(A reflection from Mark 4, from a message on June 24)
Things were going well just this morning. Or yesterday. Just last week, we were listening to Jesus, hearing his words.
We maybe were even hearing the stories that Jesus was telling the disciples just before getting into the boat that is caught in the storm. Jesus was telling stories about the kingdom of God. They were great stories. And the disciples loved listening to Jesus tell stories and then give them the explanations.
They believed that they were really close to Jesus, that they were the insiders, getting to be close to God. Or at least a teacher who came from God.
We think that, too. We read, we smile, we understand that Jesus is real, that he cares about us and provides for us. And, therefore, because he provides we believe that he loves us.
So we get into the boat with him and start to the other side.
We’re moving along well. We’re halfway to our destination, halfway to being really successful, really blessed. And then.
And then the wind starts to blow and the waves get a little rough. The people around us aren’t quite as nice as they used to be because we are talking about following Jesus.
We keep working at sailing the boat, and we look around for Jesus. He’s napping at the back of the boat. His picture is hanging on our wall. His name is on a bumper sticker.
But we figure that good. It’s gotta be good luck to have THE Jesus asleep in your boat. Because nothing could happen with Jesus in the boat. The car with a Jesus bumper sticker will never be in an accident. If you have a cross on the wall of the house, it will be safe.
And then the water starts coming over the side of the boat.
The disciples were scared. At least a little. Though the text in Mark doesn’t talk about their fear. They sound a little angry, actually.
The boat is taking on water and they are doing all the hard work of trying to get through the storm and Jesus is asleep. Ignoring the storm. Ignoring them.
So they holler at him. “Teacher,” they say. “Don’t you care if we drown?”
Jesus. Are you ignoring me? This sickness hurts. This uncertainty is hard. We’re your disciples, we’re doing your work. And this is the thanks we get.
The disciples heard the teaching, but they didn’t understand that troubles are part of life. Jesus in the boat isn’t a good luck charm to keep away the storms.Instead, Jesus in the boat is, well, Jesus, a person who knows and loves us, in the boat with us.
The way Jesus responded to the storm was to speak to it. To remind the disciples that the one who told stories could use those words to stop storms.That makes the stories more powerful, that gives the stories weight.
So when a voice that can stop waves says, “Love one another”, it’s not a suggestion. It’s a doable command.
When a voice that can stop winds says, “I am with you always,” it’s not a possibility, it’s a promise.
But the promise isn’t to stop every storm, to heal every illness, to reverse every death. The promise is to be with us.