I hope you find the rowing this week to be a blessing and not a curse. We have Christ, here in the boat with us and so we are the blessed, the strong, the loved of the Father of Heaven.
As you struggle with your circumstances and responses and obedience this week, remember that Christ died so that you could die. And He lives so that you can live. May His fullness fill you on the way of the Cross!
Filling up the edges
There is a new kind of tension. The earlier miracles contained seeds of conflict that matured into intractable opposition. Here, however, there is a lot of tension, but neither the teachers of the law, the leaders of the synagogues nor the traditions of the people are anywhere in evidence. The tension is between Jesus and his own followers. Their fear of death and his undisturbed sleep generate the conflict.
Jesus slept unconcerned, while they bailed furiously in fear of their lives. Unlike the earlier miracles, this has two focal points. The first one is consistent with all the earlier accounts in that it demonstrates the power of the kingdom of God. He spoke to the storm as though it were a demonic power. As he had already demonstrated his authority over the demonic powers in people, here Jesus revealed his authority over the demonic or chaotic in nature.
The disciples rebuke Jesus. Jesus rebukes the demonic forces at work in the sea and His disciples, “Don’t you have faith?!!??”
Certainly, Mark understood the meaning to be faith in the saving power of God as revealed in the action of Jesus. Mark likely intended to indicate that faith is more than intellectual assent, that it is trust in a Person. Jesus rebuked the disciples for the lack of faith expressed in their terror and fear. This is the first in a series of rebukes (cf. Chs. 7:18; 8:17 f., 21, 32 f.; 9:19) and its placement at this point is important.
Between the disciples who have received insight through Christ’s words and the multitude who see only a riddle, the difference is one of degree, not of kind. The disciples themselves are still quite blind and filled with misunderstanding. When Jesus asks, “Do you not yet have faith?” he means specifically faith in God’s saving power as this is present and released through his own person.
The Parables continue in Jesus’ actions. Is following Jesus just about sitting around discussing theological mysteries? No. Following Jesus is riding with Him into a maelstrom in an open boat. Check your faith, there’s no life jackets on this trip.
Jesus’ words are hard to receive. Who is he? What do His words to the storm mean? And the parable of the soils is still the key.
The subduing of the sea and the wind was not merely a demonstration of power; it was an epiphany, through which Jesus was unveiled to his disciples as the Savior in the midst of intense peril, peril into which He commanded them to go.
Very early this incident was understood as a sign of Jesus’ saving presence in the persecution which threatened to overwhelm the Church. It is not surprising that in early Christian art the Church was depicted as a boat driven upon a perilous sea; with Jesus in the midst, there was nothing to fear.
No command is more often reiterated in the Bible than the simple ‘Do not fear’ (see Exod. 14:13; 20:20, etc.). In spite of their lack of faith, Jesus calmed the storm with a word.
They wanted to be delivered from a storm and found out they were riding with an even greater storm resting in the stern sheets. The creative word of Genesis 1. The storm on the Mountain in Exodus 24 when Israel received the word of God and trembled. The whisper confronting Elijah’s lack of Faith. That Word is sitting on a pillow in the boat.
Their reaction at the mount of transfiguration (9:6), and even at the resurrection (16:8), was to be the same.
In short, unlike the previous accounts of miracles this one ends with a question, has a hidden meaning and invites the followers of Jesus to come to terms with their decision to follow Him. The spoken parables confront their ability to receive His words. The enacted parable on the sea confronts their sincerity and trust in Jesus the Word of the God – which is not SAFE. But He is good.
The parables are open-ended, contain a hidden meaning and provoke people into coming to terms with who they thin Jesus is. The basic features of Jesus’ parables have taken root in this story, and this is the Evangelist’s signal that the miracles are no longer direct expositions of the kingdom of God.
Like Jesus’ teaching, the miracles have also become indirect. It was on the basis of his word, let us go over to the other side,that they found themselves in this predicament. Why would Jesus lead them to the brink of death and danger?
