03 Apr

Text and image by Rick McVicar             

     Jesus takes command over nature in Mark’s Gospel by walking on top of sea water (6:45-52, NIV).             

     While this story makes for a fun children’s story, it raises all types of thorny issues for adults living during a climate crisis. 

     Does this story, and other miracle stories, pit Christianity against nature? Does it place Christianity in opposition to science? 

     The walk takes place after Jesus retreats to a mountain for some solo prayer time. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus periodically finds a mountain to be alone with God. In these moments, Jesus appears to be in tune with nature. His personal time with God is often associated with natural beauty.            

     However, in this instance in Mark, Jesus’ oneness with nature appears fleeting. As soon as he is done praying, Jesus notices his disciples in a boat offshore struggling against a heavy wind.             

     Jesus quickly takes control over nature, walking out on the water at a pace faster than the disciples’ boat. “He intends to pass them by” (v. 48).             

     Why? Where is Jesus going in such a hurry? Is his journey meant to show superiority over the world, including his disciples? Or does he have a destination in mind, perhaps for meeting with someone?             

     The writer of Mark clearly wants this story to be about Jesus’ superiority. After all, Jesus does not just walk on water. He walks faster than a boat against a heavy headwind. Jesus demonstrates he is superior to nature.             

     Personally, I think this story shows a duality in Jesus’ personality. At times, he is one with nature, as when he visits a mountain to pray. At other times, he takes command over nature. Of course, Jesus’ personality is filtered through the eyes of a writer and a Christian community, so these observations are made through those lenses. 

     Nevertheless, this is a duality that Christians must wrestle with in addressing the climate issue. Do Christians follow a savior who turns to nature for connecting with God, someone who has a need for preserving nature? Or do Christians join with a savior taking command over nature? 

     The writer of Mark’s gospel presents this choice to us by juxtaposing Jesus praying on a mountain before walking on water across a choppy sea. While the choice may appear divisive, it is one that is extremely critical at this point in our climate crisis. 

     May this choice inspire you to have artful health today.

A yellow sad face surrounded by an earthtone background.

             "Trapped in Nature" Click on image to go to music trance video on YouTube.

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