For a second time, Jesus toured all the villages of Galilee. Recognized wherever He went, He announced to the assembled crowds that God’s government was going to be restored to the earth. He also healed the sick and cast out demons from those who were demon possessed. Demons are evil angels who are under Satan the devil’s domination.
The 12 disciples wondered how Jesus managed to keep up such a pace. All this activity exhausted them! And yet Jesus was known to rise well before dawn to find places to pray privately.
Jesus’ many followers contributed goods and money to His work (Luke 8:1-3). This aid provided for Jesus’ and the disciples needs, including food and lodging during their travels.
Mary, Jesus’ mother, went down to Capernaum to see Jesus when He returned from His tour. As Mary and her younger sons neared the house, they saw that a multitude of people, waiting to get in, had gathered in the street outside. Mary and Jesus’ half-brothers managed to press their way to the open door.
Mary heard Jesus’ voice as Jesus spoke to the crowd seated before Him in the courtyard. Surely if He knew that she had come, He would want to see her, she thought to herself.
A group of scribes and Pharisees had just accused Jesus of using satanic powers to accomplish His healings.
“Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven,” Jesus warned in an angry tone. The disciples had often heard Jesus say that the Holy Spirit is the power of God. To blaspheme that Spirit is to speak in derision of it. And the Pharisees did just that when they said Satan’s power, and not the Holy Spirit, performed Christ’s healings and cast out demons. “Rabbi, give us a sign!” called out a scribe (Matt. 12:38). He wanted to see another miracle.
“You will be given no sign,” Jesus replied, “except one.”
Silence fell. Some leaned closer to hear Jesus’ next words. “Jonah was in the belly of a fish three days and three nights, and the Son of man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Jesus continued to talk to the crowd, mentioning the Queen of Sheba’s visit to hear Solomon’s wisdom. The Pharisees should have realized that they were in the presence of someone greater than Solomon! Jesus went on to comment on demons. Someone in the crowd noticed that Mary and Jesus’ brothers were present, waiting to see Jesus. The listener stepped up to Jesus, “Sir,” he said, “your mother is here, and your brothers. They want to see you.”
Jesus took this opportunity to emphasize that the Family of God takes precedence over human families. “Who are really my brothers, sisters and mother?” He asked. “My brothers, sisters and mothers are those who obey my Father in heaven” (Matt. 12:50; Mark 3:35; Luke 8:21).
Jesus concluded His sermon with that statement. He dismissed the crowd and began to pass through them out to the street. At the door He warmly greeted and embraced His mother and half-brothers.
Taking the 12, Jesus led the way to the shore of Galilee. This spot was one of His favorite places to teach. The crowd trailed behind, increasing in numbers along the way. Jesus sat down in a small boat and preached a sermon made up of parables about the Kingdom of God (Matt. 13:1; Mark 4:1; Luke 8:4).
Jesus concealed the parables’ true meanings from the audience because the time had not come for God the Father to begin to call many into His Church. Jesus was on earth only as a witness. He had come, this first time, to announce the Kingdom of God, to die for the sins of mankind and to start the New Testament Church.
One of the parables He used was about a tiny mustard seed that eventually became a huge plant. The purpose of this parable was to show how the Church of God would grow from one person, Jesus, to eventually fill the whole earth.
Dismissing the multitude, Jesus returned to the house. The 12 tried to discourage the crowd from following, but the people wanted to see more miracles and hear more parables.
When they were inside, the disciples began to question Jesus about His discourse. They wondered why Jesus spoke in parables to the crowds. The truth was that the disciples themselves didn’t understand what the parables meant.
“What, for instance, did you mean by the weeds in the fields?” asked one. “Who is the enemy who sowed the tares?”
Jesus explained that His message – the true Gospel-- was meant to be understood only by a select few at that time. Then he went over the parables one by one and explained them (Matt. 13:36).
That evening Christ and the disciples set sail across Galilee toward the Gadarenes area, aboard a large boat. Before long dark clouds billowed in the west and obscured the sun. A sudden gust of wind filled the sails, swinging the craft around.
John stepped up to his brother James. “I think we’d better postpone the trip. A storm is coming.”
“Ask Jesus if we should turn about,” James instructed, his eyes on the raging sea.
Stepping over the feet of Matthew, Judas, James and the Second Philip, John found Jesus sleeping soundly in the stern of the boat, His head on a sheepskin pillow (Matt. 8:24; Mark 4:38; Luke 8:23). Jesus’ face was relaxed, and John thought to himself that Jesus needed this rest. John went back to James. “He’s asleep. Why don’t we keep going? We’ll be all right.”
Soon, however, the wind increased to gale intensity, screaming across the lake and violently shaking the boat. James yelled to Andrew, “Get those sails in or they’ll be ripped away!” Thunder rolled over the blackened heavens. All talking in the boat had stopped. Amid the noise of the storm Jesus slept on.
Waves splashed in over the bow. Then a giant wave caught the boat broadside. Shuddering, the craft pitched helplessly into a trough of the sea, but just as quickly it was tossed up again. Water continued to come into the boat. The situation looked progressively grimmer to the disciples, and some became openly fearful.
“Wake Him!” Peter shouted when he saw the rudder wrenched from the hands of James and John together. “We’re going to the bottom if you don’t!”
Someone bent over Jesus. “Sir, wake up! We’re sinking! Don’t you care?”
Jesus sat up, rubbing sleep from His eyes. He heard the screaming of the wind and saw the terror in the disciples’ faces. “Why are you afraid? Where’s your faith?” He asked. Leaning into the wind, He rose and raised a hand in a gesture of rebuke. “Be still!”
The storm immediately lost its vigor. The howling wind died away and the sea calmed to gentle, lapping waves. Flecks of foam that clustered here and there on the surface of the lake were the only evidence that there had ever been a storm.
Now, however, the disciples were even more fearful than they had been before. “What kind of a man is this?” asked one of them. “Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
We will continue with Stories from the New Testament in future articles, be watching this site, cognwm.org