Mark’s few verses are consistent with the theme of contrasts this week. Perhaps we need these opposites to remind us of life’s ebb and flow. Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of light, a midpoint, a celestial high tide! The tide comes in, bringing the best and worst; the tide goes out, taking the best and worst. Phrases like “across to the other side” and “leaving the crowd behind” or “just as he was” foster feelings of solitude and the peaceful calm of that which is eternal. Then suddenly we face phrases like “a great windstorm” and “already being swamped.” We in our everyday existence strike a balance between peace and calamity. Then here “in the stern” we are most likely to find Jesus.
But what about Jesus’ response? Maybe like some of us when awakened from a nice nap, he seems a bit grumpy. He “rebuked the wind.” We may consider this a rather harsh reaction. I struggle in visualizing Jesus being as abrupt as is the connotation of this word, being more comfortable with the word rebuke taking on the meaning of “to correct,” one of its root meanings. And this writer believes most of the time Jesus employs this method of rebuke as a teaching tool. Rebuke is a word that describes Jesus’ response to more than a dozen Gospel situations.
What did Jesus come into this world to do? Was it not to correct and change the course of humankind? Was it not to show us the power of still and quiet in the center of the storm and draw our attention to the question of our fear? With that in mind, we come to understand that right in the middle of our successes and failures, we find our faith, ourselves, and our peace—when we turn to him and allow him to calm the storms.
Prince of Peace, may we always turn to you when we find ourselves in the middle of life’s storms. Amen.
As children of God, we will face opposition; but God will ultimately give us victory. The psalmist cries out to God asking for deliverance from oppression at the hands of his enemies and concludes the psalm with the assurance that God will do so. Tradition credits this psalm to David, who as a boy had risked his life against Goliath based on that same assurance. Goliath mocked the Israelites and their God, but God gave the victory. Paul recounts his sufferings for the gospel, yet he is not overcome or in despair, for he trusts in God. Jesus calms a storm and is disappointed that the disciples show so little faith. Why do they not believe in God’s deliverance? And what about us? Do we still believe in God’s deliverance?
• Read 1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49. How do you stay grounded in the knowledge that you are part of the people of God? How does that knowledge sustain you in trying times?
• Read Psalm 9:9-20. When have you been provoked to cry out, “Rise up, O Lord?” On whose behalf did you cry?
• Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-13. When have you allowed your discipleship to become lax? Can you sense Paul’s urgency in his appeal: “Now is the acceptable time” (emphasis added)?
• Read Mark 4:35-41. How do you find the quiet center when the storms of life rage around you?
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