This started out as a Facebook post, but it was just too long for that, so I moved over here.
What if the story of Jesus waking up and calming the wind and the waves isn’t a story about Jesus making everything better?
At our Jacob’s Well gathering on Sunday morning, we wrapped up our “Inner Selfie” series, in which we’ve been talking about ways to make space for our souls, and creating practices to help our outer selves and our inner selves to be more in synch. The passage we looked at was Mark 4:35-41:
35 Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.”
36 They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along.
37 A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it.
38 And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”
39 Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass.
40 Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”
41 They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”
I’ve heard this story about 19 million times. Jesus wanted a break from the crowds, so he told the disciples to get in the boat, and he fell asleep. A storm came up, they all thought they were going to die until he woke up and saved them all, then scolded them for not having enough faith in him.
On Sunday, Greg gave a different interpretation of the story: There was a place Jesus wanted the disciples to go (the other side) so he got them all in the boat. He fell asleep, woke up because they were freaking out, and took pity on them by calming the wind and the waves.
BUT: here’s where it gets interesting
They were in a SAILBOAT. What happens to a sailboat without wind and waves (and even storms)? IT STOPS MOVING.
They were no longer going anywhere because the water had calmed. Jesus wasn’t making everything all better. He was giving them a break, but the wind would need to pick back up again before they could start moving again. THE STORM WAS NOT THE ENEMY.
And that scolding at the end? That wasn’t about faith in Him. It was about faith in the journey.
The reason this is so striking to me is because I was always taught that if we had enough faith, Jesus would calm our storms. That’s just not how my life has worked out. Today, for instance, I’m four weeks out from ankle surgery, dealing with ankle and knee pain, plus I caught the sinus infection everyone else in my family has had, plus I’m dealing with some other medical issues all stemming from the thyroid cancer I had seven years ago. This is all no fun. Jesus could make it all better. Why won’t He wake up and calm my storm????
Maybe…maybe it’s because there’s a destination and the storm has to get me there. Maybe there’s something to be gained from this period of forced downtime.
This is just a very surface-level reflection on the message and this passage. There are much deeper applications of it when I look back through my life and change the question to “Why didn’t Jesus wake up and calm the storm” to “Where was the storm taking me?”
I just wanted to share.