“Jesus himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’” (Mark 4:38)This scene intrigues me. Imagine ourselves traveling in a boat with Jesus. Mysteriously, a storm comes up. Fierce waves pound the boat, flooding the inside with water. Everyone shouts. All except one. Not only is Jesus unperturbed, he is cooly sleeping at the stern! Clearly, if the whole ship operates based on a democracy, Jesus would have been outvoted. Everyone was doing the normal thing, that is, to do something to save the boat from sinking. Obviously, the disciples were pretty confused about what to do. The sight of calm sleeping Jesus was simply too much for anyone to bear. They could not deal with the fact that Jesus was not panicking like them! Almost immediately, Marthas outnumber Marys. So the disciples went for the jugular. Instead of asking Jesus to calm the storm, they use themselves as bait, asking if Jesus really care for them. They must be thinking, ‘Surely we are as important as the lepers, the tax collectors and the sick that Jesus has been healing?’ By screaming out: ‘Do you not care,’ they launch a veiled assault on the love of Jesus for them. For them, if Jesus really cared, he would have woken up and do the regular thing: his miracles, and to do it in a state of alarm (like them!). Doing the normal thing comforts them in ways they know best. Really?
Better Than Normal
When things go awry, we often enter emergency mode. The normal thing is to do something quickly, be terrified or both. My question: Did Jesus come down to earth to be like everyone else just to do the ‘normal’ thing? Certainly not. Suppose Jesus was to freak out like the disciples, what kind of a message will he be sending out? It will be an embarrassment for the witnesses then to view the Coming King whose ‘feathers’ are so easily ruffled. Thankfully no. Jesus came down to earth as an ordinary man with an extraordinary heart of peace and purpose in God. There are three things Jesus has revealed about himself through this incident. He is Captain and is in control. He is Larger than any forces of nature. He is the Revealer of the Great Story.
- Sleeping in the Stern;
The stern is located at the rear end of a ship or boat. Boating experts recommend that the most stable place to anchor the boat is from the stern side, instead of the bow in front. In modern ships, this stern is also the domain of the captain of the vessel. With Jesus sleeping at the stern, it is rather symbolic in the sense that Jesus is the Captain of the ship. Jesus is also the anchor of the vessel. If Jesus were to be in sixes and sevens during this time, imagine what it will do to the morale of the occupants in the boat? When the leader of a tribe is killed, the confidence wanes drastically. When the Shepherd is struck, the sheep scatters. No. Jesus refused to be drawn into the sinister temptation of pressing the panic button. Who is Jesus? He is the Captain of our souls.
- Silencing the Storm;
The disciples should have discovered it. Jesus is not an ordinary man. He is greater than anything else in the world. The storm at the Galilean lake is like a storm being stirred within a teacup. The Master of the Universe sees more things than the man of the puny earth. Who is Jesus? He is larger than hurricanes of nature or the tsunamis of life.
- Uncovering Slowly the Great Story
Up to now, the disciples are still scratching their head over who Jesus is. The finite mind can only know so much. The limited heart can only experience a little of what Jesus did. Jesus knew the disciples more than the disciples know Jesus. For instance, it took more than 40 years before the gospel of Mark was written. In other words, people need time to comprehend who Jesus is. That is why Jesus has to stress his teachings and use incidents like these to reinforce the need for faith. Without the personal encounter with Jesus stilling the storm, the disciples may simply categorize Jesus as a great rabbi. The gospel is not merely a story of Jesus’ teachings. It is a story of his life. It is a story of how he choose to limit himself so that we can understand him more. Who is Jesus? He is comforter and paces himself with our needs.
Thought: What do you do when everything around you seems to go wrong? What's the first thing you do?
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner." (The Jesus Prayer)