Asleep on a Cushion

Details in Bible stories can fun as well as insightful.  This Sunday I am preaching on Mark 4:35-41, Jesus calms a storm.  The detail that catches my eye is in verse 38. As the storm reaches a climax and begins to swamp the boat, Jesus remains asleep on a cushion in the stern of the boat. As I read this I wondered, Where did the cushion come from?  Did Galilean fishing boats carry them as standard equipment?  Or did a disciple pack a  travel pillow and loan it to Jesus?

On a more serious note is the fact that Jesus is asleep at this critical moment in the storm.  Was this a sign of his confidence in God’s care?  Or a reminder of his humanity and need for sleep? Or was he simply trusting Peter and the others to do their job as fishermen?

A core question that the story stirs in me is, “Jesus, shouldn’t you be awake so you can stir the boat around the storm?”  The ship was a Christian symbol of the church: the people of God as the ship’s crew and Jesus as our captain who guides our voyage.  And do not Christians often pray for such direction?  Do we not ask for God’s protection and guidance so that we do not have a storm to face or a crisis of faith to endure?  Whether the storm is an external crisis, like a death or financial loss, or an internal crisis, such as a broken relationship or sudden illness, do we not sometimes think Jesus could have prevented the “storm” from striking us?

Such questions can help us see the truth of the story for us, because Jesus does still the storm and then confronts the disciples regarding their lack of faith.  A storm or crisis often reveals our shallow trust and our need for Jesus as our savior. When my daughter faced open-heart surgery as an infant, I know that my prayers took on a new depth and clarity.   Without the crisis we would not call out for God’s help and then bear witness to God’s transforming power.  Jesus may be asleep for us, because we have not called out to him from the depths of our souls and asked him to transform our lives.

In what ways is Jesus’ power awake or asleep in your life?

Jesus, awaken me to the power of your love.

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