Why Are You Afraid?

Mark 4:35-41 starts us off with a new event (Paraphrased):

So in the evening of that day, Jesus suggests that they get into boats and go across the sea…and other boats were with them, (something you don’t often hear). Then, sometime during the night, a great windstorm arose. The waves beat the boat, which was already swamped. But Jesus was in the Stern (bottom area of the boat, as I understand), asleep on a cushion. So as they’re being swamped and knocked around, they woke Him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re perishing?” At that, Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind, and told the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased and there was a dead calm, and Jesus looked at His 12 and asked, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” The Bible then tells us that they were filled with great awe, and said to one another, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

I’ve talked on this passage a lot in the past, as I’m sure you’ve heard others do so also, but this time, the part that stood out to me was when Jesus’ Apostles asked Him, “Don’t you care that we’re perishing?”

Even with everything that Jesus had shown them, done among them, shared with them…they still didn’t recognize just who He was/is. They still called Him “Teacher” or Rabbi, and as it appeared, they still only recognized Him as such. First of all, I find it scary to think that they left everything in their lives behind to follow a guy who just spoke well and showed them extra-ordinary love. Granted, Rob Bell’s explanation of why they followed Him would make sense, but then, if that was all that Jesus was about, then He could have fit the profile of the religious teachers, which included Him being either a lunatic, a false teacher, or a magical healer. Unfortunately, many throughout the years who showed such extraordinary love for their subjects in fact WERE lunatics, false teachers, and/or magical healers, but Jesus was not one of them. He was/is so much more than that, and it’s scary to think that they still left behind everything to follow somebody who they only recognized as a man who was different from everybody else.

Secondly, it’s like they weren’t listening to everything Jesus had so far taught them. Instead, it’s almost as if they saw themselves as friends of a celebrity, or bodyguards, soaking up the fame. They could take on the phrase “We’re with Him,” as if they’re part of the entourage, but seemed to see His teaching as for the others, not them.

Third, after all this, the gears were turning in their heads, but for some reason, they still didn’t get it. For, so far:

  • Demons were cast out, screaming that Jesus is God’s Son, God’s Holy one.
  • Sicknesses were healed
  • Forgiving of sins
  • Jesus taught like none other
  • They’d just returned from a mission of spreading Word about Him all around the area
  • They cast out demons
  • They healed the sick

And just NOW they noticed something extraordinary about Him? Seriously?!? What took you guys so long?

Here’s another thought: If Jesus was only a man, or anything less than the Messiah, then why, when being swamped in the boat, would waking Him up even matter? ‘You’re freaking out about a crazy storm, and you think that this Jesus character can do something, yet you think He’s only a man? So why bother waking Him up then?’ Especially with the question they asked: “Don’t you care that we’re perishing?” Only such a question demands an action. ‘What did you EXPECT Jesus to do, especially if He’s anything less than He claimed to be? And now that Jesus calmed the storm and winds, why are you dumb-founded? Dude, you woke Him up with hopes that He would do something. If you didn’t expect Him to do anything, then why bother waking Him up? Didn’t He do basically what you expected Him to do? And if so, then why are you surprised?’

Honestly, I think Jesus had good reason to ask them what He did once He calmed everything down. “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” I mean, figure this: at least 4 of the 12 men were professional fishermen, so they had grown up and lived on boats all their lives. They had been in storms before, surely similar to that one. So why did they freak out so much this time? Did they doubt their own abilities? Did they doubt their own experience and training? Was it because their dads weren’t there to tell them what to do? (THERE’S something to look at). Maybe Jesus was hoping that they would have enough faith and that they would use these skills, along with being able to put their faith in God to get them through it. Or maybe He was just hoping they wouldn’t all freak out. OR, maybe Jesus expected them to fail so He could help them realize that what He’s teaching the people, He’s also teaching them, and how He hopes the people respond, He expects His own people to respond also. (See “Walking on Water”)

Maybe another question to ask is, why did they wait so long to ask Jesus for help? A Christian brother of mine posted something on his Tumblr once about the problem of Christians not putting Jesus first in everything, but only going to Him in the times of need, and even waiting until things are worse before asking. But yet, Jesus wants us to rely on Him, if not solely, at least first.

So now, Jesus has revealed another sign to them about who He is, that He’s in control, and there’s no need for fear when they’re in His presence, and here they are, still confused about who He is (I wonder what those in the other boats with them were thinking, or if they figured it out once the 12 explained to them about it once on land?).

I notice that often times, when we’re dealing with trials, we tend to forget WHOSE we are, that Jesus is in control, that He cares about us and that we should not perish, and that if we remain in His presence, there is no reason to fear. And when you really look at it, are we really afraid of the storm, or of what might happen as a result of the storm?

Maybe we fear things because when difficulties strike, we actually take ourselves out of Jesus’ presence in order to try and work things out on our own. Or maybe because we get so comfortable in the good times that we tend to forget why we accepted and decided to follow Jesus in the first place, or who He really is.

Reflection:

  1. Why is it that when times are beyond our control, do we seem to wait until the last minute to ask Jesus for help?
  2. Do you think Jesus was more upset with the 12 because they asked Him for help or because they took so long to ask Him for help? If because they asked Him, how do you think Jesus had hoped they would have handled it instead?
  3. Based on what I mentioned above, why do you suppose they even bothered waking Jesus up? Since they were so amazed at the way Jesus handled it before, what do you suppose they expected Jesus to do?
  4. Why did you decide to follow and give your life to Jesus? How often, as you walk with Jesus, do you remember the reasons?
  5. As you know, I often like to share my “God experiences”, where God does something extraordinary, or just answers a prayer, and by doing so, it just blows me away and always brings me to my knees in amazement and praise. Above I asked why they woke Jesus up if they didn’t expect Him to do anything. The same question goes to y’all. Why do we pray if we don’t expect God to do anything? Or do we pray because we DO expect Jesus to do something? Either way, why do you suppose we’re always so amazed and blown away when He responds and/or fulfills it?
  6. Go over these questions, alone or with others, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to know what you came up with.

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