Just As He Was (Mark 4:36b)

Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee.jpg

“On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to [his disciples], ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd, they took [Jesus] with them in the boat, just as he was. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But [Jesus] was in the stern, asleep on a cushion; and they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care if we perish?’” (Mark 4:35-38; RSV)

Being several hundred feet below sea-level and surrounded by large wind-swept mountains, Lake Galilee (13 mi. long x 8 mi. across) is still today notorious for severe squalls – which without warming, hit small fishing vessels with tremendous power. (Note Rembrandt’s depiction of this event in his famous painting entitled, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee.) But this storm must have been – as my dad would call it – a real “rip-snorter” … Cuz even these swarthy, shiver-me-timbers, rough-n-tumble fishermen were needing a change of underwear!

No! No! No! They hadn’t signed-up for this? … This was no “three hour cruise.” Why was it, that so often, when Jesus bid them to come follow, he’d call them right into the midst of a storm (cf. Mark 4:5; 5:21; 6:45; 8:13)?!… No. Really. Why? … Look at them again, in Rembrandt’s painting. One, two, three, four ... of them scrambling on the lines and mast, praying, pushing on the tiller with all their might. But it wasn’t good enough … They’re scared to death … I mean, if they’d been baseball players they probably wouldn’t have even been able to spit!

They’re trying everything, but nothin’ works. And worse, Jesus is doing nothing! (Seemingly) “I mean, who got us into this big mess in the first place?” Look how they’re staring at Jesus in dis-belief. And it’s here, at this moment, that things become awash. You see, as in times of great trial and fear in our own lives, we too find our words in those of the disciples: “Teacher, don’t you care if we perish?” (Mark 4:38; RSV)

So, where-in-the-world is God in this biblical story? And even more so, what-in-the-world is God doing?! Come join us for worship this weekend, as we look deeper in St. Mark’s and Rembrandt’s paintings together.

Pr. John Christopherson