2023-02-05 “What Manner of Man Is This?”

Cornerstone EPC                                                                    Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                 February 5, 2023

What Manner of Man Is This?”
Mark 4:35-41

We meet Jesus today by, and upon, the water. He remains early in His public ministry: a ministry, to this point, comprising teaching with authority, works (healings, exorcisms) validating the teaching—and, now, increasing opposition, both for alleged blasphemy (2:7) and for alleged Sabbath-breaking (3:1-6). Many in that day wondered what manner of Man this Jesus is—and the disciples express this question verbatim at our passage’s end. Let’s get a fuller answer to this question “What manner of Man is this?” from today’s text as we hear it read and proclaimed today in this place.


Jesus, as our text opens, commands His disciples to go with Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He does this at evening, after a full day of teaching, particularly via parables (1-34), and they depart to the other side in order to heal the Gadarene demoniac (5:1-20). The disciples, for their part, comply. They take Jesus, as He was, without change of attire or any other change, into the boat. Other boats accompany the boat bearing Jesus and the disciples across the Sea of Galilee to Gadara. These boats, likely, transport people wanting to be with Jesus—people wanting to hear His voice, see His deeds, and so forth. This company embarks upon its evening and night-time ride, but trouble arises en route.

A great windstorm strikes—a windstorm such as is common on the Sea of Galilee. Such windstorms arise frequent on the Sea of Galilee due to the local topography. The lake itself (for it is an inland freshwater lake) lies several hundred feet below sea level, in the depth of the Jordan rift valley, while several peaks—some over three thousand feet above mean sea level—surround the lake on the west, north, and east. The warm, moist air from the lake commingles with the much cooler air sinking down the mountain slopes—and this mixing causes considerable wind, rain, and—I expect—electrical disturbance.

Such a storm, vigorous even by local standards, assail the disciples’ boat. Waves and wind buffet the boat and fill it with water. These conditions, and results, make the most seasoned mariners uneasy—and Jesus’ disciples are quite uneasy—yet Jesus, amazingly, sleeps quite soundly in the back of the boat. The disciples, upon finding Jesus sleeping, wake Him and speak to Him. Their waking Him intimates both their anxious concern over their current situation and their faith that He can do something good about it. Their speech, “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” both betrays their anxious concern and impugns Jesus’ care for them—as if He ever lapses in His perfect care for those the Father has given to Him. Yet the question hangs before Jesus awaiting reply.

Jesus, now fully awake as to His humanity but ever vigilant as to His divinity, displays Himself Master of the situation. He simultaneously rebukes and commands the wind (Greek epitimao [epitimaw]), and the commands the sea—with an implied threat (phimao [fimaw])to quietness and stillness: “Peace! Be still!” The wind ceases—presumably immediately—and a great calm, likely unusual for the locale, ensues. Then Jesus questions His disciples. He asks, “Why are you so afraid?” (literally “Why are y’all cowards?”) Then He asks, “Have you still no faith?” It is Jesus’ question, and not the disciples’ question, that remains hanging in the now calm air. How can they fear, after all they’ve heard and seen with and from Jesus.

The disciples, for their part, do not answer Jesus’ question—at least not directly. They respond with a question of their own that hangs over the ensuing centuries and millennia. By this question, the disciples express their incredulity, “What manner of Man is this?” They express their incredulity further in their final statement, “Even the wind and the sea obey Him.”

Indeed, what manner of Man is this, that even the storms of this world obey Him? They have divinely ordained boundaries that they may not cross: of extent, of intensity, and of duration. That is, the Lord binds the storms so that they go no farther, or assail no more intensely, or last no longer, than He decrees. When God’s good purposes are complete in such a storm, it ceases—or He redirects it elsewhere, or otherwise spares His people.

What manner of Man is this, that even the storms assailing our souls obey Him? We from time to time, maybe even often during some seasons of our lives, endure stormy providential conditions buffeting our souls. Sometimes, quite happily, He speaks to the storm, “Peace; be still,” and it calms. At other times, the Lord speaks to our souls, “Peace, be still,” and they calm—even while the storm rages all around us. Knowing that He is near when things are stormy with us, and knowing that He controls the storm for His glory and for our good, greatly aids our calm.

Is it calm in your life today? I am glad for it, as doubtless you are. Thank the Lord, Who produces such calm in your life, and thank Him also for deliverance from and through past storms—plus the prospect of such deliverance in days to come. Is it stormy in your life today? Cry out to the Lord for rescue—looking to Him more than looking at the storm. He may still the storm instantly and dramatically, as in today’s text. He may still your soul while the storm assails all around. In either case, rejoice in His wise providence to holy aims—again, to wit, the glory of His Name and the good of His people, even the likes of you and me.

What manner of Man is this? The question must have an answer, and here it is: He is Jesus, the Lord over all creation, and He is Jesus, the Lord in every providence. Worship Him today and forevermore.