Jesus walks on water (Mark 6:45-51)
Trying to imagine how the disciples felt in this story does not feel that easy. The Sea of Galilee, though I have been there, is a long way from Plymouth. And the concept of Jesus walking on the water is so far from my experience, it is not even on the radar.
But if you look at some of the verbs, and the emotions experienced by the disciples, their experience is not that far from ours….
“[Jesus] saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.”
There are certainly some areas in my life where I seem to be straining against an oncoming wind. Circumstances that are not easy, that require extra effort, sustained effort, tiring effort in the face of opposing forces. Progress is slow and is not easy. And this in the darkness with Jesus apparently nowhere to be seen. The passage says that Jesus saw them straining. They couldn’t see him, but he could see them; he knew the effort they were putting in, he was aware of their circumstances. And then he comes to them, walking on the water….
“He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.”
The disciples seem to spend a lot of time being afraid, or terrified! In this instance, as they saw Jesus walking on the water, they cried out. All of these burly fishermen, tanned faces, strong hands, toughened skin from holding the oars and handling the nets, were so frightened that they literally cried out. Screamed? Shouted? Whatever noise they made, they were terrified.
We can identify with fear, with feeling terrified, with crying out to God. Have you been there recently?
“Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.”
Again, this is something that Jesus seems to say a lot. “Take courage….don’t be afraid….fear not.” He said this immediately. He was concerned for them. He acknowledged their fear. And he comforted them. It’s dark, the waves are smacking against the boat, the wind is howling – and Jesus speaks peace and comfort to them.
He does the same for us. It’s not wrong for you to feel afraid, to feel anxious.
"Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed.”
From anxiety to amazement. Jesus gets in the boat, and the wind dies down. Jesus had never taken his eyes off them. He knew they were straining, he understood their fear. But now he is present, and the sea is calmed. Amazement washes over the disciples. What an emotional roller coaster.
These followers of Jesus are not that far from my experience after all. The setting may be different, the scenario changes, but it is still the same Jesus, speaking the same words to us his fearful followers….. “Take courage……don’t be afraid….”
It was a great day in church yesterday, looking at the illumination of the Word of God and the different ways that we need God to open our eyes as we read and meditate on the scriptures. The children (morning) and youth (evening) did a great job, and listening to the congregation belting out "Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet" moved me and Jenny to tears.