Week Three of 40 Days through Mark’s Good News
Mark 6:45–56—Jesus walks on the water
45 Immediately after this, Jesus made his disciples get back into the boat and head out across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 Afterward he went up into the hills by himself to pray. 47 During the night, the disciples were in their boat out in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning he came to them, walking on the water. He started to go past them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 50 They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “It’s all right,” he said. “I am here! Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were astonished at what they saw. 52 They still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the multiplied loaves, for their hearts were hard and they did not believe. 53 When they arrived at Gennesaret on the other side of the lake, they anchored the boat 54 and climbed out. The people standing there recognized him at once, 55 and they ran throughout the whole area and began carrying sick people to him on mats. 56 Wherever he went—in villages and cities and out on the farms—they laid the sick in the market plazas and streets. The sick begged him to let them at least touch the fringe of his robe, and all who touched it were healed.
Points of Interest:
- ‘Jesus made his disciples get back into the boat’—This passage tells us that the disciples ‘did not understand the significance of the miracle of the multiplied loaves.’ The miracle of the multiplied loaves should have demonstrated to the disciples that Jesus can give them enough to serve the crowds and to provide abundantly for themselves as well. But the disciples must still be operating from a poverty mentality: to serve the crowds is a loss for us. They’re still wondering, “If we stay with the crowds, when and how are we going to get our rest?’ I can imagine the disciples glumly watching Jesus teach, giving him the ‘isn’t it time that we be leaving’ glare, drumming their fingers, or ostentatiously getting the boat ready for departure. Eventually, Jesus tires of their sullenness and just sends them off without him, while he finishes with the crowd. Unless Jesus sends them out to do his work, it’s never a good sign when the disciples are separated from Jesus—they were called to be his regular companions. Last time the disciples were separated from Jesus, they missed out on a resurrection. This time, they miss out on the rest they wanted so badly. They cut out on the crowds a little early to get some extra rest, but they end up spending the whole night rowing. Jesus, on the other hand, spends the night alone praying. Jesus understands the miracle of the loaves: God provided him with time to give the crowds, and enough left over for rest for himself. The disciples spend the whole day cranky instead, and they end it by rowing in a storm.
- ‘Their hearts were hard and they did not believe’—The last time we heard about hard hearts, it was concerning the religious teachers who went out to destroy Jesus. The disciples are heading in the wrong direction. They’ve forgotten the secret of the kingdom: draw near to Jesus and ask. They might have thought that, having gotten the secret once, they were permanently ‘in.’ But they need to stay near and keep asking if they want to keep getting more from Jesus. They could have asked Jesus, “With these crowds, how are we going to get our rest?” but instead they try to send the crowds away, and they respond sarcastically and faithlessly to Jesus’ suggestion that they feed the crowds. They’re soil is becoming bad, so bad that they don’t even recognize Jesus. There’s a snowball effect to our choices. A few bad decisions in a row can lead to a little part of us being hardened off from Jesus. If we want to keep getting more from him, it’s important to turn quickly from poor choices and to draw near to him.
- ‘he climbed into the boat’—Even though they’ve done nothing to deserve it, Jesus shows them mercy. When they are overwhelmed by the predicament they’ve gotten themselves in, he steps back into their boat, restoring companionship with them. Praise Jesus for his mercy! He doesn’t quickly give up on his followers.
- ‘The people standing there recognized him at once’—Mark gives us a little sign here that, despite Jesus’ mercy, the disciples are not living up to their potential. Before the feeding of the 5000, the crowds recognize them. After their failure as shepherds to the 5000, the crowds recognize him.
Taking it Home:
- For you: The disciples heard Jesus’ words ‘Let’s get some rest,’ and they had a specific idea of how it would look. When circumstances went the other way, they tried to grab hold of the promise with their own power, and they ended up miserable. Is there a promise you have from Jesus, but it doesn’t seem to be working out the way you thought? If you’ve been trying to grab it yourself, consider letting it go. Draw near to Jesus and ask him about it.
- For your 6: Are any of your 6 in the midst of storms? Perhaps they are even, to some extent, self-inflicted storms. Pray for Jesus’ mercy for them in the midst of that storm. Ask Jesus not to pass them by.
- For our church: Pray that God would give our entire church understanding of the significance of the miracle of the multiplied bread. Understanding God’s ability to multiple resources for the good of all is the key to joyful ministry. It’s what gives us the faith to give, to serve others, and to reach out to new people with the message of the good news. Without understanding the multiplied loaves, we cannot do what we’ve been called to.