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What Manner of Man Is This?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 24, 2020 12:01 am

What Manner of Man Is This?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 24, 2020 12:01 am

When the disciples were caught in a fierce storm, they feared they were going to die. But when Jesus calmed the wind and the waves, they became even more afraid. Today, R.C. Sproul reveals what it is about Christ that makes people uneasy.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind. We may be afraid of hurricanes and floods and fires and other natural disasters. There's something that is even more frightening to us than the wind or the sea. It's the presence of God. When Jesus calmed the wind in waves with a word, the storm was gone, and you might think the disciples would be excited or at least relieved. Instead, they were still afraid, and they asked the question, what manner of men is this?

That's the title of today's lesson here on Renewing Your Mind as we continue Dr. R.C. Sproul's series Fear and Trembling, The Trauma of God's Holiness. Have you ever noticed something that I at least find strange about people who are not professing Christians? That they sometimes are very hostile towards Christians and hostile to the church, but you almost never hear them say unkind things about Jesus. They're not willing to affirm His deity or that He is the Savior of the world, but they'll usually say that He was a great prophet or a great teacher or a great man, and people were so kind in their assessment of the historical Jesus that it makes me wonder what it was about Him that so infuriated many of His contemporaries that they actually clamored for His blood, and of course they executed Him. So as nice as we are about Jesus from a safe distance of about 2,000 years, if we go back in time and look at the period in which He was walking around this earth, we find all these people who hated Him.

Why? Well, I think there are a couple of episodes recorded for us in the New Testament that will give us an inkling at least as to why so many people hated Him. And the first one is found in the gospel according to Saint Mark, where we read in the fourth chapter in the 35th verse these words. Mark says, On the same day when evening had come, He said to them, Let us cross over to the other side. And when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boats so that it was already filling.

But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? And He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said to them, Why are you so fearful?

How is it that you have no faith? And they feared exceedingly and said to one another, What manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him? I find this an extraordinary narrative, and I have a special interest in it because I used to teach a course in the seminary on atheism. And I required my students in that course to read the original works of some of the most brilliant and formidable advocates of atheism. And I noticed, particularly among 19th century atheists, that there was a common strand of thinking among them where people of that ilk were trying to explain why it is, even though there is no God, there are so many people who are religious. And one of the most important voices from that period was that of Sigmund Freud.

You've all heard of Freud, who is regarded as the father of modern psychoanalysis. And Freud came up with the thesis that the reason why religion emerges in history is out of people's natural fear for the forces of nature. We're afraid of tornadoes. We're afraid of hurricanes. We're afraid of floods. We're afraid of diseases that can invade our bodies and destroy us. We're afraid of death and so on. And he said it's out of this fear of nature that we create religion. We create a God who rules over nature that we can talk to, that we can plead with, that we can try to butter him up with our praise and worship so that maybe he will steer the tornado in another direction.

And so for Freud, it is the fear of nature that causes us to be religious. Here we have a story in the New Testament where the disciples meet one of these fearsome natural forces. They're on their way across the Sea of Galilee. And remember, they're seasoned veteran fishermen. They're accustomed to the vagaries of the winds and the currents and so on. But where that lake is situated in the Middle East, it happens to be arranged in such a place where there is almost like a wind tunnel from the Mediterranean Sea that sometimes a storm will come flowing through that wind tunnel and hit that sea without any warning and turn it into a tempestuous, catastrophic natural disaster.

And that's what happened. While they're going across the sea, suddenly this fierce storm arises, and the wind starts blowing a gale, and the water is turbulent, and it's boiling up, and it's filling the boats and threatening to capsize them. And all this time, Jesus is sound asleep in the back of the boat. Now the Scriptures tell us that the disciples run to their leader, and they shake him awake, and they said, Lord, do something or we're going to perish right here on this sea. And so Jesus stands up, looks at the waves, looks at the turbulent waters, and He shouts a command saying, Peace!

Be still! And instantly the sea is like glass. There's not a zephyr blowing in the air, and everything is absolutely calm. Now what would you expect that the reaction of the disciples would be at that? You would think they'd throw their sawwesters in the air and say, Thank you, Lord, for removing the threat of nature from us at this moment so wonderfully.

But what happens? The Bible says they became exceedingly afraid. See, this is the point that Freud didn't consider, that even though we may be afraid of hurricanes and floods and fires and other natural disasters, there's something that is even more frightening to us than the wind or the sea. It's the presence of God. You see, when the disciples saw Jesus tame the storm and the sea by the mere force of His command, they stood back in horror and they asked the question, What kind of man is this? What kind of person is this?

