Authority Over the Storm
This is one of the most allegorically preached passages in the New Testament. The sermon titles usually say something like “Jesus Can Calm the Storms In Your Life”. However, if we look at this as an expositor, we will see that is not the main message.
After speaking to the large crowd, and explaining things to his disciples, he wanted to cross the lake. They all got in a boat and Jesus went to sleep. While he was sleeping, a storm came up and stirred up the waves. They began to take on water and worried the they would sink and drown. Since several of these guys (Peter, Andrew, James and John) were fishermen, at home on the water, the storm must have been fierce.
They woke Jesus up to tell him they were going to die. This seems to mean they thought he could help them. And crying out to Jesus when we are in danger is what he wants us to do.
Jesus “rebuked” the wind and waves and the storm immediately ceased. In doing this, Jesus showed his deity. The disciples knew that God had authority over the sea and controlled it. The Old Testament had many examples of this. The big event in the history of God’s deliverance of Israel was the exodus from Egypt, including God’s parting of the Red Sea so that they could pass. Exodus 14:21-22 says “…the LORD drove the sea back…and the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground…”
In Job 38, the Lord told Job he shut in the sea with doors, prescribed limits for it and said “thus far shall you come and no farther”.
Psalm 95:5 says “the sea is his, for he made it”.
Psalm 107:29 says “He made the storm be still and the waves of the sea were hushed.”
Thus, when Jesus controlled the sea, he exercised a power and authority possessed only by God. He was, therefore, declaring his deity by his actions. The disciples at least knew that only God could do this. You can tell this by their reaction. First of all, they were afraid. They were not afraid Jesus would hurt them. They were afraid, as men and women always are, when they see a great act of God’s power. They were in awe. Second, they marveled that the waves and the wind obeyed him, saying “who then is this”. For, they knew no mortal man could do this. This is the main point of the story. Who is this Jesus? He is God.
By this time in Jesus’ ministry, his disciples had seen him do many miracles. He had healed the sick and raised the dead. So, they had to have some inkling that he was more than a mere man. Yet, this demonstration made it clear.
Not only did Jesus rebuke the storm, he rebuked his disciples. Despite the fact that the disciples went to Jesus for help, they only did it as a last resort, after their own efforts failed. Also, they did it believing that, if they did not wake him, he would let them all perish. And so Jesus rebuked them, saying “where is your faith?” .
In contrast to the disciples, Jesus slept through the storm. He was at peace, trusting in the care of his Father in heaven.
Notice also that Jesus took them into the storm. He is the one who said for them to go across the lake to the other side. Although there is some popular teaching that Jesus will prevent all bad things from happening to you, he in fact will test your faith and give you opportunities to trust him. That is one way we grow in spiritual maturity.
Authority Over demons
In this story, Jesus and the disciples sailed across the lake to the country of the Gerasenes. There Jesus met a man possessed by demons. He had so many demons they called themselves “Legion”. He was living among the tombs, running around naked and generally being a nuisance. The Holy Spirit builds up the believer. The evil spirits break down those they oppress.
When the man encountered Jesus, the demons spoke through him, begging Jesus not to torment them. The demons knew who Jesus was. They are fallen angels. They follow Satan. And they knew he had authority over them. That is why they begged him for mercy.
Notice that the demons begged Jesus not to send them back into the “abyss”. (31) This is a word for the place where Satan and his demons will be kept for eternity. (Revelation 20:1-3) This should tell you something. If even the demons do not want to go there, you certainly do not want to go there.
Jesus “gave them permission” to stay on earth and not return to the abyss, so they went into a herd of pigs. That caused the pigs to drown themselves in the lake. Jesus is Lord over both the natural and supernatural, or spiritual, world.
Note again the reaction to Jesus. The people in the area were seized with great fear. (37) They realized no ordinary man could do this. So, they wanted him to leave.
The man who was delivered reacted differently. He wanted to follow Jesus. He was grateful. He, like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet, loved much as he was delivered from much.
Jesus did not let the man follow him. Rather, he sent him home to be a missionary or evangelist. He instructed the man to tell people how much God had done for him. And he did. (39)
Do you think this was an accidental encounter? It does not seem so. Jesus would have no reason to go to Gesara. It was not a Jewish area and Jesus preached primarily to Jews. Rather, it seems apparent that Jesus went there for the purpose of meeting this man, delivering him from demons, and sending him to be a witness.
Authority Over Illness and Death
In this story, Jesus returned from Gesara. He was met by a crowd of people again. In this crowd was a man whose only daughter was dying. She was only 12 years old. Also in this crowd was a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years.
The man was no ordinary man. He was “a ruler of the synagogue” named Jairus. (41) As ruler of the synagogue, he would have been in charge of the services, determining what songs would be sung and what scriptures would be read, as well as who would be allowed to speak. He was, thus, important in religious affairs.
But this man was also desperate. He fell at Jesus’ feet and implored him to come to his house. (42) And Jesus went, thus granting the man’s request. (42) But he did it in an odd fashion. You would expect him to rush to the man’s house and heal the daughter before she died. But that is not what Jesus did.
Instead, as people pressed in around him, he stopped because he noticed that someone had touched him. The disciples thought that was silly, since there were people all around. But, in fact, a woman had touched the fringe of his garment and was immediately healed. (44) Jesus knew that power had gone out from him. (46)
The woman finally came forward and admitted what she had done. Jesus told her that her faith had made her well and told her to go in peace. Jesus always responded positively to those who believed in him.
In the world’s eyes, this woman was not important. In fact, she was an outcast due to her bleeding. But to Jesus, she was important.
Now, remember Jairus. While all of this was going on, Jairus is standing there wishing Jesus would hurry up and get to his house and heal his daughter before it was too late. Not only that, he was an important man waiting on Jesus to deal with an outcast. Then, his worst fear comes true. People came and said that the daughter had died.
Jesus’ response to that was not “too bad, we did not make it in time”. Instead, he told Jairus not to fear, but to believe and she would be well. (50) In other words, Jesus said do not let the outward circumstances cause you to doubt me, or my power, or my faithfulness. Evidently, Jairus did believe.
Indeed, Jesus went into the house and raised her. (54) The people there did not believe Jesus, showing it by laughing at him when he said she was not dead but sleeping. (53)
Another thing to notice here is that Jesus only took three of the disciples into the house with him. He had reduced the crowds to 12 disciples to be his closest followers. Now he reduced that to three, Peter John and James for this special event. He would do this again at his transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemene.
What do these three stories tell us? First, Jesus is divine and has authority over all of creation. This includes all forces of nature, of illness, of demons and even death itself. This will be important to the next event, his sending the apostles on a mission trip. Remember, the beginning of the Great Commission is Jesus’ statement that all authority in heaven and on earth was given to him. (Matthew 28:18)
Second, although our natural tendency is to be afraid when bad things are happening, Jesus does not want us to be afraid.
Third in place of fear, he wants faith. He wants us to trust him. He chastised the disciples for lack of faith. He praised the woman who touched him for her faith. He told Jairus to believe and not be afraid.
In the boat and in the death of the daughter, Jesus in effect told people to disregard the apparent problem, that thing that seemed hopeless to the physical eye and mind. They were to disregard the apparent physical reality and replace it with the spiritual reality that Jesus is Lord over all.