We continue our series journeying through the Gospel of Mark. As part of this series, we will be led through the shortest – and earliest written – Gospel from beginning to end. Guided by Mark, we will focus on Jesus’ radical way of defying social norms and religious traditions. In doing so, Jesus teaches us a way of grace and love.
Each week, we will include additional readings to help us work through the entire Gospel of Mark.
- MARK 3:1-21
- MARK 3:22-35
- MARK 4:1-20
- MARK 4:21-34
- MARK 4:35-41
Jesus has been staying in the region of Capernaum near the Sea of Galilee. Between last week’s text and this week’s, he has grown in popularity and influence. He has appointed the twelve apostles, preached, and healed. His family has expressed concern over him, and the religious authorities have decided to plot against him. And we’re only up to chapter 4!
In this Sunday’s text, Jesus invites the disciples to join him in crossing to the other side of the lake. We might wonder what his purpose may have been, particularly since he invited company. In doing so, they find themselves in a storm so terrifying that even experienced fishermen fear that they’ll drown.
Mark 4:35-41 (CEB)
35Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” 36They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.
37Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. 38But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”
39He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. 40Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
41Overcome with awe, they said to each other, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”
Consider these questions:
- What was frustrating to the disciples about Jesus continuing to sleep through the storm?
- What would you have been feeling if you were one of the disciples?
- What “storm(s)” have you been through where you questioned God’s motives or presence?
Post-Worship Update on 7/30
Audio from the sermon at our 10:30am service can be heard below, and video from our 9:00am service can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
A major question we asked as we read through this passage was why Jesus would have called the disciples to endure this storm. But in a close reading, we see that Jesus did no such thing. Jesus invited them to a new place, a new perspective, a new experience. And in the journey toward this newness, a storm arose. A faithful reading shows us that Jesus called the disciples into newness, not necessarily into danger. But even so – as we have surely experienced in our own lives – storms happen.
Sunday’s exploration of this text also examined where we might find our self-worth. In this time, I was critical – like many progressive theologians – of the doctrine of Original Sin because of the way it seems to devalue our intrinsic selves. Indeed, the world can often tell us that our innermost beliefs and ideas must be hidden or sheltered. The implication is that we are intrinsically bad and must rely on someone/thing extrinsic for salvation and/or redemption.
We argued instead that being created in the image of God makes us intrinsically good. We argued that Jesus dwells within us, which makes us intrinsically good. We argued that we are beautiful, we are enough, and that the world needs us. When we are called to a new place, a new perspective, a new experience, Jesus remains with us on the journey.
This was in part inspired by a podcast interview of my friend, the Rev. Lydia Sohn conducted by author and speaker Rob Bell. You are invited to take a listen for a much clearer exploration of intrinsic and extrinsic worth.
Consider these questions:
- What does this passage tell you about Jesus’ power and presence in the midst of storms?
- What have you learned about God from past experience that has better prepared you for future storms?
- What can you learn from this passage and the conversation about intrinsic and extrinsic worth that may better prepare you for being in the midst of an overwhelming storm?