You might not think it, but popularity even in ministry has its drawbacks. Not being about to move, think or eat because of people and their demands for whatever it is they need from you. That is why in the Gospel this week, Jesus and the Twelve get in a boat and leave the growing crowd of people behind and cross Lake of Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee) for the first of four times (Mark 4:35-41). Please note that Jesus didn’t just suggest that they go for a moonlight cruise. He commanded them to get into the boat and for them to shove off for the other side of the Lake. There is a curious phrase that the Gospel makes, in that Mark reports, “They took Jesus in the boat, just as he was.” There was no blessing noted for the crowd, no packing for the trip and no prayer prior to departure. There was no contemplation of the needs, the direction, or the goal of the trip. It was just a moment to get in the boat and then cast off and make for the far shore.
I should maybe say that perhaps an unstated goal for Jesus was to get the Twelve away from the crowd so that there would be no attempt at leading a popular revolt against the system as would normally happen. In the world, that seems to be the order of the day, in the United States, in Russia, in Israel and even here in Canada though we would be very polite about it all. We are Canadians after all. I would also note for you that it seems lately that we have been sailing through one monstrously large and continuous storm. We tend to sail (live) as if we are the only ones on the water and we are the only ones trapped in a boat.
Case and point is the reaction of the Twelve to what was going on in their boat. Keep in mind that there were inexperienced sailors in that boat but there were also fishermen, and they too, were afraid. In fact there was enough fear that they went to Jesus who was curled up and asleep on the pilot’s cushion in the midst of all this in the stern (back) of the boat and shook him awake. Maybe that should have been enough to get his attention but then at least one of the Twelve says to Jesus, “We are about to die! Don’t you care?!?” Jesus rises from his nap and the cushion and first speaks to the storm, “Peace, be still.” The wind died down and the water became a flat calm. Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said to them, “Why are you cowardly? Do you still have no faith?” And the Twelve were filled with a terrible fear and awe because they started asking, “Who is this, that even the wind and the water obeys him?”
The answer of course comes from other people, usually people who did not know Jesus all that well if at all. They would declare Jesus as the Son of God. As an example, the centurion who witnessed Jesus at the crucifixion and how Jesus died and declared, “Surely this was the Son of God.” (Mark 15.39)
I would point out two final things about this account of Jesus calming the storm. First, the calming of the storm was of benefit not only to those who rousted Jesus from his nap. It also benefited those who were out on the water them. Those working to fish to feed and those who were traveling to other places to be sure. He also protected those who were following him. The peace Jesus brought, enabled others to continue to follow him to the next place and to witness what was going to happen next. The nameless dozens of people following Jesus lead are enabled to follow because they face the storm and then participated in peace that followed.
Second, can you see and recognize Jesus in your own life? Can you see what he is doing through you for others? Will you trust and participate in him this week, especially if the sailing in the past weeks and months as been rough? Can I pass you a bucket so you can join me in bailing the boat out? Doing what needs to be done may not make you or I popular, but we can bring peace and health to others in doing so.