By Sherry Black
A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 4:35-41
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion, and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And waking up, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Be silent! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
The disciples had been hanging out with Jesus and they thought they knew him. And, as Jesus had been living in Capernaum near the Sea of Galilee for a while, he could have been friends with some of his closest disciples, the fishermen and a few others, for some time before beginning his public ministry. So when he asked them to follow him, it might have been easy for them to walk away from their work. He was a great, dynamic teacher, a great guy, and yes, they had seen miracles.
But commanding the weather? This was … incredible. Fearful even!
This day had been like most days. Jesus had been teaching — in parables — and at the end of the day they left the crowds, got in the boats to head across the sea. Jesus, exhausted from the day, quickly fell asleep in the stern, and without warning, a great gale arose, with waves swamping the boat. While some of the men were bailing water in a panic, others woke him: “Teacher, wake up. We are perishing! Don’t you care??” And he rebuked the wind, and told the sea to be still.
The wind stopped. The air didn’t move, not a breath. There wasn’t even a ripple in the water. A dead calm.
Seeing the disciples were still afraid, Jesus called them on it. One (informal) translator said, “They were afeared a great fear, and said to one another, ‘Who the [blazes] is this, that even the wind and the sea listen to him?’” A great fear had come upon them, and not just of the storm. Who is this Jesus?
Following Jesus is not always easy, comfortable, or peaceful. Sometimes it is frightening, challenging, a dreadful thing. Like Aslan the lion, Jesus is not safe, but he is always good.
The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for 10 years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.
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The Church in the Province of the West Indies
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Ft. Thomas, Ky.