“And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. . . . A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat. . . . But [Jesus] was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher do you not care that we are perishing?’” — Mark 4:36-38Mark’s story of the stilling of the storm shows the disciples terrified by a sudden storm as they are out on the lake of Galilee, taking Jesus “across to the other side” after his long day of teaching the crowds. Which of us has not been terrified by a storm at some point when the forces of nature erupt and we realize our own powerlessness?
When my children were little I strove not to show my fear of thunder and lightning, lest their fear be strengthened. As a sailor when I have been out in stormy seas, I have found comfort in the calm strength of a captain who did not panic. The disciples were so caught up in the drama of the moment and their sense of their own peril that they shook Jesus awake. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
I love the eyewitness touch in this story, the picture of the exhausted Jesus “in the stern, asleep on the cushion.” First he rebuked the wind (using the same formula with which he earlier rebuked an unclean spirit) “and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then he rebuked the disciples for their fear. “Why are you afraid, have you still no faith?” The disciples’ fear is contrasted with Jesus’ calm trust in God’s sustaining care. In the dead calm which ensued, the disciples ask, marveling, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
May I remember to trust, when next I am afraid, that the God to whom I have committed myself will be with me, and can bring order out of chaos as Jesus stilled the stormy waters of the lake.