#0043 Did you hear the one about the 12 Evangelicals sitting in a boat when Jesus came walking by?
Relevant links in today’s Posting
- “If the intelligence and law enforcement community cannot certify that a person presents no threat, then they should not be allowed in!”
- Sen. Joni Ernst • Stop Importing Syrian Refugees • 11/18/15 •
Jesus Calms the Storm
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.
24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.
25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Matthew 8:23-27 (NIV)
The scripture we are working from today is the story of Jesus and His closest followers riding in a boat on their way to another town. While out there in the middle of the sea a storm arose and it started tossing and tipping the boat around pretty good. At one point some of the guys had to go and wake Jesus up; it seems He was fast asleep amidst the throes of this violent storm. Why Jesus was sleeping and how He was able to sleep amidst this violent storm is fodder for a whole other sermon. Without going too far down that trail of thought I would like to point out that this is a good example of R-Directed mental/spiritual energy that allowed Jesus to sleep in the middle of a typhoon and it’s its opposite (L-Directed mental energy) that got His disciples all freaked out about it. I am treating this story as an allegory in order to draw some parallels to today’s self-proclaimed versions of Jesus’s disciples—the Evangelicals (conservatists). Another side effect of being an L-Directed thinker which made the early disciples tremble with fear at the stormy world condition; was their inexorable tendency of focusing on the details to the exclusion of the big picture. All those guys in the boat could see and understand in that moment was the wild display of lightning in the sky and the crashing of white water all around them. They were in no frame of mind to perceive the bigger picture of Jesus—creator of the universe—sitting right there in their little boat beside them. There is a slogan Christians like to toss around today which may have been useful to that handful of struggling believers then: Know Jesus—Know peace; no Jesus—no peace. It seems that those disciples sitting in closer proximity to Jesus had the better opportunity of knowing Jesus and the ensuing peace that came with that knowing than any of us have today. Instead of pursuing that knowing kind of relationship with him, they opted to accommodate their fears instead.
As I already mentioned, this story is an allegory today, so everything about the story symbolizes something else. The disciples represent Evangelicals in their conservative approach to reality; the storm represents the fronts and systems which bring real troubles and woes as well as the threat of same along with its potential to flare up at any time; even Jesus in the story symbolizes the pure and authentic truth of His teachings and gospel message. In the story, when did Jesus fix the storm situation and restore their physical environment to a peaceful setting? Evidently He didn’t do it (though, arguably, He could have) before they went out sailing in some sort of preemptive cautionary maneuver. He didn’t do it even after the storm rose up and got to blowing real good! It was only after His companions in the boat woke him up and started whining about it did He act.
Matt 8: 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The two relevant links above are examples of this fear-based thinking promoting preemptive and conservative responses to two different threat potentials to the good, God-fearing, decent people of the world. The first is a story behind the recent controversy around the actions of clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky. This link tells of the influences of a group doing all it can to promote her refusal to grant marriage licenses to same sex couples. The reason for this is to keep America intact and safe from going off the moral rails as it were. In the article we see this group: Liberty Counsel spinning the situation in such a way as to make both them (and others like them) and Ms. Davis appear to be the victims in the situation and not those who are having their rights withheld from them. It’s a preemptive moral maneuver. The members of Liberty Counsel claim that they are on the side of Jesus on this; but, according to what our scripture allegory infers, Jesus doesn’t promote preemptive maneuvers.
In the next two related links we see Paul Ryan and some other members of congress invoking the same preemptive strategy; but this time with the end game of keeping (to their minds) dangerous refugees from getting into the country. In the first clip Paul Ryan keeps using the word compassionate in describing our response as Americans to these helpless refugees; but in the same breath he adds we need to keep Americans safe. Next he talks about putting a pause on any further actions that would allow these Syrian people into the country. In the next clip Senator Ernst comes right out and admits that this pause would most likely be indefinite. The whole deal is just a preemptive strategy incorporating a lot of smoke and mirrors designed to make it seem like denying any aid or shelter to these hurting and needy people is the right (compassionate while safe) response.
There is a different scripture that tells of another time the disciples were out in the boat and the seas grew choppy. This time, though, Jesus wasn’t in the boat with them. Evidently Jesus had gotten delayed at their previous stop and had to stay behind so He sent His disciples on ahead telling them He’d catch up. This time when the wind began to blow and the sea got to crashing around them they looked out across the water and saw Jesus walking towards them. In seeing Him they were filled with delight and hope. Again, Jesus didn’t seem to be concerned with the weather nor with bothering to calm it down. Peter was feeling so inspired seeing Jesus walking on the water that he called out and asked if he might walk out to Jesus! Jesus answered, “Come”. At this point the disciples’ focus was no longer on the storm and their own personal safety. They were all looking out at Jesus; especially Peter. Let’s think about this; as Peter steps out of the boat and starts heading towards Jesus, he is also heading towards the storm and all of its inherent danger. As the story finishes up, Peter starts coming to his senses, as it were, and realizes that men don’t walk on water and with this change of heart, he begins to sink. What would have happened, though, if Peter hadn’t let fear take him over? In this alternate scenario where he doesn’t take his eyes off Jesus; where he persists in his journey towards Him as well as the storm; where he is precariously perched yet standing against the threats imposed upon them by the storm (not the least of which being the water he was walking on); would his persistence in standing up against the evil of the storm have brought about a different result for him and the other disciples in the boat? Would Peter’s action of defiance against the storm brought about the same calming result that Jesus’s words did in the first story?!