Mark 6:45-52 (NLT)
“Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.
“Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him.
“But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.”
Same Sea of Galilee.
Another direction from a tired Jesus.
What are the chances??
Can you believe it, though? Just 2 chapters before today’s story, the disciples had learned a big lesson about trusting Jesus in the midst of scary, big-fear circumstances.
Guess what? They hadn’t learned it well enough, so Jesus decides to do another flannel-graph lesson to prove the point.
As we said yesterday, Jesus had been talking his lungs off, teaching the people that just kept following him around. Granted, he was the wisest, most loving voice around at the time. But it wore Jesus out.
We’re here at the Sea of Galilee again, and Jesus tells the disciples to make a crossing to the other side (to Bethsaida) again. After having just fed this huge crowd (around 5,000 people) using five fish and two loaves of bread from a little boy’s lunchbox (which had been a huge, miraculous miracle), Jesus needed a little break.
Jesus loved the multitude, but the crowds were starting to wear on his nerves. He kindly told them to go home, and he set out to nearby hills where he could spend some time in prayer.
When you’ve had a tough day, remember it
drove Jesus TO prayer, not FROM prayer.
In the middle of the night—the fourth watch (between 3am-6am)—Jesus sees that the disciples are having a rough time rowing their boat, because they were heading into a strong wind. The wind and the waves were messing with their progress.
(Side note: things are always worse at night, aren’t they?)
Jesus decides to walk toward them on the water…and the silly disciples thought he was a ghost. They’d been walking with Jesus for a while now, but suddenly he is unrecognizable to them. Granted they weren’t expecting him to be walking on the water. But that happens to us, doesn’t it? We don’t recognize Jesus when he does something miraculous for us. Even if He’s done miraculous things for us in the past, our perspective changes and…suddenly, he is unrecognizable to us.
Jesus comes to us in the thing we fear.
The disciples had watched Jesus perform miracles…and then they forgot.
They’d watched him change water into wine…and then they forgot.
They’d watched him heal a little boy…cast out demons…feed 5,000 people…heal a leper, a paralytic, a blind man and restored a withered hand…and then they forgot.
They’d witnessed first hand about 20 miracles that Jesus had done up to this point…and yet, as Jesus walked to them on the water…they had forgotten.
They saw this “ghost” and they were afraid.
There’s that word again: fear.
And just like Jesus, after they finally figure out that it’s him walking on the water, he tells them “Guys! It’s just me, Jesus. Don’t be scared!”
Jesus then climbed into the boat with them…and the turmoil ceased.
There are a few big ideas I want to look at today.
First of all, be confident that Jesus sees you.
He may seem far off on a mountain, minding his own beeswax. But he’s not. He is omnipresent—everywhere at all times—and He is not ignoring what we’re going through.
The disciples couldn’t see Jesus, but he could see them.
Secondly, remember that Jesus is praying for you.
He does! Even now!! Jesus has already prayed you through what you’re going through right now (and anything you’ll go through in the future) and he continues to pray for you.
Romans 8:34 says, “The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.” (The Message Paraphrase)
That’s what Jesus is doing right now: praying for you and for me to make it through this storm.
Thirdly, Jesus doesn’t always rescue us immediately.
This doesn’t make him cold-hearted. He’s God. His timing is different than ours. Plus, he sees our situation from a totally different angle than we do. He sees the end of the story…he sees what he wants us to become at the end of all of this.
Finally, Jesus will eventually calm our storm.
The disciples hollered for help! This storm was scaring them to death (again!) But don’t miss this important truth:
The very thing they feared the most was under the feet of Jesus.
Any problem over my head is already under his feet! This virus and quarantine probably seems completely overwhelming; you may feel like your boat is going under and you are in danger of drowning.
God has placed everything under Jesus’ feet. Ephesians 1:21-22 says, “God made Christ more important than all rulers, authorities, powers and kings. Christ is more important than anything in this world or in the next world. God put everything under his power…” (The Message)
And you know what else? “[God]…picked us up and set us down in the highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.” (Ephesians 2:6)
Where are you right now? Wherever your physical body is right now, spiritually you have been picked up and set down with Jesus.. Your physical body is in the middle of this mess, but as a believer, your spiritual body is with Jesus. And, through Jesus, we can claim victory over the things that are over our head.
This is a scary time right now. But our Abba-Daddy never sleeps. He never turns his face away. He is eternally awake and alert. In the fourth watch of your night, he doesn’t drift off on the couch. He is wide awake and completely aware of you. He loves you and doesn’t want you to be afraid. Like the Perfect Father, he wants to hold us close to him and be at peace!
“In this world you will have trouble. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” (John 16:33, ICB)