08 June 2010

Jesus Is Relaxed

Mark 4:35-41

"What one word would come to characterise Jesus' posture in life?"  asked author and lecturer Dallas Willard.  "I want to suggest to you that Jesus was relaxed."

It took me a bit to process this because I never thought about Jesus as relaxed.  He was certainly full of love and compassion.  He certainly taught with great wisdom and authority.  Whatever he did was certain and with purpose.  But, I never thought about Jesus' posture in life.  Relaxed?  Really?

Living next to the ocean and venturing out into it a few times has certainly given me an appreciation of its size and power.  The sea can easily overpower the most experienced seaman.  Knowing this helps me empathise with experienced fishermen who were suddenly being bobbed about in the middle of a 22km x 12km lake.

The sea was greatly churned up.  Waves pounded the now helpless vessel.  Water was starting to come over and into the boat.  The experienced seamen were scurrying about doing whatever they could just to survive the storm.  Where was their leader and teacher?  Asleep...on a cushion...near the back of the boat.

If I were them, I would wonder if Jesus was in a coma.  How could he sleep through the motion, the sound of a rough sea, high winds and men shouting frantic orders?  Is he that tired?  Surely he knows what is going on. "Teacher don't you care if we drown?"

I'm not sure what they expected Jesus to do.  At the least lend a hand trying to tie everything down.  Maybe they expected him to say a prayer that God would somehow spare them through the storm.   Whatever they wanted or expected Jesus to do was exceeded by what Jesus didThen, they were really afraid.

First, we may expect that he would pray to his Father to forgive sins.  But, we read that he just forgives the sins himself.  Certainly not the place of an ordinary prophet.  Now, we may expect that he would pray to his Father for his friends to be delivered from the storm.  But, we read that he just calms the storm.  "Who is this then that even the winds and the sea obey him?"

While they are staring all around them and processing all this, Jesus gives this mild rebuke.  "Why are you afraid?  Why do you still have no faith?"  Isn't this harsh?  These weren't children jumping on a chair at the sight of a mouse.  These were experienced seamen in legitimate danger.

What were they to have faith in?  Their Father in Heaven and the one He had sent.  Maybe they must be disciplined to realise that even when things don't turn out okay, even if they end up crucified upside-down, stoned to death or ran through with a sword, things are still okay because God is still God and Jesus is still Jesus.  Having faith in Jesus doesn't mean we will now avoid the storms but that the storms aren't stronger than the one who has been sent to save.

Jesus certainly knew that he would not be taken from this world until the mission His Father sent him on was complete.  This was the same teacher who taught us to not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow would take care of itself.  I guess Mr Willard is right, Jesus is relaxed.  May I have the same attitude in me that is in Christ Jesus.


  1. Good post. I'm sorry I just haven't been blogging period. I'm not even reading blogs--perhaps it is time constraints and some burn out. Anyway, onto the topic: to me Jesus lived in the present; it wasn't as though he didn't know what was to come, but he didn't dwell on it because life in itself was so precious and he wanted to squeeze out every moment of joy. He also believed what he said, that God clothes the lilies, so why won't he take care of us? I find this blog comforting. John and I have had some very bad experiences recently with Christians who, let's say, don't see Jesus as you do. Of course, crummy Christians are nothing new, but for us, we are learning to distinguish between who gets it and who doesn't. If Jesus were relaxed, then he really did free us from the law. The Christians who recently made our lives difficult are very tied to the law--too many Christians today would be called Pharisees in the time that Jesus was man.

  2. Hey EoR! It is so good to read your comment. I understand about burn out. For me, either my writing takes a direction that I preferred it not go or I just feel like a sponge that needs to be rung out every once in a while. It's like Solomon once wrote, for everything there is a season.

    I understand your frustrations with Christians. Believe me I have them too. But then I remember how many times Christians have been justifiably frustrated with me. The beautiful thing about a life built on Jesus as the standard-bearer and being thankful for the grace of God in bringing all true blessings into our lives is that grace means we don't have to be perfect and it makes forgiveness possible. And as long as we are able not just to be forgiven but also forgive, we can all grow together striving for that who is the head, Christ Jesus.

    I would also add one more item for you to think about. Yes, Jesus' posture is relaxed. But that doesn't mean he was disconnected from those around him. There were times when Jesus became angry. When were these times and what should this teach us about what is expected from those who follow him?

  3. I think of the Woe to ..... speech, as he despised hypocrisy and false teaching. He was angered because it showed a lack of responsibility on the representative: it could lead innocents to hell.

    I think we all screw up and fail to live up to the higher teachings of Jesus--love thy enemies and love my neighbor are particularly tough for me. What is sadly absent among many Christians is the Judge not, or ye shall be judged. Perhaps we are judgmental by design, but if we are made aware of this tendency, then we can move to rise above it. That is how I see the words of Jesus in many respects--as ways to teach us awareness of how bad we can be.

    When I say detached, I don't mean indifferent. I mean that there was that sense of transience, that what matters now will not matter later: what really matters is something we rarely give thought to. I don't know if you knew this, but my husband had a mini stroke in March and he has been rebuilding his health. When things like that happen, you begin to realize that some things look more important than they really are.

  4. I once preached a sermon on the "woe" speech. One person declared it the "sermon from hell" and another person asked if I would be the pastor of their church. Hearing those reactions, I knew I spoke the words of the Spirit that day.

    You are quite right about that speech. Another time was when he was angry that the religious leaders wouldn't answer his question on whether it was lawful to heal or harm on the Sabbath. And his response was to heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath.

    Regretfully, it has been a long time since I read through the accounts of Jesus in this fashion. I am quite surprised how often the religious people of Jesus' day are evil especially in the light of Christ's goodness. It certainly gives this "religious" leader pause in my own day.

    I knew that John had health problems, but I didn't know the specifics. I am glad he lived through it and is able to rebuild. I'm sure that you and your son are being a great source of strength and comfort during this difficult time for him. Please give him a big hug from this stranger across the sea.