Monday, July 06, 2009

Sleeping Jesus

In Mark chapter 4 we meet a Jesus who seems not to care. There he is sleeping on a pillow at the bottom of the boat while the squall rages and the water is coming in. These disciples were not landlubbers. They were seasoned fishermen, well aware of the way a storm could get up on Galilee. They were really afraid; they feared for their lives. And it was Jesus's idea to cross the lake. Another fine mess you've got us into, they might well have said.

Yet here was Jesus sleeping. Of course he'd had a busy day. What with healing and preaching, and casting out demons, he's every right to be tired. But didn't he care that they were perishing?

Sometimes we worry that Jesus has abandoned us. We get into all sorts of trouble and when we cry out and nobody comes. I remember as a small child I used to get earache at night. I would scream in pain and every time my mother would come to me and sleep in my bed to comfort me. Why should Jesus abandon them? But, of course, he had not left them. He was still there in the stern, sleeping. They could see the Savior; our problem is that we can't. We must rely on His promises, "I will never leave you or forsake you." "All that the Father has given me shall come to me and no man can snatch them from my hand."

The problem of the disciples was not that they could not see Jesus, but they didn't realise who he is.

This may seem a bit surprising. They had already seen many healed including a leper and a demon-possessed man. He had claimed to be able to forgive sins and proved it by healing a paralytic. But all this had happened to somebody else. for the first time their own lives were threatened.

It's amazing what a difference this makes. I have seen hundreds of patients with cancer. Having cancer myself put me in a totally different position. I used to have all sorts of doubting questions - How could prayer work? Do miracles still happen? How to reconcile Man's responsibility with God's Sovereignty? - Now I know that the secret thing of God are God's to know, not mine. Job was tormented greatly by his family's demise and his loss of his wealth, but only when his body was touched by Satan was he brought low enough for God to really reach him.

Jesus had not been sleeping to put the disciples in danger. His purpose was to demonstrate to the disciples who he really was. They were slow to learn, but in stilling the storm with a single word he revealed himself "He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed" (Psalm 107:29). "You rule over the surging sea; when the waves mount up you still them" (Psalm 89:9). Who is it who controls the Sea? It is Yahweh the Creator God. When the disciples ask the question, "Who is this, even the wind and waves obey him?" they know the answer. Jesus is the Creator God.

God's purpose is not our comfort but our holiness. For this we need to submit to him, accept the gift of salvation, and follow him. Through our changing circumstances he cajoles us into acceptance. Is he there? Is he sleeping? Doesn't he care? He's there, he cares, and he's wide awake; but he knows what's best for us and he leads us into it.

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