Bible blog 1879



The young WALESA in Gdansk


22 One day Yeshua got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 23 So they set out; and as they were sailing, he fell asleep. A windstorm came down on the lake, so that the boat began to fill up with water, putting them in great danger. 24 They went and woke him, saying, “Rabbi! Rabbi! We’re about to die!” He woke up, rebuked the wind and the rough water; and they calmed down, so that it was still. 25 Then he said to the disciples “Where is your trust?” Awestruck, they marveled, asking one another, “Who can this be, that he commands even the wind and the water, and they obey him?”

Luke was using Mark’s gospel as his source for this incident.  A comparison with Mark chapter 4, shows that Luke has made the story a little more concise and a little less dramatic. In its original form it is a kind of dream sequence linking the teaching of Jesus with his ministry “on the other side of the lake” which may have been viewed as gentile territory. The storm on the lake represents the forces of chaos and evil which threaten the ship of faith as it makes its way towards the non- Jewish world. The sleep of Jesus represents his death and his waking up, his resurrection. The fear of the disciples  is a reminder of their deserting Jesus in his hour of need. Jesus’ rebuke to the storm shows him treating the powers of evil like unruly children, “Ssshhh! Be at peace!” This is a very graphic image of the peace -making power of the risen Jesus. The great calm is the world seen afresh from the perspective of resurrection faith.image

The disciples’ awed question, “Who is this?” can only have one answer in Jewish faith. God is one who binds the elements of chaos in creation (Genesis 1) , who halts the proud waves of the primeval sea ( Job 38) and who saves the seafarers who cry to him (Psalm 107). “God is acting in Jesus” is the conclusion of this passage.

This is not an event that took place in the  world. If Jesus had actually been able to control the elements, his disciples’ subsequent doubts and fears would have been inexplicable. But even more importantly Jesus would have nothing to say to people who don’t possess such powers. Anyone who can do such things is not human as I am human and is therefore irrelevant. No, the one who stands in the midst of my terrors is not someone armed with supernatural power but the one who has suffered the worst the world can do and has defeated it because the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. That One can command peace to my soul because he died and is alive forever more.image

Yesterday, by coincidence ( “coincidence is not a kosher word” – Hasidic saying) I went with my family to Kilbrandon Church near Oban, where there are five marvellous stained glass windows by the Scottish artist Douglas Strachan, the central window of which depicts the stilling of the storm. It is a true masterpiece, showing the boat and its struggling disciples almost swallowed by a demonic sea, with Jesus upright, stern and focused. I saw it first as a child, since when it has remained in my mind, telling me that the storm of evil is always present but so is Jesus. It is an evangelical image not merely for me and my petty fears but for all who face the the raw evils of the world everyday.

The window well represents the intention of the bible writers who give us this story.






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