Mark 4:35-41 – Let us go across to the other side

Updated: Feb 28

When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”


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This is the Gospel selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 7. This will next be read aloud in church by a priest on Sunday, June 24, 2018. This is important because Jesus asked his closest associates in his ministry why their faith in God was so weak, because one of true faith fears only God.


When we read that “Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side” [of the Sea of Galilee], it becomes possible to interpret those words as meaning they departed at night. This is not the appropriate way to read, “When evening had come.”


In the Hebrew 24-hour day, there is an “evening” of “day” and an “evening” of night. The day “evening is between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM. At 6:00 PM it becomes night, with the beginning of the “evening” watch. When spring and summer make the days longer than the nights, there is still light during the “evening” of night, usually until 8:00 or 9:00 PM.


Because the literal Greek text states, “And he says to them, on that day, evening having become,” the use of “hēmera,” or “day,” meaning, “the period from sunrise to sunset” [not shown in the translation above], we can safely assume the boats departed when there was still ample daylight would guide their boats.


When we read, “Other boats were with him,” this would have been other boats owned by the families of the disciples of Jesus, with several from the shores of the Sea of Galilee and fishermen with boats.  Multiple boats being available meant many of Jesus’ followers were asked to go along with him to the other side. Those followers were not those of the crowd that was dismissed by Jesus.


We know this was the case, rather than simply “leaving the crowd behind,” because the Greek word “aphentes” is used, which means, “having dismissed” or “having sent away.”  After the crowd had gone back to town, Jesus told his friends and family to follow him across the sea,


The meeting is over.


This sets the scene as Jesus and his followers riding in several boats from Capernaum to the shores where no town was. They set sail in daylight, with each boat captained by an experienced sailor, since Jesus had disciples and followers who were fishermen. This trip being placed in capable hands is why Jesus, who obviously was tired from preaching to the crowd, which (according to Mark’s Gospel) was his parable about the mustard seed and the kingdom of God.


That was not necessarily the sermon given by Jesus immediately before this story of the storm being calmed, as Matthew and Luke also tell of this story, with different events in Jesus’ ministry told prior, none of which has anything to do with the mustard seed. Matthew told of the mustard seed in his thirteenth chapter, with the calming of the storm in his eighth chapter. Luke told of the mustard seed in his thirteenth chapter, and also telling of the calming of the sea in his eighth chapter. Mark tells this story in his fourth chapter, with the mustard seed parable in chapter four too, just before the incident on the sea.  This indicates a potential conflict to doubters.


One should not find fault with these differences, as Mark’s Gospel is the story of Simon Peter, who might have been present at the events remembered by Matthew and Luke, due to his being given special assignment or allowances to take care of his family. In this regard, Mark told of Jesus healing Peter’s mother in his first chapter, with Matthew remembering that event in his eighth chapter, while Luke recalled it in his fourth chapter. The consistencies support the truth of the event, while the inconsistencies require a spreadsheet to measure the chronology between the Gospel stories.  The element of chronology demands faith to lead one to the correct answer about the differences.


When we read of a sudden storm coming up, this is a common weather pattern in many warm places on earth, especially those by lakes. This is called “afternoon and evening thunderstorms,” which can include high winds and dangerous conditions on the water. This sudden appearance over the sea says there were clear skies or mostly sunny skies when they left, but the rising water molecules from the lake gathered into a big black cloud and winds began to cause the water to get rough. Again, this is a dangerous time to be in a boat, but experienced boat captains know how to increase the potential of riding a storm out. They should not focus on the chances of the boat sinking and people drowning.  As shaky as a sea captain’s legs might become, dangerous times are not when one should collapse and cry.  One must depend on experience.


When we read, “They woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”’ this is akin to waking Jesus up because someone has thrown in the towel and is calling for everyone to abandon ship. The literal Greek here translates to say, “Teacher, not is it concern to you that we perish?”


This says, in a way, “Teacher, we know you cannot be killed because God watches over you, so our little problem is not of a concern for you. However, we are about to perish because we cannot swim very well in rough waters [prior to life vest regulations on boats]. Could you help us out so that doesn’t happen?”


At this point, going back to the beginning becomes important, where it is written, “Let us go across to the other side.” That instruction comes into play as having a higher significance.


By Jesus being so deep in sleep that he did not realize the rough weather says he was away from his body spiritually. The word “katheudōn” translates as “sleeping,” but the word implies, “euphemistically, to be dead.” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) This means “going to the other side” has the same symbolic meaning of leaving the physical world and going to the spiritual realm.


