November 23, 2004
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 ESV)
Jesus goes back on retreat. After this miracle, they all head back to where they came from, and He goes into the mountain to pray. I won't make the obvious application to personal quiet time/devotion here -- it's too obvious that if Jesus needed it, so do we. I think what happens afterwards is much more interesting.
While Jesus is off praying, the disciples apparently decide to do some fishing. This is sometime between 3 and 6 in the morning, but they're fishermen, so they know the best time to fish is in the early morning. They head out, and immediately get into trouble. They run into a headwind, and can't get back to shore, and they are panicking. I can just see Jesus sigh right now, and head out across the water to them.
This passage sounds like Jesus was just going to head right by them, but the parallel passage in Luke makes it clear that Jesus only seemed to be heading past them (Luke 24:2 . The disciples have no clue who He is.
Sounds like us, doesn't it? We're in trouble, cry out to God for help, and don't recognize it when it comes. Reminds me of a joke I used to tell when I was younger:
A man living in Florida decided to ride out the hurricane that was coming. Sure enough, the floodwaters started to rise, and soon he had to run to the top floor to stay above the water. A police officer came by and told him he needed to evacuate, and offered him a spot in the boat he was in. "No," said the man, "I'm trusting God to save me, and I know He will." A half hour later, another boat comes by, and makes the same offer. Same response. Finally, the waters are so high that the man takes refuge on his roof. A police helicopter flies by, and once again the police offer the man a ride to safety. Same response.Even though the disciples had seen what Jesus could do, in the miraculous feeding of 5,000 people, they still didn't know who He was, and really hadn't understood what they miracle meant. They lacked the faith to see that Jesus could provide them safety, and assurance, and security. They missed the point, and they didn't see Him as their shepherd. They were so fixed on their one idea of a conquering Messiah that they missed the servant Messiah that was prophecied as well.
Finally, the waters rise too high, and the man soon drowns. He arrives in Heaven, and is rather upset. "I trusted You!" he sayd to God. "I trusted You, and You left me to die!"
God said, "What are you talking about? I sent two boats and a helicopter, what do you want?"
The theme of this section seems to be that Christ supplies all our needs. Our problem comes in when our expectations are different from God's. He knows better than we do what we really need, and what we simply want. We need to recognize what God is providing for us, and be grateful.
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