Daily Devotion – June 16, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Mark 4:35-41
4:35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”
4:36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him.
4:37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.
4:38 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?”
4:39 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.
4:40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
4:41 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?”

They were in a boat because that was the way to leave the crowd behind. Jesus himself had asked them to cross to the other side.

My friend, amazing artist Steve Thomason, was curious about what kind of windstorm could get whipped up on the Sea of Galilee, so he did a size comparison between that sea and Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota. Behold! Mille Lacs is a little bigger, but not that much. Have you ever been fishing on Mille Lacs when a storm rises? It is a long way to the shore, even if you have a powerful motor on your boat. It is definitely frightening, and one could die in such a storm.

Jesus sleeps through the rising storm (as I do most thunderstorms), and he is awakened to the panic in his friends’ eyes. So he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the sea became dead calm, something that rarely happens on the Sea of Galilee or on Lake Mille Lacs.

The disciples had been called by Jesus, had seen him heal, had heard him teach the crowds using parables and then heard him explain those parables to their little group. They were inspired by him, maybe not sure how he could do the healings and teaching. But this early encounter with his voice calming a storm really awed them. They were putting 2 and 2 together, and not quite believing the 4 that they were getting. “Who then is this?” they asked one another.

Who indeed? They were beginning to face the fact that they had been camping, traveling, and living with a person of the Triune God – even that notion was new to them – they knew of the Lord God who walked with Abraham and who created the heavens and the earth, they knew of the spirit of God who moved over the face of the waters. They knew of the Messiah that was to come, a great leader and savior of mankind. But this man with them in this boat was more than a potential human ruler sent by God to oust the Romans. This was God with them, literally. Immanuel. In their boat. Rebuking the storm.

This was God with them, and the Triune God is also with us. Through our baptisms we have been forever linked, brought into relationship with this same God of wind and waves, of peace and healing, of creation and stirring. Who is Jesus, who is this, then, to you?

Gracious God, thank you for loving us. Thank you for being here now with us. Thank you for throwing in with us small humans. Keep reminding us that you are beside us always.   Amen.