Mark 4:35-41 – The Supernatural Commander of Wind & Sea

Mark 4:35–41 35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 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?” 39 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. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 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?”

Grace, mercy, and the peace that surpasses all understanding be to you from God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

“Who is this?” The disciples asked, “Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”  The disciples were filled with a great fear (v. 41) and wanted to know.

Who is this Man Who has called the disciples to follow Him?  The disciples have been following and have witnessed Jesus say and do some amazing things.  They heard Him proclaim, “The time is fulfilled and Kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe the Gospel.”  They saw Him rebuke and cast out demons.  They saw Him heal those who were sick in crowds that thronged around Him.

Still, the disciples ask after Jesus calms the storm, “Who is this?  Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

Sure it is amazing when a person heals someone of their leprosy.  It is nifty when a person casts out a demon.  But those things had happened before.  In fact, God had given people power to do those things for centuries.  Through His prophets and judges and great men and women, God had done some great things.

This, this is different.  This is different because now “even the wind and the sea obey this Guy.”

Who is this Man in the boat with the disciples?  Who is this Man, this Jesus, Who speaks to the wind and the waves as though they are in His pets, and they listen, and they obey—Who is He?

Jesus had put His disciples in in the driver’s seat telling them, “Hey, let’s go to that other side over there.”  So, the disciples dismissed the crowd and took Jesus in the boat.  On the way across, this ‘great windstorm’ arose—lit. ‘a cyclone, a great, a windy.’  The description is a little redundant, cyclones are usually big and windy.  This one was especially so.

The Sea of Galilee was and still is famous for these terrible storms.  There was a storm in March of 1992 on the Sea of Galilee where waves were measured at 10 ft.  Archeologists have found a boat from around Jesus’ time, its height is just over 4 ft.—remember that about half of that (depending upon how the boat is built) will be under water while the boat is floating.  Now, the disciples were seasoned fishermen; they grew up on this lake.  But this storm had them worried.  The boat was already filling with water.  Jesus had put them in the driver’s seat, and things were not going well.

The disciples looked in the stern, the back of the boat, and there was Jesus, sleeping on a cushion.

Don’t misunderstand the disciples’ question in v.38.  They were not accusing Jesus of being indifferent.  In fact, the opposite.  They, when they ask the question, expect a positive answer.  “Jesus, we are perishing.  You care, right?”

Notice the disciples woke up Jesus to ask this question and then in v. 39 Jesus ‘awoke.’  The disciples woke Jesus up from His sleeping, and their question really woke Him up so that He was ready to act.

But Jesus didn’t trim the sails and ply the oars.  He didn’t tell them to change course to head into the waves so they don’t break over the sides.  The disciples, these experienced sailors, turned to least-seasoned sailor.  They turned to the ‘Teacher’—the carpenter’s Son.

Jesus spoke to that great windy cyclone and to that mighty sea; a better translation would be, “Be quiet, shut up.”

These commands from Jesus were words the disciples had heard Jesus speak before—to demons.  When demons had spoken about Him, Jesus told them sternly to “Shut up” (Mk. 1:25) [sorry parents].  The fact that demons obeyed His commands was amazing, but now Jesus commands the wind and sea.

At the words of Jesus, this ‘great storm’ is turned into a ‘great calm.’  Then this Man Who commanded the wind and sea turned to His disciples and asked, “You become cowardly and timid at wind and waves?  Have you still no faith?”

Do you get the sense that Jesus is frustrated with His disciples?  You should.  But don’t get all self-righteous though, you wouldn’t have done any better.  In fact, you don’t do any better.

The disciples were filled with a ‘great fear.’  Notice the ‘greats’ in this text: a ‘great cyclonic windstorm’ (v. 37) silenced by Jesus into a ‘great calm’ (v. 39) which then produces a ‘great fear’ (v. 41).

It wasn’t the storm that caused this great fear; it’s not the great calm that causes the great fear.  The great fear was caused by the realization that the disciples were in the presence of the One Who can speak and create this great calm.  This fear is the true fear of God.

The disciples woke Jesus up because they assumed that He would act to save them, but the extent to which He saves them causes them to fear greatly.

Today, ask with the disciples, “Who is this?  Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him.”

Yahweh, the great I Am, had asked Job in our Old Testament text (Job 38:1-11), “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Who determined the earth’s measurements—surely you know!  Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?  [Who] prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?”

