Devotional #19 (2/4/13). Jesus walks on water.
Intro: Last week Jesus fed the 5,000 and had leftovers! So Jesus can supply all our needs and He wants us to help others with physical needs (like feeding the homeless) and with spiritual needs (like sharing the gospel).
This Week’s Reading: Mark 6:45-56.
vv. 45-46. We pick right where we left off last week with “immediately” Jesus making His disciples go across the Sea of Galilee away from the crowds. Notice it says “He made His disciples get into the boat”, this implies Jesus had to convince His disciples to leave Him with the crowd. They probably thought He would need protection and rest. They probably got into the boat assuming He would walk to meet them. He would walk alright but not in the way they thought! As a protective father, Jesus sent His tired disciples out (“go before Him”) because they needed rest. So he goes up on a mountain to pray. “The entire E[ast] side of the Sea of Galilee is mountainous with steep slopes leading up to a plateau (Source 1). But notice Jesus always took time to communicate with the Father. Exhausted Jesus still gives us an example of what to do at the end of the day (or, for that matter, all the time!)
vv. 47-50. So the disciples row out into the “middle of the Sea” which means that they were off course early in the morning (the “fourth watch” was between 3:00-6:00 AM [Source 1]). The Sea is actually more like a lake about “13 miles long and 7 miles wide. At its deepest point the lake is only 150 feet deep” (Source 2). With these dimensions Jesus wasn’t on a peninsula and it wasn’t a mirage but He literally walked on the water. In fact He changed His course in order to help them. We know this because “would have passed them by” is literally translated “come along side of” meaning Jesus changed course to make sure the disciples “would recognize Him and His supernatural powers and invite Him aboard” (Source 1). But they think Jesus is “a ghost” which in the Greek is phantasma meaning “phantom” or “appearance” (Source 3). But Jesus says, “It is I” which can literally be translated as what God said His name is in Ex. 3:14 (Source 1). Jesus also said this in Jn. 8:58 (“before Abraham was, I AM”.) Obviously His claim of deity is also a calming confirmation that it was Jesus outside the boat and not a “ghost”.
vv. 51-52. Notice Jesus “went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased”. When Jesus steps into our life the storm ceases and there is calm. In Mark 4:35-41 the disciples asked Him to calm the storm but here He does it just by stepping on to the ship. In John 6:21 it says “then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.” Notice the miracle of time traveling! Mark is well known for using “immediately” but here John uses it instead, not because he was pacing the story or keeping the readers interest but because they had been in the middle of the sea and instantaneously they made it to their destination.
Mark ties the lesson that was to be learned from feeding the 5,000 to Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm. So what should we learn from this that the disciples didn’t immediately get? Well, it says “their heart was hardened.” Note that when Jesus fed the 5,000 it doesn’t say that the disciples marveled or were amazed (as it does in Mark 6:51). A miracle like that can only come from God so Jesus calling Himself God here (see v. 50) makes sense. God provided manna (not Moses, see John 6:32-33) in the desert and here Jesus provides food but they fail to recognize the connection. Jesus cared about serving the people but the disciples were selfish as we can be. It is in the time when we’re tired, annoyed and hungry that we need to focus on who God is and serving others.
vv. 53-56. So Jesus and the disciples make it to “Gennesaret” which was “on the N[orth] W[est] shore of the Sea of Galilee” (Source 4) and another name for the lake of Galilee (Source 5). And the crowds recognize Jesus and started bringing out everyone needs to be healed.
We see that people just wanted to touch his clothes (“touch the hem of His garment”) since news had spread of the women with the issue of blood (Mark 5:25-34) and that just touching Jesus robe would bring about healing. And these people’s faith was rewarded (“touched Him were made well”) by being healed. But we must note it wasn’t the fabric that was magical but the God that wore the fabric who had the power to heal them.
Conclusion: So here we learned about Jesus who loved His disciples sending them to rest on the Sea, walked on water to help them then went to heal many other people in the surrounding towns. Jesus lived His life as an example and praying to the Father and patiently serving others are things we need to do also.
Source 1: MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1473.
Source 4: MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1421.
Source 5: Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible, p. 671.