sublime contrasts | John 6.16-18
When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. John 6.16-18 | ESV
And as the sun began to set, Jesus still being up on the mountain alone, his disciples went down to the lake (as previously instructed to by Jesus). Having boarded their usual rather large fishing boat they started heading back across the lake towards Capernaum (Nahumtown). Before they knew it, it was night, darkness having fully descended – and Jesus still hadn’t shown; no sign of him. Meanwhile the lake was becoming quite agitated by a persistent, strong opposing wind. MAV
I’m borrowing a bit from Edersheim this week (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah). I like the palette he paints with…he takes me there as I haven’t been able to go before. I can see the embattled boat from the mountaintop through his eyes…
This is another of those sublime contrasts,
which render it well-nigh inconceivable to regard this history otherwise than as true and Divine…
the manner in which he stilled the multitude, and the purpose for which he became the lonely anchorite on the mountain-top. He withdrew to pray; and he stilled the people, and sent them, no doubt solemnized, to their homes by telling them that he withdrew to pray.
And he did pray till far on “when the evening had come” and the first stars shone out in the deep blue sky over the Lake of Galilee, with far lights twinkling and trembling on the other side.
And yet another sublime contrast – as he constrained the disciples to enter the ship, and that ship, which bore those who had been sharers in the miracle, could not make way against storm and waves, and was at last driven out of its course.
And yet another contrast – as he walked on the storm-tossed waves and subdued them. And yet another, and another – for is not all this history one sublime contrast to the seen and the thought of men, but withal most true and Divine in the sublimeness of these events?
For whom and for what he prayed, alone on that mountain, we dare not, even in deepest reverence, inquire. Yet we think, in connection with it, of the Passover, the Manna, the Wilderness, the Lost Sheep, the Holy Supper, the Bread which is his Flesh, and the remnant in the Baskets to be carried to those afar off, and then all its spiritual unreality, ending in his view with the betrayal, the denial, and the cry ‘We have no king but Caesar.’
And as he prayed, the faithful stars in the heavens shone out.
But there on the lake, where the bark which bore his disciples made for the other shore, ‘a great wind’ ‘contrary to them’ was rising…”
What “multitude” in your life needs to be “stilled”? How free do you feel to still it and steal away to your own mountaintop to pause, breathe, pray, be? How can you do this?
Lord, lead me into a deeper awareness and experience of this ultimate of sublime contrasts: that between the raging storm of pressing, thronging needs, and the anchoring, centering peace that passes understanding I can find on that mountaintop in the midst of it all. Through Jesus.