Sunday, June 13, 2021

Proper 7 - Series B

Proper 7 - Series B
Mark 4:35-41

Related Scripture Readings
Job 38:1-11
Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32 (29)
2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Prayer of the Day

God of creation, eternal majesty, you preside over land and sea, sunshine and storm. By your strength pilot us, by your power preserve us, by your wisdom instruct us, and by your hand protect us, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

See also Matthew 8:23–9:8 & Luke 8:22-25

Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege

“And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:41                                                                        

Is Jesus, this fatigued man standing by the sea, really God?  As presented in the immediate context of Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus talks, walks, eats, gets tired, sleeps…and does all the things a mere man does.  He never boasts about being God. Yet His teachings, the Old Testament predictions about Him and His powerful works attest to His deity. Later, the penning of the New Testament would also confirm this.

The man, Jesus, is God. So why then does it frequently appear that He is only a man?  It is because when He walked this earth He did not always or fully use the divine powers communicated to His human nature. This is called His State of Humiliation.  One can generally say that in this State, Jesus, the man, would not use His God-powers to help or deliver himself, but only to help and deliver others.  This makes salvific sense, for how else could the Savior feel our misery, pain and fallenness, and how else could He taste death for everyone unless He determined from the beginning not use His divine powers for Himself? Strangely, those who taunted Him at His crucifixion, actually set forth a degree of truth:  He saved others; he cannot save himself [Mt 27:42].  Truly He could not save Himself, because His unfathomable love for mankind kept Him in this State of Humiliation, and it ultimately kept Him nailed to the cross. His love for us overruled the use of His divine powers, and thus he could not use His divine powers to save Himself.  Because of His love to us He had to become the “unsaved” in order to save the unsaved.  He had to drown to save those who were drowning.  He had to take the bullet in front of those who were the targets.  He had to die for those who were under the curse of death. 

Was Jesus fully God before He rose from the dead, and more importantly was He fully God when He died on the cross?  The answer to such questions is a resounding yes.  The Scriptures indicate that the Son of God did not simply possess a man named Jesus, nor did He become part human and part God in Mary’s womb. He indeed became fully human while remaining fully God. He never ceased being God, and after His incarnation He never ceases to be fully man.  Jesus leaves His State of Humiliation when He is declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from the dead.  He then enters His State of Exaltation, wherein He as a man fully uses the divine powers communicated to His human nature.

This Sunday’s Gospel account magnifies the deity of Jesus in His State of Humiliation as He employed His divine powers not for Himself but for the terrified Apostles in their seemingly sinking boat.  He spoke to the wind and the waves, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm [Mk 4:39].  A strange sort of “common sense” informs us that this Jesus—as He bends the forces of nature with mere words—is indeed God in the flesh.  The Apostles queried, Who then is this?   They knew from their Scriptures that Jesus was doing that which only God does.  For example Psalm 107 describes sailors at their wits end: Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed [vs 28-29].  The Apostles realized that only God rules the wind and the waves.

Who then is the man who hung helpless upon that horrifying cross?  It is the same man who, to help His helpless Apostles, calmed the wind and the waves with a word.  Eternal thanks be given to God that this is God who hangs on the cross, that it is God’s blood paying the price for our sins, for now the wind and waves of sin, misery and death are stilled; they are muzzled.  Now, as we reside in the boat of the church, as well as when we lie in the “boat” of our casket, we do so confidently trusting the God-man who accomplished something more powerful than stilling the wind and the waves: He created forgiveness and immortality for fallen sinners.

Greek Text (NA27)

Jesus Calms a Storm

35Καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ὀψίας γενομένης• διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πέραν.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  

36καὶ ἀφέντες τὸν ὄχλον παραλαμβάνουσιν αὐτὸν ὡς ἦν ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ, καὶ ἄλλα πλοῖα ἦν μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ.
 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.

"As He was" a reference to Jesus' human nature

37καὶ γίνεται λαῖλαψ μεγάλη ἀνέμου καὶ τὰ κύματα ἐπέβαλλεν εἰς τὸ πλοῖον, ὥστε ἤδη γεμίζεσθαι τὸ πλοῖον. 
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.

