“We are perishing” – a prayer of deliverance- Saturday, 3rd week in ordinary time – Mark 4:35-41
Jesus has just finished teaching a series of four parables on the kingdom of God. He did this in Capernaum (2:19b) to ‘very large crowd’(4:1). Now he decides to leave the crowds behind, desiring to go to the other side of the lake of Galilee (4:35).
What strikes us immediately is the odd hour that Jesus chooses to make this trip; it was already evening. Jesus gives no explanation for his desire to travel across the Sea of Galilee in the evening instead of waiting until morning, which would make for a safer voyage. What seems clear is that this trip, for some reason, was made in haste. No preparations were made for the trip for we are told that the disciples took him ‘as he was’. Yet even though they left in haste they were certainly not going to be left alone for we are told, ‘other boats were with him.’
What the disciples thought would be another ‘boat ride’ across the Sea of Galilee turned out to be a ‘titanic experience’. Out of nowhere a ‘great windstorm arose’. The translation of this word, great wind storm could best be described as a mega storm. Remember that Jesus was in the boat with fishermen who had traversed the Sea of Galilee regularly; this was a sea they were familiar with, waters that had not deterred them. Yet, they who were familiar with the sea were now terrified.
It is amazing how in moments of terror we can either forget every detail or let those details be embedded in our head. The Gospel writer, to whom this narrative was told, seems to have every detail in place; a windstorm arose, waves beat into the boat, the boat was being swamped and Jesus was asleep! What makes these memories so clear was where he was sleeping and how. He was in the stern with a cushion. The whole episode reminds us of Jonah asleep in a similar manner while the sailors battled the sea.
While the sea and storm were understandable, the actions of Jesus seemed to be bizarre. He has not only chosen a spot to sleep but has a cushion to rest his head; this when the rest were possibly going to lose more than just their head. This called for drastic action and the disciples who were quite besides themselves dropped their titles of reverence. No more Master, no more Messiah, they address him as teacher, rabbi.