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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, January 25, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 4:35–41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (NRSV)

“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” The initial question that ends this short passage is the same one that we are reflecting on all throughout this season after the Epiphany. Jesus has proved himself to be a gifted teacher, healer, and interpreter of the Law, but this passage is the first in a series of passages in Mark that show Jesus to be something far greater: he is doing things reserved for God alone.

Large bodies of water—lakes, seas, etc.—were often used to represent uncontrollable chaos in Israelite culture; control of these bodies of water was something that God alone could handle (such as in creation bringing order out of watery chaos in Genesis 1, or God dividing the Red Sea in Exodus 14). When Jesus calms the storm in our passage today, the disciples begin to recognize Jesus’ divinity—something that will continue throughout this season until the divine manifestation of the Transfiguration right before Lent.

But this scene has more to say to us today than merely demonstrating Jesus’ divinity. The tension of faith and fear that Jesus introduces in his words to the disciples will appear again and again throughout the Gospel of Mark. To follow Jesus—to truly follow—is to trust even in the face of uncertainty. This does not mean we should somehow be preternaturally unafraid in crises, but it does remind us that, even in the storms of our lives, God’s presence with us is constant—and that, in turn, can give us hope.

Holy God, even in, or perhaps especially in, the times when I am uncertain of your presence, may you remind me that your care and embrace surround me fully. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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