Friday, June 27, 2008

Mark 6: 45-52 is an account of Jesus’ walking on the water to go to His disciples who were struggling with the wind and waves in a storm in the darkness about three or four miles out on the sea. The story is full of spiritual implications, but I will point out only a few.

“He made His disciples get into a boat.”
The “boat” is significant because it represents a context from which we can not easily escape. Once out on the sea the disciples could not simply change their minds and walk away from the problems and issues at hand. They had to ride it out. The Lord desires to work deeply and significantly in our lives, but He knows that human nature wants to run from the fire and will attempt to escape if it has the option to do so. We would rather than sin than suffer. In the crunch we seek relief rather than the purpose and glory of God. We tend to be like the Psalmist who cried out, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.” It is interesting to note that the when we attempt to escape God’s working in our lives we do end up “wandering” and “remaining in the wilderness.” The worst case is Esau who gave up his birthright for relief when he was tired and hungry.
This explains the boat. If you are His child He will sometimes place you in difficult circumstances from which you can not escape, take the short-cut, or by-pass, if you walk in integrity and righteousness. But this is a good thing. It shows His love and His desire to work with us in spite of ourselves.

“He made …His disciples go before Him.”
One of Jesus’ promises is that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He also promised that when He brings out His own sheep He goes before them (John 10:4). But here He commands His disciples to go “before Him.” This seems in contrast to the promise. This is what it often feels like when we are in “the boat.” It feels like we been sent out alone.
But the reality is the opposite. The psalmist, in his dark hour, feeling forgotten and forsaken, and crying out daily with sorrow in his heart, came to understand that God was actually dealing bountifully with him. Sometimes our darkest moments indicate God’s most intense presence rather than His absence. We must remember that the disciples were in the middle of the sea in a storm at night. They felt helpless and alone; yet the Bible says that “Jesus saw them straining at rowing.” He saw them. God may be out of our sight, but we are never out of His sight. He saw them and went straight to them. They were not being ignored by God. To the contrary, the whole experience had been especially designed for them. They were getting special attention. As one story goes, we see only one set of footprints not because He is not walking with us, but because He is carrying us.

“He…would have passed them by.”
This sentence requires more discussion than can done in this short space. It represents a principle that Christians often miss. There is a such thing as Divine resistance, and it is accompanied by the absence of grace; however, there is also an area in our training where we encounter what appears to be Divine resistance but which is actually the Lord’s desire to stimulate us to aggressive faith and prayer, to provoke us out of passivity and apathy, and to move us to the assertive and determined action of obedient children passionate to do His will. It is a place where we work together with Him through intercession and patient endurance. How often do we let the Lord pass on by because we think that is what He wants to do? How often do we interpret His apparent reluctance as a genuine lack of interest? We think He does not want to engage us and so we back away, drop the subject, and let Him pass on by. It is clear that Jesus never intended to pass by that boat. His heart was with those men. They were the object of His special care and focus at that moment. We should take note and learn from this example.
There are other Biblical examples of God’s children pressing into Him when on the surface it appeared they were encountering resistance. The two men on the road to Damascus constrained Jesus to stay with them when He made as though He would have gone on further (leaving them behind). The Canaanite woman cried out to Jesus and obtained healing for her daughter after Jesus had given her three negative (almost offensive) responses that would have caused most of us to turn and walk away. In wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless bless me!”
I don’t fully understand this principle, but I do know that God wants us to “trouble” Him with things. Our quickness to let Him pass on by is not courtesy, but rather complacency, passivity, and spiritual laziness. Sometimes it reflects our low self-esteem. We think we are not worthy of His attention and help. But ultimately it reflects our lack of understanding of God’s love and desire to work in our lives.

“He made His disciples…go…to the other side”
Our destiny is the “other side,” which means we will make it through. We must not be afraid of the storm that comes on the way. Jesus will silence and still it as soon as its purpose is completed. The experience in the boat was to make them grow and to cause them to know Him at a deeper level. Peter even had the opportunity to walk on the water with Jesus at this time. So maybe our goal should be not simply to get to the other side, but to be at His side. Let’s not jump to the conclusion that the Lord does not want to be bothered, that He has better things to do. Let’s touch the hem of His garment and cry out to Him to abide with us. Let’s also cry out to Him as Peter did, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

Biblical references for further study:
Mark 6: 45-52; John 10: 3-5; Luke 24: 28; Mat.15: 21-28; Gen 32: 22-32; Luke 11: 5-8; Lu 18: 1-5
Matthew 14:22-32; Hebrews 10:19-23.

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