At the age of 27, Rembrandt painted the seascape Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee based on the story in Mark 4. With its distinctive contrast of light and shadow, Rembrandt’s painting shows a small boat threatened with destruction in a furious storm. As the disciples struggle against the wind and waves, Jesus is undisturbed. The most unusual aspect, however, is the presence in the boat of a 13th disciple whom art experts say resembles Rembrandt himself.
Mark’s gospel describes the disciples’ vivid lesson about who Jesus is and what He can do. While they were frantically trying to save a sinking boat, Jesus was asleep. Didn’t He care that they were all about to die? (v.38). After Jesus calmed the storm (v.39), He asked the penetrating question, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (v.40). Then they were even more afraid, exclaiming to each other, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (v.41).
We could also put ourselves in this story and discover, just as Jesus’ disciples did, that to each person who trusts in Jesus Christ, He reveals His presence, compassion, and control in every storm of life.
And pure and true and tried His holy Word;
Though stormy flood which rageth as the sea,
His promises thy stepping-stones shall be. —Anon.
INSIGHTMark 4:35–5:43 records four miracles that answer the question, “Who can this be?” (4:41). These miracles demonstrated Jesus’ absolute power over nature (4:35-41), the spiritual world (5:1-20), physical illnesses (5:21-34), and death (5:35-43). Each miracle shows Jesus as the omnipotent sovereign God. Yet in this passage, Mark provides one of the most amazing contrasts. Just before Jesus displayed the awesome powers of His deity, we are given a touching picture of His humanity: Jesus was so tired that even the violent tossing of the waves did not wake Him (v.38).
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