The sayings of Jesus often surprise me. Just when I think I can predict what the Lord is going to say in a particular situation, I miss it…. I get it wrong. The reading this morning from Mark 4:35-41 is one of “my misses”.
We’re familiar with the passage… “Jesus sleeping in the boat, a storm comes up, the boat is sinking, the disciples panic, Jesus calms the storm and then admonishes the disciples for having no faith.” Those are the facts of the story.
Hmmmmm, here’s what I would have predicted “ Jesus is sleeping, the disciples (experienced fishermen who know when a boat is sinking) wake him up and Jesus says “good call…well done… yep, the boat was going down it was very bad, you woke me up at just the right time…. well done.” I would have predicted a nice “pat on the back”.
Actually there are several “interesting” parts in this narrative:
- “Jesus is asleep in the boat”. He must have been really tired. I don’t recall many times where it’s noted that Jesus was sleeping. You see the human side of the Lord front and center. Jesus got tired…Jesus slept…. Jesus was human.
- “The boat is sinking”. This was a real serious storm … a great storm of wind and waves, and the boat was filling with water. This wasn’t a “breeze and 2’ waves”. The experienced fishermen were very worried and panicking.
- “Don’t you care”. This is an unexpected beginning to the conversation. Wow, “Jesus, don’t you care that we are perishing”. They don’t say “Jesus , we have a problem here…can you help us… but accuse him of not caring for them”….wow…
- Jesus takes care of the problem with a three word command to the sea … ”Peace, be still”. And BINGO….the storm was over and there was a great calm. They were shocked and filled with awe…. “ who is this man … even the sea obeys him”.
- Jesus says, “why are you afraid?” Well, on a natural level, who wouldn’t be afraid… the boat is sinking and they’re going to drown. If you weren’t afraid, you would be nuts.
- Yet, Jesus ends with “have you no faith”. Jesus is challenging them to the higher realm… the realm of faith in Jesus as God.
Jesus is taking away their options. Either Jesus is simply a nice man or Jesus is God. The middle ground is collapsing below their feet. Either he’s just a good man , but we better take care of ourselves, or Jesus is God and he will take care of everything…if we trust him.
Wow, I think the Lord is constantly taking away the “middle ground” in our life. Either we try to cover all of our bases and try to provide contingencies for our many needs, or we trust the Lord. It doesn’t mean we’re not prudent or work and do our duty, but fundamentally he is calling us to trust him completely. At some point all of our efforts will be insufficient. When I’m on my deathbed, I won’t be able to rely on my 401k or my low cholesterol or the vaccine…it will be “Jesus save me”. Let’s begin to trust him with everything now. And all will be well with our soul.