The question don’t you care if we drown?is not the stuff of faith—it is an accusation.Instead of ending on a note of praise, as the healing of the paralytic did (2:12), this one ends in fear. The disciples were terrified, even more afraid after Jesus spoke than they had been during the storm.
We always want our interactions with Jesus to be soft soap. Band-Aid like. But sometimes our questioning of God is impertinent and foolish. Sometimes God’s response to our pleas is more terrifying than the circumstances.
Remember Jonah prayed to for salvation from drowning, so God sent a whale to swallow him.
We get cancer and we want to be healed by miracle. We want to wake up one morning and the tumor is just magically gone! But sometimes the answer is to wake up in the NICU with 17 stitches closing the gaping wound in our chest, where the surgeon sawed us open to remove the tumor.
When Jesus speaks to us it isn’t always soft words of reassurance and gentle coos. We hear his voice: Why are you afraid? Don’t you believe?
And we can hardly answer in our trembling. The reality is that sometimes the grace hurts harder than hell. Actually, if you sign on with Jesus for the kingdom of God, this will become your story whether you realize it, whether you like it, or not.
Wind and storms will come your way. You will find yourself in terrifying circumstances but don’t be afraid because the one sleeping in your pilot seat is more terrifying. The forces of darkness are afraid of direct confrontation. And the naked power of the Living God should fill us all with Holy fear. It should silence our foolish questions. It should clear our vision.
But remember, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom and it requires wisdom to understand the parables. To understand the frightening word of God – lay down your life and live……it’s not a hallmark card.
That’s why Mark places this story at the end of this section. Do you want to understand what the parables mean? Understand who is speaking them. The one speaking and silencing His enemies without and within!!
The power of evil was broken on the cross and in the empty tomb. Christians – the church as a whole, local churches here and there, individual Christians – can get hurt or even killed as a result. They suffer and struggle. Mark’s first readers probably knew that better than most of us. They would have identified easily with the frightened men in the boat.
That’s Mark’s invitation to all of us: OK, go on, wake Jesus up, pray to him in your fear and anger. And don’t be surprised when he turns to you, as the storm subsides in the background, and asks when you’re going to get some real faith.
Around the worldwide web
Mighty God, The forces that are arrayed against us in this life far outmatch our little strength. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against powerful spiritual forces in the heavenly realms. Our enemy is strong and crafty, and if we try to stand against him in our own strength we will inevitably fail. Yet, Father, we confess that we often trust in our own wisdom and strength, as if we were mighty and self-sufficient. We go through life oblivious to the dangers around us and not heeding the warnings of your Word. When we find ourselves defeated yet again, we complain and moan as if you had let us down, when the fault is entirely ours. Instead of praying and asking for your help, we grumble and resent our weakness. Father, forgive us.
Jesus, thank you that you have entered the battle on our behalf, leaving the safety of heaven to engage the challenges of living as a human being. You felt all of our human weaknesses, yet you endured without sin, because you constantly entrusted yourself to your Father’s mighty power. Thank you that you were triumphant for us, redeeming us and giving our souls complete safety in you. The strong forces that are arrayed against us can never separate us from you, and so our ultimate victory is secure.
Holy Spirit, thank you that you are at work strengthening us daily. When you give us the grace to stand, depending upon you, help us to remember that the strength is yours and not ours. When you leave us to ourselves and we fall, show us your good purposes in that, too—help us to learn our own weakness, to become more watchful and distrustful of ourselves, to pray more frequently and fervently, and to become more eager for the final day of our victory in Christ. Thank you that he is even now interceding for us and that he will continue to do so throughout our earthly warfare, until he welcomes us into his closer presence. In Jesus’ name we pray,
Call – Keith
Prayer – Mike
Wednesday, February 27, 7-9PM at Kristin Bakken’s home.
February 22nd at 7 pm. Men’s social at Moonshine BBQ @ 4911 196th St SW, Lynnwood, WA 98036