In chapter 1, we read how the Lord Jesus began his public ministry by going into Galilee and proclaiming the good news of God. He said:
The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!
The kingdom of God was near, because he’s God’s Anointed King who had come into the world to deliver his people from the tyranny of the Devil and to bring them into his own kingdom of grace. And the way to enter his kingdom is through repentance and faith: turning from your sin in repentance and turning with faith to the Saviour. And whoever repents and believes is delivered from Satan’s bondage and brought into Christ’s kingdom which is an everlasting kingdom.
That’s what we read in chapter 1. And in chapter 4 we saw how there were four parables about the kingdom. Do you remember? Firstly, there was the parable of the sower and his seed. Secondly, there was the parable — although it was really only a saying — but there was the parable of the lamp that was hidden, but was then revealed. Thirdly, there was the parable of the seed sown in the field, which grew and grew until the day of harvest came. And fourthly, there was the parable of the mustard seed.
And do you remember what each parable meant? The lesson of the parable of the sower and his seed is that despite the hardness of the human heart, and the opposition of the Devil, and the cares of the world, and the desire in our sinful hearts for other things, nevertheless the fact remains that the seed of God’s word will ultimately be fruitful; and the kingdom of God will be extended throughout the world, so that in the end — when the Lord Jesus comes again in all his glory and power and he sends out his angels to the north and to the south and to the east and to the west to harvest the crop — it will be an abundant harvest, because there will be a multitude of believers, a multitude of those who heard the word and who received it and believed it.
And the lesson of the parable of the hidden lamp which was revealed is that the kingdom — which seems hidden and concealed now, and not many people notice it or believe in it — is bound to come out into the open one day and every eye will see that Jesus Christ is indeed the Lord and King over all.
And the lesson of the parable of the seed growing in the field is that Christ’s kingdom is growing throughout the world and it will continue to grow through the reading and preaching of his word until the Lord comes again to gather his people in to eternal life.
And the lesson of the parable of the mustard seed is that the kingdom of God — which now seems so small and weak and liable to blow away in the wind — will grow and grow so that in the end it will be a glorious kingdom, made up of a great multitude of people from every nation.
So, four parables about Christ’s kingdom, a kingdom which is growing throughout the world and which will continue to grow — despite all kinds of opposition — until he comes again. Well, the next thing we have in Mark’s gospel are four miracles which demonstrate the might and power of Christ our King. Firstly, he calmed the storm. Secondly, he healed this demon-possessed man. Thirdly, he healed the woman who had been sick for twelve years. And fourthly, he brought back from the dead Jairus’s twelve-year old daughter. Each of these four miracles reveals to us that Jesus Christ is God’s Anointed King; and they are signs which show us that he’s the one who is able to deliver us from Satan’s tyranny and from all the sorrow and misery, all the trials and troubles, which we suffer in this fallen world. In these verses the Lord Jesus appears as the great King, who is able to save his people and destroy his enemies, which is why we all need to repent and believe. Everyone needs to turn from their sins in repentance and everyone needs to turn with faith to the Saviour, because unless you repent and believe, you will be destroyed along with all of his enemies when he comes again; but if you repent and believe, you will live with him in his glorious, everlasting kingdom when he comes again.
Today we’re going to look together at the first two of these four miracles. Then, the next time, we’ll look at miracles three and four.
Calming the Storm
Let’s look now at verses 35 to 41 of chapter 4 and to the miracle of the calming of the storm. In verse 35 Mark tells us that when evening came on that day, the Lord spoke to his disciples about going across the lake which was known as the Sea of Galilee. No doubt it had been a long day. Look back to verse 1 of chapter 4, and you’ll see that a crowd had followed him to the lake. And the crowd was large. And no doubt they were all pushing one another to get closer and closer to him. And the crowd was pushing so much, that he needed to get into a boat, so that he wouldn’t be crushed by the crowd, but could teach them about his kingdom. And no doubt it had been a long day, teaching all of those people.
Since it was now evening, the Lord said to his disciples that they should go to the other side. And so, leaving the crowd behind, they set sail. Mark adds the little detail that there were other boats which followed. But then — all of a sudden it seems; but if you read the commentaries, you’ll discover that this kind of thing happened frequently and the Sea of Galilee was notorious for these sudden storms — but all of a sudden, a furious squall came up. The wind began to blow violently. And the waves of the sea began to come over the side of the boat so that it was nearly swamped. Well, a trip on a boat in calm water when the sun is shining and the surface of the water is flat is lovely. It’s a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon. But it’s very different — isn’t it? — when you’re out in the open water, a long way from the shore, and the wind is blowing hard and the water is choppy and the waves are coming over the side of the boat. That’s a very different experience. And this particular storm must have been more severe than normal, because it’s clear from what we read in verse 38 that the disciples — and some of them were experienced fishermen — the disciples were terrified by this particular storm and they were afraid that this was it, and they were about to perish in the storm.
