Calvary Road Baptist Church


Mark 4.41


We look to Mark 4.35-41:


35     And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

36     And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

37     And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

38     And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

39     And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

40     And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

41     And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?


There are features in this gospel that strongly suggests to the reader that Mark’s intended audience was the Roman world, where there was a reverence for power and authority in a culture that was dominated by conquest and slavery. That is why in this gospel you will read verse after verse that begins, “And straightway,” “And immediately,” “And forthwith.” The Romans were a people who were not interested in wasting time, or quibbling about details. As well, they had no interest in the genealogy of any servant, but cared only about his efficiency and industry. That is why Jesus, shown by Mark to be the perfect servant of God, is not presented with a genealogy, but is shown time and again to work astounding and impressive miracles.

When the Lord Jesus Christ cast a demon out of a man in a synagogue (showing us that it is possible that even those among us when we gather to worship can be demonized), Mark 1.27 records the response of those who witnessed the event: “And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.”

Do you remember that occasion in Mark’s gospel when a man with the palsy was taken to Jesus and lowered down through a roof to Him? When Jesus said to the palsied man, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee,”[1] notice what Mark tells us about the thoughts of the scribes who were present and witnessed the event, in Mark 2.7: “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” In other words, they were shocked, though they said nothing as they sat in that crowd of sympathizers.

There is also that man who was deaf and who had a speech impediment that Jesus healed by sticking His fingers into his ears, spitting, and then touching his tongue as He looked up to heaven and said, “Ephphatha.”[2] Though He charged them not to tell anyone what they had witnessed, the observers “were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”[3]

It was not just the miracles He worked that astonished and amazed people. Anyone who took the time to pay attention to what He actually said was impressed. I read Mark 6.2, a record of what was likely His first visit to Nazareth following the commencement of His public ministry after being baptized by His cousin John the Baptist: “And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?”

The question we ought to ask ourselves is what was Jesus Christ working to accomplish when He shocked and astonished people? Was it shock value alone that He was seeking when He worked the miracles that He worked and taught the doctrines He taught? Or, was their some higher goal and purpose? Could it be that He was establishing credibility with His audience in order to persuade them? After all, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”[4] Have you ever entertained the possibility that while the Apostle Paul was motivated by the Savior’s glorious appearance to him on the road to Damascus to persuade men, it may be that the Lord Jesus Christ astonished and shocked others in His many different audiences in order to also persuade them?

I would like to focus your attention on that question asked at the very end of the passage we earlier read together. Mark 4.41 ends with the question our Lord’s disciples asked themselves after witnessing an astonishing miracle: “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” His was an astounding feat, as my recent experience of being in a howling storm on the shores of the Sea of Galilee testifies. I submit to you that this is not a question those men asked in search of an answer. This is not a seeking question at all. Rather, this is a rhetorical question asked by men who have been led to an obvious and undeniable conclusion.

Two realities lie back of this question, realities that are implied by the question itself:




My friends, this is not rocket science, though our Lord’s disciples do seem to be very slow on the uptake. In just a few short weeks they had seen Him cast out demons, raise up Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, heal those afflicted by diverse diseases, cleanse lepers, declare to men that their sins were forgiven, heal a withered hand, and teach remarkable parables. More than an effort to instill in people a new and superior ethic, the Lord Jesus Christ was working by various means to convince people of something. He was purposely stunning and astonishing people by His words and deeds. His goal? At least in part, it was to force men to consider Him in a new light, to challenge people to reevaluate Him in different terms.

By the time this episode of rebuking the sea and calming the wind takes place these fellows with Him are rightly shaken to their foundations. Who is this man? More specifically, who is this that commands the obedience of the wind and sea? This is a question Jewish men already have the answer to.

Turn to Psalm 89 and read along with me:


1      I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

2      For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.

3      I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,

4      Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

5      And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.

6      For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?

7      God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.

8      O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?

9      Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.


