Jesus in the Storm - A Reflection on Mark 6:45-52
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; 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.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
This is one of the more spectacular miracles performed by Jesus and the visuals are stunning. Let me put you in the picture. The apostles are in the middle of a lake that’s about four miles wide. On a peaceful day, it might take as many hours to cross it, but this is not a peaceful day. There is a severe storm blowing, and they are still stuck in the middle of the sea after almost eight hours of sailing. And in the middle of the storm, Jesus makes his appearance—walking on water.
The apostles, of course, were terrified thinking he was a ghost. Jesus tried to reassure them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid,” although I am not sure how effective his words were; if anything, they were probably even more frightened. In any case, Jesus stepped into the boat and the wind ceased. There are so many lessons that one can learn from this story, especially about how Jesus always appears in the middle of storms to reassure us of his presence, but I want to talk about something else. (Of course!)
Why did Jesus work this miracle? He could have calmed the storm before walking on the water, ya? It would have made for a much easier walk. I imagine walking on water when it is calm should be hard enough; imagine walking on water when it is rocking and rolling. So why did he do this? To let them know he was God. He had just worked a great miracle, multiplying fish and loaves and feeding thousands. This had made them realize he had power. But they didn’t know yet that he WAS power.
And because of him, they would have power too. They were struggling against the storm, believing they were helpless against it, but he wanted them to know that they were not. He was there in the middle of the storm, walking over a churning ocean that he then calmed, showing them that he was the master over it. We, too, need to remember this when we face storms in our lives. That Jesus, who we call our friend and brother, is God.
And, by the way, just in case you were wondering if the sentence, “He intended to pass them by”, meant that “he intended to bypass them,” rephrase it to read, “he intended to pass by them.” This is to pass beside them, kinda like God passed beside Moses way back in the time of the Exodus to give him a sense of reassurance that he was there by his side (see Exodus 33:12-23).
I wrote a song last year about storms sung by my friend from Australia, John Duiker, and you might get some additional insights from it. To watch the lyric video, you can click here.