Waves, green grass, and God’s Kingdom

All four of the Gospels have a story or two about the disciples encountering Jesus’ calming presence during a storm at sea.

Recently Mary Todd led a devotion for the Christian Education Committee in which she used Mark’s account of Jesus walking on water, coming toward the disciples in the midst of the storm.  In Mark’s version of the storm, a detail in the text tells us how the disciples felt as the wind beat their boat back… “they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind.” (Mark 6:48)  This detail was lacking in Matthew’s version, which I used for a recent sermon.

  The Gospel of Mark is short and compact.  So it bears noting when extra details, such as “straining at the oars,” are added.  Another example of a detail to notice is “the green grass” in Mark’s version of the feeding of the five thousand.  (Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. — Mark 6:39)

  Why would a short book include these “extra” descriptions of what was happening?  I think those little details are snippet-sized visions of the Kingdom of God. The abundant green grass in that field is a vision of God’s abundance. The night on the stormy sea is a vision of God’s Kingdom too, because Jesus is present in the storm… sort of like how the psalmist proclaims in Psalm 23 that God is present even in the valley of the shadow of death.

God’s presence is there even when we endure storms and natural disasters today. I have heard so many inspiring stories of people helping one another after Harvey… Irma… the earthquake in Mexico… and to me those are signs of the Kingdom.

May we learn to pay attention to those little snippets of God’s Kingdom in our own lives.

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