On that day, when evening came, He [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.
Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and [k]it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
As a child I very much disliked bridges. It was not bridges themselves that I disliked, but the crossing of bridges.
As a young grade-schooler in Memphis, TN my family often camped at Greer's Ferry Lake in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. To get there each summer, we had to cross over the Mississippi River on what is now referred to as the "old bridge." I imagined a giant hole in that bridge which, unseen by my father, our 1970s metallic burnt orange GMC truck with the camper on the back would drive into and we would free-fall into the rushing muddy Mississippi below.
So every summer after my older brother and I clambered into the camper, mom and dad in the truck, I laid myself down to sleep and told Mike to wake me when we got over that bridge with the imaginary-invisible-gaping hole. If I could sleep through the inevitable disaster, I reasoned, I would at least plummet to my death without the crushing fear that gripped my young life.
Sadly I never fell asleep in time to skip the anxiety of the bridge crossing. But dad never hit that hole. He either swerved in time or it never appeared while we crossed. But I would dream of strange bridges for decades as I lived with fear and anxiety.
As I tried to sleep through these decades of bridge crossings, now as the driver in my dreams, I marveled as cars zoomed past with not a care in the world onto and over the wildly swaying or undulating bridges. I never got past the beginning before waking from my dreams.Perhaps 10 years ago I noticed I was crossing my bridges.Then one day, I noticed I hadn’t dreamed of bridges in years.Curious.
One evening, after days of healing the sick and demon possessed who pressed up against him, of teaching, of confrontations by those who would prefer him dead, Jesus, the Son of God, Emmanuel, says to the twelve he has recently chosen to follow him:
Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.
Away from the madding crowd. Away from the noise and the work and the worries. Out of the storm. It’s time to go. Go to the other side.
And God With Us lies down on a cushion and goes to sleep.
A fierce gale blows up on this sea. Great waves break over the boat, filling it up with seawater. God sleeps. God’s people become frightened for their lives. At least four of the twelve are seasoned seafaring men who have weathered storms and their fierce gales before. Yet, they are certain they are about to perish in this storm.
And their teacher, the one they trust the most, sleeps through it all on a cushion in the back of the boat.
So, they wake him up. They accuse him of not caring. Not caring that they are all about to die as they cross to the other side of the sea.
Hush! Be still!
Hush. Be still.
It became perfectly still.
Can you imagine?
Not just the wind and the waves. The moment.
The frenetic minds and movements of the twelve.
In awe and terror.
Remember, there were other boats crossing also to the other side.
It all became perfectly still.
Do you still have no faith? Jesus Emmanuel asked.
After all, hadn’t they just witnessed legions of demons bow before him proclaiming him to be the Son of God even as he cast them out?
Hush. Be still.
They became very much more afraid.
What they did not know, what we do not know, what we so easily forget in the madding crowds and sorrows and needs for healing, is that God With Us never intended to die crossing over to the other side.
There would be no accidents that day.
What I did not understand as a young child was that unseen holes do not pop up wildly in bridges. What I did know, even at five and six, was that the fierce gales of life can leave you feeling like you are in a constant free-fall.
Hush. Be still.
God still stills the storms.
Jesus did not gather the twelve around him on the cushion and sing them a lullaby.
He stood and made everything perfectly calm.
Interestingly, when Jesus got to the other side, he did not find refuge and rest anticipated for the Son of God. Immediately, Mark writes, he found another demon possessed man. A Gerasene man. This demon was different from all others, for he was many. He was Legion. Yet, like every other, seeing Jesus from a distance, they ran up to the Son of God, bowed down before him, and shouted, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”
And Jesus, in perfect form, sent Legion into the roaring sea.
God does not die by accident. God stills storms.
But God did die.
God died on a tree.
God had a plan and a purpose.
On that day Legion thought they won when God appeared once again to cross over to the other side.
But the Son of God, Emmanuel did not die in any accidents.
When God died God had a plan and a purpose.
God chose the time and the place and the means and the people.
And once again, when God died according to God's plan, there was complete calm in the middle of a chaotic afternoon.
Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Hush. Be still. He is God and he stilling all the storms.