Thoughts on Mark 6:45-52 

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Jesus often took time to climb a mountain to pray. He did this prior to special occasions such as calling His disciples (Luke 6:12). On this occasion, following an intensive teaching session then feeding five thousand attendees through a miracle (Mark 6:45-52), Jesus made his disciples board the boat and sail ahead of him to Bethsaida. After dismissing the crowds Jesus went alone to pray. 

As evening came the disciples were ‘straining at the oars’ (v48) because the wind was against them. They were in a turmoil and showing signs of tension and stress. They were about to experience some dynamic theology i.e. God on the move! Theology is the study of God and serves us well as a discipline. However Jesus is ultimate theology because he is God incarnate (see John 1:14); God in human form. At their point of distress Jesus walked on the water to their boat and seemed to pass by them when they screamed with terror thinking he was a ghost.

Immediately Jesus spoke to them saying ‘Take courage!’ (v50). If the disciples had been more aware of the scriptures they may have remembered Job 9:8, speaking about God ‘He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea’ and perhaps would have not been so frightened. Then in these life-threatening circumstances Jesus spoke to them saying ‘It is I. Don’t be afraid’. (v50) The words ‘It is I’ can be translated ‘I AM’. Which is how God described himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14 ‘God said to Moses I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent you.’ The disciples experienced the presence and power of God himself in Jesus as they faced a life-threatening experience.

The global threat of Covd-19 is an unnerving experience for all for us. We can be gripped by fear. We may feel like we are ‘straining at the oars’ in fear of losing the battle but the great ‘I AM’ is with us. There is no safer place than to walk in God’s will for our lives. We may not know what is round the corner but if we live in harmony with Jesus at every step there is no better place to be, The Apostle Paul said to the Galatian Christians: ‘Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Holy Spirit’ Galatians 5:25.

Reflect on the beautiful Hymn written by Horatio G Spafford following his unimaginable grief at the loss of his four children at sea. May God give us strength and grace for today:

‘When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul!”
 It is well with my soul! It is well, it is well with my soul’

 

Elfed Godding, 12/01/2021