Jesus Calms A Storm
The section of Jesus’ teaching ended with the parable of the mustard seed. Mark returns to the narrative of Jesus’ actions. There are 4 stories in this section. They all show Jesus doing miracles.
After teaching all day from a boat, Jesus wanted to take the boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. So they took him.
Notice all the detail here. They took him from the boat in which he sat, there were other boats, and Jesus slept on a cushion. These indicate a first hand account, likely from Peter.
But while they were on the sea, a wind storm came up, which created big waves that were swamping the boat. The boat began to fill with water. The disciples were afraid it would sink. But Jesus slept peacefully on a cushion in the stern, or back, of the boat. His sleeping shows his humanity. He was likely exhausted after teaching all day.
But his sleeping also shows his trust in the Father. He had no fear of harm, knowing the Father controlled the time and manner of his death.
The disciples did not share his faith or trust. They were scared of dying. They actually chide Jesus as they wake him: do you not care that we are perishing? He was their leader and should be helping them, if not saving them. But he was sleeping.
You have to wonder if Mark’s original audience of Christians in the Roman Empire were not in mind as Mark wrote this. They suffered. Maybe their response was doesn’t God care?
In response to the disciples waking him, Jesus acts in a way that both meets their need and displays his glory. He calmed the storm. He exercised authority over the weather. Only God can do that. So, Jesus manifested his deity.
One of Mark’s purposes in this gospel is to reveal the deity of Christ, to show that Jesus is God.
Compare this story to the story of Jonah and notice the similarities. In both, God’s man is on a boat in the sea and there is a storm. Both Jonah and Jesus slept in the boat during the storm. In both, the others roused the sleeper to save them. Jonah was to pray and Jesus to act. In Jonah, God calmed the sea. In Mark, Jesus calms the sea, showing his deity. Jesus did what only God can do.
There may also be an allusion to Psalm 107:23-32 where the Lord raised a storm on the sea, then stilled it when men cried out to him.
The disciples reacted to this display the way people often do when confronted with the divine: they were filled with great fear.
Jesus Exorcises Demons
After Jesus calmed the sea, the disciples continued with Jesus to the eastern shore. A man came out to see him who was demon possessed.
The demons had the following effects on the man:
*he lived among the tombs with the dead
*he was so strong no one could bind him & he could break chains
*he cut himself
*he cried out all night.
He was miserable and self destructive. The devil will use receptive people to do what he wants, but he will always leave them broken and miserable. All humans are created in the image of God and the devil always seeks to destroy that image.
From a Jewish perspective, there is a strong measure of uncleanness. The Decapolis was populated with unclean Gentiles. They raised pigs, which were unclean animals. Then there was the presence of a man possessed by unclean spirits. He lived among the tombs and Jews believed contact with dead bodies made you unclean.
Yet, Jesus went there. It even appears there may have been demonic opposition in the form of the storm and now the demon possessed man. But Jesus will again bind the strong man. He invaded the kingdom of Satan and expanded the kingdom of God.
This man ran at, or maybe to, Jesus. (6) He was driven by the demons. They called themselves “Legion” there were so many of them. They were afraid of Jesus. They, through the man, fell down before Jesus, recognizing him and his authority. They begged for mercy. They did not want to be sent out of the country.
The demons begged Jesus to send them into the pigs. (12) So he did. But the pigs then rushed into the sea and drowned.
The result for the man was that he was clothed and in his right mind. (16) He wanted to go and be with Jesus. Jesus told him to stay and tell what the Lord did for him and how he had mercy on him. So he did, and became an evangelist throughout the Decapolis area, telling what Jesus had done for him. (20)
He is an example for us. God has done much for us in giving us eternal life. He has extended mercy for us through Jesus Christ, not consigning us to spiritual death for our sins, but giving us salvation.
The result for the herdsmen was that they also went and told people what Jesus did. But they were afraid. They asked Jesus to leave. And he did, crossing the sea back to the western side.