Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” 41 And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
The Meaning of Faith
11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old received divine approval.
The Faith of Abraham
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
13 These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.” 19 He considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence he did receive him back, and this was a symbol.
The author gives the most extensive description of faith provided in the New Testament, though his interest does not lie in a technical, theological definition. In view of the needs of his audience he describes what authentic faith does, not what it is in itself (emphasis added). Through faith God guarantees the blessings to be hoped for from him, providing evidence in the gift of faith that what he promises will eventually come to pass (1). Because they accepted in faith God’s guarantee of the future, the biblical personages discussed in vv.3-38 were themselves commended by God (2). Christians have even greater reason to remain firm in faith since they, unlike the Old Testament men and women of faith, have perceived the beginning of God’s fulfilment of his messianic promises (39-40)…
There are many lessons for us here. In many parts of the world, many Christians are in situations where their faith is under attack in one way or another. In some cases, it may be direction persecution and harassment; in others, it may be the pressure from the surrounding culture. We need to go back to the heart of our faith, the core vision that Jesus handed on to us.
Let us also go forward in faith and trust that God will keep his promises.
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation[a] for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, 74 to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
- 1.69 a horn of salvation: i.e., a mighty savior.
Jesus Stills a Storm
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them, just as he was, in the boat. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” 41 And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
After the passage on the parables, Mark continues by narrating four miracle stories, two of them put together in an “inclusion”. There are two messages in today’s story of the calming of the storm at sea.
The first is that the calming of the sea indicates the true identity of Jesus; he has the power of God himself. This question of Jesus’ identity is a major theme of Mark’s gospel.
He speaks to the sea as if it were a living thing, an instrument of the devil, an evil thing. No wonder that the disciples are filled with awe. Their question contains its own answer: “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”, as is clear from passages in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms:
- You still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves (Ps 65:8)
- You rule over the surging of the sea; you still the swelling of its waves (Ps 89:10)
- More powerful than the roar of many waters, more powerful than the breakers of the sea (Ps 93-34)
- He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze, and the billows of the sea were stilled (Ps 107:29).
The second message lies in the symbolism underlying the whole story. It is a story of the early Church. The boat represents a church community. (Our Church is a community of churches.) The surrounding sea is the world. Jesus gets into the boat “just as he was”, that is, a man looking no different from his disciples. There were other boats too. That is, other church communities. Then a violent storm arises and waves threaten to swamp the boat and sink it. This is just what was happening to so many little communities surrounded by hostile elements bent on wiping out the Christian faith.