When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by.
But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified.
But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."
Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat.
When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
The crowds, you will see, had more faith than the disciples.
Of course, theirs were chronic conditions and they had nothing to lose. The disciples were in a storm and their condition was an emergency where they had everything to lose.
For the crowds, Jesus was passing through. For the disciples, he was actually coming to them and about to get in the boat with them and if they went down, he went down.
The common denominator was presence, his presence.
His message was three-fold:
It is I.
Do not be afraid.
Mark does not record a condemnation from Jesus, just an observation:
They did not understand.
Their hearts were hardened.
What had hardened their hearts? Life? Monotony? Disappointment? Fear?
A point that we might miss is that the disciples were more frightened of Jesus coming to them on the water than they were of the raging water itself. They thought he was a ghost.
Being afraid of a ghost seems silly. If it punches you, you will not feel it. It's only power is the power of fear.
Look at the faith of the people on the other side. They asked for no reassurance, nor direct touch from him. They just wanted to touch his garments. They believed that when Jesus passed through, the power of healing would come to their desperate lives.
Their were sick and tired of their burdens and infirmities. They were ready for change.
On the other hand, the hard-hearted disciples were not hardened in every way. They had left all to follow Jesus.
They would continue to grow in the amazement
The presence of Jesus would continue to make a difference for them as it does for all of us.
Consider these things for a few moments today. Who and what do you identify with most in this story?
How will your heart receive these words?
It is I.
Do not be afraid"