Mark 6:45-56: Confounded by Christ
What is the most frightening or unbelievable thing you've ever seen? What the disciples see in this passage was both scary and beyond belief. Let's investigate.
Let's read the passage.
What do we learn about Jesus from verses 45-48?
1. He cared for His disciples by giving them a needed break from the crowds.
2. He valued time in solitary prayer. The hard day drives Jesus
to prayer, not from prayer.
3. He sent His disciples into a "straining" situation.
Someone summarize the lake scene for us.
Why did Jesus walk out to them on the water? ("He saw the disciples straining at the oars", so He went to help them.)
What does this story reveal about Christ's involvement in our own trials? (He is both aware of and concerned about our struggles and acts on our behalf. In addition to helping us in our plight, His deliverance reveals to us His supernatural power.)
Since it seems pretty clear that His purpose was to assist His disciples, what do you make of the words: "He was about to pass by them"? (The Expositor's Bible Commentary explains that "we have here not the intention of Jesus but the impression of an eyewitness as to what was happening." [Wessel 676] Less likely explanations are: that He was waiting for them to call for His help, or that He did not want them to be frightened by seeing Him, or that He intended them to see Him and take courage by the mere proximity of His presence.)
What does Jesus say to them? ("Take courage. It is I. Don't be afraid.")
In what situations do you most need to take these words to heart?
The words "It is I" are literally "I am." Do you think Jesus is making a statement about His identity by alluding to "I Am", an Old Testament title of God? (While the primary meaning is to let the disciples know that what they thought was a ghost was indeed their Master, it is possible that Jesus wanted to stretch their concept of who He was. In Exodus 3:14, God first identifies Himself as "I Am" after demonstrating His power to Moses through a nature miracle.)
Let's reread verses 51-52.
What did the disciples not understand about "the loaves", and how does it relate to the present situation? (If they had realized that none other than God can multiply bread, they would not have been as amazed when the same God-Man walks on water. Instead, their hearts were hardened to more revelation about His identity.)
Having been blown off course, the boat lands at Gennesaret, south of the intended destination of Bethsaida. Apparently morning by then, people flock to Jesus as soon as the boat lands. How would you describe His ministry in Gennesaret? (It seemed to consist only of healing, and lots of it. This is a stark contrast to His visit to Nazareth with which this chapter begins. So this passage caps off accounts of a wide variety of miracles which highlight Christ's sovereignty over Creation.)
As we pray, let's praise Jesus for His power and compassion.