Ok, so be honest with me. Does my question surprise you? In the fading era of WWJD bracelets where many found themselves asking “What Would Jesus Do?” and books with titles such as, “What Would Jesus Eat?” have you ever heard the question posed, “Did Jesus Sleep on a Pillow or a Cushion”?
Last month I found myself with a rather quiet night before me as I turned off the TV and closed my eyes, enjoying the sudden calmness of the family room. It was then that I felt this desire to open up a book of the Bible and just drink in some of the words. So I grabbed the nearest copy, plopped down on the floor and opened up to the New Testament.
I found myself in Mark chapter 4, reading along as Jesus and his disciples enter into a boat and begin their soon-to-be eventful trek across the water. I tried to envision myself there in the initial calmness, what the shore might have looked like, the disciple’s faces as they departed, gripping the railing and looking out over the sea. And when the storm hits, well, I pictured them harried, frightened — a sulking fear creeping up from the depths as wood creaks, sails shred and waves hammer the hull.
Over the howling wind, one of them calls out, “This ship is sinking!”
“Where is the Master? Where is he?” another yells back.
They find him, of course. Sleeping… on a…
My eye falls onto verse 38 and locks onto a single word: pillow
Here’s that verse in two different versions:
And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? –Mark 4:38 KJV (Emphasis mine)
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown? —Mark 4:48 NIV (Emphasis mine)
Pillow? Why have I never noticed that particular detail? Feeling scholarly, I hit the Blue Letter Bible website and looked up the word. (Can any of you imagine the voice of a Wonder Pet calling out, “The Greek. The Greek is call–ing!”) The word, it turns out, is proskephalaion. (Of course you knew that already, right?)
Proskephalaion. Now, there’s a word that makes it into everyday conversation!
“Honey?” the husband calls from the bedroom. “Did you change the sheets and proskephalaion covers?”
I dug deeper and found that proskephalaion only appears once — only one time in the whole entire Bible does it show up! Do you know what this word means? Can you handle the suspense? Are you barely hanging on by a “thread”, desperate for any details as to its meaning?
Proskephalaion. It’s Greek for “Pillow” or “Cushion”.
Don’t believe me? Look it up yourself. You’ll find it under Strong’s Number: g4344
So, what earth shattering revelation do I take from this? Is it more pleasing to God to sleep on a pillow? Does using that rolled up blanket (rather than a pillow) delegate you to the ranks of the heathen? Are you failing to be more like Jesus if you use no pillow at all?
I hope you know I’m kidding. The wonderful and simple conclusion that I came to, is that Mark, once again, is a details guy. Just like in my article on The Feeding of the Five Thousand, where Mark spots a detail that no other writer mentions — he now makes the simple observation that Jesus is asleep on a pillow, a cushion.
Not only does the Son of God take on human form, but He also enjoys the simple act of resting on something cushy. Something soft.
And in that moment, there on the family room floor, I saw Him in a slightly new light. A slightly new way.
Ponder that tonight, as your head hits the pillow.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Feeding of the Five Thousand – a Green Perspective from Mark by Ron Masters
Blue Letter Bible Website – Great for Greek NT studies
Online Parallel Bible Website – Nice for comparing a verse side-by-side