Monday, April 17: He was about to pass by them
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus' role as a servant. Join with us as we venture through one section of this vital gospel that recounts many of Jesus' actions during his ministry years.
Read Mark 6:45-52
Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. 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.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
This short passage can generate quite a few questions. Why did Jesus make his disciples get into a boat, and how do you suppose he wrangled these 12 often-unruly men? How did he see their rigorous rowing from the land, at night? Do you think he knew in advance about the high winds? Why in the world was he "about to pass them by" as he walked on the water? And why then join them in the boat after their frightening sight?
It's OK—no, it's good, it's necessary—to question things as you read the Bible. Sometimes, just like the disciples, who "had not understood about the loaves," something is beyond our understanding today. At other times, our hearts can be hardened, again like the disciples. At times like these, a good strategy is to stop and ask God first to illuminate his word for you, that you may understand anything you need to, and then to crack open the hard shell around your heart, that his grace and love and wisdom may come in.