1-3. (a) What terrifying experience did the disciples have on the Sea of Galilee, and what did Jesus do? (b) Why is Jesus rightly called “Christ the power of God”?
THE disciples were terrified. They were sailing across the Sea of Galilee when a storm suddenly descended upon them. No doubt they had seen storms on this lake before—after all, some of the men were experienced fishermen.* (Matthew 4:18, 19) But this was “a great violent windstorm,” and it quickly churned the sea into a wet fury. The men worked frantically to steer the vessel, but the storm was overpowering. Surging waves were “dashing into the boat,” which began filling with water. Despite the commotion, Jesus was fast asleep in the stern, exhausted after a day of teaching the crowds. Fearing for their lives, the disciples woke him up, pleading: “Lord, save us, we are about to perish!”—Mark 4:35-38; Matthew 8:23-25.
2 Jesus was not afraid. With complete confidence, he rebuked the wind and the sea: “Hush! Be quiet!” Immediately, the wind and the sea obeyed—the tempest ceased, the waves disappeared into stillness, and “a great calm set in.” An unusual fear now gripped the disciples. “Who really is this?” they murmured to one another. Indeed, what kind of man could rebuke the wind and the sea as if correcting an unruly child?—Mark 4:39-41; Matthew 8:26, 27.
3 But Jesus was no ordinary man. Jehovah’s power was displayed toward him and through him in extraordinary ways. The inspired apostle Paul could rightly refer to him as “Christ the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:24) In what ways is God’s power manifested in Jesus? And what bearing can Jesus’ use of power have on our life?
The Power of God’s Only-Begotten Son
4, 5. (a) Jehovah delegated what power and authority to his only-begotten Son? (b) How was this Son equipped to carry out his Father’s creative purposes?
4 Consider the power that Jesus had during his prehuman existence. Jehovah exercised his own “eternal power” when he created his only-begotten Son, who came to be known as Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15) Thereafter, Jehovah delegated tremendous power and authority to this Son, assigning him to carry out His creative purposes. Concerning the Son, the Bible says: “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.”—John 1:3.
5 We can but barely perceive the magnitude of that assignment. Imagine the power needed to bring into existence millions of mighty angels, the physical universe with its billions of galaxies, and the earth with its abundant variety of life. To accomplish those tasks, the only-begotten Son had at his disposal the most powerful force in the universe—God’s holy spirit. This Son found great pleasure in being the Master Worker, whom Jehovah used in creating all other things.—Proverbs 8:22-31.
6. Following his death on earth and his resurrection, Jesus was granted what power and authority?
6 Could the only-begotten Son receive even more power and authority? Following Jesus’ death on earth and his resurrection, he said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Yes, Jesus has been granted the ability and the right to exercise power universally. As “King of kings and Lord of lords,” he has been authorized to bring to “nothing all government and all authority and power”—visible and invisible—that stand in opposition to his Father. (Revelation 19:16; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26) God has “left nothing that is not subject to” Jesus—that is, with the exception of Jehovah himself.—Hebrews 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:27.
7. Why can we be sure that Jesus will never misuse the power that Jehovah has placed in his hands?
7 Do we need to worry that Jesus might misuse his power? Absolutely not! Jesus really loves his Father and would never do anything to displease him. (John 8:29; 14:31) Jesus well knows that Jehovah never misuses his almighty power. Jesus has observed firsthand that Jehovah searches for opportunities “to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) Indeed, Jesus shares his Father’s love for mankind, so we can trust that Jesus will always use his power for good. (John 13:1) Jesus has established a flawless record in this regard. Let us consider the power he had while on earth and how he was moved to use it.
“Powerful in . . . Word”
8. Following his anointing, what was Jesus empowered to do, and how did he use his power?
8 Evidently, Jesus performed no miracles when he was a boy growing up in Nazareth. But that changed after he was baptized in 29 C.E., at about 30 years of age. (Luke 3:21-23) The Bible tells us: “God anointed him with holy spirit and power, and he went through the land doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil.” (Acts 10:38) “Doing good”—does that not indicate that Jesus used his power aright? After his anointing, he “became a prophet powerful in work and word.”—Luke 24:19.
9-11. (a) Where did Jesus do much of his teaching, and what challenge did he face? (b) Why were the crowds astounded at Jesus’ way of teaching?
