“Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?” - Luke 8:25 (NRSV)
Do you believe in miracles? It’s a question that a story like this one of Jesus calming a storm at sea may raise. Did that really happen?
Could it, however, be the wrong question? In Luke 8’s sequence of vivid encounters—calming a storm, casting out a demon, healing an ostracized woman, raising a dead girl—the question is really, “Who the heck is this guy? And what in the world is he up to?”
In a bible study a couple months ago, the leader asked what the stories we’d read for that evening said to us about God. A young Somali woman said so softly that it was almost inaudible, “God is a warrior.”
Her answer may be close to what Luke’s stories of Jesus are telling us. Jesus is locked in mortal combat with Death. Not so much death as simply a natural part of life. But Death as a power (hence the capitalization).
There was an urgency to the woman’s answer. She had seen the battle. She had seen Death and evil at work.
The “do you believe in miracles?” question turns faith into a debate over the supernatural. Sort of like asking if we believe in UFOs.
Jesus as a warrior in the cause of Life, battling Death, asks a different set of questions. Is God still fighting against all that diminishes, distorts, and destroys Life? Are we also combatants in that struggle for Life?
Many of us may be uncomfortable with militaristic language. But in the effort to use more peaceful language, I hope we don’t lose this truth: there’s a battle going on. A Life and Death struggle. Jesus came, and still comes, as an invader to a territory that is occupied by Death. He is a warrior in the cause of Life who calls us to join him.
Holy One, where our faith has grown bland and feckless, help us to see what’s at stake. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.