- Example Song
- IntroductionWhere is your focus? What your mind dwells on determines what you make of your circumstances. If they’d been in worship, they’d think, “that must be Jesus” when they saw someone walking on the sea.ReadImmediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 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.” And 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. When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.Turn out the Lights, the Party’s Over45–48a(Forcefully) sending away disciples—surprisingly strong word (compelled); why? Let’s first look at the crowd:Dismissing the crowd: “loose; grant release”And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”Why?Hints in narrative that crowd had something in mind. Mark doesn’t spell it out, but John does:Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.So why does Mark say “compelled” 12 to go? Verb suggests they were reluctant to go. Jesus probably doesn’t want them swept away w/ crowdCommunion with the fatherWe know Jesus often communed w/ Father in prayer, only 3 specific mentions in Mark of Jesus praying:Beginning of ministry, 1:35HereGethsemane, 14:35This is apparently a critical time. Jesus may have felt pressure to take on kingly role. Certainly preparing for a shift in ministry: Mark’s geo structure, been in Galilee/area, shift to Gentile areas in ch 7. Shift w/ disciples, as we’ll see later in this passage.Whatever the specific needs, Mark points out Jesus spending time w/ Father in prayerIf the man Jesus, who in addition to being human was also God himself, needed to commune w/ Father in prayer, how much more should we?Know who’s not depicted in prayer in Mark? Twelve. Will be in Acts constantly, but haven’t learned yet. Wish they had been in prayer, maybe response to next scene would have been betterLook! Out on the Lake! What Could It Be?v 48 has probably 2nd miracle of the text so farFirst was dismissing the crowd: how does one man get 5000 men to stand down from an insurrection against Rome?Second is this: Jesus is on the land, disciples are “out on the sea”; literally “in the midst of the sea”—not near shore, out in the middle. It’s night, about 4th watch (Mark, writing for us Gentiles, uses Roman system for reckoning time, 3-6 AM), long distance, how does he see them?He does, and now comes his 3rd miracle in this passage, the important one:
And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the seaNow if you were just a simple, small-town man or woman, without any fancy theological training, and you read that for the 1st time, what would you think Mark was describing? Jesus walking out into the middle of the lake, on the waterWell, if you’re really sophisticated, like so many scholars and academics, you’d realize that’s impossible! So you’d do what they’ve done, work hard to explain what Mark must *really* have been describing: Jesus was walking along the shore, or there was a barely-submerged sandbar, etc.I could give you multiple arguments why Mark must have meant exactly what a simple reading suggests (Jesus walking on water). I’m not going to assume you’re as foolish as an academic, and waste your time. The plain sense of the text is exactly what it sounds like: Jesus is walking on water. Mark is describing a miracleSeems like kinda random miracle. Why walking on the sea? Not random. Specifically something Yahweh, God of Israel, does.Remember how Job described God in response to his friends? In Job 9 we read:who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea;Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him.Job: Yahweh tramples the waves of the sea and passed by me, same wording Mark uses. Hold that thoughtThe psalmist Asaph said to God in psa 77:Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.Isaiah knew this too.Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,And not just out for a stroll: both Asaph and Isaiah tie his walking on/through sea with the Exodus, Israelites passing through the Red SeaNot a random miracle. Jesus making a point, identifying with God of OT. Comm James Edwards:
In walking on the water toward the disciples, Jesus walks where only God can walk. As in the forgiveness of sins (2:10) and in his power over nature (4:39), walking on the lake identifies Jesus unmistakably with God.Further indication: Mark’s strange comment, “meant to pass by them?”Could indicate his intention was to keep walking and let them catch up, but think there’s more to it.And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock,and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.I think he’s intending to pass by them like God passed by Moses in the cleft of the rock. This miracle isn’t for anyone’s healing or deliverance; it’s simply to show them his gloryOne more indication that was Jesus’ intention:
But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”In the original language, “it is I” = normal expression. But it’s also the language for God’s self-revelation to Moses at the burning bush: “I am”“Take heart. I AM. Do not be afraid.”This is a special miracle. It’s for the disciples only. Jesus doesn’t heal any sick, raise any dead, cast out any demons; simply shows them who he isMark doesn’t just say Jesus is the Son of God (1:1), he shows itDo they get it?The Disciples’ FailureNow, is walking on water possible? Of course not. Why disciples respond as they do:Mark 6:49–50 (ESV)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.Mark records the disciples believed what they saw was a ghost. Word used only here and in Matthew, from which we get “phantasm.” “Ghost” is good translation. They’re seeing something that should be impossibleMark says they “cried out,” same word he used about the demon-possessed man in the synagogue when Jesus teaching back in ch 1. Mark doesn’t record what they cried out, let me fill that in: they said, from original Aramaic, “aaaah!”You can sympathize with their fearful response, right? Why does Mark criticize them so harshly?:English Standard Version (Chapter 6)And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.This is a twist. First time Mark has outright criticized the 12. Mark has been portraying the disciples as insiders, those with the privilege of having the secrets of the kingdom revealed to them. Here he says they did not understandMore than that, says their hearts were hardened. Harsh language. Last time Mark described “hardened hearts” he was talking about those who opposed Jesus in the synagogue when Jesus healed the man with the withered handThis criticism is a new feature, which will be present throughout next main section of Mark’s gospel. You’ll see this criticism of the 12 developed more in ch 8But why here? Why be so hard on them? Why tie it specifically to a failure to understand about the loaves? They’ve seen lots of miracles! Let me suggest a couple of reasonsFirst, remember the connection we noted between feeding 5000 and Exodus. If Jesus could supply bread like manna, why would crossing the sea be impossible?Second, and more generally: why is a ghost the first, most obvious explanation? I know they’ve never seen a man walk on water. Have they ever seen a ghost walk on water? Why should they be more inclined to think of a phantasm than Jesus?They just watched Jesus do a creation miracle, creating food for 5000 men. Jesus has just demonstrated to them with the loaves, again, he’s not bound by ordinary human limitationsThey saw the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. Apparently they didn’t see what that miracle revealed: who Jesus is. If they’d seen who he is, they would have recognized him on the waterIf they had seen who he is, they would have been worshiping on that boat. As they strained on the oars, their talk should have been on the supernatural nature of their teacher. If that’s where their minds were, when they saw the figure on the water, their first thought should have been, yup, that’s our master!Instead, their first thought is, yikes, a ghost!Matthew tells us something else about this event: this was the first time the disciples acknowledge Jesus to be the Son of GodAnd those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”Mark doesn’t include this confession, not yet. Why does he leave it out?Even in Matthew’s gospel, the disciples continue to not understand, even after this event. Mark skips their confession, I think intentionally, to make sure you see something:Mark making clear to you: knowing about Jesus does not automatically lead to faith in JesusNo matter how much evidence someone is given for who Jesus is, faith involves a decision to trust in HimThat’s just as true today as it was in that boat on the lakeIf you won’t trust in Jesus now, after hearing about him through his word, you wouldn’t trust in him even if he walked on water in front of youMark’s 3rd Summary ReportMark now begins to close out this section of his gospel. Does so with something we’ve seen twice before: a summary report of Jesus’ ministryMark 1:35-39; 3:7–12They land, go ashore, and the usual happens: great crowds come to Jesus for healingBefore we saw one woman healed by touching the hem of his garment; now Mark tells us:Mark 6:56 (ESV)they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.In case you were worried: creating food for thousands didn’t deplete Jesus’ resources. Walking on the water didn’t diminish Jesus’ power. He still has all power and all authority. Even today, if you will just touch the hem of his garment, you will be made wellI don’t mean something as simple as physical healing. I mean this man has the power to heal your very soul. Your soul, so sick with sin as to be cut off from God completely, can be restored to him forever, if you will reach out to Christ Jesus in faithPrayInvitationSomething connected to sermonSomeone down front
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