June 25, 2000

Mark 4:35-41 (CEV)

[One] evening, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's cross to the east side." So they left the crowd, and his disciples started across the lake with him in the boat. Some other boats followed along. Suddenly a windstorm struck the lake. Waves started splashing into the boat, and it was about to sink.

Jesus was in the back of the boat with his head on a pillow, and he was asleep. His disciples woke him and said, "Teacher, don't you care that we're about to drown?"

Jesus got up and ordered the wind and the waves to be quiet. The wind stopped, and everything was calm.

Jesus asked his disciples, "Why were you afraid? Don't you have any faith?"

Now they were more afraid than ever and said to each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"


1. To cross to the east side of the lake is to move in the direction of the unpromised land. Metaphorically this is a move from order to chaos. There would ordinarily be some hesitation about this direction. And, sure enough, once they make it across the first thing they run into is a man possessed. To suggest such a move to the east would begin to put the disciples nerves on edge.

2. Already on edge a storm that someone could sleep through might not be all that much of a storm. Let's suppose that the disciples were not exaggerating when they wake Jesus with a "Chicken Little"-like response, "We're about to drown!" They shift their fear from the elements to Jesus. "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" The unspoken line here is, "The wind and waves obey him much better than we do, will he turn and not drown us but zap us for being so fearful, so incompetent, so human?" The predictable they could handle by being predictably scared. The unpredictable they simply didn't know what to do with and were even more afraid. How is it with you?

3. When you go back to read the Bible passage again note how easy it is to delete Jesus' question from the text. The disciples didn't respond to the question about faith they responded to the act of power. That is so like disciples of every age. It is so difficult for us to live out of faith rather than the usual way we have been socialized to live out of fear, particularly fear of the unknown.
     For the moment, let's highlight that verse which is so easy to pass over. Hear it directed at you -- "Why are you afraid?"
     The proposed antidote for fear is faith -- "Don't you have any faith?"

Here is a little exercise for you. On a sheet of paper posted on your mirror or refrigerator or wherever, title it Fear/Faith Ratio. Down the side write the next 7 days of the week. During the next week, at the end of the day, jot in a figure which best represents your fear/faith ratio -- 25/75, 50/50, 67/33, etc. -- and what you think the fear of the day was about. At the end of the week show it to someone you trust with spirit matters and talk with them about what you found and whether or not you tended to make your ratio look better or worse than it really was.

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