I’ve been reading through the Gospel of Mark, which some say is likely Peter’s first-hand account of the life of Jesus as he related it to Mark. Mark’s gospel is action packed, and you find yourself drawn right into the action. He moves quickly from one thing to the next. In fact his favourite word is straightway, that is, immediately, Another thing– he continually writes of these long-ago things in the present tense. It is as though he is reporting “live.”
And so after explaining to His disciples the parable of the sower Jesus says to them, “Let us pass over unto the other side” (Mk. 4.35).
As I understand it, He was already in a boat from which He had been speaking to the multitude, so His disciples just took Him as He was, and headed for the opposite shore. Jesus, apparently, took advantage of the time to get some much-needed rest, and fell asleep on the pillow (or seat cushion) in the boat’s stern. Things went quietly for a bit, but before long a great storm of wind arose. The waves were so high they were beating into the boat. I won’t be the first to point out that Jesus had not said, “Let us go out into the deep and be drowned.” But the disciples were sure they were all about to go to the bottom. Jesus must have been completely worn out from the intense ministry of the last few days, for, while the disciples are bailing water for all they’re worth, at the same time wet to the bone and hanging on for dear life lest at any moment they be pitched overboard… He, of all things, is sleeping like a rock. The storm is raging and they are losing the battle and are filled with fear; they know they are going to go under any moment now. And He? When they dare take their eyes off the storm they cast incredulous (and maybe resentful) glances at their sleeping Master. How can He be so completely oblivious to what we are going through?
Finally they can take no more. They wake Him, almost chiding Him for His apparent indifference to their peril. “Master, is it of no concern to you that we are perishing?”
And He opens His eyes, and arises, and looks around. And He rebukes the wind, “Be silent!” and speaks to the sea, “Hush.” And the wind completely collapses, “and there was a great calm.” (I like the differentiation here—that to the winds of the heavens He delivers a stern rebuke, but to the water these winds have stirred up, He speaks a quieting word.)
Then He looks around on His wondering disciples, and says (and I see Him smiling in love and shaking His head reproachfully):
Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?
…But if the storm had made them fearful, now they are filled with an entirely different kind of fear.
And they feared exceedingly and said to one another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?
That’s how the King James Version has this verse. More accurately it says, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” In other words, someone who could do what this One just did… they weren’t even sure He was human.
But He was human, beloved. And still is. And yes, what a wonder that He can speak to the wind and the waves, and they obey Him, and suddenly the storm is past.
To me it’s an even greater wonder that in the midst of the storm this man could sleep so soundly, so trustingly. I tell you, in my own life I long for this more than to see the storm gone. This Man was as human as you and I. The writer of Hebrews, among the verses he quotes to verify the certainty that Jesus was as much flesh and blood as you and I, quoted this verse to clinch it.
I will put my trust in Him (Heb. 2.13).
He is speaking of Jesus. He put His trust in God. In other words, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, He lived as One who put His trust in God.
And the fruit of this trust—oh, the beauty of the peace and rest He enjoyed as a result of this trust in God His Father.
Do we envy Him that relationship, meanwhile reconciling ourselves to something less? But what was the whole purpose of His coming?
Howbeit, when He the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all the truth… He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine, and shew it unto you (Jn. 16.13,14).
He will lead you into this same relationship, will bring you into the same loving trust. “He shall receive of Mine, and declare it to you.” That is, He will impart to you what is Mine so that it is yours also.
Yes, this same loving relationship between Father and Son, this same trust. It is the new-covenant ministry of the Holy Spirit to bring us into this, to perfect this in you and me.
Do we pursue the high things of God? But I wonder if coming into this trust isn’t the greatest of all spiritual attainments. I wonder if it isn’t the deepest work of God in our lives to simply bring us to the place where we trust Him. That is, trust Him when we are in the midst of the raging storms of life, trust Him so deeply that we aren’t moved in times of turmoil, but rather know a deep and abiding peace. Maybe the problems are still there, and the perplexities. And the troubles. But in the midst of it all we are asleep on the pillow… knowing that we were invited not to go under, but to go over to the other side.