γίνεται λαῖλαψ μεγάλη ἀνέμου (ginetai lailaps megale anemou|comes up furious/tempest large/great squall/storm/wind) – 

Situated in a basin surrounded by mountains, the Sea of Galilee is particularly susceptible to sudden, violent storms. Cool air from the Mediterranean is drawn down through the narrow mountain passes and clashes with the hot, humid air lying over the lake. The disciples know what they are up against yet they go at the Savior's bidding. They enter the boat even if it means trouble which they cannot nor will not avoid. 

A furious squall...a bad storm...the boat suffers simply because it's there.

38καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἐν τῇ πρύμνῃ ἐπὶ τὸ προσκεφάλαιον καθεύδων. καὶ ἐγείρουσιν αὐτὸν καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ• διδάσκαλε, οὐ μέλει σοι ὅτι ἀπολλύμεθα;
But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

"We are being destroyed...NOW!"

Jesus' asleep at the wheel...we're perishing...Jesus matters to you don't you...expecting a positive answer... psalm 107:23-30; Psalm 89:8-9;

39καὶ διεγερθεὶς ἐπετίμησεν τῷ ἀνέμῳ καὶ εἶπεν τῇ θαλάσσῃ• σιώπα, πεφίμωσο. καὶ ἐκόπασεν ὁ ἄνεμος καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη.
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. 

The disciples are made conscious of their frail humanity in the presence of this Lord of the waves. Jesus deepens His communion with the disciples by using His power in the service of compassion for them and by using the event to build up their faith.

διεγερθεὶς (diegertheis|having awakened/woke up)

ἐπετίμησεν (epetimesen|he commanded/gave reproach/rebuked) - In Psalm 106:9 (104:7) Isaiah 50:2; Nahum 1:4 the Hebrew root g'r is used of God rebuking the sea. So Jesus is said to rebuke the wind.

θαλάσσῃ (thalasse|sea) - Not that the lake had any perception, but to show that the power of his voice reached the elements, which were devoid of feeling.

Σιωπα (siopa|be silent/calm/quiet)

πεφίμωσο (pephimoso|be halted/stopped/silenced) - The perfect imperative passive (which is more rare) is more emphatic than the aorist used in 1:25: so 'be silent and remain so.'

ἐκόπασεν (ekopasen|abated/ceased/stopped)

γαλήνη (galene|calm) - The aorist tenses indicate an immediate result, and γαληνη μεγαλη (replacing the λαιλαψ μεγαλη of verse 37) emphasizes the total transformation achieved by Jesus' intervention.

40καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς• τί δειλοί ἐστε; οὔπω ἔχετε πίστιν;
He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

οὔπω (oupo|so/still like this) - The force of οὐπω here is that they should by this time have learned something of the secret of the kingdom of God (4:11), which is the secret that the kingdom is come in the person and work of Jesus. There are a number of textual variants here arising either from "a desire to soften somewhat Jesus' reproach spoken to his disciples" or from a misreading of οὐπω, replacing it with the more common οὐτω(ς) with various changes of word order to accommodate to the structure of the question.

πίστιν (pistin|trust/faith/belief) - Lack of faith makes disciples δειλοι, unable to respond to a crisis with the confidence in God (or, more pertinently, in Jesus) which is the mark of the true disciple.

Jesus does not explain each wave...yet He weeps with those who weep

"Why are you cowards?" He asks

They feared a great fear...who is this? See Job...fear as in the First Commandment 

There is no better place to be then next to Him asleep in His sleep over death...

41καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν καὶ ἔλεγον πρὸς ἀλλήλους• τίς ἄρα οὗτός ἐστιν ὅτι καὶ ὁ ἄνεμος καὶ ἡ θάλασσα ὑπακούει αὐτῷ;
And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

φόβον (phobon|fear) – One greater than their previous fear of the storm (as Jonah 1:10).