Meanwhile, though, the Lord was sleeping. A boat dating from this time was once found in the Sea of Galilee. It was a little over 26 feet long and could carry about 15 people. And though it was an open boat, nevertheless at each end, there was a bit of decking. And so, presumably the Lord lay down on the deck at the rear of the boat and had found some kind of cushion to use as a pillow; and he had fallen asleep.
He’s God’s Anointed King, and nothing makes him frightened, does it? So, he was able to sleep through the storm. On the other hand, his disciples were terrified. They think they’re going to drown in the sea. And so, they woke him up and said to him:
Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?
Was it an accusation? Were they accusing him of not being concerned for their well-being? That’s what some commentators think, but it’s more likely that this was a request. They were asking him to help them so that they would not drown.
And sure enough, the Lord, when he heard their cry, got up and he rebuked the wind and said to the waves:
Quiet! Be still!
And such is the power and authority of his voice, that immediately the wind died down and it became completely calm.
Who can speak to the wind and the wind does what it’s told? Who can speak to the waves and the waves do what they’re told? Who can do something like this? No ordinary person is able to do such a thing as this. And so, it’s little wonder that the disciples were terrified and asked each other:
Who is this? Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!
Who is this? It’s the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed King, who came into the world to deliver his people. And on this occasion, his people faced the threat of death. Isn’t that what they were afraid of? They thought they were going to perish in the storm; they thought they were going to die; they had gone out into the Sea of Galilee in a boat as they had often done, but this time they were afraid that they were about to die. But God’s Anointed King was able to save them. He was able to save them from going down into the depths and he was able to save them from death. And saving his disciples from drowning is a sign of what the Lord Jesus will do for all his people, for all those who have faith in him. Do you see what the Lord said in verse 40 about the importance of faith? He rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith, because along with repentance, faith is the key which opens the way into Christ’s everlasting kingdom. And Christ the King will save from death all those who have believed and who therefore belong to his kingdom.
Right now, in this life, it seems that death always wins, because every day death claims more and more victims. If you go up to Roselawn or Carnmoney, you’ll see how each new section of the cemetery fills up fast. If you go up to the crematorium, you’ll see that every time slot is filled up every day. And whenever someone’s body is lowered in the ground, or every time someone’s remains are cremated, it seems that no one is able to stop death from claiming more and more victims. It seems that death always wins and that no one can stop it. And who knows? For some of us, death might be just around the corner.
But the good news is that the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed King, has conquered death, because though he himself died in order to pay for our sins; and his body was buried in the ground; nevertheless on the third day he was raised to everlasting life. And he is able to give everlasting life to all who believe in him, so that when he comes again, in all his glory and power, he will issue the command and he will say the word and the graves of his people will open and their bodies will come out alive, and they’ll be renewed and made glorious like his glorious body; and in body and in soul they will live with him for ever and for ever. When the Lord rebuked the wind and when he commanded the waves to be still, and when he saved his disciples from dying that day he was giving us a sign of what he will do for all who trust in him when he comes again. And so, everyone needs to repent and believe: you need to turn from your sins in repentance and turn with faith to the Saviour, because he’s the only one who can save you from death and he’s the only one who can give you everlasting life. So, believe in him.
And give thanks to God for sending his Son into the world to be our Great King. Give thanks to God for him, because without him, we would have no hope and we would live in constant fear and dread of death and in constant fear and dread of the Devil, who — for now — holds the power of death. And so, give thanks to God for our Great King who delivers us from all our fears and who gives us the hope of everlasting life.
Healing the Demon-Possessed Man
Who is this? He’s God’s Anointed King who delivers all who believe in him from death so that we will live with him in his everlasting kingdom. He’s also the one who is able to destroy the Devil and all his works. That’s what the second miracle is a sign of.
We read in verse 1 of chapter 5 that when they reached the other side, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet the Lord. Well, we’ve encountered these evil spirits before, haven’t we? In the first miracle which Mark records, the Lord drove out an evil spirit from a man, while teaching in the synagogue. And do you remember what the evil spirit cried out? He cried:
Have you come to destroy us?
That evil spirit was immediately afraid of the Lord Jesus, because the evil spirit knew that the Lord was able to destroy him. And then we read how the Lord was able to heal many people of their diseases; and he also drove out many demons. And then do you remember how the Lord likened himself to a man who binds up a strong man and plunders his house. Well, he was saying that he’s the one who is able to bind up Satan and set us free from Satan’s captivity. So, we’ve encountered these evil spirits before; and we’ve seen that they’re no match for God’s Anointed King.
