Text and image by Rick McVicar
After Jesus appears as a nature lover by preaching about seeds in Mark’s Gospel, he takes control over nature when his sleep is disturbed by a storm (4:35-41, NIV).
The writer clearly pits Jesus against nature, which terrifies his disciples and probably the writer of Mark's Gospel as well. In response, Mark chooses nature.
The writer tells us why the Romans, Jews and even us might want Jesus dead after he displays complete control over nature.
The story of Jesus quieting a squall takes place when Jesus is asleep on the back of a boat crossing a lake. Jesus is comfortable before the storm hits, as he lies on a cushion. He is not alone, as his disciples are on the boat with him. Other boats can be seen nearby.
The squall, a storm with strong winds, brings high crushing waves that almost overwhelm the boat. Jesus’ disciples get scared and jostle Jesus awake. Jesus must be sawing logs in his sleep, as his disciples have to awaken him despite the boat’s turbulence.
His sleep is a clear indication that he is separate from nature. This is a stark contrast from Jesus telling parables about seeds, which seem to place Jesus in tune with nature. Meanwhile, the disciples are very much aware of nature, terrified of the danger it can pose.
In response, Jesus says to the wind, “Quiet! Be still!” and everything turns calm (v. 39). He belittles his disciples for not having enough faith.
In turn, the disciples are terrified that Jesus can stop a storm. Their reaction is interesting, as Jesus’ control over nature does not comfort them. After being terrified by a storm, they are terrified by Jesus as well.
At this point in the story, the writer of Mark’s Gospel is throwing up red flags, screaming, “Watch out! Jesus might be terrifying!” The writer is not saying that Jesus calms all of our anxieties by being in control. No, the writer is warning us that anyone taking control of nature, including Jesus himself, is really terrifying.
If Jesus is not enough to alleviate your fears and anxieties, I hope you find artful health to see your way through.
Click on image to go to animated poetry video on YouTube.