Four Stormy Questions

23 June 2024

Four stormy questions

The usual path for the preacher today is to point to the reassuring reality that the Master is always with us in the storms of life. ‘The boat’ can be interpreted as our parish, community, nation or life.

And it is true... The master is always with us. Often he indeed seems to be snoring when we need him most and it is true that sometimes he seems to stir from his slumber and put things right, bringing stillness and calm in the most unlikely way. It is also true that Jesus’ slumber is a sign of his confidence in us. But amid today’s weather forecast, there are 4 stormy questions.

Each one of them is a rhetorical question. IE | A question that is asked for effect and to make a point. It does not seek an answer. Kind of like ‘Do you think it’s wise Father David, to drink a bottle of your finest before a funeral?’ Notice also that there are no answers to any of the 4 questions. It is left up to us to discover the answers for ourselves in the storms of our asking.

So let’s take each question one by one and see where this little boat ride might finish up.

Question 1

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

That Jesus cares has never been in question and it's not what the disciples are asking. What the disciples want to know is what, if anything, is the Master going to do about this life-threatening situation.

Further, there is the slightest tinge of manipulation in this question.

“If you cared, you will do something about this.” Or worse. “If you cared, you would have made sure that this storm would never have occurred in the first place and we would have had an uneventful passage across the lake.”

It’s not an uncommon way of thinking. ‘If the God we worship is so loving and caring how come … The television tells me that A, B, C and Q.4 happen daily.

Perhaps it comes back to the snoring Jesus in the stern. Maybe the onus is on us to be active when the storms get tempestuous.

Notice the salutation with which Jesus is addressed. The disciples call him ‘Teacher’. This will be important later on when we get to question four.

So Jesus stills the storm and turns to his disciples for questions 2 and 3

Question 2

Why are you so afraid?

Question 3

Do you still have no faith?

I don’t think Jesus is looking for an answer here, rather he wants the disciples to ask the question of themselves. So it becomes not  ‘Why are you afraid?’ But rather the disciples need to ask themselves ‘Why am I afraid?’ And this is a very pertinent question to all of Jesus’ disciples including ourselves. Why am I afraid? or What am I afraid of? Why are we panicking instead of having faith?

Which brings us to Jesus’ second question.

Do you still have no faith?

Almost as if to say ….After everything I have said and everything I have done…. how come you guys still have no faith? What is it that is stopping you or rather stopping us, from having the faith to snore through the storms of life? These are really good questions to ask ourselves in a quiet setting. What is it that hinders, thwarts and stops me from having the faith that I know I should have and certainly the faith that the Master has given me? What is the self-imposed roadblock that stands in the way of becoming the person I am called to be?

Like those disciples in the leaky boat, part of it is fear. Fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of becoming vulnerable, fear of …

Fear can thwart you, drown you, render you ineffectual and impotent. It is a bully. It needs to be confronted and told off for what it is.

So exactly what is it that we are afraid of? I think we need to be brutally honest here and say that one of our most popular fears is death. Not necessarily what is on the other side, but the process of physically dying. The storm we encounter to get to the other side. The fear of dying is an understandable and almost respectful fear to have. But mixed through this fear there is always hope because of who it is that is really with us in the boat and what He has done. Which brings us to the fourth question.

Question 4

“Who is this?”

The disciples start by calling Jesus ‘teacher.’ As I pointed out, no answer is given to any of the questions. We must decide for ourselves who it is that is with us. That is part of Mark’s cleverness and charm. He poses the questions and then just hands over his manuscript to us. He sets us off into the storm of thinking and wrestling and only when we have found our answers does the silence and peace begin.

A question for your homework. At this point in your life are you…

The snoring Jesus?

The frightened disciples?

The boat carrying others through the storm?

The storm itself.?

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