November 1, 2010 David Balzer

Mark 4:35-5:43: Super Sea Stories of the Saviour’s Sovereignty: Storms, Satan, Sickness and Sleep

Master and Commander. It’s a great movie. Russell Crowe is Captain Jack Aubrey. And for 2 ½ hours we follow his adventures on the high seas.

 

But did you know the movie is based on a series of books? By Patrick O’Brien. And there’s 20 books in the series!

 

I reckon there’s a fairly good chance of a sequel!

 

They’ve basically crammed as much of the novels into one movie as they can. And it gives you a fairly good taste of the books apparently.

 

Today’s passage from Mark’s gospel are a set of SEA STORIES too. Four stories. All centred around the Sea of Galilee. With Jesus at the centre.

 

And these stories are a SUMMARY as well. A summary of the Kingdom of God.

 

When Jesus first arrived, he said that the Kingdom of God was NEAR. He was STARTING to bring it in. And it’s getting CLOSER, because we’re catching GLIMPSES of it as Jesus does his stuff.

 

And it’s a SUMMARY/ because one day, God will bring THIS world to an end. And the NEW heavens and the NEW earth will begin. That’s eternity. That’s when the Kingdom of God will fully arrive.

 

It’ll be a time when all the chaotic, fearful forces of the sea will be conquered. And when sickness and suffering and Satan are finally defeated. Once and for all. And that’s what Jesus is doing today.

 

And that gives us HOPE now. Hope that the mess the world’s in will be fixed up. One day. Hope that gives us the STRENGTH to keep going. And to keep working towards that day.

 

And we can hope for the future WITH CONFIDENCE. Because these stories show that Jesus has the power and the authority to make it happen. They’re not just empty words. We’re not in for a shock when we finally get there because he doesn’t live up to his promises.

 

So let’s look at this highlight reel together. It’s a SET of SUPER SEA STORIES of the SAVIOUR’S SOVEREIGNTY. Sea stories because all of them are centred around the Sea of Galilee.

 

The LAKE links all the stories together. And as best we can tell, they all happen on the one day! Or at least, one after the other.

 

Story 1: Storms:

Verse 35. The day rolls on. It’s getting late, and Jesus finishes his parables about the KINGDOM. Remember, he’s teaching the people from the boat, while they lined the shores to hear him.

 

And at the end of the day, Jesus says, “Let’s go over to the other side”. And because they’re already in the boat, they just push off, and start sailing.

 

But as night falls, and as the shoreline disappears from view. A storm comes up. It must have been SOME STORM, because EVEN THE DISCIPLES who’d been FISHERMEN thought they were going to drown.

 

And where’s Jesus? It’s hard to imagine how this is possible, but in the midst of that ferocious storm, with waves pounding into the small boat, knocking it around until it was nearly swamped.

 

In the midst of the commotion, the chaos, and the confusion, with the disciples shouting at each other, bailing for all they were worth.

 

In the midst of the banging of buckets, of oars and sails smacking violently against the boat and against the mast…SOMEHOW…. JESUS SLEPT!

 

 

Don’t you just hate people who can sleep anywhere?!

 

A few years ago a friend visited Tasmania. Between Melbourne and Devonport, he travelled on the ship, the Spirit of Tasmania. He was a bit nervous once they’d cleared Port Phillip Bay, because the ocean swell started to come up. And the boat started to roll from side to side. And his dinner started to move up and down. From his stomach to his throat and back again.

 

So to take his mind off it, he thought he’d see a MOVIE.  You might find this hard to believe, but the movie they were showing was -… you guessed it… TITANIC! You really think that someone would have twigged, wouldn’t you! (My friend said he didn’t sleep too well that night! Every creak and groan made him jump! He probably dreamed of icebergs!)

 

Perhaps my friend wasn’t trusting God as he should! But JESUS slept because he trusted God!

 

Imagine the scene. The disciples are so busy fighting the waves and the wind, that perhaps for a while they don’t even NOTICE Jesus. But then someone does! “Hey, check out Jesus!” “He’s asleep! Can you believe it?!”

 

“Hey, Teacher! Wake up!” “Don’t you care if we drown?”

