In Mark 6:45-52, the story is told of Jesus directing the disciples to get into a boat and cross over the Sea of Galilee to the city of Bethsaida. The scripture indicates in vs. 45 that Jesus strongly urged the disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side, while He stayed behind to dismiss the multitude and to pray alone on the mountain. This event occurs right after Jesus performs the miracle of multiplying the five loaves and two fishes for the crowd that exceeded five thousand.
The disciples had no choice in the matter; Jesus commanded them to get into the boat and go alone before Him to the other side. I believe that the disciples resisted the prompting of Jesus to go to the other side because of two reasons. The first reason was that the disciples knew that the Sea of Galilee was prone to storms during that time of the year. As fishermen, they had seen and experienced storms on the sea and knew that it would not be wise to venture out in the evening hours.
How often God will send us out into situations that we would not choose and our common sense tells us that it would be unwise to do so. It’s during these times that God is testing our faith, and we need to hold fast to His leading and trust Him in the midst of the circumstances that arise as we obey Him.
The second reason that the disciples resisted the direction of Jesus to cross over was that they had previously encountered a storm, in which they were fearful of perishing, on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus. We see the event explained in Mark 4:35-41. In this account, we see that Jesus told the disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.”
In the midst of their trip, a great windstorm arose, and the boat was beginning to fill with water. Jesus, however, was asleep on a pillow in the boat! The disciples awakened Jesus, and exclaimed, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Jesus arose, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” The scripture says that the wind ceased and there was a great calm. How often we find ourselves like the disciples, in the midst of a storm or trial and wonder why Jesus isn’t more responsive to our current situation. Perhaps it seems like Jesus is asleep, unaware of our situation, and our prayers seemingly unanswered.
While ministering in Haiti a few years back, the Lord prompted me to read this passage in Mark. As I read, the Lord spoke to me and said, “tell the people of Haiti, I AM NOT ASLEEP IN HAITI!” Dear brothers and sisters in Haiti, God is not asleep in your nation! It may seem like God is not aware of the political and economic situations that the nation is undergoing, but He is not asleep in the back of the boat! The God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps! He is always watching over His people and waits for them to call upon Him in faith to quiet the storms they may be facing.
In Psalm 50:15, we are encouraged to “Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify My name.” What a promise from Almighty God! I encourage you to continue to cry out to God, knowing that He hears your prayers, and longs to deliver you and your nation from the storms you are facing!
In Mark 6:46, we see that Jesus sent the multitude away, and then He departed to the mountain to pray. The disciples were alone on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the mountain. The disciples no longer had His manifest presence in their midst. It may have seemed to them like “God left”, but Jesus was, in fact, watching over them.
Have you ever felt like “God left”? One day His presence seems so strong, and the very next it seems like He is nowhere to be found! Jesus promised us that, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Friends, will you trust God when His tangible presence is no longer felt? Don’t rely on what you see around you or what you may be feeling or experiencing. Stand on God’s word that declares He is always with you! His eye is on every bird that falls to the ground, He knows every hair of our head, He knows our sitting down and rising up, and our thoughts from afar, oh what intimate knowledge and care He has for us! He said that after His death and resurrection, He would not leave us orphans, but that the Holy Spirit would come to teach, lead and comfort us. Rest in the assurance that Jesus is always with you through the person of the Holy Spirit!
In vs. 48 of Mark 6, we see that Jesus saw the disciples were toiling or straining at rowing because the wind was against them. The Greek word used here for straining is basanizo, which means to: vex with grievous pains of mind or body, to torment, to be harassed, or distressed. So, the picture that we see of the disciples that evening was that they were distressed, tormented, and vexed with grievous pains of mind and body as they were rowing. How often the people of God find themselves rowing against the storms of this life in their own strength, vexed with grievous pains, tormented, distressed and harassed by the winds against them. Jesus saw their struggle that night, and friends, He sees the struggles we are in! He knows when we are distressed and tormented by the situations that we are in. He sees the struggles that the people of Haiti are in and He cares deeply for His people.
What are you struggling with today?
Some of you may be struggling because of sin in your life. Are you straining under the burden of sin? You are rowing, but the weight of sin is hindering you as you move ahead in life. We need to heed the admonishment of Hebrews 12:1 that tells us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”. I encourage you to repent of every sin or weight in your life that would hinder you in your walk with God. The Apostle Paul warns us in Galatians 5:19-21 that those who continually practice a sinful lifestyle will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Release the burden of sin today!
Some may be struggling with the cares of this life. Perhaps it is finances, or having enough food and clothing. Jesus sees your struggle, and he knows the pain you are in. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives, what we will wear, or what we will eat or drink. He says that after all these things the unbelievers worry and strive after. Jesus said that the Father knows what we have need of before we even ask of Him! He said that we are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all of these things shall be given to us. Jesus said several times in this passage not to worry, that worry wouldn’t change our height, much less our situations. It’s important for us to understand that worry won’t change our situations, but faith will!
Keep in mind that when Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 6 to the people of Israel, they were under oppressive Roman rule that exacted heavy taxes from the people. The people were harassed, distressed and suffering. He said not to worry and strive, but to seek first the Kingdom! He promises to meet all of your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus!
At the cross, we find not only salvation and healing, but we also find provision for our needs. Don’t allow the cares of this life to hinder your effectiveness in ministry or to prevent you from walking a victorious Christian life. Psalm 55:22 says to “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Cast your cares and burdens upon the Lord, allow Him to carry the load, as you row and move ahead in your life and ministry.