6:15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.

Everyone wants a “king”, especially a miracle-working “king”, someone who seems to hold the promise that he will put the world to rights.

And there are not many people who can resist the siren call when kingship is thrust upon them. It is hard to resist when the crowds clamour that you are the one they revere, you are the one they trust, you are the one who holds the keys to the kingdom. The voice of the crowd is seductive. It is tempting to believe that they have seen something in me that is real. Perhaps I really am the one who can solve the problems of the world and bring peace, harmony and healing to the human family.

Jesus heard the sound of this tempting voice and walked away,

he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Jesus did not depend for his identity upon the affirmation of the crowd and their belief in his ability to fix the world. He understood, as his disciples were about to discover, that there are always forces at work that cannot be brought under human control. There is a wind of chaos that blows inevitably through human affairs, a rough sea, not easily calmed by human ingenuity. Jesus understood that all people must face this stark reality.

“Rough” seas always lie ahead in some form. We should not be surprised when the waters are choppy and our boat feels as if it is about to capsize. This is not some strange alien experience. In fact, contrary to what we might think, encountering the messy reality of life is desirable. It is part of living an adult life in the real world.

It is necessary for us all to find ourselves at times in circumstances where we know we have been pushed to the limits of our ability to manage the situation. It is essential to encounter those situations where the usual scaffolding by which we shore up our fragile sense of identity begins to crumble.

Jesus said,

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6:20)

This is not a naïve romanticization of poverty. It is an acknowledgement that it is only when we come to an awareness of the limitation of our resources that we open to that deeper dimension of life Jesus called “the kingdom of God”. Herein lies the bed-rock of our true identity.