“And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.”
This is one of six instances in the book of Mark where people were afraid at Jesus’ presence. Each one was a revelation of Jesus’ might, and of Who He is.
The first is in Mark 4 at which time the Lord Jesus calmed the sea. Jesus and His disciples were on a boat, He was asleep in the stern. A storm arose that frightened even the fishermen. They woke Jesus, and He rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” Mark 4:41 reveals that His followers feared exceedingly and said to one another, What manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him? This showed His power over nature.
The next is in Mark 5:15 where we read, “And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.” Jesus healed a man who was possessed by two thousand demons. The beginning of the story tells that the man was uncontrolled, and uncontrollable. The people tried to chain him, but with no success. He was always crying aloud and cutting himself with stones. But, Jesus healed him. This showed His power over the supernatural.
Then there was the woman with the issue of blood. Mark says that she had this health problem for twelve years. And, she consulted physicians, and had spent all she had, and grew worse. Upon touching Jesus’ clothing, she was healed. In Mark 5:33 we read, “But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.” She told the whole story in the hearing of the crowd. This showed His power over physical ailments.
What brought Jesus down the road that day is shown in Mark 5:22 and 23. Jairus came to Him to appeal for the health of his twelve-year-old daughter, who was at the point of death. As soon as the woman was healed, people came from Jairus’ home and reported that his daughter had died. Why, they said, trouble the Master any further? Jesus told Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36) It is certain that upon hearing this news Jairus’ first response would have been to fear. Though she had died, Jesus raised the girl from the dead. He showed His power over death.
In the verse above, Jesus walked on the water. Again, the disciples were on a boat on the sea, but this time Jesus was not with them. He was on a mountain praying. Having finished His time with His Father, Jesus walked to them on the sea. In the account we are told that they cried out, supposing they saw a spirit (Mark 6:49). Verse 50 tells us, “For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” This He showed His power over physical laws.
God’s power over physical laws is seen elsewhere in scripture. In Joshua 10:12, 13 we read, “Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.”
In Mark 9:6 Peter, James and John saw Jesus transfigured. Moses and Elijah, we are told, appeared and spoke with Jesus. Peter offered to build three tabernacles, one for Jesus, one for Elijah, and one for Moses, for, Peter didn’t know what to say, because they were sore afraid. Then a voice from heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.” In his telling of this story, Matthew revealed in Matthew 17:7 that after the voice, “… Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.” The apostles feared because they were in God’s presence! Jesus revealed to them His Divine Self; His power as God Himself.
In these six events Jesus showed His might over nature, the spiritual realm, physical ailments, death, physical laws, and ultimately, His authority as Almighty God. In each case, upon seeing His might, people feared. For believers, all of this might works on their behalf. Of what should we be afraid? Romans 8:28-30 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
A mind at perfect peace with God,
Oh! what a word is this!
A sinner reconciled through blood;
This, this indeed is peace!
By nature and by practice far,
How very far from God!
Yet now by grace brought nigh to Him,
Through faith in Jesus’ blood.
So near, so very near to God,
I cannot nearer be;
Yet in the person of His Son
I am as near as He.
So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be;
The love where with He loves the Son:
Such is His love to me!
Why should I ever careful be,
Since such a God is mine?
He watches o’er me night and day,
And tells me Mine is thine. (Horatius Bonar)