On the Sea with Jesus. Hunch 32
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 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?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Just after Mark tells us about the 'secret' of Jesus' parables, we read what happened when they were sailing across the lake. Jesus was training His disciples. They would no longer see the synagogue as the centre of God's Kingdom, even though the place where the Law was read and explained every Sabbath was a special place that would also have to hear the Gospel. And neither was the family the centre of this Kingdom - Jesus' family, like the families of all of His disciples, had to learn to put God's kingdom ahead of family loyalties. Jesus taught His students to see themselves as invited guests, taking their honoured places at the banquet His Father was preparing. He taught them to see themselves as part of God's harvest.
For the moment Peter's boat was the base for Jesus' teaching school around Lake Galilee. That small inland sea also had a part to play in God's Kingdom.
A storm blew up and Jesus kept on sleeping. Think about it. Did He turn over and bury His head under the blanket. They thought He was too relaxed. Why was He still sleeping, leaving them to do the hard work? It may have been their work, work they were used to, and they may even have been good at it. But they were not happy that Jesus was asleep. Why would experienced fishermen be distracted by the fact that He was asleep? At the very moment when they should have been concentrating on getting the boat through the storm, surely they knew what needed to be done in such a dangerous situation? By taking their minds off the storm, and turning their attention to complaining about their sleeping passenger, didn't they make the situation even more dangerous?
Accounts in the Bible about Jesus walking on the water have always interested me; I'm not so sure how we should think about them. Were these fisherman in their disturbed state, deep down, concerned that maybe Jesus' days among them were numbered? And were they not frightened that their days were numbered too? Would He be drowned with the rest of them as their boat sank to the bottom of Lake Galilee? Wouldn't that spell the end of His Kingdom of God teaching they had found so enthralling - even though they so often just didn't get what He was talking about? But here Mark tells us that it was on a boat in the midst of a Lake Galilee storm that some of Jesus' closest disciples - experienced fishermen - realised they could trust Him in all situations! Out there in the boat they realised He was the One they could depend upon in everything, and that included doing such things as sailing and fishing.
When Jesus took command He shouted to the wind and the waves
Be still! Quiet down!
The disciples didn't comprehend even after the wind dropped. At the time had they thought He was shouting at them?
Be still will you! Quieten down!
When the storm stopped their terror eventually died down, too. Then they were confused. The sea was now peaceful. The boat sailed on. And their travels with Jesus continued. This Passenger was no ordinary Rabbi. This Rabbi commanded the waves and the wind when all hands were on deck. He even took command of their fishing and sailing work when He needed to. He had promised to make them into fishermen who caught people in the net of God's love. He also looked after them in the midst of a storm.