When my eyes opened to this possibility, I can see how the physical body of Jesus “was in the stern, asleep on the cushion,” but the soul of Jesus was probably standing by God’s side, watching his disciples handle the rough weather. This would be akin to how God watched Job be in anguish [Job being an optional reading that can accompany this Gospel selection]. It could be like a scene from a 60’s movie about the gods of Olympus, who stood around a pool that showed them what troubles were surrounding their hero children down on earth.


Zeus looking at Jason, from the 1963 movie “Jason and the Argonauts.” Another guy on a boat.


Being at the stern, or the hinder part of the boat, then speaks metaphorically as being representative of Jesus not being at the forefront of the disciples. When Jesus is “asleep,” he is no longer the face of a movement. This then makes the whole experience act out as a prophecy of Jesus’ death and how strong the faith of his disciples would allow them to navigate the storms of life without Jesus. Jesus being in the stern makes his physical presence become more like the baggage of iconic memorabilia that would come later in Christianity.  Asleep, Jesus was not alive within those disciples; therefore they responded with fear.


That acts as a prophecy of Peter denying Jesus three times before the cock’s crow.  It acts as a prophecy of the disciples staying hidden in the upper room, so they would not be arrested.  It acts as a prophecy that none of the disciples were close to the cross as Jesus hung dying.  It was a prophecy of times when their fears meant they had no faith in God.


This ‘out of body’ state of Jesus explains how he could go to sleep and not be aroused by the violent rocking of the boat and its taking on water (“already being swamped”). When we read, “they woke him up,” where the verb “egeirousin” is used and means, “they awakened, they aroused, or they raised up,” the esoteric meaning says, “to arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life.” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)


This, where Jesus slept and Jesus woke, is symbolic and prophetic of his death and resurrection. However, more significantly, it is prophetic of how all of Jesus’ followers (assuming all the boats were equally in peril by the storm) would face a storm within their beings, where they would understand their selves (egos) were going to perish, but by calling upon the name of Jesus Christ they would be enabled to command nature to serve their needs.


The peace and calm that would come upon them all would represent the eternal tranquility of Heaven.  The disciples would be saved by that command on Pentecost, when they were all suddenly filled with the Holy Spirit and were never again afraid.


By having this perspective, one can read, “[Jesus] was raised up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” and see the power that is raised within an Apostle. It is not the human being that is given amazing powers “that even the wind and the sea obey” one’s commands, but human servants totally committed to God through subservience to His will become human beings that have “raised up” powers of cleansing within their souls, having the powers of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit of God upon them.


Anyone who proclaims to be “special,” in the sense that he or she claims to be in possession of powers like Jesus, is then a liar; known because such claims prove that one is still in possession of one’s self-ego, and therefore does not have Jesus Christ raised up within.


One of many false teachers of faith.


Such false teachers are often called “faith healers.” The Wikipedia article entitled “Faith healing” defines that as, “The practice of prayer and gestures (such as laying on of hands) that are believed by some to elicit divine intervention in spiritual and physical healing, especially the Christian practice.” Usually, these performers do their acts of “faith healing” in auditoriums that pass a plate or basket around, seeking payment for such public displays of false shepherding. Many have taken their acts to TV channels.  Some have asked people to lay their hands on the TV set to be healed.  All expect to be rewarded for their services rendered.


Jesus seldom physically touched those whom he encountered that needed healing. Usually, he told them to act on faith and be healed, which they did. Therefore, “faith healing” is the faith within the one who needs healing, and not the passing of human energy from a theatrical actor to another actor, one posing as a cripple who needs to be healed.


In the picture above (Benny Hinn), which is just one of many so-called healing ministers that make quite a bit of money playing on the false beliefs of Christians, a real Apostle-Saint would stand before an auditorium of sick people (perhaps in a hospital or wounded veterans rehabilitation center) and ask loudly, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”  If he were the rebirth of Jesus Christ, one should expect the same message spoken.


Based on the teachings of the Gospels, rarely does it say Jesus made a show out of laying on his hands on those in need.  Certainly he healed many, but nothing says specifically he healed by the powers of touch.  More often than touch, Jesus laid on with words.  His words of truth drew believers who sought to touch the hem of his robe for healing.


Knowing that, a faith healer could then say to the faithful, “Go! Your faith has healed you!”


He could tell the cripples, “Pick up your mat and walk!”


He could tell them, “In the name of Jesus Christ walk!”


He could say, “Stretch out your hand!”


He could pick up some dirt and spit in it and rub a mudpack on the eyes of the blind and then tell them, “Wash in the local equivalent of the Pool of Siloam” (meaning “Sent”).”


He could command all demon spirits to, “Get out!”


He could reach out and touch those of skin diseases who come with faith and kneel before him, telling them, “Be clean!”


