Continuing with a study I started earlier…
47 When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. 48 Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. 49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.”51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, 52 for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened. Mark 6 NASB
I had also somehow never particularly noticed that this miracle is referred to again when Jesus came walking on the water to the boat later that night. “For they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves…” Why stick that in there? What did one have to do with the other?
These men had just watched Jesus do a marvelous thing with the food, but they still hadn’t grasped the fact that he was actually God! After all, Elisha and Moses had done those other miracles, and they weren’t God. The loaves and fishes, amazing though it was, hadn’t made that point sufficiently clear to them.
Apparently it took something more. They saw a figure moving on top of the water and they were terrified! There is nothing like pure terror to get your attention. But then a familiar voice came through the howling wind and crashing waves, saying, “It is I.” Some experts believe that this may have been said in the form of, “I AM,” which would surely have struck awe in these God-fearing men. It may have been at this moment that it began to dawn on Jesus’ disciples who he really is! Mark’s next words may be the best part in this entire story—after Jesus reassured them, He got into the boat with them!
Have you ever thought what that meant? These men were out on the sea, exhausted after rowing against a fierce headwind for most of the night. They were physically wiped out, emotionally wrecked after the terror of seeing what they thought was a ghost, and suddenly God is there. He climbs right into the boat with them, and suddenly the sea is calm. He is in control, and He is with them.
They thought they had left him back on the mountain. He sent them out in the boat while he headed out to pray by himself. He had been up on a mountain miles away, and suddenly there He is, climbing into their boat. And did it ever occur to you that Jesus saw them straining at the oars? Before dawn? It would have been pitch black over the water, but that didn’t limit His vision!
Somehow I had never thought of this particular facet of the story before: that -as God- He was watching them, aware of their distress, and not only did he calm the sea, but –as a man- got into the boat with them. Isn’t that a beautiful picture of how He works in our lives? He is God, who sees all our fears and perils and has complete power over them, and yet He is a Man who can climb right in to our everyday lives, comforting and reassuring us.
What an amazing Messiah!