Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
"EVEN THE WINDS AND THE WAVES OBEY"
"What manner of man is this? For even the winds
and the waves obey Him."
Our text is taken from the Gospel narrative of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, during which Jesus was asleep in the hinder part of the vessel, until the sturdy seamen, appalled by the storm, cried to Him, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Then the Savior arose and rebuked the storm; and there was a great calm.
When the fishermen-disciples beheld this they said, "What kind of person is this that even the winds and the sea obey Him!"
We have great sympathy for the fellow-countrymen of Jesus who, failing to understand Him, caused his execution, considering Him a menace to their institutions.
His wonderful words, His wonderful words of life, of which it is recorded that the public declared, "Never man spake like this man," and in general His wonderful personality seemed really incongruous with His general demeanor. Not claiming to be Jehovah, not claiming to be His own Father, as some now teach, but on the contrary declaring, "My Father is greater than I."
He, nevertheless, claimed a special relationship to God; and this He demonstrated by such miracles as the one of our lesson. Had He done and said those things as a member of one of the popular sects of His day, He would have been reverenced. Had He joined in with the Pharisees and winked at their interpreting the Law in one way for the people and in another manner for themselves, He would have received much honor from the rich and the poor, the learned and the ignorant. But He antagonized all these by His humility in mingling with the common people, accepting some of them as His special disciples and sending them out as His representatives.
This specially branded Him as foolish in the eyes of the worldly-wise. This specially discredited Him, not only as a man and a teacher, but particularly as one who claimed to be the Messiah, the King of Glory, who was to set up an Empire. We can well see why worldly-wise people of that day or this day would consider such a person a fraud, a pretender, a deceiver. Appearances were against Him.
"ART THOU A KING THEN?"
Picture the Great Teacher walking with His twelve Apostles, a nondescript crowd of those who heard him gladly—not many great, not many learned, not many rich, not many noble. Hear Him telling them—those who acknowledged themselves to be ignorant and unlearned (
)—that, if faithful to Him, He would grant them to sit with Him in His Throne judging the twelve tribes of Israel. The statement surely seemed fraudulent; and He had not the heart to condemn the Jews who so misinterpreted Him. St. Peter did not condemn them, but distinctly said, "I wot, brethren, that in ignorance ye crucified the Prince of Life, as did also your rulers." —
Can we wonder that the learned Jews of that day were confused? They did indeed hear of His miracles—His recovering of sight to the blind and of strength to the withered hand of the impotent man; and, in the case of Lazarus, at least, they had demonstration of His power over the dead. They perceived that these miracles were having an influence upon the masses—that they detracted from their own esteem amongst the people. They knew that many of Jesus’ sayings were wonderfully wise, and that His criticisms of their own inconsistencies were remarkably sharp. Yet withal they said, "We know that He is a fraud, because of His peculiar claim to be the Messiah and the Son of God. This claim of His discountenances all of His teachings and mighty works. It
cannot be true that He is the Messiah that our nation has waited for these more than sixteen centuries. God would surely send Messiah a sufficiency of demonstration of glory and power to convince the most intelligent of our nation, the Scribes and Pharisees and Priests. What they all dissent from and denounce, must be false."
FOR THE GOOD OF THE NATION
The Jewish wise men of eighteen centuries ago concluded that a man who set the masses agog with anticipation of Himself as the Messiah-King, yet who was without an army and without financial backing for a campaign, would present their nation to the Romans in a ludicrous light. As a result they might have taken from them at the word of the emperor the civil and religious privileges and rights they were enjoying. They took counsel and determined that in the interests of the peace of the nation this golden-tongued Miracle-worker should either be exposed as a fraud or be killed. They tried first to expose Him by trapping Him in His language in the presence of His followers and the multitude. But His intellect was keener than theirs; and the thrusts they made at Him rebounded to their own discomfort and established His own standing in the estimation of His followers and in the eyes of the people. One of these efforts to show up the hollowness of His claims and their fraudulency and to discourage His followers is worthy of particular notice, as it furnishes us the key to the sentiment of the rulers and also to the real facts of the case, which those rulers failed to discern.
"THE KINGDOM IN YOUR MIDST"
The influential Jews said, "Let us question this fraudulent Messiah respecting His pretensions, not with any hope of correcting Him, but with a view to opening the eyes of His followers to the weakness and fallacy of His teachings. Then they will see the hollowness of the hopes they are entertaining and their foolishness in leaving
their various avocations to become His followers, in the hope of sitting with Him in His throne. They will see that He has no prospect of ever securing a throne, and that they are merely deluded by Him in such expectations."
