Verse: Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Mark 6:50
In this passage Jesus sent the Disciples ahead to sail across the Sea of Galilee to the other side to Bethsaida. Meanwhile He went to the top of a mountain to pray as a storm approached. Surely Christ knew this would occur, right? Yet He sent the men anyways.
Time passed. Darkness settled. Wind gusts became more aggressive. Tidal waves increased in size. At first the men looked around for Jesus, but He was nowhere to be found. Have you ever been in a helpless situation like this, where you felt alone? I’m sure this was a frightening experience for the Disciples.
Here are a few facts you need to know concerning this passage.
- The Sea of Galilee is approximately thirteen miles long and eight miles wide.
- John noted that the boat was roughly 25 or 30 stadia from land, otherwise stated a distance around 2.8 to 3.5 miles from the shore.
- The Romans divided their time into four watches of three hour blocks between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Therefore, the fourth watch was between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.
“As Jesus prayed on the mountainside He saw the Disciples in serious trouble. Jesus came to them walking on the water,” (Life Application New Testament Commentary). In the fourth watch The Savior emerged, “unhindered by the waves,” (John MacArthur Study Bible).
Amidst the gale of confusion their emotions were overcome. At the sight of Jesus, the men were besieged by fear. Once again, Jesus gives a simple instruction. “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid,” He said. Do not be frightened at the sight of Jesus. This is easy to do when the conditions of a storm are considered. Fatigue, anxiety, and confusion are all factors which can impair our judgment. But after Jesus got into the boat, the winds ceased. The confusion passed on. Just as He quieted the squalls in Mark 4:39, after falling asleep as the men crossed the sea, Jesus did the same here. Likewise, His response was similar. “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The Christian life often feels like we’re on a boat voyaging through the seas of darkness. Some days are smooth sailing- others not so much. There will be moments when we are merely trying to stay afloat. As Hillsong United so brilliantly harmonized, “When oceans rise and feet may fail,” Jesus is still everlasting. He will be the Lighthouse that points you in the right direction. Our faith belongs in Jesus, not ourselves. No matter our failures or sin- Christ is the Lord God Almighty, who can calm the tempest, give peace while traveling through the eye of the storm, or give direction for the lost.
Jesus is walking on the waters to us through the storms. Are you watching for Him? Sometimes He appears in the fourth watch. Will you invite Christ into the boat and allow Him to be your captain as the Disciples did in John 6:21? Or will you sail through the waves and turbulence alone, in the dark? This is a decision we must all make.
Quote: “He came walking on the waves; and so He puts all the swelling storms of life under His feet. Christians, why be afraid?” Augustine
Additional Readings: Matthew 14:22-34, John 6:15-25
Prayer: Father God, be my compass through the storms of life. Take my fears way. When the oceans rise and my feet may fail, be my Captain that directs me to solid shores. Help me not be afraid. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.