9 How was Jesus powerful in word? He often taught in the open air—on lakeshores and hillsides as well as on the streets and in marketplaces. (Mark 6:53-56; Luke 5:1-3; 13:26) His listeners could simply walk away if his words did not hold their interest. In the era before printed books, appreciative listeners had to carry his words in their mind and heart. So Jesus’ teaching needed to be thoroughly arresting, plainly understood, and easily remembered. But this challenge posed no problem for Jesus. Consider, for example, his Sermon on the Mount.
10 One morning early in 31 C.E., a crowd gathered on a hillside near the Sea of Galilee. Some had come from Judea and Jerusalem, 60 to 70 miles (100 to 110 km) away. Others had come from the seacoast area of Tyre and Sidon, to the north. Many sick people drew close to Jesus to touch him, and he healed them all. When there was not even one seriously ill person left among them, he began to teach. (Luke 6:17-19) When he finished speaking some time later, they were amazed by what they had heard. Why?
11 Years later, one who had heard that sermon wrote: “The crowds were astounded at his way of teaching; for he was teaching them as a person having authority.” (Matthew 7:28, 29) Jesus spoke with a power they could feel. He spoke for God and backed up his teaching with the authority of God’s Word. (John 7:16) Jesus’ statements were clear, his exhortations persuasive, and his arguments irrefutable. His words got to the heart of issues as well as to the hearts of his listeners. He taught them how to find happiness, how to pray, how to seek God’s Kingdom, and how to build for a secure future. (Matthew 5:3–7:27) His words awakened the hearts of those hungering for truth and righteousness. Such ones were willing to “disown” themselves and abandon everything in order to follow him. (Matthew 16:24; Luke 5:10, 11) What a testimony to the power of Jesus’ words!
“Powerful in Work”
12, 13. In what sense was Jesus “powerful in work,” and what diversity was there in his miracles?
12 Jesus was also “powerful in work.” (Luke 24:19) The Gospels report over 30 specific miracles performed by him—all in “Jehovah’s power.”* (Luke 5:17) Jesus’ miracles touched the lives of thousands. Just two miracles—the feeding of 5,000 men and later 4,000 men “besides women and young children”—involved crowds probably totaling some 20,000 people!—Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-38.
“They beheld Jesus walking upon the sea”
13 There was great diversity in Jesus’ miracles. He had authority over demons, expelling them with ease. (Luke 9:37-43) He had power over physical elements, turning water into wine. (John 2:1-11) To the amazement of his disciples, he walked on the windswept Sea of Galilee. (John 6:18, 19) He had mastery over disease, curing organic defects, chronic illness, and life-threatening sickness. (Mark 3:1-5; John 4:46-54) He performed such healings in various ways. Some were healed from a distance, whereas others felt Jesus’ personal touch. (Matthew 8:2, 3, 5-13) Some were healed instantly, others gradually.—Mark 8:22-25; Luke 8:43, 44.
14. Under what circumstances did Jesus demonstrate that he had the power to undo death?
14 Outstandingly, Jesus had the power to undo death. On three recorded occasions, he raised the dead, giving a 12-year-old daughter back to her parents, an only child to his widowed mother, and a beloved brother to his sisters. (Luke 7:11-15; 8:49-56; John 11:38-44) No circumstance proved too formidable. He raised the 12-year-old girl from her deathbed shortly after she died. He resurrected the widow’s son from the funeral bier, no doubt on the day of his death. And he raised Lazarus from the burial tomb after he had been dead for four days.
Unselfish, Responsible, and Considerate Use of Power
15, 16. What evidence is there that Jesus was unselfish in the use of his power?
15 Can you imagine the potential for abuse if Jesus’ power were placed in the hands of an imperfect ruler? But Jesus was sinless. (1 Peter 2:22) He refused to be tainted by the selfishness, ambition, and greed that drive imperfect men to use their power to hurt others.
16 Jesus was unselfish in the use of his power, never employing it for personal gain. When he was hungry, he refused to turn stones into bread for himself. (Matthew 4:1-4) His meager possessions were evidence that he did not profit materially from the use of his power. (Matthew 8:20) There is further proof that his powerful works sprang from unselfish motives. When he performed miracles, he did so at some cost to himself. When he cured the sick, power went out of him. He was sensitive to this outflow of power, even in the case of just one cure. (Mark 5:25-34) Yet, he let crowds of people touch him, and they were healed. (Luke 6:19) What a selfless spirit!
17. How did Jesus demonstrate that he was responsible in the use of his power?
17 Jesus was responsible in the use of his power. Never did he perform powerful works for mere showy display or purposeless theatrics. (Matthew 4:5-7) He was unwilling to perform signs merely to satisfy Herod’s wrongly motivated curiosity. (Luke 23:8, 9) Far from advertising his power, Jesus often instructed those whom he healed not to tell anyone. (Mark 5:43; 7:36) He did not want people to reach conclusions about him on the basis of sensational reports.—Matthew 12:15-19.
18-20. (a) What influenced the way in which Jesus used his power? (b) How do you feel about the manner in which Jesus healed a certain deaf man?
18 This powerful man, Jesus, was nothing like those rulers who have wielded power in callous disregard for the needs and suffering of others. Jesus cared about people. The mere sight of the afflicted touched him so deeply that he was motivated to relieve their suffering. (Matthew 14:14) He was considerate of their feelings and needs, and this tender concern influenced the way he used his power. A moving example is found at Mark 7:31-37.
19 On this occasion, great crowds found Jesus and brought to him many who were sick, and he cured them all. (Matthew 15:29, 30) But Jesus singled out one man for special consideration. The man was deaf and hardly able to talk. Jesus may have sensed this man’s particular nervousness or embarrassment. Thoughtfully, Jesus took the man aside—away from the crowd—to a private place. Then Jesus used some signs to convey to the man what he was about to do. He “put his fingers into the man’s ears and, after spitting, he touched his tongue.”* (Mark 7:33) Next, Jesus looked up to heaven and uttered a prayerful sigh. These actions would say to the man, ‘What I am about to do for you is due to power from God.’ Finally, Jesus said: “Be opened.” (Mark 7:34) At that, the man’s hearing was restored, and he was able to speak normally.
20 How touching to think that even when using his God-given power to heal the afflicted, Jesus showed a sympathetic regard for their feelings! Is it not reassuring to know that Jehovah has placed the Messianic Kingdom in the hands of such a caring, considerate Ruler?
A Portent of Things to Come
21, 22. (a) What did the miracles of Jesus portend? (b) Because Jesus has control of natural forces, what can we expect under his Kingdom rule?
21 The powerful works that Jesus performed on earth were just foregleams of even grander blessings to come under his kingly rule. In God’s new world, Jesus will once again work miracles—but on a global scale! Consider some of the thrilling prospects ahead.
22 Jesus will restore the earth’s ecology to perfect balance. Recall that he demonstrated control of natural forces by calming a windstorm. Surely, then, under Christ’s Kingdom rule, mankind will have no need to fear being harmed by typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or other natural disasters. Since Jesus is the Master Worker, whom Jehovah used to create the earth and all life on it, he fully understands the makeup of the earth. He knows how to use its resources properly. Under his rule, this entire earth will be turned into Paradise.—Luke 23:43.
23. As King, how will Jesus satisfy mankind’s needs?
23 What about mankind’s needs? Jesus’ ability to feed thousands bountifully, using only a few meager provisions, assures us that his rule will bring freedom from hunger. Indeed, an abundance of food, distributed fairly, will end hunger forever. (Psalm 72:16) His mastery over sickness and disease tells us that sick, blind, deaf, maimed, and lame people will be healed—completely and permanently. (Isaiah 33:24; 35:5, 6) His ability to resurrect the dead ensures that his mightiness as a heavenly King includes the power to resurrect the countless millions whom his Father is pleased to remember.—John 5:28, 29.
24. As we reflect on the power of Jesus, what should we keep in mind, and why?
24 As we reflect on the power of Jesus, let us keep in mind that this Son perfectly imitates his Father. (John 14:9) Jesus’ use of power thus gives us a clear picture of how Jehovah uses power. For example, think about the tender way that Jesus healed a certain leper. Moved with pity, Jesus touched the man and said: “I want to.” (Mark 1:40-42) By means of accounts such as this, Jehovah is, in effect, saying, ‘That is how I use my power!’ Are you not moved to praise our almighty God and give thanks that he uses his power in such a loving way?
Sudden storms are common to the Sea of Galilee. Because of the sea’s low elevation (some 700 feet [200 m] below sea level), the air is much warmer there than in the surrounding area, and this creates atmospheric disturbances. Strong winds rush down the Jordan Valley from Mount Hermon, situated to the north. The calm of one moment may well yield to the raging storm of the next.
In addition, the Gospels at times group many miracles under a single, general description. For example, on one occasion a “whole city” came to see him, and he cured “many” sick ones.—Mark 1:32-34.
Spitting was a means or sign of healing accepted by both Jews and Gentiles, and the use of saliva in cures is reported in rabbinic writings. Jesus may have spit simply to convey to the man that he was about to be healed. Whatever the case, Jesus was not using his saliva as a natural healing agent.