Mark 4:35-41: More on stormy weather.

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 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?’  39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  40 He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’  41 They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’

 I believe most Christians find this to be an encouraging story, and rightly so. Yet it also contains a number of challenges. Here are some of them:

 

  • Are we listening to Jesus? Will we follow Him wherever He goes? (35);
  • Are we prepared to follow the real Jesus, and not some figment of our fertile imaginations? (36) Will we take Him just as He is? Gordon Bailey, the Christian poet, wrote a piece with the shocking title, ‘Will the real Jesus please get lost?’ He was making the point that this is the attitude of many. The authentic Jesus is a threat to much we value and want to cling to;
  • Are we aware that ‘’furious’’ squalls lie ahead on the discipleship journey? There are storms we run into because we are Christ-followers. Jesus did say, ‘’In this world you will have trouble’’ (John 16:33);
  • Do we realise how great Jesus is? (39) One preacher said Jesus spoke to the storm like it was a disobedient puppy. In effect He said, ‘Get down. Stop jumping up at my disciples.’ That note of command – of giving a ticking off even – comes across in the Tom Wright translation: ‘’He got up, scolded the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Silence! Shut up!’ The wind died, and there was a flat calm.’’ Here is God Himself in human form. That is surely the implication? (See e.g. Psalms 65:7; 89:9; 93:3,4; 107:23-30). The Kingdom of God in Jesus may not look like the majority thought it would, but it’s here. This is the real thing;
  • In the storms of life, will we respond with fear or faith? (40) It seems that throughout Mark’s gospel we are being presented with these alternatives, fear or faith. Which one is it to be? The one will inevitably kick the other out of bed. ‘Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered, and there was nobody there.’
  • Are we prepared to become a part of this story? ‘Imagine this as a blockbuster movie – it would need a big screen to do it justice – and audition for a part. Make it your Actually, if you sign on with Jesus for the kingdom of God, it will become your story whether you realise it, whether you like it, or not. Wind and storms will come your way. The power of evil was broken on the cross and in the empty tomb, but like people who have lost their cause and are now angry, that power has a shrill malevolence about it. Christians – the church as a whole, local churches here and there, individual Christians – can get hurt or even killed as a result. 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…’ Tom Wright: ‘Mark for everyone,’ p.53.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that ‘we have an Anchor that keeps the soul…’