“Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” - Mark 6:45-52
The question lingers: Who is this Jesus? Five thousand men plus women and children had just eaten by his hand. Not only were their bellies full, but they had enjoyed a day of teaching and the amazing joy of being in Jesus’ presence. They were ready to declare him their rightful king. His authority was clear; his compassion was obvious; and his willingness to meet their needs was abundant. Who could better serve this people?
As the meal and the day drew to a close, however, Jesus quickly dismissed the disciples and the crowd. Once again, Mark uses his word “immediately.” Jesus was clearly ready to spend some time alone with his Father. Surely, the disciples were relieved to be on their way towards home as well. Remember, their time of rest and relaxation was also disrupted by these multitudes. Their day of restoration turned into a day of ministry and food distribution. They must have been ready for some downtime at home.
Once again, however, the Sea of Galilee did not cooperate with the disciples’ needs or desires. Instead of an easy trip home, they encountered another storm. Mark says that the wind and the waves were against them; they could not get that boat to shore. They struggled throughout the night and into the fourth watch, between 3:00 am and 6:00 am. For eight plus hours, these men battled the weather and tried to cross the sea.
Suddenly, a figure appeared on the water beside their boat. Were they delirious? Was it a ghost? Once again, our big, burly fisherman gave in to their fear and cried out. And, once again, Jesus met them in their fear: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (v. 50). Jesus was there. He climbed into their boat and the storm ceased. The disciples were astounded. How did Jesus get there? How was he able to walk across the water? How did he calm such fierce wind and waves? Mark points out that these questions abounded because the disciples still did not understand who Jesus was. They remained hard-hearted, despite Jesus’ constant and miraculous work among them.
We might be tempted to judge the disciples for their obstinance. Why didn’t they get it? Jesus had calmed two storms, fed a multitude, healed the sick, and performed numerous miracles. He had repeatedly demonstrated his power and authority, his role as the rightful king.
It is easy for us to question the disciples and then to forget to question ourselves. Why do we keep missing Jesus? How many times have we failed to see his miraculous provision, his ongoing presence in our lives, and his mighty work among us? Just as Jesus met the disciples in every storm, so he will meet us in every trial, tribulation, challenge, loss, disappointment, fear, etc.
Reflect and Respond:
Do you struggle with hard-heartedness towards the Lord? Spend some time asking him to soften your heart and open your eyes so that you can truly see him. Take a few minutes to marvel at all he has done and anticipate what he will do in the future. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The Crucified Life small group Christian study is designed to reflect upon the Seven Last Words of Christ from the cross and what they mean for us today. Walk the road of Calvary with Jesus in order to grow closer to Him. The Crucified Life small group study examines human suffering as it is mirrored in Christ’s suffering on the cross and what His seven last words say to a hurting world. Find out incredible insights into these words as Jesus teaches us, even in death, how we can use our suffering and triumph over it for His glory. Begin your Crucified Life today.
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