But they were struck with great awe, and said to one another, “Who can this be that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
we marvel at that outside
our frame of reference
without wondering what it has to do
within systems of habit and desire
this externalization of questions
protects us from following too quickly
where a new thought or emotion
would pull and push us instead
by the time we have polled each other
metaphoric wind and sea are significant
awe fear wonder fade from view
wilderness again protected us from us
The disciples evidence the same amazement as those who witnessed healings, the besting of legalists at their own game, and evocative stories.
Up to this point the disciples could be relatively cool. Following Jesus on his rounds and taking notes has been informative.
When it came to their skin being in the game, things changed. This sounds very familiar of our own engagement with our Hesitation (timidity) and Hope (trust)—try your own language for the exercise suggested for the previous verse.
This question of “Who?” is one that will continue through Mark. It is a question to be asked not only of Jesus, but ourselves. Who have we been? Who are we now? Who are we becoming?
Perkins notes, “Beginning with Jesus’ move onto a boat to teach in 4:1, the sea provides the fixed geographical location for the narrative world in Mark’s Gospel through 8:26.” Then, with Peter’s confession, “the question of Jesus’ identity shifts to the cross.”
The deep of watery chaos and the deep of dark death are important wilderness markers that bring us to a sense of urgency to make sense of our life and the lives (animate and inanimate) around us. Mark’s hurry-up and look-back keep us unsettled enough to crack our usual belief structures that we might suspend our disbelief long enough to move beyond astonishment and awe to identification with a larger identity.
Eventually our partnership will not be based on doings such as healing by word and touch, rhetorical victory, or nature spectacle, but on a state of being that floats on chaos and dives into death with a joy able to transform Joy into Mercy and Empire into Community.