MAIN TEXT: MARK 6:45-56
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.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
Jesus was not just a man. To those of us that follow Jesus Christ today, we know this truth because we have experienced Him and know Him. Mark is writing this gospel account to show those that are far from God that Jesus was not merely a man. By retelling the life of Jesus’ public ministry years, Mark wants every reader to be confronted with the reality of Jesus.
Today’s text draws a line in the sand. The supernatural nature of walking on water confronts our rational way of seeing things. Mark’s point isn’t stated, yet is crystal clear. Ordinary men do not walk on water. His gospel later will make you acknowledge that a natural man does not rise from the dead. These accounts are stories from eyewitnesses – much different than accounts of mythology. Peter, who discipled Mark, reminds us,
“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” 2 Peter 1:16
The early church had no doubt that Jesus was real, for they followed and worshipped what “we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands” (1 John 1:1). If Jesus was truly raised from the dead, we can also believe that He really walked on water and really healed the hurting.
We should have faith in Jesus
The setting of this story is the ending of the previous – He has just fed between 15 and 20 thousand people from a few fish and loaves of bread.
We are guided by His plans
As He is dismissing the crowd, he tells His disciples to go to the other side of the sea without Him (verse 45). The scene has become political as they try to force Jesus to become king (John 6:14-15). He took control of the situation.
Jesus commanded the disciples’ sailing. They were in the right place and yet they met a terrible storm. Jesus purposefully sent them into trouble. Jesus may send us into trouble and difficulty, but there is always a redemptive purpose. In the storms of life we learn that He is in control and we are more aware of His power. It is there that our faith and dependence on Him and Him alone grow. His plans are not always easy or what we want, but they are always best. Believe! Don’t doubt.
We are encouraged by His prayers
Jesus leaves the crowd and goes up a mountain and prays. Mark only records Jesus praying three times: when His ministry is defined (Mark 1:35); here in the middle of the Gospel after He feeds five thousand (verse 46); and at Gethsemane just before He goes to the cross (Mark 14:32-42). Surely He prayed more often, but Mark is pointing this out for emphasis.
Each time Jesus faced a critical moment, He prayed. Jesus got away and prayed in private. These were moments where there was spiritual conflict. He sought His Father in the heart of the battle raging about Him. No doubt He prayed for Himself, the crowds, and His disciples.
His power is a blessing
In verses 47-50, Jesus sees (miraculously) that His disciples are struggling on the sea during the middle of the night. He walks to them on the water. “He meant to pass by them” can be troubling, but is much like the way both Moses and Elijah encountered the glory of the Lord (Exodus 33; 1 Kings 19). Jesus is showing them His glory and power and it terrified them. Mark does not focus on Peter getting out of the boat, walking, sinking and being rescued (Matthew 14:28-31), instead he chooses to focus on Jesus’ power to save and deliver. Mark is painting a portrait of the deity of this Servant King.
We are blessed by His person. Jesus gives them a gentle encouragement (verse 50). He gets into the boat, the storm calms, and they we astonished. Jesus identifies Himself, “It is I”. In the Greek it is simply, “I am”. These are the same words that God spoke to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). Jesus is declaring Himself to be the great “I am” (John 8:58). Jesus not only walks where God can walk, He bears God’s name! The disciples still do not get it (verse 52) – and won’t until the resurrection.
We should come to Jesus when we hurt
Verses 53-56 are no doubt a summary of events that transpired over a period of time. Once more the compassionate shepherd will care for His sheep without hesitation or discrimination. They hurt, and He heals. What a wonderful Savior He is!
Jesus can be sought by those in need
As the boat lands, the people recognize Him, and “ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was” (verse 55). Jesus can still be sought after and never turns people away.
Jesus will bless those who believe in Him
Minimally, they believed that Jesus could heal. They were not disappointed. There was nothing magical about the fringe of His garment – it was all about having faith in the One inside the garment. This kind of faith has ramifications for us today as well.
- Jesus knows you better than you know yourself.
- He loves you more than you love yourself.
- He is more compassionate than you could ever hope.
- He is more powerful than you could ever imagine.
- He knows your needs more perfectly than you could ever comprehend.
Jesus the “Bread of Life” allowed His body to be broken that your soul might receive the spiritual nourishment it needed. He walked the stormy waters through the dark night that led to the cross – so that He might rescue us and that we might never again be terrified or afraid. Through the wonderful touch of His bloody, redemptive hands, we can forever be healed of sin’s diseases and be made well forever.
“Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (verse 50).
Jesus is the “I am”
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 6:45-56
Have you ever felt that you were doing the will of God obediently, but you still ended up with trouble and difficulty? How did you feel during the trouble? How did it turn out in the end?
What are some of the other situations where God says, “Be courageous,” or “Don’t be afraid”? Where Jesus says, “I am...”?