I was reading in Mark chapter 6 when something occurred to me that I can't say I ever really focused on before. Most of us know the story. Jesus was preaching, He told the disciples to take the boat to the other side, they're struggling to row with the strong wind, He comes up walking on water, gets in the boat, wind stops. As I was rereading this morning a few things caught my attention. "seeing them straining at the oars" and "He intended to pass by them" (v. 48). Now I've heard plenty of messages about why He intended to pass by them, but this time I just thought. Lord, that's just rude. Here they are "straining at the oars", and You're just going to walk on by? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?
Then I read farther... "for they had not gained any insight from the INCIDENT of the loaves, but their heart was hardened" (v. 52). We see it over and over again in scripture that God does not play around with a hardened heart. In fact just a few chapters earlier (Mark 3:5) we see Jesus "grieved and angered at their hardness of heart". Jesus was going to pass by the boat because the disciples had hard hearts, not because He didn't want to help them in their straining. Perhaps just another reason that the Word warns us "guard your heart above all else"... That word means to protect. Protect your heart from hardening.
So why did Jesus decide to get in the boat, if He was intending to pass them by? "But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost and cried out" (v. 49)
I can't explain exactly what happened because that would be me adding to the Word, but what I imagine is this. The disciples were hard of heart and Jesus was going to walk on by, but they "cried out". It's not uncommon in scripture for Jesus to do something out of the "ordinary" when He is moved to compassion. Here the disciples are in the boat, rowing hard, struggling, terrified at this "ghost", and they cry out. I imagine Jesus felt compassion... AGAIN... for His servants. As Jesus climbed in the boat, the storm calms, He instructs them "take courage, it is I, do not be afraid".
What a loving and merciful Jesus we serve, that even when we allow our hearts to grow hard, if we cry out, He's still moved to compassion for us. He continues to be faithful even when we're faithless as the disciples were. He still calms our storms.
Be Blessed, J. Tate