The point of faith being what brings “Peace!” and “Calm!” is that one ceases to be afraid in times of trouble. Having a physical ailment can be one’s time of trouble. Being born with a birth defect means a lifetime of having to deal with a shortcoming. Having a mental disorder brings about storms in one’s personality. It is fear that makes one captive to one’s troubles. It is fear that says, “God is not with me.”


Frankenstein: “You know I am a doctor of medical science. I can heal your hump.” Igor: “What hump?” A new perspective on faith: Faith is feeling healed, even if others see physical limitations surrounding you.


What many people fail to read from the miracles performed by Jesus told in the Gospels is that which is stated between the lines.  Everyone of those who Jesus healed stayed healed.  Not only did they not come up with a new ailment and get back into the crowd line so Jesus could heal them again, they became the first Apostles of Christ.  They went out evangelizing the miracle of their own cures and knowing God had sent His Messiah to touch them spiritually.


Laying on of hands has to then mean passing on the Holy Spirit of God, which can only be given to those who love God deeply.  Seekers are those who want to help others, but feel they are too afflicted to be allowed to help others.  The healings of Jesus creating Apostles are stories not told, because none of the lepers, lame people, blind people, demon possessed people, withered hands people, bleeding excessively people, or even Lazarus who was dead for four days and stinking made news after their healings.  None became a traveling sideshow snake oil salesman.


You do more good works privately than publicly. Good works may include some healing hands. I recommend this 1980 movie – The Resurrection, with Ellen Burstyn.


When this reading concludes with Mark writing, “And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” the “great awe” “they were filled with” is synonymous with the presence of God, through the Holy Spirit. To ask oneself, “Who is this?” states the knowledge that a human being cannot make the wind and sea obey commands. Only God can have that power; and the presence of God in human beings comes with the rebirth of His Son, Jesus Christ.


This is why the prayer of Eucharistic Rite II says:


“All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ: By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. ”


AMEN


As the Gospel selection for the fifth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry should be underway, the direct message here is of faith. Apostles are asked, “Do you only fear not having God in your heart?” and “Do you have true faith because you know that Jesus Christ has been raised in you?”


That is not knowledge another can tell you about.  That is not a pretense from a desire.  Knowing Jesus Christ will come again can only come by being Jesus Christ … now … because he has come again in the one who truly believes.


As a minister, the boats sailing on the sea, where many boats carried the ones who loved God and Jesus, the symbolism is being fishers of men. One does not catch men by setting nets in water, but by having the glow of sainthood about one and the powers to prophesy in one’s mouth.


All of the Holy Bible is prophecy, written in a holy language, sent by God to his Apostles and Saints. Every word of Hebrew and Greek has a broad scope of translation and interpretation, because they all come from the Mind of God. A minister to the LORD, having the Mind of Christ, is then able to understand all of the Holy Bible. Thus, a minister has the ability to prophesy the meaning of Scripture. This is the bait that catches men.


In ministry, one sets sail in the light of day, when the waters are calm. The light of Christ leads one, while the love of God keeps one even-keeled.  Each Apostle-Saint is him or herself a boat, rather than a church being a building designed to look like a nave.  The “bark of St. Peter” was not a papal yacht, nor is it a grand basilica. That “bark” (a small boat) was one man (Peter) who was filled with God’s Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ.


Ministry is a daily routine, requiring hard labors and satisfying results, where the family and neighbors are at the forefront of our brains. Ministry is life that is a love of the work one does.  Like in this story, ministry means Jesus is with one, in the boat, but he is sleeping at the stern. One does not nail Jesus to the bow (front) of one’s boat, as an act of boastful pride and ego.  One does not make Jesus a figurehead.


Not even as a warrior king on a battleship.


One feels the safety of knowing that Jesus is with one, no matter what comes up. If a sudden storm arises, one does not fear death. One has already died of ego, so one’s soul has gained eternal happiness with God, through one’s loving devotion. That is faith.


A minister becomes an example of Christ in this world, without proclaiming special recognition. A minister shares with seekers and also seeks fellowship with other Apostles. A ministry never ceases to be in touch with God through prayer, for others, those we love and for self guidance. A ministry does not need to go out into the world proclaiming the Gospel, but a minister needs to be prepared for God to send the world to one who offers ministry freely.


A ministry is always about listening to the instruction of Jesus, as one of his disciples that listened when he said, “Let us go across to the other side.”


Ministry is so a soul can finish the trip of crossing over from this world into the Kingdom of God.  Everything that happens from one shore to the other is happily and willingly done, with no barrier feared and with all faith that whatever happens is to benefit one’s soul.


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