(October 24, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan remind readers that Jesus truly cares…
Life is like a terrifying storm to several at this pandemic time – including some Christians!
And not just because of uncertainties regarding loss of income, delayed/postponed desperately needed operations, increased crime, unruly behaviour in our streets and beaches, lockdown, and such.
Many, including some church leaders, are concerned about the future… and seemingly unanswered prayers. We’ve had some share feelings of ‘I don’t know what I’m meant to be doing… now or in future days. Doesn’t Jesus care?’
Doesn’t Jesus care?
What an audacious, unwarranted question! Of course, he cares!
Remember the Mark 4 incident where Jesus directed his disciples to cross over the lake by boat to a different region?
Verse 37Message recounts that ‘A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it.’ Verse 38a appears to casually mention that in all this fury ‘Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping!’ Then we read that the obviously frightened disciples ‘woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”’
See the bigger picture here… Jesus’ friends are accusing him of not caring! And with the storm raging around them, they would not have been gently whispering in his ear! No, this would have been a harsh, possibly screaming frantic, ‘Hey! Don’t you care?’ And no acknowledgement of his status as either Rabbi, Teacher or Friend!
Oh, we – yes, we, including Christians – can be so quick to accuse others when things are going wrong or seem to go wrong – as this pandemic time is confirming with hotbed rebellion in certain quarters, even Christian circles. But for Jesus’ disciples who had already heard that he and Father God (John 3:16) deeply cared for people, and witnessed how he blessed and healed troubled people, to accuse him as they did this was the pits. Yes ‘pits’ eg: a ‘something that is very bad’ as one dictionary explains and another as an ‘unpleasant thing.’
It’s considered that this incident happened in 28AD… within two years those panicking disciples would discover the extent of Jesus’ (and Father God’s) caring for them – and the world – when he allowed himself to be mocked, cruelly mistreated, illegally tried, whipped, suffer and die on Calvary’s cross!
‘Care’… that’s melo meaning being concerned, being interested in. Of course Jesus cared! Jesus was so interested in them that he would prove his concern.
It was a caring Jesus that heard their cry, woke up, shook off sleep, and rebuked the wind, telling and commanding the waves, ‘Silence! Be still!’ Suddenly, verse 39NLT tells us, ‘the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.’
Panic miraculously turned to peace! Then, as Luke 8:25NLT records, Jesus’ challenge was ‘Where is your faith?’
It’s trust in God, faith in Christ that brings us through – or around, or over, or under or however you want to put it that gets us through every storm of life. ‘Faith’ is pistis, indicating persuasion, conviction of the truth of God’s word, and a constant reliance on Jesus!
Does Jesus care? Oh yes, he sure does… but this must be a personal knowing within our hearts as Frank E. Graeff (1860-1919) penned –
‘Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades
Into deep night shades,
Does he care enough to be near?
O yes, he cares, I know he cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long night dreary,
I know my Saviour cares.’
Jesus sees our storms!
We think of another storm example… this time Jesus isn’t casually sleeping – Mark 6:45-52. Get the picture here…
- V45 – Jesus had required (anagakazo… compelled, insisted) the disciples to travel ahead of him. Even in this time of lockdown and uncertainty, Jesus is wanting us to move ahead in ministry opportunities that are there to be found as we choose to care for others! We shouldn’t have to be ‘made’ (as GNB puts it) to move ahead.
- V46 – Jesus deliberately went up a mountainside to pray (Matthew Henry comments ‘though he had so much preaching-work on his hands, yet he was much in prayer; he prayed often, and prayed long, which is an encouragement to us to depend on the intercession he is making for us at the right hand of the Father, that continual’
Another aspect of Jesus putting time aside to send it with his Father God was that he was aware what was and would be going on, that he in the midst of his own storm… hostility of the orthodox religious, many of his general disciples would soon be deserting him (John 6:66), his close twelve weren’t too sure, the crowd soon wanting to make him king, then treatment as a criminal and Calvary. Prayer and prayer backup are essential for everyone who desires to serve Jesus!
