Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Holiness of Christ

"They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” (Mark 4:41).

The attribute of holiness is not limited to God the Father, but also is seen in the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ. In the earthly ministry of our Lord we can see most graphically His holiness and mankind’s reaction to holiness. While most people say nice things about Jesus, even if they are not Christians, in His own day those who met Him wanted to kill Him.

What was it about Jesus Christ that so enraged the people of His day that they clamored for His death? The answer is in Mark 4. Jesus had finished preaching and He and His disciples got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. A furious storm arose and the disciples, seasoned fishermen experienced in these waters, were overcome with fear at its magnitude.

Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat and the disciples shook Him awake and said, “Master, do something, or we perish!” What did He do? He looked around, assessed the situation, and then the Lord God incarnate, Creator of heaven and earth, issued a verbal command to the sea and the wind in a loud voice, “Peace, be still!” And instantly the cosmos obeyed.

What was the response of the disciples when Jesus removed this imminent threat of nature? Were they jubilant? No. The text tells us they became afraid. Rather than having their fears allayed, the disciples found their fears intensified. There is something that we fear in our hearts more than any of the forces of nature, and that is the power and presence of the holiness of God.

Recall our discussion yesterday about xenophobia, the fear of what is different. The disciples experienced it on this occasion. “What manner of man is this?” they asked. They were encountering a kind of humanity with which they were utterly unfamiliar. They were encountering holiness.

Yet this holy God did not reject them. Rather, He accepted them and said, “Come unto Me.” As Christians, we know we can be comfortable in the presence of Jesus Christ. Even though we have an innate antipathy and fear of the Holy One, and even though we recognize that we are unholy, in Christ we are welcome.

Read Luke 5:1–11 in the light of today’s lesson and in the light of our consideration of Isaiah 6 a few days ago. Why did Peter respond as he did? Surely the Christian’s response to God’s holiness is found in Psalm 139:23–24. Make that psalm your prayer today.