I have been reading and meditating through the book of Mark and it has been a very good experience. God has blessed me with some understanding because I am taking the time to really study the passages instead of reading quickly which I am prone to do. In chapter 4, Jesus had just left the Jewish shores of the Galilee Sea and headed to the other side of the great body of water. During this time, Jesus calmed the waves and encouraged the disciples’ faith. No sooner Jesus had set foot on dry land when He was greeted by a demon possessed man. The thing that really struck me about this passage is that after Jesus cast out the demons, the Gerasenes people begged Jesus to leave. Jesus had just arrived to proclaim the good news and yet the people wanted Him gone. From an earthly view it may seem like Jesus had failed. No sooner had He got there then He had to leave. Yet we know that Jesus is God, so therefor He knew what was going to happen before He even started sailing across the Sea. Jesus knew He would be going to a hostile region, be greeted by the demon possessed man and then would have to leave. Yet Jesus went anyways. Jesus went through the stormy seas to enemy land for one reason or should I say one person. One might be tempted to think that when Jesus made land on the shores of Gerasenes that the demon- possessed man was the one who sought out Jesus but that is not true. Jesus was the one who sought him. The demons knew that Jesus had come to save the man because they said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” The demons knew that Jesus had come to seek and to save. This is a beautiful picture of the gospel, that God came to earth, enemy territory, and defeated Satan and all the demons when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus sought me when I was the property of Satan and rescued me from the clutches of the evil one. I am so thankful that Jesus would cross the sea of Galilee for just one person. I am so happy that Jesus would bear the cross for me.
After preaching and ministering to a large crowd, in Mark chapter 4, Jesus must have been exhausted when He told his disciples to pull up anchor and set sail for the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They were to head to the other side which was the country of the Gerasenes, a gentile country which is evident by the fact that they raised pigs. The beautiful thing about this trip across the sea is that it shows both Jesus’s humanity and divinity. After being surrounded by crowds who were looking for miracles and seeking Jesus’s full attention, He probably wanted to get away and rest. Jesus must have been so tired because He feel asleep on a boat. When I was in the Philippines on a mission trip, I went on a ferry ride from one island to another. I would have had to been completely exhausted to fall asleep on it. It is good to know that I have a God who knows what it is like to work hard and then be exhausted. Then a storm arose rather quickly and the disciples started freaking out. This always perplexed me because I thought as fishermen they would have been pretty confident out on the water. After some research I found that storms can be very fierce and sudden on the Sea of Galilee. The disciples probably fished close to the shore and may have never sailed across the sea to the other side. Frightened, they woke up Jesus. To them it seemed crazy that Jesus could be sleeping through the storm. Yet here Jesus was passed out on a pillow in the stern of the boat. Jesus woke up and calmed the storm. He then asked the disciples why they were so afraid and had no faith. The disciples were afraid but had forgot one major thing. Jesus had told them to go to the other side of the lake. Jesus had called them somewhere and they should have trusted that Jesus would get them there. I am a lot like the disciples. I often forget that if Jesus calls me somewhere He will go with me and get me there. I too like the disciples find myself staring at the storms and wondering how I will survive. It is comforting to know that Jesus is the master of the storms. It is comforting to know that if we obey Jesus, he will get us to the other side. Storms may arise suddenly and violently but if God is for me then who can be against me.
I have been reading through Mark when I came upon a verse in Mark 4 that gave me pause. In the NIV, verse 33 is translated “With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.” This translation seems problematic to me because just a few verses earlier Jesus had told his disciples that he was speaking in parables to the crowds so that they would not understand. In Mark 4:11-12 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!””
I found it strange that in one place Jesus would tell his disciples the purpose of parables was one thing and then later it seemed to change. The NASB and the ESV have a better translation of verse 33 that makes more sense in context. Instead of saying that Jesus spoke as many parables as they could understand, these versions say that Jesus spoke as many parables as they could hear. To me this passage reflects the way that the gospel works on people. The gospel message has two purposes. The most clear purpose is that those whom God has chosen would hear it and have their hearts pierced, their souls convicted, and then they would repent of their sin and turn to Him. The second purpose is that there will be those who hear the gospel message and it will only work to further their rebellion. It will only work to harden their heart. In this way the gospel will stand as an accusation against that person in judgment. The gospel will come across as parables,stories, and fairy tales. There will come a time when they can bear to hear it no longer. The message of the gospel is foolish to those who are perishing but I am grateful that to those being saved it is the power of God.