That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” – Mark 4:35-41
This is one of those passages that are in danger of losing their meaning in the fog of familiarity,but it starts out with a detail I never noticed. The disciples take Jesus “just as he was” in the boat. I am not sure what this means, but it sounds like Jesus was ready for a nap after His long day of healing and crowds, perhaps that is why He ends up sleeping in the boat. It seems to imply that taking Jesus some other way was possible or had been done previously. This is an interesting riffle worthy of a little scouting around to see if there is a hidden well here.
It seems like Jesus has been misunderstood or misrepresented from His birth. Was He a great King? Was He God? Was He a man? Was He Elijah reincarnated? Was He John the Baptist reincarnated? Was He the Messiah? Was He the King of the Jews? So for the disciples to take Jesus “just as He was” may be harder than it seems. It turns out the disciples were just as confused as the rest of us and by the end of their ordeal in the lake, they will be asking “who is this?” too.
I also never noticed that writer makes a point of mentioning that “there were also other boats with Him.” Perhaps this is to reinforce the idea that the salvation and “storm calming” that Jesus offers is for all those who choose to be part of Jesus’ “flotilla”, not just His close disciples. The “other boats” are all those who choose to faithfully follow the way of Jesus – we all must choose sailor or savior,
Returning to this dramatic scene, Jesus is napping in the back of the boat and all of a sudden squall came up and the lake became a scary and dangerous place to be with wind and waves threatening to sink the boat. They wake Him and ask “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Interestingly, their focus is on themselves and their physical well being. They were afraid of drowning and dying. Jesus says to the wind and waves “Quiet! Be still!” and they obey and all is calm, except the disciples who seem to be more freaked out by Jesus’ power than the power of the storm.
The lack of calm in the hearts and minds of the disciples is a feature not a flaw. Jesus makes it clear that what is going on inside of these disciples is way more important than drowning and dying, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”. This is a heart issue, a collision between the secular and the spiritual. The “Window Between the Worlds” just allowed a wave to crash right into the lives of the disciples and they are terrified. What they need is soul-preserver rather than a life-preserver. Were they more afraid of the storm or their Savior? Were they also amazed, appreciative, and thankful? Are we amazed, appreciative, and thankful amidst life’s storms? I know I cannot always manage this level of faith.
This brings us back to where we started, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Jesus is misunderstood even by those who are with Him and should know Him. We should be surprised that He is still being misunderstood by many today. Jesus, and God, seem to want us to be a bit confused so that we seek answers and knock on doors. He is seeking us while we are seeking Him. Uncertainty and ambiguity are not necessarily bad things if they drive us to pursue Jesus more passionately. Sometimes questions are more powerful than answers, as long as we are not afraid of the answer when we find Him.
Prayer: God help us to pursue You with passion and persistence.