Asleep on a cushion

Pentecost 4 – St. Mark 4:35-41

Our Gospel text is a perfect picture of Jesus human nature, because His human nature in our text is so much like ours.

It is not just that Jesus fell asleep on the boat.  People fall asleep in cars, in planes, in chairs, even standing up.

It is that Jesus got on the boat and intentionally found the most comfortable spot that He could, and He lay down and went to sleep.

That is true human nature for you.  The fact that when you are tired, you don’t look for the most uncomfortable spot you can find, instead you want the most comfortable spot.  You want the extra pillows and the soft sheets, and the perfect quiet.  You want the ideal sleeping conditions wherever they might be.

Jesus got on the boat, and He did not just sit down at the card table and fall asleep; nor did He lean back in the corner and fall asleep; He went to sleep on the cushion, the most ideal spot to sleep on this wooden fishing vessel.

Thus forming the perfect picture of Jesus taking on our human nature: asleep on a cushion after a full day of preaching and teaching and performing signs and wonders.

Of course, for as much as Jesus asleep on a cushion looks like you and I, for some reason, that picture does not make it into any stained glass church windows; nor is that the picture of Jesus you want hanging in your home.

And that is the irony of the situation: for as much as Jesus human nature resembles your human nature, you do not like the idea of Jesus sleeping on a cushion, not because Jesus is not allowed to take a nap every now and then, but because Jesus asleep on a cushion reminds us too much of ourselves.

After all, what is your posture when it comes to daily devotions?  How often do you miss them, because you are sleeping after a day out engaged in other activities?

And when someone comes seeking help and assistance, whether in crisis or in the mundane everyday tasks, can you be found, or are you too busy fluffing that cushion?

And when there is a crisis, whether at home or abroad, how often do we roll over and say ‘not my problem’?

Asleep on a cushion is the best way for us to be; no one asks anything of you, no one demands your time or attention, and best of all, no one expects you to do anything.

Why?  Because you have found the best place possible: a soft luxurious cushion; a place where you can close off yourself to the rest of the world, a place where no one will bother you or ask anything of you.

That is human nature; albeit the sinful side of human nature.

Our sinful human nature wants nothing to do with the world and its problems, unless of course you do want to be a part of the world, in which case that same sinful nature wants nothing to do with God and the holy life that He desires for you.

So when we look at Jesus, asleep on a cushion, it is the same as looking into the mirror, and seeing our own reflection.  Sleeping, oblivious to the world, while it burns around us; sleeping, oblivious to the faith, while the Holy Spirit tries to awaken us.

Sleeping, and not a thing anyone can do about it.

Oh there are screams for you to wake up.  The church bells are ringing calling the young and the old to faith in Christ; yet you just roll over and go back to sleep.  The world is crying out in death pangs demanding action from someone, anyone, to come and help put out the fires that encompass civilization; yet you just hit the snooze button one more time.

There will be no disturbing the sweet spot that is your cushion.

Depending on who it is, of course.

When it is you, then you are all in favor of putting up the Do Not Disturb sign.

When it is Jesus though, it is a completely different story.

Proper order on the sea in a storm should have been to throw cargo overboard in a last ditch effort to preserve life; no doubt some of the disciples would have liked to have thrown Jesus and His cushion overboard.

Could not the one who cast out demons and healed the sick do something about a storm?  Could not the one who multiplied the loaves and turned water to wine calm the wind and the waves?  Could not the one who would reschedule His entire day to help a poor widow in need, at least wake up and pretend to be concerned of the crisis those closest to Him now encounter?

Do you not care Lord that we are perishing?  Do you not care that your Church suffers in modern day Babylon?  Do you not hear the cries of your people in agony?

When others come and try to rouse us from our cushions, the answer is often no, not really.  There is not a lot of care and concern for problems that are far away from us; sure you’d like the see them fixed, but not if it causes you any inconvenience.  As for the faith that snores inside of you; it’s not like the church is going anywhere, you will get to it when you get around to it.

And so when we see Jesus asleep on the cushion, and the cry goes up ‘Do you not care Lord that we are perishing’ we except the same answer that we would give: no, not really.  You had your warnings; you had your opportunities; you’ll get over it.

After all, that is what our sinful human nature would do.

But this is where Jesus human nature is not like our human nature; for Jesus is the perfect Son of God.  Jesus does not roll over and turn His back on the world, rather Jesus purposely rose from His seat at the right hand of the throne of God, left the comfort of the heavenly realm, and came to earth, took on our human nature, walked among us in human form in order that He might live a perfect life, and save our imperfect human nature.

Jesus does care that the fate of this fishing vessel is in peril, and He rises from His slumber, and commands the winds and the waves to be still, and they are.

Who is this, that even the wind and the sea hear His voice and obey?

For the one who today sleeps on a cozy cushion will one day hang dead on a wooden cross; not because He did not care that you were perishing, but so that He might perish, that you might live forever with Him.

Who is this, that even sin and death obey the sound of His voice?

To those who sleep on cushions today and ignore their neighbor who is in need, the command of Christ goes out to repent and rise up, and pray for and help any and all who are in need.

To those who slumber on cushions today claiming that they will hear the Word another day, the command of Christ goes out to repent and rise up, hear the Word of the Lord and believe that by it you will be saved.

For to those who rise up and confess the faith into which you have been baptized, there is something much better than a cushion awaiting you; there is a place in glory.

For that is what our Lord promises us: to those who hear the Word and believe, He has prepared a place for you in glory everlasting, where you will celebrate the Lamb who was slain, who now lives and reigns for eternity.

For the Lord who does not slumber or sleep hears your cries, and He comes to you with forgiveness, life and salvation.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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