And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship.
And there were also with him other little ships.
(Mark 4:36 KJV)
Jesus stilled the storm. It’s a well-known story that’s usually told to show how powerful Jesus was. But the story starts from a quite different perspective. As he boards the boat, there’s a little phrase in the story that we can easily miss. It says that the disciples took Jesus “as he was”. Get that. He didn’t climb into the vessel of his own accord. The disciples took him because he was too exhausted to board without help. That phrase “as he was” implies that he wasn’t in good shape – they may even have carried him onto the boat. Then, as soon as they set off, he fell asleep so deeply that he didn’t wake up even in the storm. He wasn’t on a comfortable cabin cruiser, but a simple wooden fishing boat. It wasn’t comfort that made him sleep, but exhaustion. What does that tell us about him?
It tells us that Jesus gave himself unreservedly to the people who clamoured for his attention. It tells us that he didn’t give up, even when he was tired. It tells us that he was totally human. The New Testament gives us many examples that demonstrated the humanity of Jesus, but be clear about this – it didn’t in any way contradict his divinity. Jesus, the Son of God, chose to become human. He chose to become the Messiah that the Scriptures had foretold. But he wasn’t the kind of Messiah that the religious authorities expected. They hoped for a strong man, strikingly tall, with bulging muscles and a commanding voice, who would lead their nation to victory over the Roman occupiers. He wasn’t like that.
On the other hand, he wasn’t exactly the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” that other voices have described. His will was strong enough to beat off a direct attack by Satan himself. I’ll examine that story in my next blog.
Jesus is our Saviour, and he’s also our example. Awareness of that can make us think that we have to look powerful in order to do his work. But, here in the story of this amazing miracle, Jesus set out in weakness. He was “as he was”. When the call to action came, he had to be aroused out of a deep sleep – the sleep of weakness. It was in weakness that he commanded the storm to abate. Over the years I have had occasional cause to shudder in prayer meetings when someone starts shouting their “prayer”, evidently believing that they are demonstrating strength and determination. Jesus didn’t shout at the storm. He spoke to it – and that was enough. His authority wasn’t based on an outward show of power, but an inner reliance on his Father, God.
What Jesus displayed in this memorable incident was human weakness using divine strength, and that’s available to his followers too. The principle was neatly stated in God’s promise to the apostle Paul several years later – “My strength is made perfect in weakness” . So, what benefit is there from acknowledging our weakness? There are two huge benefits. First of all, it is easier to live with a truth, rather than a lie. The fact is, we are weak! Secondly, we give credit to the true source of whatever strength, power, or wisdom is demonstrated in our lives – “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” . Get the point now – those who follow Jesus really do have this “treasure”, that is, this strength or power, but it’s God’s power, not ours.
© Derrick Phillips 2022