Do We Get It?
When you read Mark’s account of the miracle of Jesus walking on the water in Mark 6:45-51, you "immediately" (one of Mark’s favorite words) notice that some details from Matthew’s more familiar account are missing… and some details are added. Missing in Mark’s version is Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water to meet Jesus. It is traditionally believed that the source for Mark's primary material in his gospel was Peter. Eusebius quotes from Papias, “Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered.” So maybe Peter’s retelling of the story conveniently omitted the part where he is all wet? Who knows?
What struck me is the part that Mark included that Matthew doesn’t. Mark says that when the apostles saw Jesus walking on the water, they thought he was a ghost and cried out “because they all saw him and were terrified” (Mk 6:49). Jesus identifies himself, calms them down and climbs into the boat. The winds died down and the apostles were amazed. OK, that’s pretty much the same story we read in Matthew. But Mark throws in this little editorial comment, “They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened” (6:51-52). The apostles should have learned something from the feeding of the 5000. They should have learned something about Jesus and his power. But they didn’t.
And they would continue to struggle. In Mark 8, Jesus will repeat the miraculous feeding, this time of 4000 people (of course, this time he had 2 more loaves to work with). Right afterwards, he tells the apostles, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod” (Mk 8:15). They think that Jesus is scolding them because forgot to bring food, except for one loaf of bread (Mk 8:14, 16). Jesus says (and I think we need to read this with something of an edge as in the NLT), “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all?” They should have known something about Jesus by know, but they didn’t get it. They missed the point of the feeding stories.
Do we get it? Do we come even close to getting it? How many ways has God blessed us in our lives? In what ways has He met our physical and spiritual needs? What crises in our past has God either taken away or given us the strength to bear up under? What people has He put in your life to bless and enrich it… and to challenge and to stretch it? If God has such a track record in our lives of blessing and caring for us, then why do we get so terrified when the next crisis comes walking on the water. Why do we get so terrified? Haven’t we learned by now that God has the power to deal with whatever comes our way in life?
Like the apostles in the boat in Mark 6, we can become so terrified or distracted by issues and hardships that we forget who God is… and who we are. Oh, we of little faith!