Peace, Be Still,
Painted by Stephen Gjertson (born 1949),
Painted in 2011,
Oil on canvas
© Stephen Gjertson Art
Quiet now! Be calm!
With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’
Reflection on the Painting
The lake-crossing scene in Mark today serves as an opportunity for Jesus to reveal more about Himself. A great storm arises. Remembering that most disciples were very familiar with being on boats and fishing, they are rather worried about the storm. This is no ordinary storm. Jesus rebukes the storm with the same authority as He did when he rebuked evil spirits. But it is the last part of the reading which is the interesting part. Mark’s description of the disciples and their worries has a way of unsettling us as readers. If the closest companions of Jesus, given the privilege they enjoyed from viewing and hearing Jesus up close, cannot put it all together, then how can we 2,000 years later expect to make sense of everything? This reading therefore is a warning that we cannot be overconfident or be overly certain that we know what it takes to qualify as an insider in God’s reign.
There are many good reasons to be confident when we try to live our lives in Christ. We try to be loyal and dedicated. But being confident does not mean being without concern. We need humility in our confidence and trust in Christ. If we insist we are confident, then we lose alertness. We need to be vigilant, alert and accept that there are dangers. Only then can we proceed with caution, guarding our mind, words and deeds. Confidence is good. Overconfidence not.
Our painting today is by Stephen Gjertson, founding member of The American Society of Classical Realism Guild of Artists. His realist painting style is striking. In the left distant corner we see thunder and lightning disappearing to the background. The storm has been calmed. Jesus, dressed in a red cloak has his arms raised, foretelling the crucifixion pose. The disciples all look on in wonder… The miracle of Jesus’ authority over nature had left them stunned…
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