ἀλλήλους (allelous|one another)

Τίς ἄρα οὗτός ἐστιν (tis ara houtos estin|who then this is) - In view of what Jesus had just done, the only answer to this rhetorical question was: He is the very Son of God! God’s presence, as well as his power, was demonstrated (Psalm 65:7; 107:25–30; Proverbs 30:4). Mark indicates his answer to this question in the opening line of his Gospel (Mark 1:1). By such miracles Jesus sought to establish and increase the disciples’ faith in his deity.

ὑπακούει (hupakouei|obey/are subject to) - In addition to the miracle's significance as a pointer to the secret of Jesus' person Mark probably saw in it, and meant his readers to see, a symbolic significance (1:31). The parallel between the situation of the disciples on the lake and that of the Church in the midst of persecution would naturally suggest itself. (Very early a ship was a symbol of the Church in Christian art.) In the midst of persecution and all manner of perils, if Jesus be truly with his Church, then, even though his help may not at once be felt, his own must never doubt him, and need have no fear.

"Shut up! Be muzzled!"  Rude language true, but it's the enemy...even the grave and the jaws of death are shut up for you...He speaks with authority...He Doesn't grab a bucket he goes to the source of the problem...

Faith prays...because it known nothing the infant to her mother

Although miracles are hard for modern man to accept, the NT makes it clear that Jesus is Lord not only over his church but also over all creation. The story is told in simple language, and all the details of the account (other boats, boat was already filling, cushion, said to one another) leave the impression that the details come from one who experienced the event. The account indicates strongly that Mark became Peter’s interpreter. The vivid narrative suggests recollection of an eyewitness. There is a total of ten individual miracles recorded between 4:35 and 8:26, which are frequently seen as constituting two balancing groups, each of which begins with a lake miracle (4:35-41; 6:45-51) and contains a feeding miracle (6:34-44; 8:1-10). 

While Mark may have found these two 'catenae' already grouped in the tradition, some believe that the groupings are Mark's own construction. All five stories in the second 'catena' (6:45-51; 7:24-30; 7:32-37; 8:1-10; 8:22-26) take place outside of Galilee, and it has been suggested that Mark thus deliberately shows the mission of Jesus to the Jewish community of Galilee (though 5:1-20 is already set on the Gentile side of the lake) being repeated for the benefit of the surrounding Gentile population. 4:35-41 together with 6:45-52 (the other lake miracle), places Jesus in a more starkly 'supernatural' light even than the healing miracles. 

Control of the elements is even more extraordinary and inexplicable than the restoration of suffering human beings, and is in the OT a frequently noted attribute of God in distinction from human beings who find themselves helpless before the forces of nature (Job 38:8-11; Psalms 65:5-8; 89:8-9; 107:23-32, etc.; the last of these must surely have been on Mark's mind as he narrated this story). Here is divine power writ large, and it is appropriate that these two pericopes therefore conclude not only with the astonishment and fear of the disciple, but also with a note of their human inability to cope with the new dimension of understanding and faith which these events demanded (4:40-41; 6:52). 

The Christological question, 'Who is this?' which has already been raised by previous miracles (1:27; 2:7-12; 3:11-12) becomes more insistent and more sharply defined in verse 41. The variation in tenses throughout this pericope makes an interesting study in Mark's narrative style. Historical presents form the main framework of the first part of the story (λεγει ... παραλαμβανουσιν ... γινεται ...ἐγειρουσιν ... λεγουσιν), but they are interspersed with imperfects to indicate the continuing features of the situation (ἠν ... ἐπεβαλλεν ... ἠν). 

But when the climax is reached, the narrative goes consistently into the aorist, to indicate Jesus' decisive action (ἐπετιμησεν ... εἰπεν ... ἐκοπασεν ... ἐγενετο ... εἰπεν), after which the disciples' immediate reaction of fear is described in the aorist (ἐθοβηθησαν), followed by an imperfect to denote their continuing discussion of what it all meant (ἐλεγον). The tenses are far from haphazard; rather, they demonstrate the natural ability of the storyteller to focus his audience's attention appropriately on the different aspects of the story as it develops.

Image Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcuts © WELS for personal and congregational use

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