Don’t You Care That We’re Dying? (Day 15 of A Simple Lent)
In one sense, the idea that the disciples have that Jesus should at least be awake and aware of what’s happening is a pretty valid concern. The storm is raging and they’re scared out of their minds and here’s Jesus sleeping in the back of the boat. That they’d wake him (as if he could do anything about it), only to have him at least comfort them in their final hour – that seems reasonable.
Their statement to him is therefore full of raw emotion “Teacher, do you not care…”
Don’t you care? At all? Don’t you care that we are dying?
That Jesus rebukes the storm doesn’t surprise the reader that already believes Jesus is a superhero, like a member of the X-Men. His words to the storm may be for the disciples as well
‘Peace! Be still!’
And he asks them why they have no faith.
There are two things here that awaken me.
1. Lack of Faith
Jesus seems to rebuke the disciples as he rebukes the storm. But why? How are they showing little faith? Is it simply that they thought the storm would consume them?
Mark doesn’t waste words, so I think the two most important words in the center of the story are Teacher and perish.
Jesus’s statement about their lack of faith is a response to their words. That they call Jesus “Teacher” as if he isn’t something else to them. As if he is nothing more than the person who gives them homework and grades.
I think it is also significant that they don’t wake Jesus up with a calm suggestion that they are afraid or confused or that the storm is more than they can handle in their little boat. They wake him up complaining at him, whining at him, accusing him of apathy because we’re all going to die! Aaaaaaaahhhhh!
I know they’re scared and everything, but they throw this guilt and fear and shame at the feet of their “teacher” like he is the screwup. But they’re the “students”. And their one job as disciples is to imitate their rabbi. Who was sleeping. As they are shouting at him to wake up.
2. The Horror
The story ends with a weak translation about the “awe” the disciples feel in the moment that Jesus stills the storm.
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?’
But the word used is much stronger, more like terror or horror. They were filled with great horror and said “who is this, who can control the weather?”
Jesus, their teacher, horrifies them. They thought he was a faith healer and a teacher. Maybe a prophet. They’ve seen some pretty miraculous things. But controlling the elements of the world is not part of the equation. And they didn’t know they were signing up for that.
Signing Up For This
When we talk about our faith, it often seems like we’ve signed up for a tepid faith. One in which we pray and go to church and we hope that GOD is going to do something, or at the very least that GOD might heal our friends who are sick or comfort those who are mourning. GOD can do a few things, but for the most part GOD is out there somewhere and we, well, we can go about our business like we always do.
But here is a vision of GOD in Jesus who goes well beyond those expectations, who is far more than a healer and saver.
This is as much a story of faith – about the weakness of a faith that keeps Jesus at a distance; which doesn’t trust in Jesus when Jesus shows a different way. We’d rather freak out and rage at Jesus for not being there with us when our ship is going down.
When we should be looking at where Jesus is. Just chilling in the back of the boat.
Our work as Christians, what we actually signed up for, is to be disciples of Jesus; to learn by doing what he does. By demonstrating the character of Jesus in our own words and actions.
We’ve signed up for learning from a teacher who not only comforts us, but constantly challenges us. We’ve signed up for following a savior whose work of saving is hard and never-ending. We’ve signed up for trusting in a GOD who is good and expects us to reciprocate our faith, not come to us like a divine butler when we are lost.
So how do we do this? How might we be more chill? And how might we show one another what true faith looks like, even in the midst of a perilous situation?
Daily Office Readings
Or visit the alternative Daily Office I often use.
This week’s homework is to silence the distractions.
Download the worksheet: A Simple Lent-Handout 2!