Job couldn’t answer Yahweh’s question, but Jesus can.  He is dressed for action like a man and can make known to God these answers.

Jesus can answer, “Yes, I was there.  I was the Word which You spoke.  I was there in the beginning with Yahweh.  All things were made through Me” (Jn. 1:1-2).  Jesus is the kind of man Who heals, casts out demons, forgives sins, and even dominates creation, all with His Word.  Jesus has the authority that we think only belongs to God.  Indeed, Jesus is God with us.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was in control over the waters when the earth was created.  He was in control over the waters that destroyed the earth but raised up Noah and his family.  And Jesus was in control of the waters that day on the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus didn’t stop being in control of the waters though.  He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:18).  He was in control of the waters of the Red River when they rose to 54.35 ft. on April 22, 1997; He said to the water, “This far shall you come, and no farther.”  He was in control of the waves when the tsunami rolled over Japan; He said, “Here shall your proud waves be stayed.”  He was in control of the waters this past week as they fell on Duluth.

“Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”  That word obey that the disciples use in their question might be somewhat surprising.  It literally means “to be under the sound/word of.”  Obey is a fine one-word translation, but it is not the robotic, “I hear and obey.”  It could be translated “be subject to” or “follow.”

“Who is this, that even the wind and the sea are subject to His Word?”

He is Jesus, the One Who still speaks to the waters.  He puts His Word in the waters of baptism.  He tells those waters to flood over you and to wash away sins—and they do.  His Word in those waters brings peace and forgiveness.

Jesus is still Lord over creation.  His creation still listens to Him.  But this text doesn’t give you any promises that Jesus will turn all the storms of your life into a great calm.

The comfort of this text is much greater.  Jesus has calmed the greatest storm of all—the eternal wrath of God that you deserve because of your sins.  He has taken that upon Himself.

When the subsequent storms of this life are stiffed up by this sinful world, remember that Jesus Christ is in you.  Maybe, though, you think He is sleeping.  You think that because you have forgotten His presence.  Rouse Him.  Remember Him.

Pray the Psalms: Ps. 44:23 23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject [me] forever!  Ps. 35:23 23 Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord!

He keeps watch within you.  Heed Him.  Be under His Word.  Especially that Word that He has spoken to you which has made you clean (Jn. 15:3).  Amen.

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Acts 2:14a; 22-36 – I See the Lord Always Before Me

Acts 2:14a; 22-36—But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them…

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,

for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

26   therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;

my flesh also will dwell in hope.

27   For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,

or let your Holy One see corruption.

28   You have made known to me the paths of life;

you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at my right hand,

35        until I make your enemies your footstool.” ’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from the Triune God Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

As I mentioned last week, the sermon text this week is a continuation of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost.  The people who compiled the lexicon decided to keep a tiny little part of v. 14 to make sure that we remember that Peter is preaching.

Peter’s sermon is interesting.  Peter, you remember is that bold disciple who always has something to say.  Peter was usually the one who would speak when the other disciples were silent.

It was Peter who asked Jesus if he could come out to walk on the water (Mt. 14:22-33).

It was Peter who confessed about Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16).

It was Peter who bragged, “Even if all the other disciples fall away, I will never fall away.”  And even when Jesus foretold Peter’s denial, Peter spoke even further, “Even if I must die with You, I will never deny You” (Mt. 26:31-35).

It was also Peter who spoke beside the fire in the court of the Sanhedrin when he was asked three times if he knew Jesus.  It was Peter, when he was asked this third time if he knew Jesus, who called down a curse upon himself (Mk. 14:66-72).

Peter likes to talk.  So what is Peter going to preach about after his Lord Jesus has died, risen, and ascended into heaven?

Peter preaches about Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, and ascended to the Father with all rule and authority.  Peter preaches about Jesus, but he also preaches about his hearers.  Peter says, “You saw this Jesus of Nazareth.  He was in your midst doing mighty works, wonders, and signs.  You saw those mighty works of God that Jesus was doing, but you killed Him.”

Peter puts the Lord Jesus Christ before the crowd.  Peter points his finger at the crowd and says two times, “You crucified Him.”  That’s a pretty bold statement to make, “This Jesus, Whom you crucified.”  That’s a bold statement, Peter.