 

I wonder what the disciples EXPECTED Jesus to do! My guess is they probably expected him to pick up a bucket, and help with the bailing!

 

But what did Jesus do instead? He stands up, and says, “Quiet! Be still!” And no sooner has Jesus spoken, than the wind stops and the waves die down and it’s completely calm…

 

Have YOU ever tried to stop a storm? Waves don’t tend to listen to you, do they?

 

 

Imagine you’re driving along, and in the distance you see a man standing in the middle of the road. You keep driving, and assume that he’ll move by the time you get there. After all, he’d tend to come of second best in a collision, wouldn’t he! As you get closer, he’s still standing there, and you start to get mad, and you speed up! I’ll teach him to stand in the middle of the road! Who does he think he is? Idiot!

 

Then he holds up his white gloved hand, you recognise the uniform of a policeman, and…you slam on the brakes! You stop because the policeman has the authority! Your car might be bigger and harder and faster, but you wouldn’t think about not stopping.

 

It’s the same with Jesus and the storm. It’s Jesus who has the authority. It’s Jesus who MADE the water and the wind. And it’s Jesus who CONTROLS them now.

 

 

Imagine the scene! It was perfectly still… and quiet… The wet sails drip salty water onto the floor of the boat. Drip, drip, drip. The boat rocks gently back and forth. The water laps quietly against the sides of the boat…The disciples breathe an enormous sigh of relief, and collapse in crumpled heaps around the deck of the boat!

 

 

Then Jesus launches into them!

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

“You’ve seen me heal people” “You’ve heard me talk about who I am”

“Haven’t you learnt yet?” Don’t you know who I am yet? Don’t you understand what I’m here to do yet?

 

And just to show Jesus is right on the money, the disciples come back.

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

 

The bizarre thing is it doesn’t say they were scared during the STORM, but it says they were TERRIFIED in the calm.

 

Who is this man? It’s a question Mark leaves hanging. He makes US ask the same question. Who is this man? This man controlled the wind and the waves! He brings calm out of chaos. He brings in God’s kingdom. And Mark keeps us looking for answers.

 

Story 2: Satan

Now the disciples might think they’ve deserved an easy day to make up for the last night. But they’re in for a shock. Because things are just going to get WEIRDER. Story 2.

 

Verse 1 of Chapter 5. They arrive at the other side of the lake. Probably early morning. The sun’s just starting to come up. They’re cold, wet, tired and hungry. They can’t WAIT to get on solid ground again.

 

Perhaps there’s mist hiding the features on the shoreline. It’s the quiet calm of early morning. They glide in towards the shore. And they can make out some dark shapes on the cliffline. Just as the bottom of the boat scrapes the sand, they recognise the dark shapes as burial caves. Great, we’ve landed in a cemetery! Just our luck – after the night we’ve had.

 

But before they can feel too sorry for themselves, their thoughts are broken  by a blood curdling scream. And a man starts running down the slope towards the boat. A wild man. Hair everywhere. Naked. Broken chains hanging from his wrists and ankles. Screaming at the top of his voice. He’s getting closer to the boat.

 

The disciples quickly jump back in the boat. “Quick push off. Let’s get out of here. The boat’s not such a bad idea after all!

 

Verse 7. He yells at Jesus, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God”

 

(The disciples ASKED the question, “Who is this man?”, and the wild man ANSWERS, “Jesus, Son of the most high God”.)

 

“Don’t torture me,” he begs. The name of the unclean spirit is Legion because there’s so many demons. But being outnumbered means nothing to Jesus. He’s the STRONGER man who BEATS UP the strong man. And Legion’s no match. Jesus casts the spirits into a herd of pigs.

 

And then. Verse 13. The pigs rush down into the water and drown. The forces of Satan are destroyed in the lake. The same lake that Jesus conquered the night before.

 

Imagine the disciples after all this?! And they thought the NIGHT BEFORE had been eventful!

 

The people who were looking after the pigs got a shock as well. Verse 14. They disappear into town to tell everyone what’s happened. And by the time they arrive back, there’s no sign of the herd of pigs. Just a few bubbles still rising to the surface of the lake.

