Teacher, do you not care if we perish?
There are moments when reflecting on Scripture that the obvious answer to a question is not so obvious. At least at first.
In a summer study of Mark’s Gospel, my reading brought me to the familiar incident of the wild, night time storm on Lake Galilee, with Jesus conked out on a cushion (Mark 4:35-41).
You remember that to get some relief from the crowds, after a full day of ministry and teaching, the disciples took Jesus in a boat to cross over the lake. It was evening, and (at least I had forgotten that) “other boats were with him.” A small fleet endeavored to cross over together.
Mark 4:37 describes the unanticipated. A relentless whipping wind churned up the waters. Large waves flooding the boats causing even veteran fisherman to panic. Disoriented, void of control and options, they could not understand how Jesus was fast asleep on a cushion (you talk about someone being exhausted!). Finally, when all their collective effort at ensuring self-survival made nothing better, they shook Jesus awake, screaming at him a question.
“Teacher, do you not care if we perish!!?”
On the comfort of a cushioned chair on my front porch on a breathless summer morning—and seeing this question in the text—it brought a slight smile. They were asking the Savior of the world if He cared they were perishing. Really?
THE TENSION WE OFTEN FEEL
That’s where we sometimes are, right? We know Jesus is the Savior. That’s His name; saving is His business. We know that no one cares more about rescuing people more than Him. That much we have squared away from the neck up.
But from the neck down, we can find ourselves in a swamped boat of uncontrollable circumstances. Our present living is frightfully in danger. What’s more, God himself appears to be “out like a light” (a common description of deep sleep). Uncaring. Unmoving. Unresponsive. Why doesn’t “the savior” move it and start rescuing us?
A fellow pastor in town just lost his beloved life-long partner to cancer after a 3+ year battle. Several within the Christ Community Church family right now are battle for their lives in a hospital or enduring regular cancer therapy treatments. Some are having to decide about hospice. COVID19 fears ebb and flow. Others are struggling with anger, confusion, and sadness over all the shootings and deaths in hotspots like Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis. Baltimore, Atlanta.
Is God asleep on a cushion?
THE SAVIOR’S REMARKABLE REPLY
You know what happens next. “Waking, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Stillness!’, he demanded” (Mark 4:39). And everything…EVERYTHING…immediately shut down.
But the Savior’s calming of the storm is not the major point of the story. His next words – two questions – are the point. “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”
What was the Savior’s expectation of his disciples in that storm? Faith. A trust that dared to say, even in whipping wind and in a sinking boat, “My God is not only fully aware of what I am facing, but He’s got this. These circumstances are not beyond His control; in fact, He is in control of this storm, and whatever comes next. Therefore, I WILL trust Him no matter what.”
“Who then is this?” soggy disciples asked each other. “Even the wind and the sea obey Him.” Geez.
Whatever you’re facing, whatever frustrations or fears you may have, you belong to a Savior. No one but no one cares more for what you are facing. He is thoroughly informed. And, no one knows how to bring you through it than the Lord Jesus Christ. He can and He will.
So, buffeted by gusts, in sleeting rain, awash in chilling waves, thigh-deep in what feels like a sinking boat…trust Him. Saving those who do is what He does.
UPDATE—AN IMPORTANT COMMUNIQUE COMING VIA MAIL THIS WEEK
Sometime next week, please check your “snail-mail” box. We will be sending you a Christ Community Church communique envelope. It in you’ll find a letter plus two additional items
- A 1-page LOOK at the CCC Ministry Year Ahead, from August 2020 through May 2021. We’d like you to begin anticipating how you will grow in Christ and in our mission in the upcoming year
- A Pastoral Letter to the Christ Community Church body entitled “The Gospel, Jesus’ Church, and Addressing Discriminatory Mistreatment.” We trust you will find some encouragement and Biblical counsel as touching some of the tensions we are facing in our nation.