It was just 50 days before, that Peter denied even knowing Jesus.  And now, Peter isn’t being asked if he knows Jesus, Peter is only being accused of being drunk.  All Peter can do is speak about Jesus.  All Peter can do is put the crucified, risen, and ascended Jesus Christ before the crowd.

Peter declares that this is no surprise.  King David wrote about this about a thousand years, a millennium, before.  King David was a prophet who foresaw by the knowledge of God that Jesus would be raised from the dead.  You can go and see David’s tomb, but not Jesus’ tomb.  Jesus was raised and is exalted and seated at the right hand of God ruling and reigning.

Peter says, “Jesus is both Lord and Christ,” then he puts his finger right back in their faces, “Whom you crucified.”

That’s pretty bold Peter it’s pretty bold to point the finger at your listeners when you were the one who denied Him.  But that is what Peter preaches.

Now, notice what Peter doesn’t preach about. Peter doesn’t preach about when Jesus called him and his brother Andrew saying, “Follow Me, and I’ll make you fishers of men” (Mt. 4:18-22).

Peter doesn’t preach about when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, when he himself stood with Moses and Elijah and Jesus as the voice of God said, “This is My Beloved Son with Whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 17:1-8).

Peter doesn’t preach about when many followers abandoned Jesus after He fed the 5000.  Peter doesn’t mention his  response to Jesus’ question, “Do you want to go away as well?”  when Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:66-69).

Maybe the most interesting thing is that Peter does not preach about the forgiveness that Jesus gave him even after he had denied Jesus (Jn. 21:1-19).  Peter doesn’t speak about that morning on the Sea of Galilee when he jumped out of the boat for joy because he saw Jesus.  Peter doesn’t speak about how he swam to the shore and ate that breakfast with Jesus by the sea.  Peter doesn’t speak about the three times that Jesus asked him, “Peter, do you love Me?”  Peter doesn’t preach that Jesus forgive him and told him to take care of His sheep.

Peter doesn’t tell the crowd, “Your sin may be great, but Jesus forgave me and Jesus can forgive you.”  Peter doesn’t preach about that.

Jesus had forgiven Peter, but Jesus’ work was bigger than that.  Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of Peter (Jn. 1:29).  Jesus went even deeper and bore Peter’s sins in His body (1 Pet. 2:24).  Jesus confessed Peter’s sins as though Jesus had committed them Himself.  But Jesus went even deeper and actually became Peter’s sin (2 Cor. 5:21).

But Jesus didn’t do this just for Peter.  Jesus’ work is even bigger than that.  Jesus did it for you.

Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes away your sin.  Jesus went even deeper and bore your sins in His body.  Think about your most secret sins—those sins that are so terrible that you haven’t specifically confessed them—Jesus knew about them even before you committed them.  Jesus confessed your sins as though He had committed them Himself.  Jesus actually became your sin.

Jesus told the Law to get off of your case.  He told the Law, “I, Christ Jesus, the Son of God, will become a curse.”  So the Law accused Christ and killed Him.  Then the law, “looked around and found no other sin anywhere in the world” (Paulson, Steven D.).  Christ is the “end of the law” for you (Ro. 10:4).

There is therefore now no condemnation for you who are in Christ Jesus; He has set you free from the law (Ro. 8:1-2).  And if Jesus Christ, the Son of God, sets you free, you are free indeed (Jn. 8:36).  Amen.

Acts 2:1-21 – A Mighty, Rushing Wind

Acts 2:1-21—When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians – we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What is this all about?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17   “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,

that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

and your young men shall see visions,

and your old men shall dream dreams;

18   even on my male servants and female servants

in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

19   And I will show wonders in the heavens above

and signs on the earth below,

blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

20   the sun shall be turned to darkness

and the moon to blood,

before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

21    And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be

saved.’

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Pentecost.  The Jewish festival of Pentecost existed before the day of Pentecost.  God had instituted a feast called the Feast of Weeks which was celebrated a week of weeks (7 weeks of seven days), fifty days, after Passover and later became called Pentecost.  The ‘Feast of Weeks’ or Pentecost was a harvest festival—it was a feast similar to our Thanksgiving.  Pentecost was a time for people to rejoice because of God’s provision in the past, to be thankful for God’s provision in the present, and to look forward to God’s provision in eternity.  The festival in the New Testament days, and even for Jews today, had a strong focus on the last days where God would provide for His people.

