Home > Christianity, Church, Jesus, Spiritual formation > Fear of the Sleeping Man

Fear of the Sleeping Man

Imagine yourself caught in a storm. Your arms are wrapped tightly around the nearest bench as the boat rocks side to side, up and down, tossed across the waves like a fallen leaf thrown about by a crisp fall wind.

You work to stay upright, to stay firmly planted between a bow and a stern, but your arms are growing weak and your resolve is fading. You scream into the wind, asking for mercy, casting promises into the waves pounding upon you with unrelenting power.

And there, in the corner of this wooden shelter, this wooden coffin, lies a man whom you know as someone great. You have seen him heal sickness, cast out demons, and stand up to people who have called you imperfect, who have labeled you unclean.

There he is, asleep, unaware, even peaceful. If there is any hope of this storm subsiding, and your life being spared from the storm, this man is the answer.

You wake him, and incredulously you ask, “Don’t you care about this storm? I’m about to die!”

With a few words he rebukes the storm. You stand in awe. You stand in amazement. You stand in fear.

Then, with a few words he rebukes me. “Why are you afraid?” he asks.

My anger nearly explodes at his seemingly insensitive question. Why am I afraid? Why am I afraid?

Yet I know he is not asking me why the storm caused me to question the safety of my life. His question is much deeper, much more essential to a life lived following him.


In chapel Monday morning, Campus Pastor Sarah Baldwin asked us if we were ready, as followers of Jesus, to have our lives ruined. Using the story of Saul, she challenged us to remember that when Christ calls someone, “he bids them come and die.”

I’ve often viewed Jesus’ question to his disciples in Mark 4 as a question about their bravery or their inability to trust that since Jesus was in the boat they could not have drowned. Perhaps this is one way to view his question, but I think it has a deeper meaning, too.

The disciples’ response to Jesus’ question is telling: “Who is this?”

Who is this – three words we need to echo in our call to follow Christ. Because a life lived following Christ is not on our own terms. It is on Jesus’ terms. And if we am honest, who Jesus really is and who Jesus is really calling to us to be is a bit frightening.

It is a call to have your life ruined – to be caught in the midst of storms and instead of asking Jesus, “Don’t you care?” you continue to believe with your whole being that there is no one who cares more than this man, who’s conquering of the wind and waves was merely a foreshadowing of his ultimate defeat – death.

Why are you afraid of who Jesus really is?


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