Friday, August 29, 2014
Fearing the God Who Rescues?
Posted by Adam Parker
Many have seen the numerous parallels between this miracle of Christ and the story of Jonah, but it is still worth mentioning, I think. Recall that in Jonah, as in Mark 4, there is a great wind (Jonah 1:4; Mark 4:37). In both storms an important passenger sleeps in the boat (Jonah 1:5; Mark 4:38). In Jonah the sailors “fear a great fear” while Christ identifies the disciples as “afraid” (Jonah 1:10; Mark 4:40). In Jonah the storm is eventually stilled by a work of God’s power, just as it is in Mark (Jonah 1:15; Mark 4:39). As a final parallel, notice that in Jonah the sailors don’t stop fearing after the danger passes. Instead, the passage says that their fear was transferred from the storm to Yahweh (Jonah 1:16). Let me suggest that this is precisely what happens in Mark 4:41.
This group of men believed they were going to die. I have had moments when I thought I was going to die and know from experience that this is a tremendous amount of fear. But to then be described after the danger has passed as being “filled with great fear,” that speaks volumes as well. This response isn’t unusual in the Gospel of Mark. It is common, when people have seen Christ’s miraculous work, for them to react with fear. (For example, Mark 5:15; 6:50; 9:6; 16:8)
The stilling of the storm was an extraordinary moment in the ministry of Christ and an amazing rescue, but the greatest rescue that God ever brought in Scripture was in the work of His own Son upon the cross. At the cross Christ did what he came to do, rescuing all of those who ever had or would believe on him (John 3:16). He brought peace with God. But there is a fearful aspect to the cross as well.
The cross does bring us peace with God, but it comes at great cost (Col. 1:20). God treated his own son as a sinner should be treated; He showed His Son no mercy. He showed the world how He regards sin. The cross is the rescue of God that says to us that God’s character is impeccable. It says that God will not be trifled with; he will not ignore evil; he will punish sin. Because of these things He is a God to be feared.
When you reflect on the rescue that Christ brings, what is your response? Is it serenity? Peace? Joy? Let me suggest that if you are in Christ those are all appropriate responses to the rescue that Christ has brought. But that response ought to always be tempered by the complementary recognition that God’s justice, holiness, and righteousness come out most clearly at the cross.
Those of us who stand at the foot of the cross should do so with mixed emotions. We’re right to rejoice and be glad. But we are also right to “fear greatly” when we gaze upon the suffering of the son even as it is the substance of our own rescue.
[This article was previously posted at the Christward Collective. You should check them out.]