45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After he said good-bye to them, he went away to the mountain to pray. 47 Well into the night, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Very early in the morning he came toward them walking on the sea and wanted to pass by them. 49 When they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke with them and said, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, 52 because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened. — Mark 6:45-52
by Tiffany Coursey
Lockeland Springs Campus
Today as I read Mark’s account of this miraculous event, the words that strike me are in verse 48. “He came toward them walking on the sea and wanted to pass them by.” Why did Jesus want to pass them by?
On the surface, the story of Jesus walking on water is simple, but these verses are rich with lessons. Just before this section, we read the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Jesus and the disciples had all had a long day. Jesus now sends them away so He can pray. I am always convicted when I read about Jesus going away to pray. How could I possibly have more important things to do than Jesus? Yet I often choose other things to do after a long and exhausting day, while Jesus takes time to be alone in conversation with the Father—especially when the days are long and His future is unsettling.
At Jesus’ instruction, the disciples go ahead of Jesus and soon find themselves fighting against the wind. Jesus knew they were struggling and went to them. Mark tells us that Jesus wanted to pass them by. They weren’t making any progress, and Jesus was just going to walk right by them. There have been moments in my life when I have struggled to make progress. This passage made me wonder if Jesus has ever decided to walk right past me in those moments.
I needed some help making sense of this, so I read several commentaries to help me. There were two suggestions that helped me apply this to my own life. The first was that Jesus wanted to be in front of them—leading them through the rough waters. When I have been fighting against the winds of life, it is usually because I have been leading the way when I needed to let the Lord lead the way.
Another commentary observed that Jesus did not need to go onto the sea to help the disciples, but He wanted to be in the sea with them when He rescued them. It noted that He wanted them to see Him and to call to Him in their distress. In this case, the disciples didn’t recognize Him, and Jesus had to identify Himself. I have seen this in my life. Jesus is there, waiting for me to see Him, yet willing to walk past if I don’t call to Him. There have also been times when He was right there with me, but I failed to recognize Him.
As I look at this passage, the application for me is to surrender fully to the Lord. On long, tiring days, I need to surrender to Him and pray, instead of trying power through on my own. And when I find myself in the middle of the storm, I shouldn’t wait for Jesus to save me. I need to call out to Him, surrender the situation to Him, and allow Him to pass by so that He can lead me through the storm.
- Do you retreat from the world to have personal dialog with the Father when your days are long or the future is unsettling? If not, how can you create space to do this?
- If you are in a moment in life where progress seems slow or the wind is fighting against you, call out to Jesus and let Him pass you by and lead you through it.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.