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?”
There are moments when it appears that Jesus asks inane questions. This is one of those times. “Why are you afraid?”
They’re in the middle of a storm in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. Heading to shore isn’t an option. This is a “great storm.” Not just huge, but awesome and awe-inspiring; in other words, God-sized. Their fishing boat is about to capsize and Jesus asks them why they fear?
They didn’t particularly want to go to the other side. It was late in the day; they were tired. Perhaps they knew Jesus’ intention to head for Gentile territory. They wouldn’t have been pleased about that. Gentiles don’t look or act like us. They’re unclean. Their customs and traditions are different.
We fear what we don’t know. Where is your Gentile territory? What or who do you fear? Has Isis made you fear all Muslims? Do strange Jewish ways make you want to avoid all Jews? Does the language and cultural barriers keep you from getting to know Latinos? Do you avoid visiting people in the hospital because sickness scares you?
What are you afraid of?
Perhaps your fears are more personal. What will happen if you change a bad habit? What keeps you from stepping out of your comfort zone?
Meanwhile, Jesus sleeps in the stern.
“Don’t you care, Lord?” Don’t you care that the storm is a tsunami and threatens to sink us? Don’t you care that we’re scared out of our minds? That we didn’t want to cross to the other side? That we don’t want this kind of change?
The other side is unknown. The other is side is strange and scary. The other side is our next ministry. The other side is that homeless man standing on the street corner looking for a handout. The other side is the woman calling in need of emergency groceries. The other side has children in need of love and attention. The other side has men and women struggling to figure life out.
Don’t you care, Lord? Don’t you care that we’re scared? Don’t you care that we’d rather stay right here with you and be comforted and comfortable?
When Jesus wakes up he acts quickly. He rebukes the wind and waves just like he rebukes demons and unclean spirits. Great, God-sized storms are settled by Jesus to become great, God-sized calms. And we, like the disciples, witness this and experience great, God-sized awe.
If Jesus can do this; if Jesus can calm great storms, perhaps Jesus can calm our fears. Jesus can and does calm our fears about what lies ahead of us. Jesus can and does rebuke fear and those unclean spirits that try to hold us back.
Jesus can do more than we expect.
If you haven’t tried it lately, put him to the test. Experience God-sized fear and calm and awe.
All glory and honor be to God.