In Mark’s story of the events on Galilee, there is a sense of the disciples relating to Jesus as a Father figure. They were in trouble and they turned to the figure asleep in the back of their boat. The one who they had come to belief could fix anything. It also seems that they bothered him until he woke up. But there is so much more to this story than just that.
Mark shows us here that even the forces of nature answer to Jesus. This fits right into Jesus’ role as leading the final exodus. Just as God is seen saving the Israelites from the Egyptians when they had to cross the red sea (you’ll find that in Exodus Ch 14). Jesus here commands the forces of nature, and they immediately obey. It is clear then that Mark is making the claim that Jesus is none other than the God of Israel come in human form. No wonder the apostles were terrified. Jesus as a nice friendly and loving human is one thing. Jesus as the diving, passionate and holy God who throws out demons and commands the forces of nature, has power over death, is quite another matter indeed.
It is worth considering that for a moment.
How often do we ask the Holy Spirit to come among us? How often do we ask Jesus to lead us? How often to we pray to the Father to intervene? You see, this is exactly what the apostles were doing here. Did they just want Jesus to wake up because that would make them feel less afraid, knowing that he was by their side? And yet, Jesus, on waking, calms the storm, and the rather surprising response of the apostles is to exchange one fear for another.
Maybe that is at the heart of Jesus’ rebuke, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” We often read this is being directed to their fear of losing their life in the storm; but it is worth noting that Jesus’ comment is AFTER the storm is calmed. Is Jesus addressing a natural fear of drowning which we have tended to be the case, or is he addressing their reaction to him which Mark makes clear in the very next sentence, “They became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"”
This story then speaks inevitably of storms that are both physical and metaphorical. Storms that can injure us physically, and storms in our lives that can hurt us emotionally and spiritually. Perhaps then it makes sense that the most common command in the Bible is “Do not be afraid”
Fear is the normal human reaction to impending injury or danger, and these can be both physical and emotional. Sometimes, the fear of what might happen can be more damaging to an individual than the event itself. Imagine not going to see the dentist because you were too afraid, and then suffered pain and bad breath due to tooth decay. Fear is the prime emotion at the heart of storms, and it drives our reactions; sometimes aggravating the storm in the process.
I wonder what you are afraid of. I have a fear of drowning, heights and of spiders. Nasty creepy crawly things. I did manage to get to the top of the Empire state building when I visited New York some years ago, but whilst the others were happy taking photos from the edge, I was sitting on the ground holding on to the wall for dear life.
I was glad to have made it to the top, but the physical response of my body, driven by the fear, stopped me from moving. I am sure that each one of you probably have similar stories you could share.
You know, we have a God who drives out fear. He is the calm point in the centre of the storm. Storms of all types answer to Jesus, to whom all authority on Earth and in Heaven has been given. Can there be a bigger clue to Jesus’ identity than that? ALL authority on Earth and in Heaven is given to Jesus. This means quite simply that Jesus has the power to calm the storms in your life and in mine in just the same way that he calmed the storm on Galilee that night. This doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to you, and perhaps we ask the wrong question when we ask Jesus to take away the pain or the problem situation. Perhaps what we should be doing is responding to Jesus’ call to be with him. Holding on to him we find ourselves at the centre of the storm in the calm point with him. In relationship with Jesus, our perspective of the world changes, because we learn and begin to see it through Jesus’ eyes.
With his resurrection, Jesus announced Judgement on evil one and the arrival of the renewed Creation. The kingdom of Heaven is at hand! It is here now, and it is growing! In heaven there is joy unlimited; anguish, pain and fear do not exist. Now is the time to hold onto Jesus and to let him enfold you and infuse you with the Holy Spirit. Allow Jesus to walk with you on your journey, gradually changing you into the image of God that you were meant to be. It is a process that is not completed overnight, so don’t be too upset when you stumble or mess up or feel that you aren’t getting anywhere. You may not see the progress, but I can assure you that God does. Gradually you will see your fears diminish as the Kingdom of Heaven grows around you and becomes more and more part of you.
Trust therefore in the Storm Calmer. He is the divine, passionate and Holy God of the burning bush, but his call to us is “Do not be afraid”, for I am with you always to the end of time. Let Jesus, the Storm Calmer, calm your personal fears and storms as only he can. Allow him to delve into your darkest and mouldiest and stormy crevices, for ALL authority on Earth and in Heaven is given to Jesus, the Storm Calmer.
So, Lord enter us now we pray, calm our individual and corporate storms, take us by the hand and lead us to safety Lord, and don’t let us let go.
In Jesus’ name