You Don't Know Who You Are Dealing With
#YouDontKnowWhoYouAreDealingWith is the podcast for June 24, 2018. When you are crossing a lake and a storm rolls in, how can you sleep on a pillow in a boat on that lake? Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Mark #Mark4 #Trust #Apostle #Disciple #Transition #NewPerspective #NewLife #Power #Renewal
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 6/24/2018 The 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 4:35-41.
In 1986, Moshe and Yuvan Lufan, two fisherman brothers and amateur archeologists, discovered a boat that had been revealed by the drought at the Sea of Galilee that year. It was 27 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, and about 4.5 feet tall. The process for extracting the boat was interesting, though not germane to our topic for today. Because of the fragility of the wood and the damage of being exposed to modern air, they had to give it a wax bath for 12 years before it could be displayed.
The boat was dated to be from around 40 BC to 50 AD. This means it could have been from the period of when Jesus was ministering along the Sea of Galilee. There is no evidence that this boat was connected to Jesus in any way. Yet, today, I make the case that this boat could not have possibly been connected to Jesus. That is because, as our Gospel lesson for this 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time shows us, boats connected to Jesus do not sink.
This is easy to hear. It is easy to rejoice at. It is easy to get a feeling of confidence and joy that boats connected to Jesus do not sink. The hard part is to live it. My sympathy goes to the apostles here.
Jesus has been healing, cleansing, and teaching up to this point in the Gospel. In Chapter 3, he calls the twelve to himself. He takes on the authorities. He takes on the idea that his family is coming to get him because, “he must be crazy.” His response gives us, I believe, the underpinning for understanding this passage of calming the storm and the waves: “Who are my mother, my brothers, and my sisters? Those who do the will of the Father are my mother, my brothers, and my sisters.”
Jesus has come. He has shown he is from God. He shows what he can do: he drives out an unclean spirit, cleanses a leper, and heals a paralytic. The people throng to him and he teaches in parables to them. Those who are wowed by “Jesus the spectacle and curiosity,” are satisfied to just hear the parables. Can you hear them? “That Jesus guy is something! Wow. They say he heals people! Amazing!” Then they go on their way.
Those Jesus calls to be his 12, these he teaches the meaning of the parables. The apostles, at this point, know he is from God. They are about to find out that he IS God.
It is one thing to believe there is a god. It is another to believe that Jesus is God. It is yet another to believe in Jesus as the God who stills the wind and the waves. Until we understand that Jesus is the One through whom the wind and the waves were created, we will still not have any idea “who we are dealing with.”
This journey across the Sea of Galilee is a symbolic journey at this juncture in the Gospel of Mark. For those who are disciples, and even more those who are called to be apostles, the journey with Jesus across the sea is one from celebrating a great teacher to knowing the one in whom we believe can still the storm and calm the waves. Even more than this, we need to believe in, trust with our lives and actions, the One for whom the wind and the waves are of no concern.
For us, when the wind and the waves buffet a 27 foot boat, we are up all night fretting about our life. We progress in obsessive thoughts: What will we do? How will we protect our stuff? How will we protect our memories? How will we protect ours lives? If we survive, how will we deal with the trauma of almost losing everything?
As we fret, Jesus Christ, the Word through whom the Universe was made, sleeps serenely with his head on a pillow in the boat. No Dramamine for him. It is because he knows who he is. He is the God of the universe for whom this reality is a passing shadow. There is a battle he is about to win. He trusts in himseelf because this world around him, the boat, the people, the waves, the wind, they are all part of reality, but they are not the ultimate reality. The ultimate reality is God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Even if we should lose our life to the wind and the waves, life is not over. There is the second coming. There is the renewal of heaven and earth for those who follow God. There is the removal of evil from the world. This perspective, that what we accumulate for ourselves, and the safety nets we build, are nothing compared to the nets Jesus has made to fish for people must permeate our existence. The life of those who are in the world and of the world is to accumulate stuff and build a moat around it. The life of disciples and apostles is the life of being part of the one who stops the wind and calms the waves, the One who is not bothered by the wind and the waves.
The One we serve is the one who stopped wind, calmed waves, healed paralytics, cleansed lepers, and taught us that this world is on its way to renewal. Evil has the power we give it now, but it has no power over the future. It should have no power over our reality.
When we move from believing there is a god to believing Jesus is God to believing that Jesus is MY God, our God, then there is a transformation that happens. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can be healed of the past. We can reach out to others and be their healer. We can give them joy and renewal where there is no chance of renewal. We can heal the world because we are baptized into the one who stills the waves and the wind.
One note here: One of the symbols of the church is a boat in big waves. Jesus never promised that we would go through our life without wind and waves. He just gave us the ability to still the wind and calm the waves by remembering in whom we believe. When we go on our mission and not God’s mission is when we start to sink.
Where are you on the journey? Are you still on the shore, watching the boats leave? Are you in a boat around the one with Jesus in it, seeing him from afar, but the wind and waves are more real than Jesus? Are you on the boat with Jesus but the waves are freaking you out? Are you with Christ sleeping on the pillow as wind and waves pillory the boat? You are invited to trust the one who is sleeping calmly through the storm. When you do, you are then ready to be sent on a journey to save the world.
When we move into believing in Jesus and his power, that is when we start to reorder our lives to equip ourselves and the church for the mission of healing a broken world. That is when we can separate ourselves from our lives, our current situations, and look at them. We begin to see that we, too, can sleep well because our trust is in Jesus, and we fully understand he is able to carry us to the other side, through the hard times. We move from served to servant. That is a qualitative difference that gives life a totally new meaning and purpose. When we know for sure in whom we believe we realize, “Jesus boats” don’t sink. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2018.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian