On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” – Mark 4:35-41
I had an awakening of sorts when I was in my early years of college. Friends of mine came back from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid quoting lines from the movie. It was a funny and enjoyable way to remember and enjoy the movie again. Before that time I had not thought to learn that art. Now I have a arsenal of movie quotes: everything from, “Some things in here don’t react very well to bullets,” (Hunt for Red October), to “We’re fine, we’re all fine now…thank you.” (Star Wars), to “Who are those guys? Can you do that? I can’t do that? No one can track over solid rock. Who are those guys!” (Butch Cassidy…).
Butch wasn’t quoting Jesus’ disciples by any stretch of the imagination here, but they did wonder who was in the boat with them once Jesus calmed the stormy waters on the Sea of Galilee. This was no little act on his part. Jesus was commanding the wind and waves, and he was obeying them.
I think of God speaking to Job about setting the limits of the waters at creation (Job 38:8-11). Here Jesus was echoing the great creative power of God in his command against the wind and waves. He was prescribing the limits of the waters. He was saying, “here shall your proud waves be stayed.” It is quite appropriate to ask in response to this event: “Who is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?”
Who falls asleep in exhaustion at the end of a long day, yet awakens to still a storm with his command? Who asks such an incredibly challenging question, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Who inspires such faith, fear, and love as does this Jesus? Who is this man?
Martin Luther explains the First Commandment: We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.” Such is the proper attitude toward Jesus. He is to be feared; he is not just some religious guru offering platitudes of spiritual speech. He is to be loved; he is our Savior who sacrificed himself for our sins. He is to be trusted; he will get the disciples to the other side of the sea.
What is your “other side” to which Jesus is calling you? Will you trust him, follow him, rejoice in his presence and fearfully love him through it all? We all have our moments of doubt and fear. In the end, however, Jesus shows himself to be One who can be trusted completely, and who is with us even when we think he doesn’t care about our wellbeing.