Some years ago, Marilyn and I visited the Canadian side of the spectacular Niagara Falls. Kept dry by thin plastic parkas, we ventured close to the base of the great falls in a boat called the Maid of the Mist. Later, we followed a cave-like pathway behind the cascading wall of water. Then from above, we gazed upon the swirling waters, the many protruding rocks creating minor diversions to its mighty surge. From a bridge downstream, we watched the turbulent river flow through the ravine beneath us. With the falls illuminated at night, the surroundings faded. It was hard to imagine all this beginning upstream with tiny trickles and thread-like streams.
So it is with the kingdom phenomenon reported in Mark chapter six. Upstream in chapter one, Jesus proclaims the good news of God’s kingdom being experienced in its fullness (1:14-15). Mustard seeds that would grow into great trees were like tiny trickles of water feeding this revolutionary movement (4: 30-32). In chapter six, the great waters continue to flow. Eddies above the falls swirl with admiration and offence, belief and doubt, attraction and resistance, amazement and scepticism, hearts receptive and hearts hardened. Folk were overwhelmed and astonished at Jesus’ incredible wisdom and great miracles (6:2). Protruding rocks diverted water flows. Offence is taken at this man from Nazareth’s backwaters (6:3). John the Baptizer is beheaded (6:14-29). Terror strikes the disciples, seeing Jesus on the water like a ghost (6:49-50).
And yet, in their abundance, the unstoppable waters swell over the rocky crest line. Filled with Jesus’ authority, the disciples were sent out in pairs (6:7). Huge crowds gather. Jesus multiplies food for five thousand families (6:44). Jesus walks on water and stills a stormy wind (6:49 & 51). Those touched by Jesus experience instant healing (6:54-56).
It is with power that the kingdom of God pours forth, persisting against all impediments. Waterfalls can thunder loud and fast. Heard against the illuminating account of Mark’s chapter six is a still small voice inviting us to be part of this great flow. Can we dive in with Jesus to be part of its redeeming wildness and transforming freedom?