Headlines from First Thoughts

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What the Other Boats Know: How God Rests in a Storm

In the ancient world, people used stories about miracle workers to show people how great they were, how they attracted more followers, what cool tricks they could pull off in a pinch.

Today if someone has a miracle, they put it on Youtube; if the Virgin Mary shows up, the place becomes a tourist trap; if a flame never dies, we make it a monument. Jesus miracles in Mark, however, are not this way. They’re not a sideshow for the carnival of faith; they’re not prayer requests on your list for Wednesday night; they are invitations to enlarge our picture of God. The disciples didn't experience them to answer the question, "What would Jesus do?" The more Jesus did, the less they understood.

We're not being asked to perform an exorcism, or calm stormy seas. We're invited to see this picture of God that Jesus is revealing and to enlarge our own.

In Mark 4:35-51, the disciples go out into a boat. Jesus, however, is accompanied by other boats. They are part of that nebulous group of folks showing up throughout Mark who are following Jesus outside the band of disciples. In this case, they know something the disciples are about to learn. They know that Jesus is going to show us a larger picture of God.

In this case, the God-man, Jesus, rests. Like God in creation on the 7th day (Genesis 1), he takes a nap. This isn't Jesus the "human," this is Jesus' full humanity and divinity paradoxically demonstrating his cosmic power over a storm by sleeping it off. Sovereignty is revealed in his restraint.

It's no wonder the disciples were more terrified after the wind and waves ceased. This man was simultaneously from this world and not of this world. And he was in the boat with them.

This means that some of the normal squalls of life are just that: normal. An emergency on my part does not constitute a crisis on God's part. Instead it calls for us to pay attention to what some of the other boats know around us. It calls us to recognize the presence of the God-man in our midst. In this case, if he's resting, you can rest. If he's sleeping, you can sleep. Like a parent who crawls into bed during a storm with you, sometimes Jesus rests beside us demonstrating the best response to some of the "storms" is a nice nap.

No comments:

Google Search