Jesus Vs Jonah
We all know the story of Jonah…Jonah is told, by God to prophecy to the people of Nineveh, but instead he runs away and heads on a ship to Tarshish. While he is on the ship, sleeping, God sends a storm and it starts to get violent. Jonah is woken up by the sailors and told to pray to his God in case he could hear and have pity.
Jonah tells the sailors to throw him overboard and the storm will stop. And they do so and God stops the storm.
We all know this story well…Everyone does…and Everyone DID back when Mark wrote his gospel.
And this story that we’re looking at today is similar to that of Jonah. And we know this story as well as we do the story of Jonah, so we’re not going to go through it verse by verse as we normally do, but to summarise...
Jesus is on a boat sleeping and a storm brews and it becomes violent. Jesus is woken up by his disciples and Jesus commands the storm to be still and then rebukes his disciples for having no faith in him, after which the disciples are amazed at what’s just happened.
What’s going on here?
Well, to understand this fully we need to think like Mark’s readers would have thought - Only God can do God-stuff…Only God can calm a storm.
Cos in the story of Jonah, Jonah doesn’t control the wind or the waves. Jonah doesn’t do anything with respect to the calming of the storm except realise that God is the one who can STOP it. Jonah has no power over the storm. Jonah didn’t start it and he didn’t stop it either - God did. It was God from first to last - he was in control of the situation.
Now, if you don’t know who Jesus is before this miracle, you have a better idea of who he is AFTER the miracle. So far, Jesus has done some pretty amazing thing, but we’re now at the start of 6 miracles in quick succession that shows more and more who exactly Jesus is.
And Spoiler alert for those who don’t know - Jesus is God…cos only God can do God-stuff…only God can calm a storm. Jonah had no power over his storm, Jesus certainly had power over this one. God calmed the storm in the story of Jonah and now, for anyone with eyes to see, another storm is calmed…So put two and two together, people and what does it mean? Jesus calming the storm means only one thing…Jesus IS GOD, because only God can do God-stuff.
Last week some Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door, and I decided to talk to them. And I went away not feeling very good about myself, cos there’s one thing about me you may not know…i’m hopeless at debate or arguments. I mean I am useless.
AFTER the argument I come up with some brilliant stuff, but NEVER, ever during the argument.
And one of the things the JWs believe is that Jesus ISN’T God. And yet here’s evidence from the pages of the bible themselves of a case when Jesus does stuff that only God can do…and did I remember this to use as an argument against the JWs?…you bet your life I didn’t.
I wish they called to my house THIS week, after I had this sermon prepared.
So Mark is revealing that Jesus IS GOD…Take THAT JWs.
Now, there are a few things I’d like to highlight about this story, and the first thing is this...
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”
On THAT day - on what day? This storm calming incident happened on the same day that Jesus taught the parables in chapter 4.
Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:
It was the SAME day as this, and that fact that Mark highlights this to us means that Mark wants us to connect Jesus’ teaching with his actions. Jesus’ power over nature is happening on the same day that Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God and how people respond to his teaching.
Now, the shrewd among you will notice that I skipped a few verses about the kingdom of God and jumped to this passage. I did it because we looked at these parables when we looked at the kingdom of God last year, so we’re not going to repeat ourselves.
But let’s remember that Jesus was teaching about God’s Kingdom - a kingdom that is at hand…it’s here, it’s RIGHT HERE and you can be part of it…but there’s also so much more to come. That was Jesus’ message, and now Jesus is about to do a series of 6 miracles to show everyone the POWER that comes with the Kingdom of God. Now, hold that thought.
The other thing I want us to notice is this...
In the story of Jonah God started the storm and God stopped the storm...
But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.
So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.
The fact that the storm stopped after Jonah was thrown in is proof that God stopped the storm…cause and effect guys.
And if God is in control of nature, cos we see that in the story of Jonah and we see that ALSO in this story of Jesus calming the storm, we’ve got to remember this…That God sent the storm.
We’ve got to remember that God is sovereign in all things…and if God is in control of the elements, and as we can see from our story that he IS, then if God calms the storm it’s also God who sent the storm in the first place… which means that he must have had a reason to send it. And of course he did - to teach us this story about who Jesus is and about our faith.
The NEXT thing to notice is this...
Look at verse 39...
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
Jesus rebuked the wind and he spoke to the sea, ‘be still’.
This is exactly the same thing Jesus did and said to the man with the demons in Mark chapter 1...
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”
Now, you might say, ‘those are different words’…in the verses we have here they ARE different words, but in Greek it’s the same word…φιμόω.
So Jesus rebukes the demon-possessed man and says to the demons, ‘φιμόω’.
And Jesus rebukes the wind and says to the sea, ‘φιμόω.’
Jesus personifies the storm and treats it like a demon - like something that has the power to take over and ruin life. He speaks to the storm in the same way he speaks to the demons…He has the same power over the demons as he does over the elements as if to say, “neither the demons or the forces of nature have the power to ruin life…NOT WHEN I’M AROUND”.
