When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. 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. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; 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.” Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened. When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was. Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured. Mark 6:47-56
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Jesus had gone to the mountain to pray after the feeding of the five thousand. This was after he had his disciples go ahead by boat to Bethsaida on the other side of the Sea of Galilee and he had sent the crowds away. Now he has come down from the mountain and is alone at the water’s edge where he plans to walk across the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida. Jesus catches up with his disciples in the middle of the sea where he sees them straining at the oars because of the fierce wind. Jesus was intending to pass by them but they see him and cry out in terror, thinking it was a ghost.
Our passage describes what happens next in this way, “But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped.” And what was the disciples’ response to all this? Here’s what our passage has to say about it, “they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.” You see, astonishment is being surprised and questioning, “how can this be?” Astonishment is seeing Jesus walking on water and knowing he arrived in the middle of the sea without a boat, but concluding, “it makes no sense.”
Astonishment is not awe, worship, surrender, and devotion. Yes, these men are Jesus’ disciples. They did leave what they had been doing with their lives to follow Jesus and to be “with him.” But why have they not yet moved beyond mere astonishment in their response to Jesus? Why did they not gain any insight from the incident of the loaves (not to mention everything else they have seen Jesus do so far)? We are told it is because of hardness of heart.
The disciples have had a ton of on the job training and it will serve them well down the line, but the hardness of their hearts will require a lot more than training. It will not be the miraculous displays of the authority and power of Jesus that will soften their hearts. It will be the suffering of Jesus that will break their hearts. And when it all culminates in the miraculous provision of the cross and the resurrection, the disciples hearts truly will be moved to awe, worship, surrender, and devotion.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, here I am on the other side of the cross and the resurrection. You live in my heart through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so that I am always “with you.” I ask you to do something about the ways my heart is hardened to this reality. Forgive me for facing the challenges of the “wind and sea” experiences of my life without fully counting on you and the difference you make. I seek to be before you in awe, worship, surrender, and devotion. Amen!
Be sure to check out the special posts for this coming Saturday and Sunday.
Posted on Fri, February 16, 2018
by Ken Hart