Like the disciples in the boat on the boisterous sea, we often find ourselves being tossed about by the storms of life. As long as we do not get “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14), we can be assured that we reach the other side with Christ.
Once again Mark reveals that the Lord Jesus Christ has power to control nature, something only God can do.
The storm’s power
“And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them” (Mark 6:47-48).
After Jesus had arisen from prayer, He looked out over Galilee and saw the disciples struggling to stay afloat as a storm threatened to take them down. Jesus could have calmed the storm from the land, but He wanted them to learn a valuable lesson. The disciples were terrified by the fierceness of the storm, so how would they react if they saw someone walking passed them on the water? The Lord had promised to meet with them on the other side of Galilee (Mark 6:45), but they never questioned how He would manage to get there without a boat. There appears to be some humour in the words “and would have passed by them.”
Jesus has promised us a place with Him in Heaven, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3), but do we trust Him enough to overcome life’s difficulties, perils, sicknesses and disappointments as we await the day when we will be with Him? The same Lord who as watching over the disciples is watching over us too. Our ways are not hidden from Him, and He is always ready to deliver us from our storms, “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
The Saviour’s presence
“But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened” (Mark 6:49-52).
The disciples must have thought that the “angel of death” had come for them when they saw the figure approaching them through the storm. Fear had gripped their hearts so that they had lost all hope of survival. The feeding of the 5,000 should have taught them that the Lord cares for His followers and that He can do anything, but fear had taken any faith they had from them.
Fear hardens the heart and prevents a person acknowledging that Christ is with them. The believer has been provided with the antidote against fear, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:18-19). Before Jesus could calm the storm, He had to calm the disciple’s fears and anxieties. There is faith in our hearts if we know that He loves and cares for us. With Jesus as our Saviour and Shepherd there is no cause for alarm or fear, for He is ever our Shield and Deliverer (Psalm 144:2).
It is at this point that Peter questioned the reality of Jesus’ presence, “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased” (Matthew 14:28-32). He failed to see that the storm was just an annoyance if Jesus was with him, but he looked at his predicament rather than Jesus’ presence. Peter obviously had a little more faith than the others, but his doubt still took him down. If he had never prayed from the heart before, he did so on this occasion. The Lord will always save those who realise their desperate condition.
The storm ceased the moment Jesus got into the boat. Now they saw Him, not as the bringer of death, but as the Son of God, “Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33). Why do we wait until something bad happens to pray and declare our faith in the Lord?
The Supreme Physician
“And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole” (Mark 6:53-56).
As soon as they arrived at Gennesaret, which may be the result of another miracle (John 6:21), the people soon heard that Jesus had arrived. They flocked out to Him to be healed and delivered. The news had reached them of the remarkable miracle which the woman who had the issue of blood had received (Mark 5:25-34).
Our study proves that there is nothing beyond God’s power, “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17). Storms, sickness and Satan are no match for Him, for He is able to deal with one as with the other. His presence is the greatest treasure both in this life and in the next, “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).