Today's Bible Reading: Mark 4
Selected Biblical Text
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
41 They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" (Mark 4:35-41 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
One can describe the narratives of the first four chapters of Mark's gospel in several ways -- identity stories, confrontation stories, amazing stories. Today's reading suggests yet another description -- "power stories." In the initial chapters of Mark's gospel, Jesus has power over evil spirits, demons, diseases, sin, leprosy, paralysis, and even nature. It is Jesus' power over nature that ultimately catches the disciples' attention: "Who is this?" Even the waves obey his commands.
Today's text also introduces the continuing tension in Mark's gospel between fear and faith. These two concepts are interwoven throughout this gospel. "Why are you so afraid? Does that mean you still do not believe?"
Chapter 4 is probably most famous for the "amazing words" (the parables of Jesus) that take up most of the chapter. How many of the themes in Mark that we have identified up to this point can you find repeated in the parables?
What connections do you see between fear and faith? How do fear and faith work together (either in tension or in tandem) in your own life? Is it true that the more we believe the less we fear? (Try to put your answer into words and share your thoughts with at least one other person today.) Can faith and unfaith dwell side by side in the same human heart? (This is a thought question for now -- we will come to it again later in the reading of Mark.)
Heavenly Father, help us grow in faith and deal with fear in our lives. Help us see more clearly not only who Jesus is, but also the power he can wield in our lives because of who he is. Help us see more clearly. In the name of the powerful Jesus, Amen.