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Who then is this...?


Saint Margaret

Anglican Church

Budapest, Hungary

Job 38:1-11; Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32; 2 Corinthians

6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41

Who then is this…?

Climate change and the devastation it brings in its

wake is much in the news these days.

Still, there is not much, if anything, in the Gospel

accounts of the life of Jesus about climate change.

In fact, the weather is hardly mentioned at all. An

exception to this is clearly our account this

morning from the Gospel of Mark, the well-known story of our Lord calming a storm on the

Sea of Galilee, a great freshwater lake or inland sea about a third the size of our Hungarian

Balaton, although of a different shape entirely.

The Sea of Galilee supported then, as it still does today, a sizeable population and a

significant fishing industry. And Jesus’ disciples were for the most part people who made

their livelihood from the Sea in commercial fishing. They knew the Lake and its vicissitudes

including its occasional storms and winds. Our Lord himself, though of course not a

fisherman, is often found near the shore of the Sea, first calling his disciples there, and later

teaching the people of the surrounding countryside from its shores and nearby fields.

No surprise then to find the Sea of Galilee figuring prominently in today’s narrative from the

Gospel of Mark. In some sense, I suppose we can say that the Sea is itself, along with our Lord

and the disciples, one of the major protagonists in the story. In keeping with Mark’s

straightforward style, the account is simple enough. It is evening as our Lord and his disciples

clamber aboard a boat and, at our Lord’s behest, decide to cross over to the other side of the

Sea; the other side being foreign Gentile territory; the unknown.

And since it is evening or nightfall, our Lord is not surprisingly found sleeping on a cushion of

some sort, an ancient flotation device perhaps, as a major storm arises. The disciples,

seasoned seaman or not, are understandably frightened. A storm is bad enough, I suppose,

but at night it becomes cause for even greater alarm. In their growing terror, the disciples

awaken Jesus. Our Lord promptly commands the sea and the wind to be calm, and it is so.

Jesus then nonchalantly asks the disciples, “Why are you afraid…?”And they in turn, far from being reassured by his question, are terrified further; not by the

storm but at our Lord and the significance of his presence among them. “Who then is this…?”

they ask themselves. And all this transpires, keep in mind, the evening of the same long day

upon which our Lord had earlier told the story or parable of the mustard seed and its lesson

of life and generation, a lesson of the power of God at work in the smallest things of this

world and in the life of each of us.

Who then is this, ask the disciples, as this huge storm is calmed. Good question. In fact, this

account in Mark is the first of a series or miracle stories demonstrating just who Jesus in fact

is. And in this case, the implication is that he is the master not just of his small circle of

disciples, not just the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, but the Lord of Sea and of Sky; the Lord

of the Cosmos, the Lord of the Universe. No wonder the disciples are “filled with great awe,”

as the text tells us. In fact, a better translation of these words from the original Greek would

probably be “frightened out of their wits.”

For, they get it. They now understand who it is that moments ago was fast “asleep on the

cushion.” They now see who their “teacher,” as they call him, really is. For, his words in

commanding the sea and the wind are as much lesson as is any parable or discourse. This

simple straightforward story of Mark is spectacular in the truest sense of the word; it is in

other words beyond anything which words themselves can convey; beyond anything the

disciples could have imagined.

The story is a living parable of the cosmic struggle of the material and the spiritual, of

darkness and light, and of the ultimate victory of the reign of God and of his Christ. Call it a

tale of spiritual climate change; a revelation of the inner and deeper reality of all that is; a

revelation of who Christ is. The disciples, we can be sure, will never see the world the same

again. For, it is now different. The climate has changed. Infinitely for the better.

And our Lord’s innocent-sounding question, “Why are you afraid,” becomes as much a

challenge for us as it was for the disciples long ago. Our Lord has not abandoned us anymore

than he had abandoned the disciples in their creaky boat. In fact, we are with them in that

same boat. Their evening at sea is our evening at sea. Their unknown shores are ours as

well. Their storm is our storm. But their teacher is also our teacher, the master of the

universe. And his words, spoken then to sea and wind, are addressed as much to us today.

Peace: Be still. And know who then this is,

“that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

Amen.

The Revd Canon Dr Frank Hegedűs

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