Here We Go Again.
Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52
“They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.” – Mark 6:51-52 NLT
After all the leftovers had been picked up after the feeding of the 5000 and the crowds had been sent home, Jesus told the disciples to head back across the Sea of Galilee to the town of Bethsaida. After spending some time alone in prayer, He would meet them there. This out to bring to mind another recent trip across this same lake. That time Jesus was with them and a storm blew in unexpectedly, catching them in the middle of the lake. The disciples thought they were going to drown, but Jesus was asleep in the boat. They woke Him up and He calmed the storm. They were blown away at what they had seen. And it was all about to happen again. But this time, they were alone. Jesus was not with them. They had seen a lot happen between these two events. They had witnessed the healings of the demoniac and the woman with the issue of blood, Jairus’ daughter being brought back to life, and they had been given power and authority to perform the very same kind of miracles themselves. And just a few hours before, they had witnessed Jesus feed thousands of people with just a few loaves and fishes.
Now they were in a boat in the middle of the lake in the middle of the night. I’m sure they were thinking, “This can’t be happening again!” And even if their faith did kick in and they remembered how Jesus had saved them the first time, they had to worry about the fact that He wasn’t asleep in the boat this time. He was nowhere to be found. Evidently, this storm was not as bad as the first., but they were having to work hard to row against the wind and waves. Jesus sees them from the shore. Mark tells us that He began to walk on the water, but had every intention of walking right past them on His way to the opposite side. He wasn’t heading their way in order to save them. He must have known they were safe and would make it to the shore eventually.
It was dark, rain was coming down in sheets, and the wind was blowing hard. The sudden appearance of what appeared to be a man walking on top of the water unnerved them. They were terrified, thinking they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus calmed their fears. He spoke to them. He even invited Peter to step out of the boat and walk out to meet Him on the water. Which Peter did, until he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the waves and wind. Then he sank. But Jesus rescued him and they both make it safely to the boat. Much has been made about Peter’s adventure of walking on the water. But it’s interesting that neither Mark or John record that part of the story. Their main emphasis is on Jesus, words. “Don’t be afraid. Take courage! I am here!” (Mark 6:50 NLT). And Mark makes note of a special point of interest. He tells that when Jesus climbed into the boat and the waves immediately stopped, that the disciples were totally amazed. Matthew records that “the disciples worshiped him” (Matthew 14:33 NLT) and said that He must really be the Son of God. But Mark simply says, “They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracles of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in” (Mark 6:51-52 NLT). Those two accounts seem to be in contradiction to one another. Did they worship or did they doubt?
The real point of this story seems to be their surprise. They were totally amazed at what they had seen. Mark makes mention of the miracle of the loaves. But this was just the most recent miracle they had witnessed. These men had seen Jesus heal the demoniac and the woman with the issue of blood. They had even personally done some of the same things when Jesus gave them power and authority to do so. They had watched as Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. And not too many days prior to this one, they had watched as Jesus calmed the storm on the very same lake with just a word from His mouth. And yet, they were shocked and surprised at seeing Jesus walk on water. I think they did worship Him. I think they did say, “You really are the Son of God!” (Matthew 14:33 NLT). But it was all after the fact. It was as a result of what He had just done. It seems that their hearts had not grasped the significance of all that had happened up until that point. They did not anticipate or eagerly expect Jesus to do the miraculous, but seemed to be surprised each time He did something out of the ordinary. Their worship was retroactive not anticipatory. It is interesting to note that Jairus came to Jesus expecting Him to heal his daughter. The woman with the issue of blood anticipated something miraculous happening if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. The crowds flocked to Jesus expecting Him to heal the sick. Yet the disciples were blown away each and every time Jesus did something unexpected or extraordinary.
And we can be guilty of the same thing. Too often we fail to anticipate or expect the miraculous from Jesus. We call Him our Lord and Savior. We acknowledge Him as the Son of God. But we don’t eagerly expect Him to do the unexpected in our lives. As a matter of fact, we are usually surprised when He does – pleasantly so. But a true understanding of who Jesus is anticipates the miraculous. Rather than being surprised by the power of Jesus, a person of faith expects and anticipates it. He looks for it. This was the problem with the disciples. They were still living with doubt and fear. When the storm came up, they didn’t expect a miracle, even though they had already seen Jesus do something before. When Jesus came to them walking on the water, they were shocked. They had failed to learn the lesson of the loaves. Jesus is not limited by anything. As the Son of God, He had power over demons, disease, and nature. He even had power over the molecular structure of bread and fish. Nothing was impossible for Him. So expect Him to do the impossible.
Father, Your Son should not surprise us. His power should not catch us off guard or shock us. We should eagerly anticipate it and expect it as a normal part of a life lived with the Son of God. May our worship be anticipatory, not retroactive. May we live looking forward to what Your Son will do, not just worshiping what He has done. Help us to live expectantly. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men