- V47-48 – Early morning and the disciples still hadn’t made it to the other side and, stuck in the middle of the lake, they were ‘in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves’ as the NLT outs it; KJV says toiling; Message Bible struggling; NIV, straining; Darby, labouring; ESV, painfully; LITV, being distressed; NRiV, pulling hard. Get the picture? This is bananizo… indicating torment, vexation. Never mind life being life with its troubles, there are times when we move ahead in following Jesus that the enemy or some other storm comes against us and we need our Lord’s help.
- V48a – ‘He saw the disciples straining.’ Here’s a confirmation that Jesus cares! ‘See’ is eido inferring to being aware of, perceiving. Despite having a glory session with God, Jesus was keeping an eye on his friends! Praise God, our best friend Jesus keeps an eye on us!
- V48b – In love Jesus came down to meet with and assist his disciples. What a comforting scripture Hebrews 13:6 is: ‘So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”’
- V48-50 – And Jesus came alongside in the most amazing way… walking some two miles (2.2km) on the stormy sea! Jesus cares for us today whatever our storm may be. As Augustine wrote about this incident, ‘He came treading the waves; and so he puts all the swelling tumults of life under his feet. Christians – why afraid?’ Yes, lets’ not be afraid, nor jump with fright when Jesus does show in some amazing way! Let’s expect the miraculous as we move ahead.
- V 50Mge – Note how Jesus comforted his terrified disciples: No ticking off this time (as in Mark 4:40Mge, ‘Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”’). Rather an inspiring ‘Courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.’ The great Bible teacher, William Barclay, commented: ‘It is the simple fact of life, a fact which has been proved by countless thousands of men and women in every generation, that when Christ is there the storm becomes a calm, the tumult becomes a peace, what cannot be done is done, the unbearable becomes bearable, and men pass the breaking point and do not break. To walk with Christ will be for us also the conquest of the storm.’
- V53-56 – There was mission activities to be executed on the other side! And Jesus ensured his disciples wouldn’t miss out of being involved with him. So is his heart today in our stormy times.
In this Mark 6 storm the disciples were probably wondering where Jesus was, why he’d left them on their own, and didn’t he know and care that they were in a hot spot! Of course he did. Galilee region was regarded as a hotbed of political activity, some of it violent, and Jesus wanted his disciples not to be caught up in it but to keep moving as he still had much ministry territory to cover before his death for all humankind. As soon as they reached the other side, he continued sharing good kingdom news and demonstrating the power of the God’s Spirit.
A bit like today… around the world are many places regarded as ‘hotbeds’ and while we still have time before the Lord’s return (whichever year that may be! Only the Father knows – Matthew 24:36) we need to take whatever opportunities come our way to share the caring love of Christ! 41.6% of the world’s population 3.23 billion people is still regarded as unreached (Source: Joshua Project).
Beyond life’s storms
There are times we all go through storms, whatever their origin.
In this present one, it is inspiring to learn of Christians, aware that God has ‘something special in store’ for us up ahead and, even though they don’t know exactly what, aren’t worried, are even now led by the Holy Spirit to utilise this stormy season by…
- Spending lockdown time to know God’s word better.
- Systemising their spiritual meditations so that prayers include the needs of others.
- Sharpening on kingdom concerns.
- Seeking God regarding how they can serve the Lord and be a blessing to the kingdom.
- Sharing the good news of the gospel as the Holy Spirit opens windows of opportunity.
- Sympathising with others in need, both Christian and non-Christian.
- Striving with the Holy Spirit’s assistance to honour Jesus and move forward!
Storms don’t last, Jesus love does!
Dr Robert and Maureen McQuillan’s links are firstname.lastname@example.org and Facebook (Scripture/other emphases in this Onliner ours. Appreciated images/pics: various general sources). Link: Is Your Treasure in Heaven