Mark describes for us the miserable condition this man was in when the Lord found him. We read in verse 3 that instead of living in a house in a town with a family, this poor man lived alone among the tombs. And Mark tells us that no one was able to bind him anymore, not even with a chain. Though they used to chain him hand and foot, he was able to tear the chains apart and break the irons on his feet. Well, that tells us something about his sad condition — doesn’t it? — because it means that the townspeople had tried to bind him, perhaps for his own safety. And so, since they could not bind him, we can imagine him, running like a deranged or demented man, through the graves and no one was able to subdue him. And look at verse 5, because every phrase speaks to us of his misery. It says that night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out in anguish and cut himself with stones. Do you see the miserable condition he was in?
And then the man saw the Lord Jesus. And he fell on his knees in front of the Lord and the evil spirit in him shouted out with a loud voice:
What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
Do you see? The evil spirit in the man recognised who the Lord was. And the evil spirit was terrified of God’s Anointed King because he went on to say:
Swear to God that you won’t torture me!
He was afraid of God’s Anointed King, because he knew that God’s Anointed King has come to bind Satan and all his demons and to set his people free.
And look at verse 9: the evil spirit was not one evil spirit, but there was a legion of evil spirits within this poor man. A legion is a military term and refers to thousands of soldiers. But even though there were thousands of evil spirits in that man, they were not strong enough to stand up to God’s Anointed King. And so, all they can do is beg the Lord to at least send them into this herd of pigs. But whenever they entered the pigs, the pigs rushed down the steep bank and into the lake.
It’s a sign, isn’t it? It’s a sign of what the Lord will do when he comes in glory and power; and the Devil and all his demons and all who belong to the Devil and who do not belong in Christ’s kingdom will be thrown into the lake of fire to be punished for ever and for ever. It’s a sign of what the Lord will do to them when he comes in glory and power. But all who have repented and believed in the Saviour will be brought into the new heaven and earth where they will be invited to drink from the river of life. They will live for ever with him and there will be no more death our mourning or crying or pain, for the sorrow of this life will have passed away; and instead there will be perfect peace and rest for all who belong to Christ’s kingdom. And the peace and rest we will enjoy then is surely signified by the man in the miracle who, according to verse 15, was able to sit, dressed and in his right mind. When he was tormented by the evil spirits, he ran around, among the tombs, crying out in anguish, hurting himself with stones. But the Lord Jesus, God’s Anointed King, rescued him from all of that and he was able now to sit calmly and at peace.
Who is this? He’s God’s Anointed King who is able to deliver us from death and give us everlasting life in his everlasting kingdom. Who is this? He’s God’s Anointed King who will destroy the Devil and all who belong to the Devil, but who is able to save for ever all who trust in him.
These miracles are signs which signify what Christ is able to do for his people. And they demand a response from us, don’t they? They demand a decision from us. Look at the townspeople who had heard what had happened. According to verse 14 they came to see for themselves. And according to verse 15, when they saw the man, and what the Lord had done for him, they were afraid. And according to verse 17, they pleaded with the Lord to leave that place. They heard what he was able to do; but instead of believing in him, they sent him away. That was their response to the Lord and that’s the decision they made about him
And there’s a decision for all of us to make when we hear about God’s Anointed King and what he is able to do. Will we repent and believe and enter his kingdom? Or will we say:
This is not for me. I want nothing to do with this man. Leave me alone!
There’s a decision to be made, and what we decide will determine whether we will remain under the power of Satan, who is destined to be punished for ever in the lake of fire along with all who belong to him; or will we come under the power of God’s Anointed King, who will use his power to uphold and strengthen us every day; and who will use his power to protect us from the evil effects of harm; and who will one day use his power to raise us from the grave so that we will live with him in his everlasting kingdom where we may drink from the river of life and live forever.
There’s a decision to be made and the right response is to repent and to believe so that we come into his kingdom. And if we believe in God’s Anointed King, there’s no need for us to be afraid, is there? There’s no need for us to be afraid, because we can always trust in God’s Anointed King to help us. Whatever troubles we may encounter, whatever dangers we may face, whatever enemies rise up against us, we know that God’s Anointed King is our King and he will help us and he will turn even the bad things that happen to us to our advantage. The disciples asked: ‘Don’t you care?’ And we know he does care for us, don’t we? He cared for us so much that he was prepared to take the blame for us and to die on the cross for our sins. He loved us and gave up his life for us. And now that he’s been raised from the grave and now that he rules over all from his throne in heaven, we can count on him to help us so that all things will work together for our good. So, whenever you’re afraid, remember and believe that Jesus Christ your Saviour is the mighty King who rules over all and that he is able to keep you for ever.