 

But what they DO see is the crazy man. Someone’s found him some clothes. And instead of running around SCREAMING, he’s sitting with Jesus. Quiet and still. Calm and gentle. Just like the storm.

 

Well, this, combined with the pig story, freaked everyone out. And in v17 they PLEAD with Jesus to leave. To get back into his boat, and go back where he came from.

 

I bet the disciples are thinking the same thing. Dead pigs, graveyards, unclean spirits are a combination that doesn’t go down too well with good, law-abiding Jews.

 

But just as they’re about to leave, it’s the turn of the MAN to do some pleading of his own. Verse 18. He BEGS to come with Jesus. It’s the same word used about the townspeople. One begs him to LEAVE. The other begs to come WITH him. In fact, the DEMONS/ BEGGED Jesus as well!

 

Everyone BEGGING Jesus. Because he’s the one with the power to DO THINGS.

 

But instead, Jesus tells him to go and tell his family what God has done for him. Tell them that CLEAN has replaced UNCLEAN. JOY has replaced SORROW. MERCY has replaced SUFFERING. PEACE has replaced PAIN. And it’s the sign of things to come.

 

Story 3: Sickness

And so off Jesus goes. Verse 21, he hops in the boat and crosses back to the other side. Probably somewhere near where he left the day before. Because a large crowd gathers as he sails in to shore. All waiting for Jesus.

 

Now it’s time for story 3. There’s one man out of all the crowd who’s got SPECIAL MOTIVATION. He’s BUSTING to see Jesus. His daughter’s dying, and he’s desperate.

 

He’s willing to try anything. Even humiliate himself before the whole town. But that’s what he does. He’s a synagogue ruler. Used to everyone else giving HIM respect. But in verse 23, he falls at Jesus feet. In front of everyone. And PLEADS with Jesus to come and touch his daughter.

 

Someone else who pleads with Jesus. Same word the pig people and the demoniac use. All pleading for different things. But all pleading with the one who can say yes. Who can do something about it

 

And v24, Jesus DOES say yes.

 

 

Now imagine Jairus. His daughter’s in a bad way. May only have hours to live. He’s in a HURRY to get Jesus home. The LAST thing he needs is any delays or interruptions. But things are slow because the crowd is pushing around. And it’s all taking too long for Jairus. He’s getting nervous.

 

But now Mark zooms in on ANOTHER personality. SOMEONE ELSE who needs Jesus desperately. And who’ll do just about anything.

 

She’s suffered continuous menstrual bleeding for twelve years. Awful. And if that’s not bad enough, she’s broke because she’s spent every cent on doctors. And what’s more their CURES are worse than the problem. Verse 26. She’d suffered a great deal UNDER THE CARE of many doctors. And it’s just getting worse.

 

But if all of that wasn’t enough. she’s treated like a social leper by anyone who knows her. That’s what the LAW says.

 

So she’s desperate. So desperate she does the unthinkable. She sneaks up behind Jesus. In the midst of the bustling crowd. And touches Jesus’ cloak. It will make him unclean. But she figures it’s worth the risk, because she’ll be healed.

 

And the VERY INSTANT she does, the bleeding stops. And she’s healed. In the midst of all the bodies bumping Jesus, this ONE TOUCH had faith, and the miracle was done.

 

When Jesus finds her, she’s still scared. Verse 33. Petrified that he’ll be angry because he’s been made unclean. But what does Jesus say? Not, “Your touch has made ME UNCLEAN”. But “Your faith has HEALED YOU”.

 

It’s not unclean-ness that’s contagious, but clean-ness. Clean has replaced unclean. Mercy has replaced suffering. And it’s the sign of things to come.

 

But what about Jairus? I’m guessing he’s hopping from one foot to the other. Looking at his watch. Sighing. Jangling the keys. All the tricks husbands use on wives in the clothes shops.

 

But while Jesus is still speaking to the woman, some people come up to Jairus. They’ve been helping around his house. Where his sick daughter is.

 

And he can tell what’s coming from the looks on their faces. Verse 35. Don’t bother Jesus anymore … your daughter is dead.

 

Now Jesus switches his attention back to Jairus. “Don’t listen to them. Don’t be AFRAID. Just BELIEVE”.

