I’ve often read the story of Jesus calming the wind and the waves in Mark 4:35-41, and there is so much we can learn from it. How He first gave the disciples a command to cross, and then expected them to function in faith in accordance with that command (Where Jesus sends you, He will provide and power is available by faith to calm the storms you face). How Jesus rebuked the wind – the root of the problem – first, rather than the waves. How He spoke so simply, and yet with such authority that heaven and earth instantly obeyed.
Today, re-reading that story I noticed the disciples self-centered plea for help: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” You see, the disciples, even in the literal presence of Jesus, had allowed fear to overtake them. Fear is by nature self-centered; it only thinks of self. It may think of others at times, but always in connection with how it affects self.
Then we get into Mark 5:2, where immediately Jesus is met by a total madman. Naked (read Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-39 for more details), living in the tombs, incredibly strong, tormented, destructive and self-destructive. Today we would just about call the man a zombie. He was totally outcast, the best the townspeople could try to do was to restrain him with chains, to keep him from hurting himself and others, but even that did not work due to the sheer strength of the demonic legion within him.
When people are demon possessed, they are not in their right minds. Proverbs 25:28 says that a man without self-control is like a city without walls… anything can (and will) enter and take up residence there. In Luke 8:29 it talks about how the demons drove this man into the wilderness, which is exactly what demons will do to you. They will isolate you from anyone who can help, they will cause you to be rejected so much that you just flee.
So Jesus cast out the legion of demons from this man, and sent them (at their request) into the herd of swine. Why pigs, specifically? I believe that since pigs were considered unclean animals according to the law of God, these unclean spirits felt some kind of draw to them.
Once all the dust had settled, and the townspeople arrived on scene, they found this once-mad man clothed, sitting peacefully, and in his right mind. What an incredible picture of salvation! The townspeople however, cared more about their economic loss than this man’s welfare, and perhaps afraid that Jesus might do more harm to their livelihood, pleaded with Him to leave. Thus, He got back on the boat and crossed back to the other side again, without having even preached to the townspeople (well, it doesn’t record this anyhow).
As I got to that point, my eye was drawn back to the top, where the disciples said “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Suddenly I saw so clearly the contrast – Jesus was in the midst of this epic journey across a raging storm-filled lake, all for the purpose of saving one man (in the other gospels, it mentions two – I believe Mark mentions only one partially because he may have been the worse of the two, and partially because I believe he was trying to make this point) who was terribly, utterly lost and rejected by absolutely everyone. And right in the middle of that, his disciples say “Don’t you even CARE about us? C’mon, can’t You DO SOMETHING!?”
Truly, the disciples (and us!) have NO IDEA just how much and how incredibly deeply Jesus truly cares for each one.
Towards the lost, He was willing to cross the great divide; God became Man, He suffered, was beaten and died, all while the world was saying “Don’t you even care?” – the ultimate insult coming out of the ultimate self-centered misunderstanding/deception.
Towards us, who are now saved, He wants to extend that care towards the lost, through us. Does that mean He cares less for the saved now? Of course not. But, now that we are saved and have been given a measure of faith, He expects us to start using it. “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Jesus cares just as deeply about the saved, but now He wants to extend His reach by using the saved to get the lost.
If we can only take our eyes off ourselves, and put them on Jesus where they belong, we’ll start to see how that is possible.