The Gospel for this week seems to capture the mind and so there is a second kick at the can in terms of writing for Sunday. In particular, there is an image of Jesus in the boat as they head out onto the Sea of Galilee and to make for the other (Gentile, pig farmers’) side of the lake to get away from the growing crowds that are surrounding Jesus. People are demanding that their needs be met with whatever he has and are not taking no for an answer. The image of Jesus in the boat is not the image of an all conquering ubermench (superman) who boldly stands on the foredeck with a boot on the gunnel, hands on his hips. He does not stand there with his nose in the air and silently leading people to believe that all the ministry he has done has not affected him. In fact he shows us the exact opposite. He goes to the stern of the boat, grabs the pilot’s cushion, and because he is tired and close to being over wrought because of the demands, he curls up and takes a nap as they sail on into the dark and the rising wind.
So a couple of hours later, to be shaken awake and yelled at, with demands of rescue from the water and the storm, must have been quite a start for Jesus. In my own mind I think I would have blasted them first and then addressed the circumstances, were it possible for me to still that kind of storm with the simple words, “Peace. Be Still.” Maybe it is important to learn that even people of great faith have their fears as well as their faith and there are moments when that faith can, and is, overcome by fear. We take our eyes and minds off of Jesus as he naps and start looking at the conditions and circumstances they were in and realized that they were in danger. There are so many things that rob us of our peace these days. The constant barrage of information about how the pandemic is affecting us in every facet, problems with the leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces, the upheaval in the political arenas with resignations and firings being demanded and attempts to overthrow a Federal Party leader. Threats of floods and drought. A family in London, Ontario, run down, most are killed, and one is left injured and alone. In Saskatchewan, a young Mountie dies in what should have been a simple traffic stop for a vehicle reported stolen. This life has its troubles and problems. This is a truth.
Water in the Bible is a source of evil. It is a source of upheaval in the lives of people. I could take you to visit with people who live in the fishing communities on both the West and the East cost of this country who have lost family members to the sea. The sea through out human history is something that is feared because of its power and unforgiving nature. It was not just the uninitiated in that boat that were afraid, it was the experienced fisherman who were well acquainted with the problems they were in and knew that death was eminent for them all. It would seem natural to first of all complain about the circumstances we find ourselves in and worry how we are going to get out of the predicament that we are in. Second of all, at least the Twelve had the good sense to take their complaints and their fear and put the same in the hands of Jesus. They were not sure of what he might say or do but they were certain that what ever needed to be done, he could do it. Thereby Jesus was perceived as their protection, if nothing else.
It might seem odd that Jesus spoke to the storm first and then to the Twelve about how they were dealing with the storm but yet it is worth noting that he did not take their time in that boat as a teachable moment and try to show them how faith should be lived out nor did he try to turn it into (before or after the storm) a therapy session where he was okay, and they were okay. He got up and spoke first to the storm and dealt with the powers behind that storm first. I wonder what else got said in that boat among the Twelve as they listened to the wind die down and the water calm itself to a flat calm. I have to wonder if anyone dared to speak after Jesus challenged them and said to the Twelve, “Do you still not believe? Where is your faith?” We do know that there was a question asked, “Who is this that even the wind and the water obeys him?”
Last week was about the nature and the growth of the kingdom – that the kingdom must grow and invade the world and that it is designed to do just that. God in his plans will not be thwarted by the world - that is still true, The Father in his plan for redemption, will not be thwarted; the impossible just takes a little longer. This week it is all about seeing God and how God has not abandoned his creation. God has in Christ come to this world to bring healing and health and to see death swallowed up in victory. We have a choice - we can choose our own path and our own way of doing things and live with the fear and the frustrations of all that, or we can choose to concentrate ourselves, our families, and our life as a community, on God. It does not mean that there will never be problems. It does not mean that there will not be storms. It does not mean that we are not going to get soaking wet sometimes in the rain. It does mean that we have someone whom we can trust in the storm and through the valley of the shadow of death and Jesus is going to get us through it all.