Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pentecost 4b - Mark 4:35-43

Mark 4:35-41
It was Jesus’ idea to sail across the lake but it was the disciples who took him in the boat “just as he was.” It’s an odd thing to say but perhaps explains why Jesus is sleeping in the stern while the disciples struggle to keep the boat from sinking. Just before setting out to sea Jesus was teaching all day. Before that he was hemmed in by crowds trying to touch him for healing. He was “outed” as the “Son of God” by demonic spirits and at the same time accused by Pharisees of being in league with the devil. And to top it off his own mother told him to stop acting like a lunatic. No wonder he needed a nap. But “just as he was” is more than a reference to how he was at that moment. Jesus is the “where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations” (Job 38:4) and yet cannot keep his eyes open in the center of a cyclone. He is weakened and wearied by wearing human flesh, not as a garment one can take off and send to the cleaners, but real life flesh and blood, skin and bone, muscle and sinew, organs and beating heart. When the storm causes the disciple’s courage to melt away and they “stagger and reel like drunkards at their wit’s end” (Psalm 107:27) they wake the One “just as he was” to question his motives and ability. “Don’t you care..?” means they want and need him to be more than “just as he was.” Maybe we do as well? Perhaps we’d prefer a superman Jesus who swoops in to save us or a supermarket Jesus who provides for all our needs or a problem solving Jesus who resolves all our dilemmas. I’m not saying Jesus doesn’t save or provide or address dilemmas. Jesus stills the storm for the disciples and for us is a very present help in times of trouble. (Psalm 46) But an equal if not greater truth is that Jesus became just as we are so that we might become just as he was. Or better, maybe it means we can be like Jesus and be “just as we are” at the same time? Frail and foolish and yet filled with faith that on a good day might even still a storm or two for people who are perishing.

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