A giant leap of faith

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Mark 4:40

I think most people have a phobia of some kind.  Lots of people are afraid of heights, and even more seem to be afraid of spiders.  My particular phobia is very strange; I am afraid of spiral staircases.  I find it very, very hard to climb up to the top of castles or towers, and if I do I get extremely panicky.

On one occasion, however, I was invited to climb the Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster in London.  I knew that this was a very special privilege, and so decided that I would force myself to do it.  I also hoped that it would cure my fear.  (Sadly it didn’t!)  So it was that I forced myself up the 334 steps to the top of the tower, arriving next to Big Ben itself just in time to hear probably the world’s most famous clock strike midday.  It was quite an experience, and I am very glad I did it.

One of the reasons I was able to drag myself up the stairs was by telling myself that thousands of people had climbed to the top of the tower, and it was still standing; it must surely be safe.  I had faith in the structure of the tower and the people who had built it, and reasoned that it must be safe.

In today’s verse, Jesus rebukes the disciples after he has calmed the storm.  They are afraid of what they have just seen, and this upsets Jesus.  He questions whether they have any faith.  This, then, can be seen as the answer to their fear; if they just had faith in Jesus, and trusted that he was the Son of God, they would not be so afraid.  They had seen him conduct many miracles by this point, they had heard his amazing teaching, and they had seen the effect that he had on the crowds.  Surely, then, they had enough evidence to trust in him, and to put their faith completely in him?

I think if I had been one of the disciples, I think I would have found it hard to accept who Jesus seemed to be.  It wasn’t every day that one meets the messiah.  Even if they recognized that there was something special about him when they packed up their jobs to follow him, it would have been a huge jump of faith to recognize Jesus as the Christ, rather than simply a good teacher.  That, though, is precisely the jump of faith that Jesus asks his disciples to make.  He asks us to make the same jump.  It is not as easy leap to make, but we need to look at the evidence and work out for ourselves whether we truly accept that Jesus was the Son of God.

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