“He meant to pass by them” (Mark 6:45-51)

I just want to pick up two specific phrase in the account of Jesus walking on water. The disciples have set off back across the lake from the site of the miraculous feeding.  Jesus stays behind to talk to his Father but he can see that they are struggling against the wind.  He walks out across the water to meet them.  Now, these down to earth men knew that humans couldn’t walk on water, they weren’t daft.  So, they were terrified by what the assumed to be a spirit. Jesus comes to them and joins them in the boat and immediately the wind drops. However, it seems that this wasn’t his intent. We are told that

“He meant to pass by them”

Mark 6:48

What’s that all about? Well perhaps there is a clue right at the end when we are told that the disciples reaction is shaped by the fact that they didn’t understand the miracle of feeding yet.  There are two elements to this I think. First of all, we have the immediate issue of their lack of faith. They still haven’t learnt to trust in God’s provision.

However, I would suggest that they also have missed the symbolism.  Here is Jesus, the one who is able to give people miraculous bread in the wilderness just as God had given his people manna in the desert.  Now, here are his followers struggling against a barrier of water but the wind and the waves offer no meaningful obstacle to Jesus. Here he is able to move through the sea just as God made a way for the Israelites and passed through the Red Sea in front of them all those years ago.

So, what were the apostles meant to do? I would suggest that they were meant to trust Jesus to guide them and to protect them just as YHWH had guided and protected their forefathers.  As a consequence they were meant to follow him through the dangerous waters knowing they were safe with him. Jesus graciously stops and steps in to the boat in compassion but Mark still draws our attention to his intention.

The question for you and me then is whether we are ready to truly trust him and if we are, then are we ready to follow wherever he leads?

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