm down and it readily obeyed.
I would have thought that the response of the disciples would have been to be thrilled that the storm was over and the waves are calm. They are no longer in danger. Now they can relax. But no, the text says “They were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” While they were certainly glad the storm was over, the astonishment of Jesus’ power was beyond their grasp. We all look for categories to put people into as a way of figuring people out. Think of different ways we place people into such groups. They are single, married, divorced, old, young, fat, skinny, rich, poor and on and on it goes. But Jesus wasn’t one you could fit into any of the categories. He is unique. He destroyed every mold they had for a man.
Who is this? He is the one and only Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Lord of the universe, the Lord of Lords and king of kings. It is impossible to come up with a word that fully defines Jesus the Messiah. No wonder they asked, “Who is this?”