 

FEAR and BELIEF. FEAR’S what the disciples had in the storm. Jesus wanted BELIEF. It’s the same here. Don’t be SCARED. Just BELIEVE.

 

Sleep

And so they get to Jairus’ house. And everyone’s carrying on like someone’s just died. But in verse 39 Jesus tells them that they’ve got it all WRONG. Noone’s DEAD. She’s just ASLEEP.

 

Talk about a bad time to crack a joke. Some people try to tell jokes to break the ice. To lighten up an uncomfortable situation. And Jesus has been about as blunt and insensitive as you can get! She’s not dead. She’s just asleep.

 

And they laugh at him. He’s the court jester. The fool. And an INSENSITIVE one at that.

 

But he doesn’t ACT the fool. He knows what he’s going to do. He puts out everyone except the family, and his closest friends. and then he does TWO things. Two SIMPLE things. He takes hold of her hand, and he says two words, “Little girl, get up”

 

ANYONE could do them. But what makes them special is that the girl was DEAD. Jesus touched a dead body. Dead bodies make you UNCLEAN. It’s the sort of thing OTHER people would run a mile from! And Jesus TOUCHES her.

 

But what’s even MORE special is what happens next. Verse 42. Only Jesus’ words could do this. She gets up. It doesn’t say she was raised to life. Because according to Jesus, she was only sleeping. To raise someone to life is just as easy for Jesus as waking them up. She just GETS UP.

 

(Mind you some people are just as hard to wake up!)

 

Once again it’s not unclean-ness which is contagious. Clean has replaced unclean. Joy has replaced sorrow. Peace has replaced pain. And it’s the sign of things to come.

 

Joy instead of sorrow. It’s the same joy we feel at a Christian funeral. We’re sad for the relatives who are left behind. But we have JOY because this person isn’t dead. They’re only sleeping. And Jesus can beat death as easily as waking someone up. Our joy comes from the confidence we have that when Jesus says that “Today you’ll be with me in paradise”, he can deliver.

 

Christian funerals are CELEBRATIONS. Yes, we cry with relatives. But we celebrate a NEW life. Because we LONG to be where our brother or sister now are. Back where they belonged. With their Saviour.

 

They’ve been let in on the future kingdom early.

 

And in a sense, so have we. Because Jesus has given us a glimpse of eternity. He’s shown us the Kingdom of God. It’s a kingdom where chaos and disorder has been destroyed. Order created out of disorder.

 

Where clean has replaced unclean. Joy has replaced sorrow. Mercy has replaced suffering. Peace has replaced pain.

 

Please turn to Rev 21 with me. Listen to what the Kingdom of God is like.

(Rev 21:1-4 NIV)  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and THERE WAS NO LONGER ANY SEA. {2} I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. {3} And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now THE DWELLING OF GOD IS WITH MEN, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. {4} HE WILL WIPE EVERY TEAR FROM THEIR EYES. THERE WILL BE NO MORE DEATH OR MOURNING OR CRYING OR PAIN, FOR THE OLD ORDER OF THINGS HAS PASSED AWAY.””

 

It’s not a pipe dream. Not some unreal hope you hold onto to get you through the night. It’s the ULTIMATE REALITY. What we’re living in NOW is the virtual reality. The fake world. It’s not going to last. But God’s kingdom is coming soon.

 

And we can be SURE of it, because Jesus has already SHOWN us. PROVED that he can do it. That God will make good on his promise.

 

 

We have to make sure we understand what Jesus is doing here. It’s only the preview, not the start of the main event. Jesus has given us a peek at the kingdom. It’s STARTED, but it’s not fully here YET. It’s been inaugurated, but not consummated.

 

If we get this wrong, we’re getting our times mixed up. Jesus promises us complete PHYSICAL HEALING. Complete victory over sin. Complete fellowship with God. Complete experience of his Spirit. Just, NOT NOW. But THEN.

 

Jesus’ miracles here don’t guarantee to fix up all our problems NOW. But they DO guarantee that ONE DAY we’ll be perfect. When “the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. {4} He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.””

 

That’s our HOPE. That our GOAL. And that’s something worth living joyfully NOW for, isn’t it?

 

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