They inquired of him, "When will your Kingdom appear? How long will it be before you sit upon your throne and have followers with you in the throne?
How long before this Messianic Kingdom will rule in Palestine and extend from its borders to the ends of the earth? After you have answered us this question we will ask you others respecting your financial support and resources—your own qualifications, and your subordinate officers; the arms for your soldiers and the supplies necessary for such a world-campaign as you are about to begin, according to your teachings."
The great Teacher’s brief answer entirely silenced every objection. His teachings, had these men been "Israelites indeed," would have been so deeply impressed upon them that they would have followed up the matter with an entirely different line of questioning than at first contemplated. But they were insincere. Hence when their questions, intended to entrap the Teacher and Master, were answered and foiled, they merely acknowledged their defeat by their silence. The answer was not, as imperfectly translated in our Common Version—the Kingdom of Heaven is
hypocritical Pharisees, but, My Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven, of which I am the King, will not
at all. It will be an invisible Kingdom—it comes not with observation or outward show. Ye shall neither say, Lo, it is here, nor, Lo, it is there; for it will be everywhere in the midst of you, amongst you, invisible but all-powerful.—
Truly, what manner of man was this, and what manner of message and Kingdom was His, so different from anything the Jews had ever expected! Can we wonder that only a comparatively small proportion of them were in the heart attitude to receive this message respecting a
spiritual Kingdom? We cannot wonder! Even His most intimate disciples did not grasp the depth of His teaching until after His death and resurrection they, at Pentecost, received the special enlightenment foretold.—
ISRAEL’S HOPES MERELY DEFERRED
Then understood they the true depth of the teachings of Him who spake as never man spake. Then they comprehended that He was the Only Begotten Son of God who, in obedience to the Divine Program for Israel and the world, had left the Heavenly courts and glory of the spirit nature and been made flesh—"The Man Christ Jesus." (
.) Then they understood, not only that He was a perfect man, but that through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which came upon Him at baptism, He was indeed God’s Anointed, the antitypical Priest, antitypical Prophet and antitypical King—not that He was these in the flesh, but that the new spirit nature begotten in Him through that anointing, was perfected in the resurrection, and that it is the glorified Christ on the spirit plane who will accomplish all the great things predicted through the Prophets, blessing all Israel and all nations, in God’s due time. Then they understood the meaning of the Master’s words to the Roman Governor, "My Kingdom is not of this Age; for if it were, then My servants would fight for Me and I should not be delivered to death." Then they perceived that His Kingdom will be not the less real and powerful, but the more so, because a Heavenly one, a spiritual one, which, in due time, in the Age to come, will operate through the nation of Israel, just as was originally promised and expected.
The Apostles discerned that the hopes of their nation were not blasted, not destroyed, but will all have fulfilment, though the time of fulfilment was deferred. And they see two reasons for the delay: (1) In order to make the Messianic blessing as great as God designed that it should be—world-wide and unto eternal life—it was necessary that a great sacrifice for
sins should be made—a sacrifice typed for centuries in Israel’s Atonement Day sacrifices—a sacrifice in two parts. These two parts are shown in Israel’s Atonement Day—the bullock of the sin-offering and the Lord’s goat of the sin-offering. Jesus Himself fulfilled the first of these, the merit of which has been applicable to the saintly few of Jews and Gentiles who have, during this Gospel Age, made a full consecration to walk in the Redeemer’s footsteps. The secondary part of the sacrifice, the offering of the goat, pictures the sacrificing company of the Lord’s faithful disciples throughout this Age.
These, under cover of His righteousness, suffer with Him sacrificially.—
Their reward is to be a share with the Redeemer on the Heavenly, spirit plane, participating in His glory, honor and immortality and in His great work of dispensing the Messianic blessing to Israel and the world.
How ashamed will all men be when the Times of Restitution mentioned by St. Peter (
) shall be ushered in! How astounded all will be at the goodness of God and His faithfulness in respect to all His promises! How the eyes of all humanity will look back to the days of Jesus in the flesh, when He appeared amongst men to lay a foundation for His glorious Messianic Kingdom by offering Himself in sacrifice for the sins of all the people, that thereby He might purge from sin all who ever will come to the Father through Him, and will thus have the right to restore the willing and obedient to full perfection and to destroy the rebellious in the Second Death. Ah, then all will know, as never before, the force of the words of our text, "What manner of man is this?" They will know Him as having been a man, The Sent of God. They will know Him as the now Highly Exalted One, far above men and angels, rewarded with the very highest reward which Jehovah could give to His Beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased and by whose stripes Israel and we all are healed.