I Don’t Need a Boat, but Get Me a Boat
Jesus withdrew with the disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed… And he [Jesus] told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him. (Mark 3:7, 9)
I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus does not need help doing anything—not mine or anyone else’s. Ever.
In the Old Testament, God says that if he was hungry—say, he wanted a sandwich or something—he wouldn’t ask for help (Psalm 50:12). When he created the world, the only “help” he got was within the Trinity. In the opening verses of Hebrews, the author notes that Jesus “upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
It doesn’t seem like God needs help.
In many ways, this is part of the litmus test of God-ness: If you need anything—food, water, sleep, praise, money, protection, love—then you are not God. If you don’t need, then you are God.
But then I read verses like Mark 3:9, and I take great comfort that Jesus wanted his disciples to help him. In this verse, because the crowd might actually have “crush[ed] him,” Jesus asks his disciples to get the escape boat ready.
In Luke 4, a crowd wanted to toss Jesus over a cliff, and he just walked through them. I’ve never quite understand how that went down, but it happened. And if this crowd in Mark 3 got too lively, and Jesus needed to bail, then there was water right behind him. He could just walk away on that, right? Wouldn’t that save time and effort? Wouldn’t that even achieve the secondary purpose of showing his God-ness?
This is why, every day, I keep reading my Bible. I want to be tethered to it until I die.
In the Bible, I’m continually surprised—pleasantly surprised—by Jesus. I’ll learn one thing about him—say, he is God and doesn’t need anyone’s help—and then I learn something else—say, he desires the help and ministry of his friends.
I imagine it felt good for the disciples to be told to do something for Jesus, like get a boat ready. For most of those guys, it was in their wheelhouse. I bet they rushed off, their labors fueled with dignity—like EMTs with the sirens whirling: “Jesus needs a boat; let’s go, let’s go; come on, move it; the crowd could push him into the water.”
The tendency, in our human-ness, is to discount either God’s self-sufficiency or that our efforts matter to God. There is mystery, but somehow, these cohere. He is the God-man. And this gives my labors—our labors—for the kingdom meaning, value, and worth.
God doesn’t need my parenting, my preaching, my tithes and offerings, my “quiet time,” my evangelism. But he wants them.
Jesus needs another Christian to start another blog, like he needs a sandwich.
But if he asked me for one, I’d try to make him a good one—a toasted panini with double meat and feta cheese. I think he’d like that.