Sunday, January 31, 2016

Just As Jesus Is

One of the devotional periodicals that I read, Living Faith, has a devotion for January 30, "Come As You Are" by Mitch Finley. The lesson was Mark 4:35-41, which I quote here in part:

"On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to [the disciples], ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him."

The author noticed that clause, "just as he was" and was intrigued by it. What does that mean? I think of the old hymn, "Just as I am, without one plea," which affirms our ability to give our highly imperfect selves to Christ and to be accepted and loved. But this verse has these "don't blink or you'll miss it" words that invite pondering.

I read a few commentaries, both in books and online. Since Jesus had been teaching to large crowds all day, "just as he was" suggests that he was exhausted and overwhelmed, especially since he shortly falls asleep in the boat---and he sleeps so deeply that the frightening storm that comes up does not awaken him. And Jesus may not have whatever provisions and preparations were necessary for a sea journey. The passive quality of the verse---the disciples took Jesus with them in the boat, rather than "Jesus boarded the boat"---may suggest that they were taking care of Jesus in his time of need.

In the passage immediately preceding this one, Mark writes that Jesus taught in parables but to his disciples he explained his teachings privately. This companionable story of Jesus' friends taking care of him is a kind of parable, too, wherein Jesus demonstrated his power, even over natural forces---and even over his own tiredness and vulnerability.

Is there a sense that we, too, "take in" Jesus and give him companionable help and love?

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