The Christian Church today is sometimes overly focused on the supernatural events of Pentecost—the wind, the fire, the tongues—to the detriment of the significance of that day for you and I, the Church.  Those amazing, terrifying events—the mighty rushing wind, the tongues of fire, and general commotion of God pouring out the Holy Spirit—are only signs to what God does each and every time the Gospel is proclaimed.

Fifty days after Jesus was raised from the dead, the disciples were all together in once pace sitting.  “Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house.”  They didn’t stay sitting very long.  They were “all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  They were speaking specifically about “the mighty works of God.”

The Tower of Babel was reversed.  Yahweh had previously confused the languages of mankind to disperse them.  Now He is un-confusing them in order to unite them in what Christ has done for all mankind.

Speaking in these different languages, the disciples were proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus.  Peter’s sermon is focused completely on Christ.  Peter spoke about Jesus’ miracles (which many of the crowd would have at least heard of if not seen), about Jesus’ deliverance to Pilate, about Jesus’ crucifixion and death, and about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

These are the “mighty works of God,” and they all focused on Christ.

After being accused of being filled with new wine to the point of being drunk, Peter begins to preach.  He declares that these, indeed, are the ‘last days’ as described by the prophet Joel.  God is pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh.  Sons and daughters are prophesying.  Young men are seeing visions; old men are dreaming dreams.  Even male and female slaves are receiving the poured-out Holy Spirit and prophesying.  This is the time, as God had declared, that He would act in a new, awesome, and very visible way.  God is acting—just as He acted in the past.

Take the time to read about Israel at the foot of Mt. Sinai as Moses went up to receive the Ten Commandments (Ex. 19-20); or Elijah being taken into heaven (2 Kgs. 2:1-14).

Look at the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in light of our Old Testament text (Ezek. 37:1-14) Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones.  As Ezekiel stood in that valley, God told him to prophecy over the dry bones and to the wind.  The bones were joined bone to bone with sinews and flesh.  And those bones were given the breath of life.

God says the same happens to all believers.  God hears His people dead in sin and crying out that their bones are dried up, hope is lost, and they are cut off.  But God says, “No.  The day will come when I will open your graves, I will raise you from your graves, and I will bring you into the Promised Land.  Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I put My Spirit within you.  Then you shall live.  I, Yahweh, have spoken, and I will do it.”

That day is Pentecost.  At Pentecost, the Father poured out His Spirit.  Jesus sent the Counselor, the Comforter, the Protector, the Helper to you.  It is done, and yet it continues.

The Holy Spirit was given on that day of Pentecost and we celebrate that coming today.  But while we celebrate this as a historical event, we recognize this is an event that happens continually.  Every Sunday is a little Easter.  Every Sunday is a little Pentecost as Jesus’ Spirit comes by water, by Word, and by bread and wine.  Every time Christ is proclaimed, there is another Pentecost.

Pentecost—that harvest feast—happened corporately for the church 2000 years ago.  The harvest continues individually in the lives of believers as God sends His messengers to proclaim all that Jesus has done.

The first Pentecost was, as Peter said, a “great and magnificent day.”  Imagine the signs, sounds, and words of that day of Pentecost.  We wonder, “Why God don’t we get to see some of those signs today?  Why don’t we get to have this amazing and awesome experience that they had back then?”

One theologian commented, “We too often get distracted by the fireworks of Pentecost to know what the celebration is all about.”  Don’t let the signs distract you from the real meaning of Pentecost.  Jesus has come, died, and risen again—all for you and your salvation.

As you call upon the name of the Lord, you are saved.  In baptism, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit places His name upon you.  In faith, you call out to God as your Father Who created you, God the Son Who has redeemed you, and God the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies you.

Pentecost happens daily, as you call out to Him in repentance, “Forgive me of my sins.”  It happens repeatedly as you hear the Gospel message of what Christ has done for you.

By your own reason or strength you cannot believe in Jesus Christ your Lord or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called you through the Gospel, enlightened you with His gifts, and sanctified and preserved you in the true faith; in like manner as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in this Christian Church, He daily forgives abundantly all your sins and the sins of all believers, and at the last day will raise up you and all the dead and will grant everlasting life to you and to all who believe in Christ.  This is most certainly true.  Amen.