The miracles of Jesus

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 Storm on Galilee

As Jesus and the disciples set out on one of their many trips across the Sea of Galilee, they were hit by an unexpected and violent crisis, as recounted here in the Gospel of Mark.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Mark 4:37

Sudden violent storms from the east in the early evenings of winter are well known in the area. The fisherman here call them Sharkia, Arabic for shark. The disciples are fighting for their lives. So does Jesus join the battle to save the boat? Not according to the Bible account:

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:38-41

It’s the act of someone with incredible power, and it makes the disciples question who on earth Jesus was. Not surprisingly, the Bible says they are awestruck. Jesus – it appears – can control the very elements.

Now, of course, from a modern western scientific perspective, the fascinating question is “what really happened?” Perhaps the storm was about to subside anyway, and the “miracle” may have been little more than good timing.

But in order to understand the miracle as a sign, we need to focus on the meaning of the event rather than the event itself. That meaning was what left the disciples awestruck. It was more than shocking, it was scandalous.

By rebuking the wind and the sea, Jesus was showing that he had authority over the elements. As only God could claim such authority, Jesus was acting as if he was God.

But for the disciples, that revelation was not to be greeted with unalloyed joy. It was much too complicated for that. They were all too aware that for a Jewish man to act as if he were God could mean two things. Either he really was God in human form, or this was nothing short of blasphemy, and blasphemers were mad or demonic. Either way, they were usually dead before long.

There are signs that, right from the beginning of his ministry, Jesus’ actions were consciously unprecedented, dangerous and forbidden.

This page is an extract from The Miracles of Jesus by Michael Symmons Roberts, which accompanies the BBC TV series.
Main image: copyright BBC / Religion 2006

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About this module

In his own time, Jesus was famous as a miracle worker. The miracles shocked those who saw them – not because of the spactacle, but because of the dangerous message they carried about Jesus. In these pages we follow the new BBC series, The Miracles of Jesus, and try to decode three miracles to find out what they were all about.

This section of Rejesus is based on The Miracles of Jesus by Michael Symmons Roberts, which accompanies the BBC TV series

Images copyright BBC / Religion 2006

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arrow Jesus' miracles

arrow Who is Jesus

arrow Battle with evil

arrow Return to Eden

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