“For the evening devotional, Ronit, our young adult’s coordinator shared from Mark 4:35-41. In the passage, Jesus was looking out at the Sea of Galilee near Tiberius, the exact same place where we were gathered together. Jesus gathered his close disciples on a boat, and told them “Let’s go to the other side.” (Mark 4:35, NIV) She pointed out that although the lake is small (with this “other side” easily visible from the shore), at the time of Jesus it created and represented a cultural boundary. Jesus and his followers were on the Jewish side, but in crossing over, they would have come to Gadara, a Greek city. Thus, in calling the disciplines on a journey across the lake, Jesus in his Jewishness was moving into a territory outside his ethnic comfort zone. In the next chapter, we see why he was going – to bring an act of healing to a man possessed by demons. The disciples would have been deeply reluctant to leave what was familiar to them, and come to a cultural context they did not relate to, to a group of people they knew only as foreigners and enemies.
As their boat journeyed across this boundary, Jesus and his disciples encountered a storm. This was related to ways in which boundary crossing often creates storms. It is often uncomfortable and frightening. When we try to reach out to the “other,” we will frequently encounter obstacles, potential for misunderstanding, as the process of reconciling with someone gets out of our control. We began this lesson with a discussion of prejudicial thoughts the Israelis and Palestinians direct against each other, making us think concretely about all the “storms” that can arise when we try to engage in the simple act of forming a relationship with someone we have been conditioned to think of as an “enemy.”
As the storm raged, his fearful disciples waked Jesus up. He responded, first with frustration, and then by speaking “peace” over the waves. In the same way, all the tensions and “storms” that arise from boundary crossing can be overcome as we are empowered by a sense of inner peace, a “rest and confidence” that comes from him, and has the ability to conquer fear.
Although I have only been in this region a brief time, I have observed firsthand many experiences in which reconciliation is badly needed, ways in which both the government and the societies work create a system of segregation that maintains a status quo of mutual hatred and mistrust, and makes it difficult for people from different sides to interact with each other. Thus, I found deep encouragement in this reminder to have hope as I am seeking to follow Christ. The fruits of work for reconciliation may not be easy, but because I have Yeshua (Jesus) with me in the storms that arise, I can have the freedom from fear needed to work for God’s heart for reconciliation.
By Michael Fox