Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why Did Jesus Do That?

The past few nights I’ve been reading The Gospel of Mark.  I try to read a little of The Bible before bed, because I think it’s good for my subconscious to be reflecting  the passages on which I’ve been focusing while I’m asleep.  Call me crazy, but I’m a huge proponent of “sleep studying” and such (you know, you read the chapter, then  you just go to sleep and hope your brain processes it into useful knowledge and you ace the test the next day without ACTUAL studying). 

Okay, so maybe it isn’t always the best method…

But anyway…

I was reading in The Gospel of Mark and I came across the passage where the disciples are in their boat rowing and a big storm blows up.  They’re having a hard time rowing, and Jesus walks out to them on the water.

This is one of the stories with which I thought I was very familiar.  It’s always been one of my favorites.

I especially like it when they talk amongst themselves and say, “Who is this man, that even the wind and the seas obey him?”  That is quite possibly my favorite verse in the entire Bible. 

So I’m reading along, and all is well, until I come to the part of the passage in the New Living Translation where it says, “…he intended to go past them, but when  they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost.”

Hold up!

“he intended to go PAST them”???

Let me review the entire passage with you, so you can get a feel for where I’m coming from:

45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.
 47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning[a] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost.

I read it several times, and each time the part where it says “he intended to go past them” jumped out at me.
“He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves.”
Seriously?  He SAW that they were struggling, working hard, fighting for their lives, and he intended to go. past. them.

What kind of a Savior is it who sees his friends struggling and keeps on walking?  I mean, walking on the water is cool and all, but really?  I, for one, would be pretty pissed off that he walked on past.
I’ve been pondering this passage for about fifteen hours now, letting it wash around in my brain.  I’ve slept on it, I’ve clambered through it.  I’ve wondered about it.  Why didn’t Jesus go to them immediately?  Why did he want to go past them?  Did he want to get to the shore on the other side before them?  Was he trying to prove some point that they hadn’t yet grasped?

Later on in the chapter, Mark explains that the disciples hearts were hardened, and they were unable to see Jesus for who he truly was, even after the Feeding of the 5,000.

I thought maybe he was just strolling along on the water, chillin’ with His Father, and he just happened to be close to the boat and they just happened to see him, but c’mon, Jesus does things with intention.  He meant for the disciples to see him walking on the water.

He walked close to the boat on purpose.

Before this, he sent them off in the boat alone.  He told them he would take care of sending the crowds home (immediately following the Feeding of the 5,000) and they should go on without him.  Apparently they didn’t see anything at all strange about him sending them across the lake without him, I guess they figured he’d hitch a ride with someone else? 

After they go on their merry way and the crowds disperse, Jesus goes off alone to pray.  I noticed he does this just before and/or after something really big happens.  He gets refueled and charged up by communing with The Father, and then heads into the fray once more. 

I wonder what that conversation must have been like, after He made fives loaves and two fish into dinner for 5,000 people (probably more like 15,000, considering the 5K was just a count of the men in the crowd) and his best friends still didn’t get that he was God.  They didn’t get that he was The Messiah.  They just didn’t see it.  How could they be so blind?  Didn’t they see how much power he was given?  That he had complete control over EVERYTHING?

And then I thought about this story, right after the Feeding…, where he walks out past the boat and disciples don’t recognize him: they think it’s a ghost.  They cry out in terror.  He intended to go past them.

What was he trying to say by walking past them?  By leaving them alone in that boat on the stormy water? 

We know what happens.  He calms them down and says “Hey, it’s me, don’t freak out.” And then he calms the sea. 

It’s my impression that Jesus always has high hopes for the disciples.  I am certain that he hoped they would  know it was him walking on the water and now assume that because he was defying the laws of physics he was a ghost.  He probably felt like – hey, I just made food appear out of nothing, this isn’t really all that hard, considering I’ve already proved that those natural laws mean nothing to me…

Maybe Jesus hoped they would know – Hey, it’s Jesus!  Everything is so fine!  We’re all worried they we aren’t going to come out of this alive, but he’s going RIGHT PAST US.  It’s obvious that he is going to meet us on the other side – that we’re going to BE OKAY.

Maybe he was hoping that they would trust.  That he wouldn’t have to calm the storm for them to understand that he could calm the storm.  Maybe he hoped that the loaves and fishes was enough, and they would see that as long as they were with Jesus they were okay.  Nothing could stand in the way of them getting to where they needed to go. 

I think about that in my life.

I want Jesus to fix things.  I want him to calm the storm.

I don’t even recognize him when he’s walking right beside me.

Everything feels out of control and scary.  I feel like I have to fix everything because that’s the only way I can make it out of every situation intact.  Even when I can’t control the things around me, I try.

I row the boat harder.  I fight against the waves.  I focus so hard on the scary, horrible things around me that I see those who are trying to help me as terrifying figures who are trying to take more control.  Like the lifeguard who almost drowns because the victim is so terrified that he grabs onto the guard and pulls her down with him. 

We grasp at everything, we see ghosts, shadows…  we forget that we serve a Savior who controls EVERYTHING. 

Jesus CAN calm the storm, but doesn’t it mean more if we trust him through it?

Why are we struggling with the oars when Jesus confidently walks across the water to the other side?  Why are we fearing for our lives when Jesus is waiting on the shore, ready to greet us with a smile and an embrace? 

Recently I was in a complete tizzy about something that I absolutely couldn’t control.

The actions of the people around me were making me so angry.  I felt like no one was doing what they should be doing.  I felt like I had to fix it.  There had to be a way that I could make things work – make them better…  I fought.  I was stressed.  My heart raced.  My shoulders were raised and tense.  I spat venom at the people around me who loved me.  I had a panick attack and had to take medicine to calm me down…  all over something over which I had no control.  Ultimately, it would work itself out one way or another and there was NOTHING I could do about it either way. 

How much more peace I would have if I could remember that our lives are not about the storms.  Our lives are about the guy on the other side.  God has complete, ultimate, and total control.  He doesn’t even have to think about it.  Natural laws mean nothing to him.  He walks across the water.  He divides the loaves and fishes until there is more than enough. 

All I can do when the storm comes is row my little boat.  I don’t think I should give up and stop rowing, but I do think I should stop fighting against the waves.  Stop fighting against the seemingly overpowering sea of worry and doubt and trust that the God of the Universe is confident He will see me on the other side.

1 comment:

Glendaliz said...

This was so amazing! Thank you for that :)

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