I’m reading Binding the Strong Man by Ched Myers for Lent along with 6 other people. We have a Facebook group where we share things that we’re learning and taking away … and it’s been amazing. It’s a hard read, for sure, so hard that sometimes I have to read paragraphs 4 or 5 times before being able to somewhat wrap my mind around them; but it’s been a wonderful exercise so far.
Today I came across a thought from Myers on page 197 where he talks about the stories in Mark that reference turbulent seas and storms (like the time Jesus walked on the water and the other time when He was sleeping in the boat and then woke up to calm the storm). Seas, Myers reminds us, were a theme in the Old Testament and in ancient Judaism that represented …
And so Myers says that …
“These sea stories intend to dramatize the difficulties facing the Kingdom community as it tries to overcoming the institutionalized social divisions between Jew and Gentile.”
Bear with me here.
Over the course of 3 or 4 pages Myers shows the reader that the disciples and Jesus seemed to have encountered the stormy seas whenever they LEFT the Jewish side of the Lake to head OVER TO the Gentile side of the Lake. In other words, whenever they went TO the people who the world and the church left out, that’s when nature freaked out and the chaos ramped up with crazy wind, waves, and rain.
Myers points out that Mark purposely crafted his story this way so that the literal, real-life, natural storm that the disciples found themselves in on their way to the Gentile / non-Jewish side of the Lake would be illustrative of the hate they would receive from the church leaders as a result of their going to those outcasted / hated / unclean people and territories.
In other words, the disciples and Jesus’ struggle with the sea represented their real life struggle to overcoming the strict laws of exclusivity amidst the church and government of the day.
Myers says, “Mark insists that Jesus will rescue this project and silence the winds of opposition.”
YES! The Good News — Good News, indeed.
Just as Jesus stood up and quieted the winds and waves and chaos of the sea, so He would be raised up on a cross and then raised up out of the grave, “drawing all to Himself” (John 12:32), and thus kicking the exclusivity of the church leaders to the curb in favor of the inclusivity of God’s Kingdom.
Let’s join that little mustard seed of a Kingdom community that Jesus put together all those years ago — let’s join them in their boat, let’s brave the storms, let’s shoulder the hate, let’s set our eyes on the other side of the Lake, let’s raise some eyebrows, let’s rattle some cages, and let’s throw open the doors and put out the welcome mat for those that the world and the church has turned away.
Not 100% sure what that looks like for me just yet, but I keep asking Him to show me.