This morning’s devotion comes from K. Marc Choi.
A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:37-41, ESV)
“Who then is this?” Many of us know people who are able to refer to God when speaking about spiritual matters, but become uncomfortable when it comes to using “Jesus.” Perhaps you struggle with it.
Hollywood certainly has a time with Jesus-talk: there’s Ricky Bobby Jesus, Buddy Jesus, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Passion Jesus, The Life of Brian Jesus, Jesus of Montreal. My all-time favorite Jesus, though, is from The Big Lebowski, whose purple, rhinestone-studded bowling suit and no-mess attitude make a convincing case for divinity.
It makes sense that we can often stomach humorous (even profane) images of Jesus, while being uncomfortable speaking about the real one. It might be that the real one is seen as outdated or irrelevant, or it might be the opposite—that the true Jesus means confronting a very real and very relevant someone whom we cannot contain or control.
In the calming of the sea, Mark seems to be talking about the human need for control and Christ’s trustworthy power in its absence. Both the Jewish and Greco-Roman traditions connect the sea with danger and chaos, making this miracle quite a statement: Jesus is the God of Genesis, who speaks light into darkness and brings order to the deep waters. And this is the foundation upon which the disciples can trust that Jesus—in being God—is ultimately in control.
Of course, we tend to be like the disciples in the boat, accusing Jesus of being careless or impotent or aloof. We’re as likely to make these accusations when reading the front page of the paper as we are when being cut off on the freeway. We glad-hand God when we’re trying to cover our bases and shake our fists at him when we feel that He isn’t noticing us.
Jesus, in control, wakes and calms the storm. He knows how fickle our faith is and acts even when we refuse to believe he can. He says: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith? I am here in the middle of all this chaos, doing my work, even if you think I am not.”