As I sit to write this week, I am thinking back on all the things that have happened: the meetings, the trips and the worship, including a funeral. I have been leaning on two things in all the business that has needed to happen. The first is the moment that members of the congregation here at St. James’ laid hands on me and prayed for me. I ask for prayer from time to time, for the congregation pray for me. This time I asked for them to do it. I knew it was going to be a difficult week and it has been that for a variety of reasons. The other thing I concentrated on was the image of Jesus fast asleep on the pilot’s cushion at the back of the boat while the storm rages around him and the little flotilla that had set out from the beach where the feeding of the 5,000 took place.
If you consider the people in the Lesson (Mark 4.35-41), we learn some things about Jesus and about people that are both interesting and important in learning to be good followers of Jesus. First there is God himself, who through Jesus is calling for transformation while people around him are wanting revolution. What is the difference? Revolution may change the situation, but it does not deal with the person. Therefore, God comes to you and to me incarnationally – as the God with the skin on so that we might be transformed. This story reminds us that God is not just the God of those who agree with him but that he is the Creator of all that is, seen and unseen. The Father has authority over creation. Jesus has authority over creation. What does that tell us about Jesus – that he is his Father’s Son and that he is God. He has raw power over all of creation, including you and me. Jesus is Lord over everyone, not just those who agree with him.
And what about those who follow Jesus? The Twelve? They have been following and listening to Jesus, watching him and asking questions. However, their faith has yet to be tested – and this will be the night. In moments of fear and stress, we often express what we hold most dear within ourselves. Jesus takes them to the boats and it is getting dark. This is matter for the disciples, at least not for the fisherman. It is life and business as usual. Other boats with other people get into the water and follow Jesus and his Twelve.
Mark drops us then suddenly into the middle of the boat and the middle of the storm. Fear in the disciples rises and they wake Jesus who is tired from a full day’s worth of ministry and complain that he does not care about them and that they are about to die. In all this, we can trust the fisherman’s judgement because they know about bad weather and the Sea of Galilee. When the fishermen are scared, they you too know to be afraid. As human, we are often quick to think that God cannot see us or is indifferent to what is happen to us. It is not true of course, but we often rush to that very conclusion.
Jesus arises from his place and he speaks to the wind and the waves and they cease their tumult and come to a flat calm. The disciples go from fearing for their lives to thanking God that it is all over and they can continue to go on as before. This is when Jesus confronts them about their faith – do you still not believe after all that you have seen? Why do you have so little faith? The Twelve had seen Jesus with power over sickness and evil. In this moment they go from fearing death to preferring death because they are more afraid of living with and for Jesus, than they are of going to the bottom of the sea.
Jesus has the power and the authority to end death and destruction. He brings healing and wholeness to those who need it. Jesus is Lord even if others don’t perceive or agree with him. Jesus gives hope and that hope enables trust in him and trust is the strength of faith – that is why all those who follow him must persist to participate in the kingdom. Do he does not abandon the Twelve because of their lack of faith. In fact, he draws them on to show and teach them more, including how to deal with rejection.
Need help? Call out to Jesus! Make it a good prayer and hang on to see what he does!