The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 32
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.What do we make of Jesus? Are we able to hear the word? Are we insiders who don't understand? Are our hearts hardened to the word? This second boat story of the disciples is not an easy passage. We want the disciples to be enthusiastic followers of Jesus who have the inside teaching that brings them closer to knowing God. But these very real, human men, don't get it. Jesus sends the disciples off to the other side while he prays. Jesus spends the night, until almost dawn in prayer. As he sets out across the lake to meet the disciples, he sees them struggling with the wind on the sea. He senses their distress. So instead of passing on by as he intended. Jesus calls to the disciples, to comfort them in their fear. He says, "Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid." Jesus is trying to remind the disciples, who he is - he has just stilled a storm. Even his phrasing, "it is I" is meant to recall God's name, I am. As he climbs into the boat, we readers hope they will catch on and put their fears behind them. But Mark tells us they were astounded, they didn't understand about the loaves and their hearts were hardened. They don't get it. They have eyes but do not see and ears but do not hear. The disciples who have been given the secrets of the kingdom, do not understand.
When evening came, the boat was out on the lake, 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 lake. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the lake, 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. Mark 6:45-52
After hearing this, one of our responses can be, what about us. We weren't actually alive in the gospel time, will we be able to have faith? Will we be able to let go of our fear and believe? Will we be able to open our hearts? God wants us to open our hearts and will keep inviting you to experiencing the dawning kingdom. God is patient and will wait for you to accept his mercy and open your heart. And God will continue to push you, challenge you to hear and understand the word.
As you find your space to pray. Take a moment to breathe deeply and fully, letting your breath fill up and empty out. Invite Jesus to share with you those places where you don't get it, where your heart is hard. When those places have come into your consciousness hear Jesus speak to them - Take Heart, It is I, Have No Fear. Amen.
Jesus Walking on the Water by the Violent Femmes