“Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.”
Reading: Mark 6:45-52
This is an interesting story of Jesus walking on the water. After feeding 5000 men, Jesus sent his disciples to sea while sending the crowd home. It was night and the disciples were in the middle of a storm. Jesus came to them walking on the water. When the disciples saw Him, they were terrified thinking it was a ghost. Then Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.” Note these three things:
- Jesus’ Providence (v. 45) – It is interesting to note that “Jesus immediately made his disciples to go…”. KJV puts it, “Straight away He constrained His disciples to go …” This means He compelled them, He hurried them, there was some degree of force. Did Jesus know there was a storm at sea? Of course, He knew it very well. So, why did He send His disciples into it? The disciples were in this storm not because of disobedience but because of their obedience to Christ. John 6 tells the same story. And he said that Jesus was aware that people were “intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king”. The disciples must have caught up in that hype. After Jesus performing this huge miracle, everyone would have wanted to be close to Jesus. And if He was made king, Peter, John and the rest would have loved to be in key roles in His kingdom. We see this in other cases how they each wanted to be greatest among them (Matthew 18:1-4; Luke 22:24-26). Verse 52 says that “they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened”. I suggest that Jesus’ providential will was that His disciples be placed in the middle of the storm. So, He deliberately removed them from the praise of the crowd to the fury of the storm in order to humble them. The experience would teach them of their dependency on God rather than the self-sufficiency of pride. It was an experience that would help them grow and perfect their faith. In life we face storms that can only be described as providence will of God. We face these to remind us of our constant dependency on God.
- Jesus’ Prayers (v.46) – “After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.” Jesus had sent His disciples to sea, sent the crowd home, then He went up to the mountain to pray. I wonder what he prayed for. He knew His disciples were in this storm because of their obedience to Him and how this storm would help them grow, and I suggest that He prayed that His men would row the waves of the storm. It is a wonderful promise that when we go through life’s storms, Jesus is praying for us (Luke 22:23; John 17:20-26). Sometimes I am not sure of my prayers, whether I said the right thing or expressed rightly what I needed. But the wonderful thing is, the Holy Spirit prays for us, and His prayers are better and more powerful than ours. “… the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27). As we go through life’s storms, we have the promise of His prayers.
- Jesus’ Presence (v. 48-50) “Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, … He came to them, walking on the sea; … But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Jesus is now by Himself praying for His disciples. But His prayer meeting was called to a halt as the need of His disciples was prominent. He came to them on the water, indicating that He is above the trouble sea of our lives. When the disciples saw Him walking on the water, they were terrified thinking it was a ghost. The storm at sea now becomes the storm at heart. Then Jesus spoke, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Then He calmed the storm. What a relief it must have been for these strong men to know that their Master is now with them and had overruled the storm. The very thing, they thought was the ghost, was the answer to their problem! Sometimes we go through storms and then something else happens, and all we see is a ghost. We see God punishing us and we don’t feel He is near or present in our trouble sea. But if we know that Christ is present, we would know what He says, “Take courage… It is I”. And the ghost we see may just be the very answer to our problems. In our confusions and storms, by nature we tend to feel lonely as if Jesus is not near. But we have the promise of His presence. He promised to be with us till the end of the age (Matthew 28:20; Matthew 18:20; Psalm 46:11; Isaiah 41:10). I love the words of a song, “Tell my people that I love them, tell my people that I care, when they feel far away from me, tell my people I am there.”
In our life storms, we have the promise of His providence, the promise of His prayers, and the promise of His presence. These promises will keep you strong during your darkest hours.
‘Ofa atu, tasa