Tuesday, April 26, 2016

In the Boat

Today's story is not going to be a new one for very many; it is one of the most-told stories in the Gospels. But it is necessary to look at today's story as a set-up for another one. 

The Gospels record for us a story of Jesus and His disciples in a boat, crossing the lake once again. It seems boats were a favorite place for Jesus, as it was often the only place He could truly go to get away from the crowds. (The Gospels say as much, although they also say that sometimes, others got in boats to follow Him and sometimes, they ran around the shorelines to meet Him on the other side.) While He was with the fishermen, and this was work for them, it was rest for Him. 

They steered the boats; He slept in the stern.

It's an interesting scenario. Of all the things we see Jesus trusting the disciples with throughout His journey - His secrets, His teachings, His authority to cast out demons, etc. - we don't often think of Him trusting them with His life. But He does. He trusts them with His life in the boat because these are the experts; these men are the best in their field. Simon and Andrew, James and John (at least) were professional fishermen. If there is ever a place on the earth where Jesus feels safe in the hands of His disciples, it is here, in their boat.

Which is all well and good except...there's a storm brewing. 

Jesus trusts the disciples to handle the storm; it doesn't even wake Him up. We often think that has something to do with the relationship between Jesus and storms, in general, but I don't think we have to make that assumption. Jesus was with at least four guys who spent their lives on the water. They've handled storms. They can handle this one.

In fact, I think that in a few verses, when we see the disciples start to panic, it wasn't the fishermen who were panicking. It was the other guys. Matthew was a white-collar guy, a tax collector. Judas was an actuary, perhaps. These white-collar guys were the ones who were a little green around the gills. I'm pretty sure the fishermen were doing their best to run the show, "Guys, calm down. We got this. Let the Man sleep!" Meanwhile, the guys less familiar with the waters were less calm about the whole thing.

We're going to die! We're all going to die! Jesus, WAKE UP!

There are a few reasons I'll risk saying something like this (besides it making complete logical sense). First, the Gospels record fairly routinely for us the dumb stuff that James and John and especially Peter say; there's none of that here. Neither of these three seems to be the one speaking. If it were, I think we would be told as much. Second, Peter says and does nothing in this scene, which means for once, he might actually be busy doing something meaningful in all this. Like steering the boat. And making sure they don't all die.

So it's an interesting scene that is setting up in this little boat here in these choppy waters. For once, the men are just doing what they do - either managing the boat or attempting to manage their anxieties - and it is Jesus who is not doing a thing. It is Jesus who is resting comfortably, trusting that things are in good hands. Yes, He probably knows that there's a storm. Yes, He's aware that at any moment, He could wake up and speak the storm away. But He doesn't always have to work miracles, you know. He doesn't always have to be God. 

Men are capable beings, too. And especially these men.

They can handle a little storm.

Well, some of them can. 

But there's more to this story. Much more, actually. Stay tuned. 

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