(A study in the book of Mark from the Student Bible-NIV)
And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:41)
American radio broadcaster Paul Harvey once told a modern parable about a religious skeptic who worked as a farmer. One raw winter night the man heard an irregular thumping sound against the kitchen storm door. He went to a window and watched as tiny, shivering sparrows, attracted to the evident warmth inside, beat in vain against the glass.
Touched, the farmer bundled up and trudged through fresh snow to open the barn door for the struggling birds. He turned on the lights and tossed some hay in a corner. But the sparrows, which had scattered in all directions when he emerged from the house, hid in the darkness, afraid.
The man tried various tactics to get them into the barn. He laid down a trail of cracker crumbs to direct them. He tried circling behind the birds to drive them toward the barn. Nothing worked. He, a huge, alien creature, had terrified them; the birds couldn’t comprehend that he actually desired to help.
The farmer withdrew to his house and watched the doomed sparrows through a window. As he stared, a thought hit him like lightning from a clear blue sky: “If only I could become a bird–one of them–just for a moment. Then I wouldn’t frighten them so. I could show them the way to warmth and safety.”
At that same moment, another thought dawned on him. He had grasped the reason Jesus was born.
A man becoming a bird is nothing compared to God becoming a man. The concept of a sovereign eternal being who created the universe, confining himself to a human body was–and is–too much for some people to believe. But how else could God truly communicate with us?
We don’t know what God looked like as a man; no Gospel writer described the physical appearance of Jesus. But, in other ways, Mark painted a full picture of His humanity. Jesus, who claimed to be God, didn’t have a supernatural “glow” about Him. His own neighbors and family marveled that He seemed so, well, normal.
Mark does not diminish Jesus. He shows the power of a man who healed the blind with a simple touch (8:25), and the authority of a teacher so captivating that people sat three days straight, with empty stomachs, just to hear Him (8:2). Even after Jesus hushed them, people wouldn’t stop talking about His miracles.
But Mark also reveals the full range of Jesus’ emotions: a surge of compassion for a person with leprosy (1:41), a deep sigh in response to nagging Pharisees (8:12), a look of anger and distress at coldhearted legalists (3:5), and then an awful cry on the cross, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (15:34). Jesus was sometimes witty, and he sometimes cried. He got tired: five times, Mark records, He sought a quiet place for rest away from the crowds.
Jesus was like no other person who ever lived. Yet Jesus was also fully “one of us.” He needed food and friends. He got lonely and tired. He showed anger and disappointment. Because Jesus experienced all we experience as human beings, He can understand us completely, and share in our joys and sorrows.
Mark portrays both sides of Jesus–the divine and the human. The disciples needed to see both dimensions to give their lives to Him.