Who Is This?
As we make our way through the Old Testament scriptures in our daily Bible reading, it becomes clear that the Jewish people were waiting on someone special—someone who would be a real leader of the people in the mold of Moses the Deliverer and David the anointed King.
Coming up in our reading on February 28, we will hear Moses say, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him” (Deut. 18:15).
Later on, God makes a great promise to David, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever’” (2 Samuel 7:16).
Even later, the prophets speak of God’s “Anointed One” who will rescue Israel from her greatest enemies.
After the northern kingdom of Israel is decimated by Assyria and the southern kingdom of Judah is carried off into Babylonian exile, it appears that God has abandoned His grand plan. But He hasn’t. He has made promises. And God always keeps His promises.
But when? When will this anointed prophet/deliverer show up? How long must Israel wait?
Then Jesus comes. This Galilean carpenter forsakes his trade to become an itinerant rabbi. He goes from city to city healing sickness and casting out demons. He preaches everywhere and his teaching is so different—so authoritative. Nobody else can do what he’s doing. No one else speaks the way he speaks.
That’s when the rumors start. “Do you think, maybe, this is the guy?”
“Is it possible that this is God’s messiah—the prophet spoken of by Moses? The descendent of David who will be Israel’s eternal king?”
“Is Jesus the One?”
They’ve been waiting a long, long time. It’s been 1200 years since Moses—a thousand years since David. The prophets have been dead for hundreds of years. Suddenly, there is hope in Israel. Maybe… just maybe… Jesus is the guy.
From among his horde of followers, Jesus invites twelve into his inner circle. One of them, Nathanael, immediately believes Jesus is the messiah after Jesus says he “saw” him under a fig tree. “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”
Jesus laughs and says, “You believe because I said I saw you under the fig tree? Trust me, Nathanael, you’re going to witness much greater things than these!”
Of course, the Twelve did witness greater things—amazing, impossible things—one of which we will discuss this Sunday morning.
As the Twelve steer their boat to the far side of Lake Gennesaret, a terrible storm comes out of nowhere. At first, the storm is nothing to worry about. After all, several in the boat are seasoned fishermen. They’ve navigated rough waters before. But this storm is a doozy. In no time, the rain is pelting their faces. The wind lifts the boat into the air and then slams it back down onto the lake with a SLAP! The huge waves send water pouring into the boat. When Peter passes out buckets, it’s clear that if the water isn’t bailed out soon, the boat will sink.
That’s when someone looks over at Jesus. Amazingly, he is sound asleep. How can anyone sleep in this weather? “Jesus, wake up! Don’t you care that we’re all about to die?”
Jesus rubs the fog of sleep from his eyes, surveys the situation, stands up in the boat, and says, “Peace! Silence!” And immediately, the lake is like glass. The wind ceases.
Twelve mouths fall open in amazement. Jesus looks at each face and asks two questions: “Why are you so afraid?” Well, the answer to that one should be obvious. The boat is half full of water.
The second question is convicting. “Do you still have no faith?”
Crickets. The Twelve have no answer to either question. They’re too terrified to speak.
After things calm down a little, one of them has the audacity to ask one of the others, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him.”
Who is this?
That’s the question Mark’s gospel keeps asking. The demons know. John the Baptist knows. Even Nathanael knows. But the people are not so sure.
“Could this be the Messiah? Is this the deliverer prophesied by Moses? Do you think this is the eternal king God promised to David?”
They want to believe, but they’re just not sure. They’ve seen many self-proclaimed “messiahs” come and go. But this guy is different. He is doing amazing things. He does teach with unprecedented authority.
Mark skillfully lays out his case. Instead of putting the words in Jesus’ mouth, Mark asks us to decide for ourselves. He invites us to weigh the evidence, listen to the testimony of the witnesses, and answer the question.
Who is this?
Many of us are going through storms. Death has us grieved. Aging bodies are failing us. Sin has us in its clutches. Addiction is eating us alive. Our marriages are on the rocks.
From the midst of the storm, Jesus asks, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
May we hear his comforting promise, “I am with you always—even to the end of the world. My peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. Just have faith.”