The Gospel of Mark – Part 23
Walking on Water – Mark 6:45-52
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Jan. 26th, 2020
- Mark continues to intentionally and systematically display the true identity of Jesus by showing time after time after time fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy through the teaching, action and activity in and around the life of Jesus, drawing the reader to answer the question of “who do you say that I am?”
- Every Gospel includes the account of the feeding of the 5,000 as Jesus literally fulfills the words from Psalm 23. The good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep because of His profound and persistent love for them. We indeed are important to Him, He has compassion for us, and He will help us. He cares about the message, He cares about the method, and He cares about the messengers.
- What happens next in the story is the account of Jesus walking on the water. If you asked people to list some of the miracles of Jesus, this one would surely make the list because it is one of the most extraordinary things that Jesus did. Three of the four Gospels record this account. All the Gospels reveal the identity of Jesus by emphasizing different aspects of who He is in relation to His life and ministry.
- In this account, John focuses on the effect that Jesus’s power and presence has on the mission of the Gospel (John 6:16-21), Matthew focuses on how the faith and understanding of the disciples is developing forward (Matt. 14:33), where Mark records the places where they did not yet understand (Mark 6:45-52). Matthew records Peter’s interaction with Jesus and his walking on the water and ends with, “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matt 14:33 ESV). Neither John nor Mark records the incident with Peter. John’s account ends with, “and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going,” (John 6:21 ESV) whereas Mark’s account ends with, “for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52 ESV). All three accounts are accurate while emphasizing different things and they all reveal the true identity of Jesus.
- In Mark’s account of the event of Jesus walking on the water, we will see that following the directives of Jesus is not always easy and sometimes we make slow, painful progress. We will see Jesus demonstrate His identity by fulfilling Old Testament scriptures which should shape, strengthen and solidify your faith in Him. We will see that lack of understanding hardens hearts towards God.
Slow painful progress
Mark 6:45-48a ESV
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.
- Now Jesus “made” His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side. I want you to know that when Jesus firmly directs us, He has a plan in mind, and His purpose is bigger than you think. Continue to trust Him and continue to move forward.
- Jesus, in the meantime, went away by himself because He needed the time alone with His Father (your ministry or your relationship with the faithful should never replace your relationship with your heavenly Father). While He was up on the mountain praying, He saw that His disciples were making headway painfully, because the wind was against them.
- Following in the direction of Jesus does not always mean that plans or the pathway will result in pain-free progress. Sometimes the progress you make will take time and be painful and will require consistent work and continual exertion. This does not mean that you are not in the will of God, on the contrary, this may mean that you are in the heart of the will of God and that God is working in the process.
- Jesus saw that they were struggling to make progress against the wind (which He had power over) and He let them struggle for some time (He did not come out to them until about the forth watch of the night [3am to 6am]). If they were not doing what He told them to do in the conditions that were adverse, they would not have seen another facet of who Jesus is. In slow painful progress, God has a plan (Ill. from church plant, missionary work, ministry to family).
Mark 6:45b-50 ESV
And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 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.”
- I think that Jesus waited so long for several reasons:
- First, He needed the time to connect with His Father (and just because you don’t feel like Jesus is with you, keep going with your last directive).
- Second, I think the disciples needed to feel the pain of their progress to understand the limits and toll of their efforts.
- Third, He wanted to see if they were going to continue to move forward even if it was difficult.
- Fourth, God showing the truth about Himself can only be understood from experience.
- Now Jesus could have walk across the land if He wanted to. Jesus could have “teleported” to the landing spot or directly to the boat. Jesus could have also calmed the storm and then walked to them, but He did none of those things. Also, what is this about that, “He meant to pass by them”? Was this a race or what was going on here? Jesus was communicating His identity as divinity by literally fulfilling the description of what God does from Job 9.
Job 9:8-11 ESV
who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea; 9 who made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south; 10 who does great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number. 11 Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
- Jesus was doing what only God could do, down to the last detail. And these guys had not figured it out yet. They did not know who or what this was, and they were terrified. And look at the response of Jesus. He knew they were confused and scared, and He immediately spoke to them – take heart, be of good cheer, have courage – (ego eimi) “I AM,” do not be afraid. He was saying that He is God by using the same phrase that God used at the burning bush (I AM who I AM) (Exod. 3:14). This is the same phrase that is used in Isaiah:
Isa 43:10-13 ESV
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I AM he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. 11 I, I AM the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. 12 I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I AM God. 13 Also henceforth I AM he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?”
Isa 51:12-16 ESV
“I, I AM he who comforts you . . . I AM the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is his name. 16 And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”
- Jesus was displaying and declaring His identity that had been seen in eternity and proclaimed by His prophets from long ago. Jesus is indeed God evidenced in doing what only God can do and claiming what only God can claim. And they only saw this and heard this claim because they were following Jesus working against a storm, that even though it was painful, it was for their benefit. Even when seeing all these things, they did not yet fully understand who He truly was.
Hardening of hearts
Mark 6:51-52 ESV
And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
- Jesus got into the boat with them, and they were “utterly astounded.” They were out of their minds with amazement . . . and they should not have been because they should have understood from the feeding of the five thousand and about the loaves who He was. They should have been like “yep – I am not surprised; He is God and He can do anything He wants; He has power over all things.” But because they did not understand, they did not connect the dots and their hearts were hardened. Just because people see God working does not mean that they will recognize Him. They don’t understand because they have not connected the dots – they are not looking for Him and therefore they do not see Him. They “see” but they do not “perceive.” Don’t be surprised that this happens and know that it may take many “revelations” until someone finally sees. Let us be people that help people see by connecting the “dots” for them (like Jesus did on the road to Emmaus – “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” – see Luke 24:13-35).
Conclusion and Communion
- Continue to move forward in following the plan of Jesus, even when you are making slow, painful progress. Trust that He is still working and through it, He will show you something about Himself that you would have not known otherwise.
- Because Jesus could do only what God can do, because Jesus directly fulfilled the prophecies about the messiah, because Jesus claimed to be the “I AM,” you can be assured that He is who He says He is. That makes Him worthy of all that you are, that makes His words authoritative, that means that what He says will happen, will indeed happen. Place or renew your trust and allegiance to Him.
- Be a person who worships God for what He can do and what He has done in your life and in the world. Be a person who sees Him for who He is. Be a person that helps to “connect the dots” for people so they can understand and in turn, choose to follow Jesus.