The disciples pose the most important question that can be asked concerning Jesus Christ (v27). Before salvation can be gained the man and his meaning must be grasped. If we don’t understand Jesus then we cannot possibly participate in the rescue he has undertaken for us. Trust requires confidence and confidence can only be established if we know the competence of the one on whom we depend.
Reputation is the route to reliance, and the purpose of the gospels is to elicit our confidence in Jesus on the basis of their testimony gleaned from many sources that commend the trustworthiness of the Lord Jesus to us. Faith is reasonable. Through apostolic witness we gain access to Jesus’ person. When that faith is grounded in fact its insights transcend the realities probed by reason. We enter the zone of divine revelation. We view vistas of reality beyond normal human vision. We search, through divine illumination of the word of God, the secrets of the divine mind, and gain a sense of his lofty purposes that human speculation cannot reach.
Scripture yield riches we could never dream of or suppose. It is a whole new universe of experience and enjoyment, and it is the concentration on and uncovering of Christ that makes it so. Jesus is the ultimate disclosure that makes all things clear, the sunshine that lights our way.
What kind of man is this? The witness of Holy Scripture supplies the truth; the witness of the Holy Spirit confirms it. The Spirit’s superintendence of the inscripturation of divine revelation has brought the word of God to its final form in which we have it - inspiration, organization, compilation, and accurate information assembled for our perusal. The word of God which we read is the result of a complex historical process through many contributors and circumstances, and the Spirit has built it into the solid foundation of our faith in the living God who lives in the word he addresses to lost mankind. Here is what it discloses, in this passage, about this man - Jesus.
He is in the voyage of life with us just as he was among us in the substance of our flesh. The all-knowing God knows what it is to be human. He was in the same boat as the disciples when a furious storm raged and made the waves of the lake so rough that they swept over the vessel and caused hardened fishermen and experienced sailors to quail with a deep fear that was not customary to them. These men were adventurous and brave. This was no ordinary storm but one so severe that they panicked. To their chagrin Jesus was sleeping, seemingly unaware of the tempest and the noise that frightened his friends. His slumber should have fortified the fishermen. If he was calm why should they register alarm? They should have concluded that his presence guaranteed their safety. But doubt suggested the imminence of drowning and so they anxiously disturbed the Saviour.
Jesus rises from his rest without a qualm and in sovereign serenity of mind commands the frenzied storm to subside - a storm divinely sent to exhibit the status of the Son. The winds and waves, so terrifying to the disciples, obey the Redeemer’s firm rebuke. In an instant all is quiet. Jesus demonstrates his unlimited dominion over the forces of nature. He is the monarch over creation and his power astonishes the spectators of the marvel.
What kind of man is this? The man in whom God is manifest in the flesh and who possesses mastery over all other powers. Nothing that exists is exempt from his control.
Matthew goes on to amplify our appreciation of the authority of Jesus, which extends to the realm of evil and all that opposes God and harms mankind. Jesus encounters the forces of the demonic domain and overpowers them in their possession of the two violent men so fearsome that inhabitants of that region did all they could to avoid them.
This is Satan’s intent - to terrorize men - to trouble man and destroy him totally. Satan would reduce us to perpetual fear and despair- to live among the tombs as it were in the shadow of death. But when these two appallingly scarifying men emerged the situation was reversed. The demons that drove them were afraid - afraid of Jesus who was more than mere man but the Son of god who presided over their destiny of doom: “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” They trembled and shrieked before the Lord who not only calmed the angry outbursts of nature, but calmed the hearts and minds of those oppressed by evil and caused the agents of evil to quake in utter cowardice.
The demons pleaded for escape, temporary as it must be, and raced away in what was a precursor to the judgment that awaited them, heading for a cliff in a herd of pigs that rushed them into a lake of water where the pigs drowned and the lake of fire dawned more dramatically to the minds of the spirits in rebellion against God.
These episodes in Jesus’ ministry demonstrate the kind of man Jesus was - resting in and revealing the supremacy and strength of God - Lord of all that is, seen and unseen. For the believer this is tremendously reassuring and comforting. Jesus is always in the same boat with us where ever on life’s ocean we happen to be.
Jesus has defeated the devil and his minions. He restrains them in their wrath, diverts them in their designs, and ultimately delivers us from their malign mischief, consigning them to the abyss that will incarcerate them forever... The mystery in Matthew’s account is the occurrence of the negative reaction to Jesus on the part of the people who learned of his action of exorcism and dismissal of the demons. These folk came out to meet him and requested that he leave their region. They could not summon repentance and turn to him in heartfelt relief. Was their wish for his absence motivated by fear, or more likely, their continued favouring of their style of life and its being threatened by the loss of their pigs as a source of income and enablement?
Their performance was paltry when compared with what Jesus could do for them through his power and compassion - bestow life with God in complete liberation from Satan, his lusts and loathsomeness.
This man Jesus confronts us at the centre of our needs and desires. We pose the question, “What kind of man is this?” He makes the enquiry, “Will you embrace me or cling to your customary values and goals in life. Will you beg me to depart?”
On the brink of this world’s uncertainties, anxieties, and options Jesus says to the hesitant, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
Blessed are all thy saints, O God and King, who have travelled over the tempestuous sea of this life and have made the harbour of peace and felicity. Watch over us who are still on dangerous voyage. Frail is our vessel, and the ocean is wide; but as in thy mercy thou hast set our course, so pilot the vessel of our life towards the everlasting shore of peace, and bring us at last to the quiet haven of our heart’s desire: through Jesus Christ our Lord.