After Jesus was tempted Mark tells us that He came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). A kingdom means that there is a king, and the good news is that this king has come. In this session we look at four stories that unveil Jesus as the sovereign king and show why this is good news for us today.
When I was five years old, my father took me to a junkyard outside Edinburgh. The place was filled with scrap cars and trucks, and it was a marvelous place for a child with a vivid imagination to play.
Dad used to go there to get spare parts that he needed for our car. The system was simple: you could strip pieces that you needed off the cars, and then pay for them at the gate as you left. The problem was that some people were in the habit of throwing parts over the perimeter fence, walking past the gate without paying, and then picking up the stuff in the wasteland outside.
So the owners cleared a “no go” area inside the perimeter and brought in guard dogs leashed to a railing. As long as you did not go close to the fence, you were perfectly safe.
One day when my father was working on a wrecked car, I found a truck and climbed up into the cab. I was lost in an imaginary world of truck driving, when suddenly one of the dogs broke free from its chain and came bounding toward me.
I don’t think that I have ever been more terrified in my life. I screamed as any small child would. My father rushed over, grabbed a stick, and after a struggle, overpowered the dog. My father saved me by subduing the dog. If he had not been able to subdue the dog, he would not have been able to save his boy.
Christ is able to save us from our enemies because He is sovereign over them and is able to subdue them. It is the fact that He is Lord that qualifies Him to act as our Savior. That is why Scripture says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
So what are the enemies that we need saving from?
The Dimensions of Human Darkness
Our world is filled with what we sometimes call “natural disasters”: earthquakes, mud slides, volcanoes, storms, fires, and floods.
We are also plagued by human evil—school shootings, gang murders, acts of terror, human trafficking—the list goes on and on. Every time another atrocity happens, we ask, “How could we have stopped it, and how can we make sure it never happens again?”
Then for all the wonders of medical science, for which we are profoundly grateful, we still face the blight of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Which brings us to what the Bible describes as our last enemy—death. Anyone who has been near it with a loved one knows what a terrible enemy it is.
Our news is dominated by these four dimensions of darkness: natural disasters, human evil, illness, and death. For all the joys of this life, we find ourselves asking, “Who shall deliver us? Who has the authority to subdue the destructive powers that bring such darkness?”
Lord over Natural Disasters
Mark records four stories that illustrate the sovereignty of Jesus over all the dimensions of darkness. Each story shows us that Jesus is Lord, and for this reason we can trust Him as Savior.
It all began one evening when the disciples found themselves caught in a storm as they were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat. Jesus never promises a storm-free life: “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). It is “through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
When trouble came, the disciples assumed that Jesus did not care about them: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38). But Jesus “rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (4:39).
The human spirit does not have power over the elements. We do not have power over the rain, the tornado, the volcano, or the tsunami. But when Jesus spoke, He stilled the storm.
Lord over the Demons
When Jesus and His disciples reached the other side of the lake, they were immediately confronted by a man who was out of his mind. He lived among the tombs, and night and day he would cry out and cut himself with stones (5:5).
This man was public enemy number one, and when the local authorities threw him in jail, he “wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him” (5:4). So the whole community lived in fear. Every night they would hear this man crying out on the hills, and there was nothing they could do to stop him.
It is clear from Scripture that evil spirits (or demons) were behind these great outbreaks of violence (5:8, 13). This is not the case with every violent or self-destructive person, but it was the case with this man. Jesus described the devil as a thief who comes “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10), and where stealing, killing, and destroying are most rampant, there his activity can be most clearly seen.
When Jesus came to this community, He commanded the evil spirits to leave the man and enter a herd of pigs. The evil spirits had to obey Him, and when they left the man, he was completely changed. As soon as the people in the town heard, they came out to see what had happened, and they found the man who had been possessed by the demons “sitting there, clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15).
Lord over Disease
When Jesus returned to the other side of the lake, a large crowd was waiting. Among them was a woman who had been subject to “a discharge of blood for twelve years” (5:25). She had spent all that she had in consulting various doctors, but in spite of their efforts, her condition was no better.
This woman felt that if she could just reach Jesus, she would be healed. When she managed to touch Him, she was immediately aware of a change in her body: “the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease” (5:29).
Sooner or later every person comes to the place where there is nothing more that the doctors can do. And that was the position this woman was in. He is Lord over disease.
Lord Over Death
A ruler of the synagogue named Jairus came to Jesus and pleaded earnestly with Him: “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her so that she may be made well and live” (5:23). Jesus went with him, but there was a delay as He ministered to the woman with the incurable disease.
While He was speaking with her, some men from Jairus’ house came with the tragic news that his daughter had died. “Why trouble the Teacher any further?” they said (5:35). You see their point: as long as the girl was alive there was some prospect of Jesus healing her, but when she died all hope was gone.
But Jesus said to Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe” (5:36).
When Jesus came to Jairus’ home, the wake was already in process. He sent the mourners out of the house, and only the girl’s father and mother, along with Peter, James, and John, remained. Jesus took the girl’s hands and said, “‘Talitha cumi,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise’” (5:41). To the absolute amazement of everyone in the room, “the girl got up and began walking” (5:42).
For anyone who has lost a loved one, the pattern of this story is beautiful and profound. Jairus’ daughter was ill. There was a delay in Jesus’ coming. The girl died during the delay. But when Jesus came, she rose from the dead.
Jesus is giving us a glimpse of the full blessing we will know when His kingdom comes. In this world there will be death and there will be delay. The resurrection will come when Jesus Christ returns in power and glory.
Why Doesn’t He Do It?
Jesus is sovereign over all the dimensions of human darkness. He is able to subdue disaster, demons, disease, and even death. As Lord over these enemies, He is able to save us from their destructive power.
So why doesn’t He do it?
Mark gives us the answer. When Jesus delivered the demon-possessed man, “they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region” (5:17). You would think they might have said, “You have solved our biggest social problem in this community. Would you please stay, because we have other problems? And if you can solve this, you can solve these too.” But that was not their reaction. They asked Jesus to leave.
So Jesus left.
And if the one who is able to subdue the dog leaves the junkyard, what will happen to the boy?
Reigning and Waiting
We live in a Christ-rejecting world: “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:11)
The rejection of Jesus led to the cross, which was the ultimate expression of our world’s contempt for God. We rejected the Lord of glory. We mocked Him, spat on Him, and nailed Him to a cross. A world that rejects Jesus is a world that continues to ache under the curse of disasters, demons, disease, and death.
But this is not the end of the Bible story. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. When He ascended into heaven, the Father said to Him, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (Hebrews 1:13).
Jesus is reigning, but He is also waiting. The reigning and waiting are not in conflict. “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25–26).
So we continue to live in a dangerous world that suffers under the curse of disasters, demons, disease, and death.
I sometimes hear people say that they received Jesus as Savior but did not make Him Lord. The assumption is that we can somehow separate the Savior from the Lord—that we can have faith without repentance, blessings without commands, and the forgiveness of sins without the pursuit of holiness.
This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel. We cannot receive what Jesus offers and at the same time resist what He commands. God calls us to give up our resistance to the lordship of Christ and receive His salvation: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Submit yourself to Christ as Lord and you will find that He is a mighty Savior.