The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – 12th Ordinary (Day 4)

Mark 4:35-41

35 Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” 36 They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.
37 Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. 38 But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”
39 He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. 40 Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
41 Overcome with awe, they said to each other, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”

Here is a parable for the church in North America today.

Jesus calls his disciples to follow him across to the other side of the lake. Entering a boat, a frequent symbol of the church, the group leaves the crowd behind and launches out on their journey.

Jesus calls us today to follow him into uncharted waters of ministry and service in our world of fast and discontinuous change. Some will heed his call and launch out with him.

A storm arises on the lake, as frequently happens there. The boat is suddenly in danger. Fearful and frantic, the disciples find Jesus peacefully asleep “in the rear of the boat.” They awaken him with their cry, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”

Whenever we launch out in obedience to Jesus, opposition arises. This is just how it is in our still not yet fully redeemed world. Yet it always seems to catch us by surprise and throw us off balance. Reminded we are not in control, we fear. Yet it is just here that this story gains traction in our lives.
We seldom respond as the disciples do – confessing out our fear to Jesus. Clinging grimly to our self-sufficient “can do” attitudes, we stubbornly go on bailing, coming up with new programs and ideas to cope with the changes that threaten us. We will not surrender control and do the one thing that might actually help us. We will not cry out to Jesus for the help we need, confessing our inability and fear.

If we did this, we just might experience something remarkable. If we turned to Jesus in our out-of-control inability to cope with what is happening around us, we might discover him anew and afresh as more than adequate to meet, even as sovereign over, the changes, challenges, and opposition to his work in the world.

We might even hear him upbraid us for our fearful faithlessness. Yet such a censure will not reduce us to servile cringing and guilt. Coming from Jesus, these words are an invitation to us to look beyond and away from ourselves, what we can think, and do, and imagine to him – to his unfathomable grace and power. From our fearful awareness of lack and poverty our hearts will be filled with an awareness of Jesus. We too might well ask, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”

Renewed by this touch of his sovereign sufficiency, we will be where we need to be to faithfully follow Jesus into and through the changes, challenges, and opposition that face us as we seek to journey with him to “the other side” of our “lake”!


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