Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

by Crossings

“Everyone, Please Stay Calm!”


Mark 4:35-41
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B
Analysis by Timothy Hoyer

35On that day, when evening had come, he said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But 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?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And 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 Storm on the Sea of Galilee – Rembrandt (1606–1669)
From Wikimedia Commons

“Jesus faced the storm of death when on a cross. He calmed the storm of death by rising from the dead.”


DIAGNOSIS: From the Pan into the Fire

Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem): From the Crowd into the Windstorm
Grounding: The disciples were doing Jesus a favor in taking him to the other side of the lake. For being nice, what do they get? A great windstorm that beat waves into the boat and threatened to drown everyone.

Tracking: It’s a storm and the power goes out. The electricity goes off. The lights don’t work. Heat doesn’t work. The refrigerator doesn’t work. There is the threat of cold and food spoiling. The usual ways of maintaining life are threatened. (You discern what issue or “storm” is happening in your place and to your hearers.)

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem): From the Windstorm into Being Afraid
Grounding: The threat of drowning causes the disciples to be afraid of the storm. Their fear is that the storm has power over their lives. Their hearts are ruled by the storm. Whatever rules the heart is god.

Tracking: It’s not just that the electricity has gone off. It’s not just the unsureness of not knowing how long the electricity will be off. It is the fear of “What if the electricity never comes back on? How will we live?” It is the fear of not being able to cook; the fear of food spoiling and not knowing how to feed the family. The calm of life has become a storm that is full of threats. (Your tracking does not have to be about electricity going out, but could be about any threat that is causing fear; or it could be about any event or issue or problem that is ruling people’s hearts.)

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem): From Being Afraid into Perishing
Grounding: The powers of things go wrong in life had attacked the disciples. Their lives were threatened. The fear in their hearts kept them from asking God for help. Worse, they did not know who Jesus was or what he could do (“Do you not care that we are perishing?”). Their inability to trust God left them alone to face death.

Tracking: The lack of power to maintain life (whatever issue you have chosen to highlight) had attacked the family whose electricity had gone out. Their comfort, their lives were threatened. That threat caused them to be afraid. They could only see the threat. They had no faith in God and had no way to ask God for help. God, it seemed, was not in charge. God, it seemed to them, did not care about them. They had a problem with God. They were alone in their dealing with death.

From Canva

PROGNOSIS: From Death into Life

Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution): From Perishing on a Cross to Resurrection
Grounding: Jesus faced the storm of death when on a cross. He calmed the storm of death by rising from the dead. Jesus promises us that he died and rose from the dead in order to raise us from death, and as he raises us from death, he raises us from all that tells us we failed to love and trust God. He raises us from all that tells us we should have done better, should have seen the storm coming, should have been prepared for the storm, should have tried our best to get through the storm, and should have been braver.

Crossing: Jesus died and rose from the dead, overcoming the last and greatest storm of our lives. He joins us to himself so that in him, we too overcome the storm of death. In him, we have life and live with God. Our lives are defined as being in Jesus, so our lives are not defined only by the issues we deal with or the challenges that overwhelm us like waves swamping our boat.

Step 5. Advanced Prognosis (External Solution): From Resurrection to Awe and Faith
Grounding: After Jesus calmed the storm, his disciples’ hearts switched their fear of the storm to fearing Jesus. Jesus chided them for fearing the storm, but he did not chide them for fearing him, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Yes, they feared what Jesus could do. If he could make the wind and sea obey him, he could not only calm a storm, he could cause a storm. So, who is Jesus? Is he to be trusted or not? It is his death and rising for us that the Spirit uses to give our hearts faith in Jesus, trusting him to be only kind and merciful to us.

Crossing: As we face the power or lack of power that threatens our lives, we are given the death and rising of Jesus. He died and rose for our benefit. He has defeated death, and in him death is not the threat it used to be. Whatever happens, we live in Jesus forever. He will always work for our good. We fear him, not for his power over wind and sea, but for his mercy for us.

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution): From Faith into the Boat
Grounding: The disciples were left fearing Jesus = trusting Jesus. In that fear/trust they did their work to bring Jesus to the other side of the lake. After Jesus rose from the dead, and the disciples now knew whom the wind and sea and death obeyed, they faced future storms, and their own deaths, fearing/trusting what Jesus could do for them. They were able to serve others and help them in the midst of their storms and their lives.

Crossing: As we fear Jesus and his mercy, storms and power outages (whatever issue you are addressing) do not have the same threat as they used to. They do not have the final say. No longer are storms seen as God being against us because Jesus is with us and the storm is just a storm, not the world working against us or fate or bad luck or God. We trust Jesus has put himself and God on our side. The Spirit gives us hope in the midst of the storm so we are saved from despair and giving up. The Spirit gives us patience. The Spirit gives us love. And as we deal with the storm in our lives with the new advantages of Jesus’ mercy and peace and love, we are given the strength to even help and encourage others as they deal with the storms in their lives.


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