As the evening light fades, the Rabbi gathers his disciples and heads for the shore. Some of the people follow, until they realize that he’s not leaving but rather sending the disciples off in the boat. A couple of the disciples argue with the Rabbi, but in the end, they, too, climb into the boat.
When the Rabbi returns to the crowd, he encourages them to return home and dismisses them with a blessing. Many of them leave. But a large enough crowd remains. I over hear their discussions.
“This has to be the prophet who is supposed to come into the world,” and “Let’s take him and make him king,” and “Surely he means to start a revolution and overthrow the Romans.”
The Rabbi looks troubled as he watches them. But before they can approach him with their ideas and plans, he heads back up the mountain by himself. They finally leave, grumbling as they go.
The others I travel with settle down in our camp for the night, but I return to the beach. I find a large rock and sit; the heat it absorbed from the sun now keeps me warm in the chill night air. In the light of the rising full moon I watch the disciples in their boat, heading out to sea. A glance toward the mountain reveals the Rabbi’s silhouetted posture of prayer.
He fed the multitudes from a few loaves and a couple of fish. The disciples had discussed what it meant, besides filling the people’s stomachs, but they came to no conclusion. Is it as the crowds said, that he could obviously feed an army? The Rabbi doesn’t seem interested in an uprising with the Romans. Instead, he consistently offends and criticizes the religious leaders. What does it all mean? What is he up to? Exhaustion overtakes me and I soon nod off to the gentle lapping of the waves.
A rush of wind jolts me awake, almost knocking me off the rock and blasting me with dust and sand. A storm has swept across the sea. I jump to my feet, rub grit from my eyes and peer out over the dark water. What of the disciples? Did they make it to the other side? Clouds rush past the moon, now past its highest point in the night sky, creating alternating patches of light and shadow on the turbulent waters. There, bobbing in the waves, only a few miles from shore, I see a boat, obviously fighting against the winds.
Up on the mountainside, I spot the Rabbi. He too stands and seems to be watching them. I’ve heard their stories of him calming the storm before. Skilled fisherman, I could sense a fear as they recalled that particular storm. But a simple “peace, be still,” from the Rabbi had ceased it immediately. Their amazement at what he had done was evident.
So why is he merely watching?
I sit back down on the rock and hug my knees to my chest. Is the Rabbi praying for their safety? Can he calm the storm again? Time drags by. The wind continues to howl. And the Rabbi and I continue to watch the disciples struggle against the tempest. He from his high point, me from the shore. I don’t know how long we watch, but the moon eventually starts her descent toward the western horizon. Soon, the first light of dawn will appear in the east.
A movement on the mountain draws my attention. The Rabbi makes his way down to the shore. He strides, sure and confident, in the howling wind, over the rugged terrain. His stride neither slows nor falters as he crosses the rocky shore to the water.
I jump to my feet again. He doesn’t walk into the waves. He walks over them.
I rub my eyes again, not believing what I’m seeing. Surely a trick of the moonlight. Yet there he goes. As if on land. In a hurry. Across the water.
He doesn’t slow down as he approaches the boat. Is he going to pass them? Do they see him? If they were terrified before, what must they be feeling now?
The Rabbi finally slows, and pauses. Is that someone climbing out of the boat? I squint, straining to see what’s going on. With the wind and waves, I can’t tell.
Then suddenly, the winds stop. The waves fall still. But as I look at where they were, they are no longer there. I sweep my gaze over the now calm sea. My breath catches. What happened? Did the boat sink? But there, near the distant shore, against the setting moon, I see a boat.
His authority has no bounds. Who could do this, if not one from heaven?
Grace & Peace