Now think about that. You meet new people all the time. You walk down the street, you see strangers coming, and you know that there are people walking around out there who are strange to you. You don't know them, and you also know that among those people that you encounter every day are killers, rapists, murderers, people who are hostile towards other people who could represent a clear and present danger to your life.

But they don't wear signs on them. You know, they walk down the street, they walk down the street, say, I am a murderer. Watch out. I am a rapist. Look out. No. When you're walking down the street, you're gazing in front of you, and you give a quick once-over with your eyes towards every person that is approaching you.

And you may not even be conscious of this, but while this is going on, you're going through a classification process, a sorting process. You're making an assessment about that stranger that's approaching you on the sidewalk. What is his gait like? Is he smiling? Is he frowning? Does he look friendly?

Does he look hostile? And all the while you're doing that, you're determining in your mind what kind of person it is that's coming, because you want to know, is that person safe, or is that person a threat? And what happened to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee was they started through that sorting process, and it wouldn't compute because they didn't have a category that would describe somebody who had the power to stop a storm just by speaking to it or yelling at it.

What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey him? They had a study a few years ago of the ten most frequent phobias that people have in the United States, and a phobia is a gripping fear. And in that top ten, the number one fear, by the way, was standing up and speaking in front of a group of people.

People fear that more than death itself. But in any case, in the top ten, they included xenophobia. Xenophobia. And xenophobia is fear of xenos. Now, what xenophobia is means fear of strangers, fear of aliens.

Isn't it interesting how Hollywood makes all the money it does by producing scary movies about the intrusion into our planet of aliens, people or creatures from another planet or from outer space that are terrifying because they're different. We don't know how to handle them. Notice how we react to people of different ethnic backgrounds. White people tend to huddle together and live at a distance from black people, and black people live separately from white people. And there's a fear between these people because they're different from each other.

And so that's what xenophobia indicates, a fear or a phobia that we have towards people who are different from we are. But the person who manifested the most radical difference from us in all of history was Jesus because He was holy. Nobody ever had met a person who was without blemish, who was absolutely pure, and that threatens us. Now, who were the people who were considered the most righteous people in Israel at the time Jesus appeared? It was the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a group of people who had dedicated themselves to achieving the highest level of morality they could possibly achieve. Who were the people that were screaming the loudest for the blood of Jesus? It was the Pharisees. You see, they enjoyed the acclamation that they received from the people for being so righteous, but their righteousness was revealed as filthy rags as soon as the Holy One appeared in their midst.

As soon as the true righteous one came, those who were fraudulently righteous were exposed for what they were, and they couldn't stand it. I had a student, I'll never forget this. I had a student when I was teaching college several years ago, and it was a young lady who was in her senior year in college, and she was a straight-A student, a four-point student, and she really was head and shoulders above everybody else in the class.

I would give an exam. I couldn't make an exam hard enough to stump her. Most of the exams that I gave in philosophy and in theology, I had to grade on a curve. And do you know people who are curve busters, where everybody else in the class is making 50 and 40 and 30, and then there's that one student that makes 100?

What happens when you have one student who breaks the curve all the time? Does everybody rush up to that person after the class and after the tests have been returned and say, congratulations, we're really proud of you. We think that what you did was fantastic.

We wish we could be more like you. Is that your response? Or do you want to take out a knife and put it in their back and say, I can't stand that goody two-shoes. You know, why couldn't she be just like everybody else and flunk this test? Well, this actually happened.

I gave a test on one occasion, second semester, senior year, and this girl flunked the test. I couldn't believe it. I said, there's something wrong here. So I called her into my office, and I said to her, what's going on here? What happened?

How could you flunk this test like this? And she started to cry. And I said, what's the matter?

What's the matter? And she confessed that she had flunked the test on purpose. She said because her grades were making it impossible for her to get a date. And she was in her second semester of her senior year. She was suffering from what they call senioritis. She had hoped to find a husband while she was in college. And she says, none of the guys will take me out because they're intimidated by me because I make these good grades. She was not liked because she was too good. She was too perfect.

And so people were uncomfortable around her. Another incident took place during the life of Jesus. It's similar to the one I've just indicated, and we'll look at it in Luke's gospel.

And it's recorded for us in the fifth chapter of Luke's gospel, beginning at verse 1, and I'll read it to you quickly. And so it was as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the Word of God, that He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, which is another name for the Sea of Galilee, and He saw two boats standing by the lake. But the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked Him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. And when He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. But Simon answered and said to Him, Master, we've toiled all night and caught nothing.

Nevertheless, at Your word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats so that they began to sink. And then when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

What an incredible response. On the surface, it doesn't make any sense at all. You get the picture here. The disciples had been fishing. You know, again, they're veterans of the sea.