Many of you are familiar with verse one, which you may have learned to sing as young people. Do not think our Lord’s apostles were not equally familiar, not only with the first verse, but also with the ninth verse. Who is it that rules the raging of the sea? Who is it that can still the waves with the spoken word? None other than the LORD God of hosts. Therefore, although it seems that these men could not get their minds entirely around the concept, they have been shown wonder working capability of such magnitude, actual control of the wind and the waves, such as only Almighty God possesses. What manner of man is this? Why this is the God-Man. There exists no other manner of man such as this.




“What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”


Take note of that word “obey,” from the Greek verb upakouw. It refers to following instructions, to obeying, to following, and to being subject to someone.[5] The disciples, then, probably without realizing it, personalized the wind and sea by ascribing to both the wind and the sea a dutiful compliance with Christ’s wishes.

What do you think the Lord Jesus Christ was working to impress upon His disciples by performing a miracle that caused them to rightly draw the conclusion that the wind and sea obey Him? Is it possible that His goal, the purpose of Him dispatching the boat across the Sea of Galilee, the purpose of Him taking a nap in the back of that little boat, the purpose of Him bringing on the storm that produced the wind and the waves, and the purpose of Him then rebuking the wind and calming the waves when they woke Him up, and then asking them, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” was to show them the rightness and the duty they had to obey Him? Do not think it is disciples alone who are obligated to obey Him. The wind and sea obey Him. What can possibly be your justification for not obeying Him? He has more than established that He has the right to your obedience, since He is God, since He is the Creator, since He wields authority over the wind and the sea. On another occasion, He would actually walk on water, demonstrating His authority over natural processes and laws. Therefore, obey Him. This is what manner of man He is. He is a man who is God. He is a man to whom all power and authority have been given, in heaven and earth. Therefore, He is due your obedience and mine whether you are a Christian or not, whether you are a human being or not. Immaterial substance yields to His will; therefore, you should yield to His will.


The whole point of this great miracle of rebuking the wind and calming the waves is to establish that He is to be obeyed. The elements of nature obey Him, so what is your excuse for disobedience? In addition, remember that this account is found in Mark’s gospel account written primarily to the Romans, for whom submission to authority was the be all and the end all of their existence.

How incredible it is then, to consider someone who is in the armed forces as a committed participant in what is sometimes called the brotherhood arms, whose very life and safety is committed to and dependent upon the smooth and efficient functioning of a chain of command that yields to authority, but who will not obey the command of Jesus Christ. My mind does not grasp that glaring inconsistency.

As well, there are those who think that compliance with Christ’s commands requires some necessary emotional content, as though one can only become a Christian while feeling a certain way. Please do not get me wrong when I say that many, many sinners have become Christians amidst great emotional turmoil. Yet, that is not always the case. An emotional response is a reaction to God’s work in a sinner’s life that does not always show itself in the same way with different individuals. However, what the Lord Jesus Christ does establish repeatedly in the gospels, and what He takes great lengths to establish in our text, is that He must be obeyed.

Whatever else you do with your life, understand that Jesus Christ must be obeyed. If parents do nothing else when raising their children, they must at least raise them to understand the importance of obedience.

Therefore, when Jesus Christ commands, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” He meant what He said.[6] When Jesus commanded, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven,” He meant what He said.[7]

As well, make no mistake about Christ’s command on “the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”[8]

What does Jesus Christ want from you, my lost friend? What does Jesus Christ demand from you, my lost friend? He does not demand tears. He does not demand terror. He demands obedience to the gospel. He said, “Come,” and come is what He wants from you. Come to Him and He will save you. In John 6.37, Jesus said, “. . . him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Instead of trying to work up some emotional state that you may not be feeling at present, instead of trying to conjure up feelings that you feel obligated to possess in light of your past sins, why not just do what Jesus said to do? Why not obey Him? Why not come to Him as best you can?

[1] Mark 2.5

[2] Mark 7.33-35

[3] Mark 7.36-37

[4] 2 Corinthians 5.11

[5] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 1028-1029.

[6] Matthew 11.28

[7] Matthew 19.14

[8] John 7.37

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