For a daily devotional I use The St. James Daily Devotional Guide. This morning I was pleased with some commentary about the difference between truth (the eternal forms) which are true by necessity and the truth which is Jesus Christ whose truth is displayed in freedom.
I believe it was in my junior year of college at the University of California, Sacramento, when I won the philosophy contest for that year. In my essay, “Plato’s Four Concepts of Soul in the Phaedo,” I attempted to prove “a great deal of the confusion of the concepts with one another is caused by Plato’s idea of personal souls and their likeness to impersonal forms.” I have thought about this often, we Christians cling to a personal God, unchanging yes, but that unchanging includes compassion, mercy and forgiveness. And in that unchanging merciful God is freedom.
The author of the commentary, Patrick Henry Reardon, is relating this to Mark 4:35-41, the story of Jesus calming the winds and the waves. Reardon writes:
…in today’s Gospel story, the truth he revealed to those disciples threatened by the storm on the lake—fearful for their lives—was utterly free, backed up by no explanatory or metaphysical necessity. He overwhelmed the apostles—along with the waves and the wind—by the redemptive assertion of his presence. Christ’s debarim—the things he did and said—formed an absolutely free gift, conveyed in the experience of grace and election.
…Always, the truth revealed in Christ is pure grace—truth freely and generously given, truth freely and humbly received.
Here I think it can be pointed out that not only was this grace and truth freely given it was so very personal. The Hebrew Bible clearly tells us that God controls the seas and storms, “He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed (Psalm 107: 29).” But in Jesus the disciples see the personal, the face of God as the storm is stilled. And there is more.
In Mark’s account of this story there are other boats. Mark writes, “Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as he was; and other boats were with him (4:36).” R. Alan Cole in the Tyndale Commentary suggests that this may be like the closing words of Jonah, “and also much cattle (Joh. 4:11), with its undertone of the infinite mercy of God.” This personal God, very God of very God, as the creed states, was not just training Apostles he was caring for the crowds of people as he did when feeding the five thousand and the four thousand.
Here we are living in the midst of a pandemic, living in the midst of unholy racism, living in the midst of unholy riots, perhaps fearful of what is coming in the future—and yet here stands our Redeemer who created the universe and controls the universe. This personal God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, knows us personally and has us in his tight grip. Fear not.