The Book of Mark
James J. Barker


Lesson 23
JESUS WALKED UPON THE SEA

Text: MARK 6:45-52


INTRODUCTION:


1.    Our text begins with the word “straightway” (6:45).  It is an action word, a word of urgency, and swift movement.

2.    The word is used 19 times by Mark, three times here in chapter 6 (6:25, 45, 54).

3.    Luke does not record this miracle.  Matthew and John also record this miracle, but only Matthew tells us that Peter walked on the water too (Matthew 14:28, 29).

4.    Matthew and Mark do not tell us why our Lord was in such a hurry to dismiss the crowd and send the disciples back across the Sea of Galilee, but John does (cf. John 6:14, 15).

5.    The people wanted to make Jesus king, but our Lord knew their hearts were not right.   The cross had to come before the crown.

6.    Our Lord will not be acknowledged as King until He returns (cf. Ps. 2:1-6).  And this will take place only after the wicked are judged (Ps. 2:8-12).

7.    In the meantime, Christ is with those of us who trust Him.

 

I.     THE LORD SENT THEM INTO THE STORM (6:45, 46).

1.     The word “constrained” (6:45) indicates the disciples did not want to leave our Lord.  It is a strong word, suggesting urgency.  Our Lord was insisting that His disciples leave right away.

2.     Our Lord is omniscient – He knows everything – therefore He was sending them out into this fierce storm for a reason.

3.     One commentator put it this way, “This episode is a good illustration of the life of discipleship seen as a constant experience of testing and deliverance; for it was not through stubborn self-will, but through direct obedience to the Lord’s command, that the disciples found themselves in this plight.  Thus the storm in no way showed that they had deviated from the path of God’s will: God’s path for them lay through that storm, to the other shore of the lake” (R Alan Cole, Mark).

 

II. THE LORD WAS WITH THEM IN THE STORM

1.    Some Christians have the wrong idea that the Christian life is nothing but “smooth sailing.”  This is one of the main problems I have with so-called “Christian” television and radio.  I realize there are some good Christian programs on the television, but most of them are very shallow and unscriptural.

2.    I was driving in my car recently and tuned into a preacher shouting at his congregation, “If God gives you a million dollars, you have to give Him back $100,000.00.”  His giddy audience started screaming and laughing and shouting back.

3.    Then he said, “If God gives you $10 million, you have to give God a million,” etc.  The silly crowd was ecstatic.  And on and on it went.  I had to turn it off.

4.    First of all, it is highly unlikely God is going to give any of them a million dollars.  Second of all, if God were to give one of them a million dollars, I think they should God back a whole lot more than a measly $100,000! 

5.    I know I would, and I hope you would too.

6.    All this emphasis on money is dangerous.  Our Lord said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58).

7.    In too many churches, there is an unholy emphasis on wealth and prosperity and glamour, etc.  I hate to think of all the unsaved people who tune into some of these worldly so-called “Christian” programs and think they are watching a genuine Christian broadcast.

8.    The Christian life is a battlefield, not a playground.  And there are many storms in the Christian life. 

9.    Some times the Lord sends storms to correct us.  Jonah is a good example of this.  But some times the Lord sends storms to teach us. This is what we see here in Mark 6:45-52 (and Mark 4:35-41).

10. You may recall that when our Lord tested His disciples in the storm before, He was in the boat with them (Mark 4:38).

11. But here in Mark 6, our Lord is testing them by being out of the boat.

12. But whether in the boat or out of the boat, the Lord is with us, because He said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:20).

13. The word “toiling” (Mark 6:48) means “distressed.”  Vincent’s Word Studies says it means, “tortured.”  Elsewhere in the Bible, this same Greek word is translated as “tormented” and “vexed.”

14. Here we have a vivid picture of the Christian life: Our Lord is up in the mountain praying (Mark 6:46). The disciples are down on the stormy sea – toiling, vexed, and tormented by the fierce “contrary” winds (6:48).

15. It is nighttime and they are having a very difficult time (6:48).

16. And that’s the way it is today.  Our Lord is up yonder in heaven, and we are down here being tossed about in the difficult storms of life. 

17. Thank God, He is praying and interceding for us (cf. Rom. 8:34). 

18. Hebrews 7:25 says, “seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for” us.

19. By the way, our Lord must have been praying for quite some time. It was still daytime when He sent them out in the boat, and it was not until the fourth watch (from 3 AM until daybreak) that He went out to them (6:48).

20. The Bible says, “for the wind was contrary” (6:48).  And we too are facing many contrary winds down here.  So this is a description of the present age: stormy seas, contrary winds, and dark nights.

21. Thank God, we can sing:

          We have an anchor that keeps the soul

          Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,

          Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,

          Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.  And,

Though the angry surges roll

                    On my tempest-driven soul,

                    I am peaceful, for I know,

                    Wildly though the winds may blow,

                    I’ve an anchor safe and sure,

                    That can ever more endure.

 

III. OUR LORD CAME IN THE FOURTH WATCH (6:48).

1.    The fourth watch is the morning watch, from about 3 AM until 6 AM. This is the time our Lord walked on the water (6:48).

2.    It is obvious that they did not expect Him because they were “troubled” and thought He was a ghost (6:49, 50).  Today, the vast majority of people are not expecting our Lord to appear.

3.    In fact, many Christians are not looking for His appearance, and there are few that proclaim the imminent second coming of Christ.

4.    Rev. 22:16 says Christ is the “bright and morning star.”  Many Christians believe He will come during “the fourth watch,” (in other words, when people least expect it).  Let us be ready at all times.

 

CONCLUSION:

1.    Maybe you’ve been through a tough storm and maybe you are heading for another.  May our Lord’s words encourage you: “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid” (Mark 6:50).

2.    The disciples’ fear is attributed to their unbelief and hard hearts (Mark 6:52).  Let us guard our hearts; this is a common problem among God’s people (cf. Psalm 107:23-31).

3.    Any storm that God sends our way will be worth it if it brings us to the feet of our Saviour.

4.    Let me conclude with a poem by Henry Van Dyke, called, “THE SEA IS GREAT, OUR BOATS ARE SMALL.”

            Maker of the mighty deep

    Whereon our vessels fare,

    Above our life’s adventure keep

Thy faithful watch and care.

In Thee we trust whate’er befall:

Thy sea is great, our boats are small.

 

We know not where the secret tides

Will help us or delay,

Nor where the lurking tempest hides,

Nor where the fogs are gray.

We trust in Thee, whate’er befall:

Thy sea is great, our boats are small.

 

When outward bound we boldly sail

And leave the friendly shore,

Let not our hearts in courage fail

Until the voyage is o’er.

We trust in Thee, whate’er befall:

Thy sea is great, our boats are small.

 

Beyond the circle of the sea

When voyaging is past,

We seek our final port in Thee.

Oh bring us home at last!

In Thee we trust, whate’er befall:

Thy sea is great, our boats are small.



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