This week's Bible Study - March 15, 2015
Miracles Like No Other
Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25
Quotes of the Week:
You can understand why I'm a believer. I have seen miracles
This continues to series of No Other. These lessons are about the one and only, Jesus Christ. Have you ever thought about the millions of people that have come and gone upon this earth? In any given generation, there are likely many people who are well known by nearly everyone alive. I'm not talking about a person's 15 minutes of fame, but ones who become known by nearly every household. Isn't it amazing that if any of us was to consider the top 5 people of every century since Christ, we would be hard pressed to get more than a handful for that whole period of time? There were people that did remarkable things throughout history, but we would not even recognize their names now, even if someone mentioned them.
Most of us have heard of people who invented great things, such as Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. I would venture to guess that many who are younger than 20 would remember them, unless they were on some online game. It amazes me that great intellectuals who have helped bring some change to our world are no longer remembered. Great politicians or great world leaders are forgotten over time. There have been great theologians who may be well known by a subset of the population, but certainly are not widely known by all. It is much more amazing that Jesus Christ is still revered around the world. Certainly, there are areas of our world where His name has not yet been heard, but even when people don't know who He is, they at least have a vague idea of Him, and even though holidays have morphed over time, Christmas and Easter both point to the reality of Christ. If He were a manmade concoction, would that still be the case today, over 2000 years after He lived on this earth?
This lesson examines one of the miracles that Jesus did, prompting even His own disciples to extend their faith in Him. In the gospels, there are approximately 37 miracles recorded. If even one of these miracles occurred today, there would be a following, but Jesus performed more than we can even remember and these are the only ones that were captured in Scripture. On a side note, I had often thought of one miracle that occurred often was that Jesus could speak and people could hear. You have likely been in a building for a meeting or conference where people could not hear the speaker without an adequate speaker system.
The intent of Scripture regarding Jesus was not to give a full detail of His life, but to show the reader of the deity of Christ. In fact, John 20:30-31 states that "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name." While others have questioned some of the miracles, there was no question to those who existed in His day. And, there are others that have concocted more miracles that Jesus may have done. Certainly, He did others, but the focus is less about the miracle and more about the person.
This lesson examines one miracle - the calming of the sea. There are some who may think that others can provide healing of a sick person. There are magicians who can perform sleight of hand to make it look as though they change one thing into another. However, nobody can control nature. If they could, there would no longer be tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes and the like. As we read through this brief lesson, let us consider the plight of the disciples and if you were one of them, how might you have been impacted?
Both of these passages reference the same event, so we will examine them together. There are many stories that are recorded in different gospels and often we can gain a little more information from a different point of view. However, these two stories are essentially the same. At the time referenced by this passage, the ministry of Jesus was in full swing. Earlier in Mark, you can read that crowds began following Jesus. Some of them were curious. Some of them were amazed by His teaching. Some of them saw miracles firsthand and wanted to know more. In the first verse of Mark 4, we read that the crowd that gathered around him was so large that He got into a boat and moved it out on the lake, so that more people could see and hear Him on the shore. One of the things that He taught was the faith the size of a mustard seed. Although the seed is incredibly small, it can grow to a large tree with branches so that birds could perch in them. He knew that people were incapable of great faith on their own, but Jesus was pointing out that the issue was not the size of the faith, but the object of the faith.
When the evening came, Jesus said to His disciples, "Let us go over to the other side". Many of His disciples were fishermen by trade and likely many of them had some experience in boating. They left the crowd behind and Jesus was going to do what many of us might like to do after a long day - He was going to take a nap. We read in Mark 4 that Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. They took out to sail to the other side, along with other boats that were around.
As they were sailing, we read that a furious squall came up and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. I haven't been on a lot of boats, so I am not the best expert in this area. In fact, the most tossed and turned I have been was on a Dolphin Cruise in Florida, and though we were rocking back and forth, I assumed that the 'experts' had things under control. However, in this scenario, at least some of the disciples were the experts and they were scared to the point that they thought that the boat would be lost and that they would drown. They found Jesus in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. Surely, they would have not woken Him if they thought they could handle the situation.
In Mark 4, we read that Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet, be still!" Then the wind died down and the storm was gone and it was completely calm. If you were present at the scene, how would you feel? Would you just take it in stride, or would it rock your world? I've heard of people hoping that the weather would be one way or another, and I've heard of people praying that storms would pass over. We've seen meteorologists that have studied weather patterns and cannot even predict accurately what will happen, much less control it. However, even if you were on the shore or in another boat in this story, you would have noticed that something amazing happened. But, in the boat, fearful for your life, you would probably have been much more than simply amazed. In one instant, they had been in the boat, tossing and turning, fearing for their lives and after a word from Jesus, they saw the storm come to a complete stop. On one hand they were relieved, but on the other hand, they were certainly fearful of this man, Jesus, and what He was about. All they had previously thought about Jesus was incomplete.
Jesus said to the disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" We read that the disciples were terrified and asked each other "Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!". When Jesus said that they had no faith, some might say that they should have just let Jesus sleep and that things would be okay. That may be easy for us to say, but if you were in that boat, you'd likely do anything to survive. Perhaps Jesus was questioning their unbelief that He could handle the situation at all. Their fear may have originally been of the storm, but more likely, their fear was of Him and not understanding who He really was.
Sometimes we read these passages as if we were reading a fictional tale, or as if we were watching some movie with special effects. We tend to forget that these were real people (the disciples and those who heard Jesus' teaching) and a real Savior (Jesus Christ). There are many more references to the life of Christ in other writings, outside of the Bible. We didn't hear of people that were questioning whether or not Jesus existed, or whether or not the events were true, as many saw things and didn't have another answer to what was happening.
When we read that Jesus could calm a storm, we should start to realize that there is nothing that Jesus cannot do. We often put Jesus in a box, believing that He is a valid answer to a church Bible study question, but we easily forget that He can do all things. While you and I aren't in a boat on a stormy sea, fearful for our lives, we may be experiencing very real storms that have us very fearful to our core. When we experience any issues, we will often see any resolution that may seem helpful. If we are in relationship problems, we may read books, see counselors and work on that. If we are in a health situation, we may seek doctors, specialists and do anything that we think may help. (Note that the internet is replete with all sorts of things that will cure any issue - often these have very little to no merit whatsoever). If we are out of work, we may update a resume, seek previous contacts and promote ourselves in every way we can think of. There's nothing wrong with doing any these things, as many of them can tangibly help a situation, but if you and I are believers, perhaps we are missing something very crucial here.
The disciples were fearful for their lives, and they took a risk in waking Jesus. In doing so, they found resolution to their problem at the time. Are you and I willing to risk taking our issues to Jesus? Sure, as believers, we will say that we do, but in practice, for many it is the last thing that we do. We need to realize that Jesus is like none other, and if our faith is in Him, we have access to Him.
This isn't a story about one like none other, so that we are impressed and amazed. It is not a mythological story and it is not a great history lesson. This story is about the One that can change our lives and how we can trust in Him. In your storm, will you wake Jesus, the One who is like no other?