Why this Miracle?

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?”” (Mark 4:40–41, ESV)

In the Greek of verse 41 we can put the emphasized words in bold so that it looks like this: “Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

It’s obvious that the disciples didn’t yet understand what Mark, the gospel writer, and we the readers do understand: Jesus is not just a good man who happens to be a good teacher.  He can stand up in the middle of a life-threatening storm and command the wind and waves to shut their yapping [like we might command a little dog] and the wind and waves obey.

All of this leaves us with the question:  why this miracle?  Why were they at this particular point in the Sea of Galilee for Jesus to be able to do this miracle at this specific moment?  I’m glad you didn’t asked, dear reader.

Check out these verses from the Old Testament:

  • You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.” (Psalm 89:9, ESV)
  • He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.” (Psalm 135:7, ESV)
  • For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.” (Psalm 107:25, ESV)
  • By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples,” (Psalm 65:5–7, ESV)

God is the one who “rules the raging of the seas;” who “raises the stormy wind;” who “makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth;” who “stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of the waves.” Jesus is doing here everything that God himself does.  This is the point of the miracle.  The waves and wind obey Jesus because they must obey Jesus, because he was God-in-the-flesh and when he spoke the Creator was speaking and they would always obey their Creator.

This is exactly why the disciples should not have been afraid.  The One who created this very water and this very wind and these very waves was in the boat with them.  There is simply no reason for fear.

The commentary The Meaning of Mark points out a good application for us:

At the personal spiritual level there is a deep lesson to be learned from the stilling of the storm incident. For the disciple it should be enough to be with the Lord, whether life’s seas are running smoothly or not. Forms of Christianity which encourage and promise a life of continual success, excitement and growth will not only lead to frustration and despair; they actually point the disciple towards the wrong goal in the Christian pilgrimage. It is enough that Christ goes with us on our journey. We do not judge his care for us, nor the state of our discipleship, by the roughness of the seas over which we sail. We ‘rejoice in the Lord’, not in our current circumstances, as Paul made clear to the Philippians (Phil. 3:1).

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