I’m still following Jesus around in the Gospel of Mark in chapter six. As Jesus left Nazareth, He was marveling at their unbelief in Him. He was not deterred though, and after He left, He called His disciples together and instructed them on their new assignments to preach the Gospel as His ambassadors with full authority to cast out demons, raise the dead and heal the sick. He sent them out two by two.
In verses 12 and 13 it says, “So they went out and preached that men should repent [that they should change their minds for the better and heartily amend their ways, with abhorrence for their past sins.] And they drove out many unclean spirits and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” (Mark 6:12-13 AMP) ~ So here the disciples are actually doing the same things that Jesus had been doing since the beginning of His ministry. They were no longer just spectators watching Him do all the mighty works.
In verses 30 through 32, it says “The apostles [sent out as missionaries] came back and gathered together with Jesus, and told Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, [As for you] come away by yourselves to a deserted place, and rest a while–for many were [continually] coming and going, and they had not even leisure enough to eat. And they went away in a boat to a solitary place by themselves.” (Mark 6:30-32 AMP) ~ After they returned to Jesus, they reported to Him everything they had done and spoken to the people. Jesus knew the importance of rest after an intense time of ministry, so He wanted them to go to a solitary place to rest. There were constantly people pulling on Jesus for ministry and He knew how tired they were. So they got into a boat to go away and rest, but the people figured out where they were going and surged to the spot they were going. They beat them there so they were unable to get any rest at that time. What was Jesus’ attitude and response to people’s persistence? Did He get aggravated? Did He tell them to come back another time, that He was busy? No, He didn’t.
Verses 33 and 34 says, “Now many people saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the surrounding towns, and they got there ahead of those in the boat. As Jesus landed, He saw a great crowd waiting, and He was moved with compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” (John 6:33-34) ~ He didn’t get exasperated that they pursued Him; instead, He felt compassion because He saw their hunger. Their spiritual hunger. So He fed them spiritual food and then He performed the miracle of the fish and the loaves. The people were hungry for God and because they sought the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first, Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the multitudes with natural food. It is still the same today. When we are hungry for God to the point where we don’t care about our natural lives anymore, He pours out provisions.
Keep in mind that neither Jesus nor the disciples had had any rest as they had planned on. Jesus tells the disciples to go on ahead to the other side of the lake while He took care of the throng of people. Finally, after such a long day, Jesus was able to get alone with His Father and pray. Verse 46 says, “And after He had taken leave of them, He went off into the hills to pray.” (John 6:46) ~ The throngs of people are not the only ones who were spiritually hungry. Jesus needed intimacy with His Father to fulfill His calling, yet He never tired of helping people who came to Him. What patience!
After Jesus’ prayer time with His Father was over He was alone on the land and His disciples were in the boat battling the storm. This was in the fourth watch of the night, which is between 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM. They had not slept so you can imagine how exhausted they were. Then Jesus came walking on the water and was going to just go right past them and meet them on the other side. Why? Keep in mind that they had just returned from a missions trip where they were casting out demons and healing the sick. Jesus expected them to take care of the storm with the authority He had given them. Verses 47-49 says, “Now when the evening had come, the boat was out in the middle of the lake, and He was by Himself on the land. And having seen that they were troubled and tormented in their rowing, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night. He came to them, walking directly on the sea. And He acted as if He meant to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost and raised a shriek of terror.” (John 6:47-49) ~ In all honesty, it must have been a sight seeing a man walking on top of the water like that in the middle of the night! Add to that how exhausted they were and I can relate to the disciples’ plight.
Jesus walks over on the water and gets into the boat with them and the winds suddenly become calm. Verses 50 through 52 are interesting. “For they all saw Him and were agitated (troubled and filled with fear and dread). But immediately He talked with them and said, “Take heart! I AM! Stop being alarmed and afraid. And He went up into the boat with them, and the wind ceased (sank to rest as if exhausted by its own beating). And they were astonished exceedingly [beyond measure], for they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had grown callous [had become dull and had lost the power of understanding].” (John 6:50-52) ~ What happened to the faith-filled disciples who were performing the same miracles Jesus did while on their missions trip? What brought them to the point where their hearts became calloused to the miraculous? Think about it. In less than twenty-four hours, they went from faith to unbelief. It’s like the Israelites in the wilderness. Time after time Yahweh showed miracles to help them, yet at the first hurdle, they fell into unbelief. But the disciples had something their ancestors didn’t. They had a relationship with Jesus Christ. They walked with Him. They lived in His presence every day.
After pondering on this, I think I see what the problem is. Even though they were physically walking with Jesus. Ministering the Gospel under His authority, none of them were born-again. The new birth has not been purchased yet. This goes to show the power of the new birth experience to change a heart of fear to a heart of faith. In today’s world, the Gospel has been so watered down that it shows no evidence of the power of God. It has become a form of godliness but denies the power of it to change hearts. I’m sure Jesus still marvels at the unbelief among His people in spite of all that He has purchased for us to live victoriously in this life. I want Jesus to marvel at my great faith, not my unbelief! Don’t you?
Don’t know Him?