When the Wind and Waves Threaten Justice, Part 2

When the Wind and Waves Threaten Justice, Part 2 June 19, 2024


As we continue our when social wind and waves threaten progression in justice, there is a remarkable similarity between our reading this upcoming weekend and the Jonah story. Jesus and the disciples are in the boat going to “the other side” of the lake, and headed into Gentile or Gentile-adjacent territory just as Jonah headed to Ninevah. Let’s read the passage from Jonah:

“Then YHWH sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.” (Jonah 1:4-5)


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(Read this series from its beginning here.)


Jesus and Jonah both are sleeping in these stories, but whereas Jonah is running away from his job, Jesus is not. The power to influence wind and waves is attributed to YHWH, just as it is in the Psalms, but in Jonah YHWH causes the storm, while in the Psalms, YHWH calms the storm. Most Jesus scholars see the author(s) of Mark placing Jesus on the same level as others that were revered in that time. Whereas the gospel associates Jesus with the power of YHWH through referring to the Hebrew scriptures, the Greek and Roman world would have associated Jesus with Zeus, Poseidon, Homer’s Odyssey, and Apollonius of Tyana, a contemporary miracle worker of Jesus. All of this speaks to the Markan community’s high reverence for Jesus as a liberator/deliverer.

But what might this story have to teach us today?

This story involves winds and waves after someone has spoken out against what they have felt is not right. This applies to me too. Some years ago, I became aware as a Christian preacher of Jesus’ teachings on various topics and began to speak out on these same subjects: Jesus’ call to not use violence to change our world, for economic justice for the poor, to include those his society had pushed to the margins and excluded, and how to judge the harm Christians have done to the LGBTQ community. I spoke out about how Jesus’ message of loving others as ourselves cuts against the racism still often present in our society. I said that Jesus’ treatment of women in his own patriarchal world should inspire Christians to work toward gender justice today rather than holding on to patriarchy.

As I spoke out, there were moments when the wind and waves of opposition to justice and making our world a safer, compassionate home for everyone rose up and threatened to sink Renewed Heart Ministries’ boat. I’m deeply thankful to those among our supporters who chose to stand by us when others were walking away. You were Christians who cared about making our world a just and safer place for everyone and chose to support this message. 

I can only imagine that those in the Markan community endeavoring to follow Jesus were experiencing anxiety from pushback as they attempted to apply the ethical teachings of Jesus to the injustices of their world. But there is one more application to our justice work that we find in this story. We’ll consider that, next.

(Read Part 3)


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About Herb Montgomery
Herb Montgomery, director of Renewed Heart Ministries, is an author and adult religious re-educator helping Christians explore the intersection of their faith with love, compassion, action, and societal justice. You can read more about the author here.

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