They've come up empty. Jesus says, take the boats out a little bit further and drop your nets out there. And you can just read the sarcasm dripping from Peter's lips here in the text, can't you? And he says, Oh, Lord, you know, we've been doing that all night, but nevertheless, go ahead, we'll try it.

It's like he says to the other guys, humor him. He may know all about theology and all about spiritual things, but we're the guys who know about fishing. But if Jesus wants us to drop the nets over here, we'll drop the nets over here.

Well, you see what happens. As soon as they drop the net in the water, what happens? Every fish in the Sea of Galilee jumps into the net, and the nets are bulging to capacity.

There's the cords of the ropes are starting to break so that they have to bring the other boats over, get the other nets involved, and they fill both of these boats with fish to the point that they're starting to sink. Now remember that Simon Peter was Jewish, and he was a Jewish businessman. Now what would you expect a Jewish businessman to do in a circumstance like that? If I would have been there, I know what I would have done.

I would have pulled a contract out of my coat, and I would have said to Jesus, I'll tell you what, Jesus, here's the deal. Fifty percent of the business is yours, free. All you have to do is come down here to the dock one day of the month and do this little trick that you just did here. Fill up the nets like that. We're in business.

You get fifty percent of the profit. That's what I would have done. But that's not what Simon Peter did. Astonishingly, he says to Jesus, depart from me, for I am a sinful man. Jesus, please leave. I can't stand this.

You're crowding me in a way that's driving me crazy. Now again, Peter's not giving this response because Jesus is standing there giving a message on evangelism and telling Peter that he's a wicked sinner. He has to repent, or he's going to perish.

Jesus hasn't just given a sermon about hell that would terrify people. All he did was perform this miracle of providing this catch of fish. And when Peter says it, he says, I'm out of here.

I've got to get out of here because I'm sinful. What is it that revealed to Simon Peter that he was so sinful? It was the presence and the power of Christ. You see, when Simon Peter saw Christ and saw who he was so clearly in that moment, he was overwhelmed just as Isaiah had been overwhelmed centuries earlier. He looked into a mirror of his own soul, and he realized that next to the standard of perfection, next to the standard of absolute purity in the presence of one who was altogether holy, we can do nothing but tremble and quake at the contrast.

And so, Simon wanted to leave. You can call this the Peter Principle, or you've heard the Peter Principle in business where organizations tend to elevate people to their levels of incompetency, so that if you're doing well at the job, you get a promotion, and you get more responsibility and higher pay. And if you do well at that job, you go up the ladder, and you get an even more responsible job and even a greater package of pay. And the tendency is in the corporate world to increase people's elevations to promote them to the level where they're incompetent and they fail. And then they talk about another person, the super competent person. The super competent person is a person who has one of the greatest difficulties in moving up the ladder.

Why? Because the people above that person are jealous and threatened by that person's superior skill. And so, the way the super competent person advances, according to this book, is by moving to another company where they're looking for talent.

And even then, he has to go to another company to move up to the next step where he's not known to threaten people. And that, at a corporate level, expresses our natural hostility to that which is better than we are. Why was Christ killed? He was killed not because, he said, consider the lilies how they grow, but because, he said, consider the thieves how they steal, and because, he said, consider the Pharisees how hypocritical they are.

And they hated him because he was holy. What a challenging and convicting message today. When we're faced with God's holiness, our natural inclination is to avoid it.

But the message of the gospel tells us that because of Christ, we're invited in and made acceptable before our holy God. What we just heard is a lesson from Dr. R.C. Sproul's series Fear and Trembling, The Trauma of God's Holiness.

And each of the six messages in this series helps us understand who God really is. We'd like for you to have this two DVD set. Maybe you'd like to use it in a Sunday school class at your church or in a small group setting in your home, or you may even want to donate it to your church library. We'll send it to you when you give a donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries.

Make your request online at, or you can call us at 800-435-4343. From the time that R.C. founded Ligonier Ministries in 1971 until the time he went home to be with the Lord nearly three years ago, R.C. had a singular passion to awaken people to the holiness of God, and that remains our goal today. This series will open your eyes to the terrifying reality of God's holiness, but also the peace and security that it brings.

It is a two-DVD set, and we'll be glad to send it to you with your gift of any amount. Again, our phone number is 800-435-4343, and our web address is Your faithful support makes it possible for people around the world to access the teaching of Dr. Sproul, along with our Ligonier teaching fellows and the various resources available through Ligonier Ministries. So we're thankful for your generosity. Well, I hope you'll join us tomorrow as we continue Dr. Sproul's series when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the apostles. God judged them by killing them on the spot. Why was this justice so severe? We'll find out tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-28 11:16:55 / 2024-02-28 11:25:46 / 9

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