The LAST thing we need to see is this...
In the story of Jonah, Jonah had to call on God to stop the storm - Jonah had no power in and of himself to command the wind or the waves, but in this story, Jesus himself commands the storm…in other words, in Jesus we have one who is better than Jonah.
Now, what is the central question that Jesus asks his disciples in verse 40...
He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Or to translate from the Greek - why are you so afraid, have you no faith YET?
“No faith???? Not YET? Really guys?”
Now, put that all together and see the message for us here today in 2018...
Mark wants us to connect Jesus’ teaching with his actions. Let’s recap the points...
1. Jesus has taught about the kingdom of God and we have the start of 6 miracles that show the power that comes with the kingdom of God...
2. God sends the storm - Jesus stops the storm. Only God can do God-stuff, therefore Jesus is God.
3. Jesus talks to the storm as if they are demons who can ruin your life and take over your life and influence your life....He talks to the storm as if it’s something that can possess you and take over you.
4. But Jesus is BETTER than Jonah because he is God, and as long as Jesus is around NOTHING has the power to possess you or take over you or ruin your life....NOTHING has that power.
Connect Jesus’ teaching with his actions...
The kingdom of God is a kingdom where Jesus Christ is king - where he reigns and has power over demons, over sickness, over the elements themselves. So a mighty power is present with this kingdom…but also a mighty presence of God himself - God’s presence is one of protection…because with Jesus around NOTHING has the power to possess you or to ruin your life - not demons, not illness, not even the weather - NOTHING.
And of course, when Jesus left Earth he left the Holy Spirit to be us…God HIMSELF with us - God himself doing God-stuff.
And so as citizens of this kingdom of God we have access to this power through the Holy Spirit...
Cos the kingdom is here and for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ and give their lives to Jesus Christ. And as citizens of God’s kingdom we have the presence of God himself - the Holy Spirit who can do God-Stuff and calm any storm and protect us from any demon…As citizens of God’s kingdom we have protection and assurance that God has our back…and while this kingdom is here now, we haven’t seen the half of it yet!
But here’s the thing we need to remember... God sends the storms.
What does that mean? That we resent God for the storms? “How dare you send these storms?”
No - what it means is that when God sends the storms he is trying to teach us something - something about God’s sovereignty - something about our faith in Jesus Christ…God sends the storms, but he STOPS the storms too...
But what’s the question Jesus asks his disciples...where is our FAITH?
Do we believe that Jesus can help us?
This storm taught the disciples a valuable lesson - that Jesus IS God, that he IS in control of nature and demons and anything that threatens to harm us…It taught them that Jesus WILL protect them and bring them to a place of peace…But the disciples HAD to go through the storm FIRST. Without the storm they wouldn’t have this epiphany.
Connect Jesus’ teaching with his actions.
Does anyone remember the song, ‘with Christ in the vessel you can smile at the storm’?
We think this is a nice kids song that has no bearing on real life…but look at the very first thing James says in his letter...
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
Count it JOY…why? Cos with Christ in the vessel you can smile at the storm!
Doesn’t mean the storm will go away, but...
With Christ in the vessel you can smile at the storm because you KNOW that he has the power to make the storm go away IN HIS TIME.
With Christ in the vessel you can smile at the storm because you KNOW that God sent the storm in the first place…FOR A REASON.
With Christ in the vessel you can smile at the storm because that storm does NOT have the power to possess you or ruin your life - not when Jesus is around!
So If you are in a storm, it means that God has considered you and thought about you and cares enough about you to actually send that storm to you. SO ask yourself why did God send this storm? Why did he send it to the disciples? To teach them about faith in Jesus…
So then ask yourself THIS... what am I learning about MY faith in Jesus...BUT remember that when you're in the storm, that as a kingdom person the storm has no power over you... that storm cannot hurt you…not when Jesus is around. But in your life where is Jesus?
And also remember this...Do you think Jesus doesn't know what you're going through? Do you think Jesus doesn't know that you’re in a storm? Do you think he's sleeping and isn't aware of your storm? He sent the storm so he KNOWS where you are right now - he knows your situation right now, but do you have the faith to believe that he loves you enough to want to teach you about your faith in him?
Ask yourself again, why am I in this storm - what is this teaching me about my faith in Jesus?
And at the same time... Connect Jesus’ teaching with his actions…Cos the bible is our guide through the storm - it’s our roadmap, it’s our light, it’s our satnav.
And when we’re in the storm, in the thick of it, it’s these very words from the bible that help us to stay afloat and trust that there WILL be peace if we are citizens of God’s kingdom. It’s now, but it’s not yet…we have a taste of it here on earth, but it won’t be fully realised until we get to heaven. But Jesus’ death and resurrection secured that for us, which means that peace…great calm IS on its way because Jesus IS GOD and he has the power over anything that threatens to possess you or ruin your life - from demons to the weather and everything in between!
With Christ in the vessel you can smile at the storm. Where is Christ in your life?