One reality that most ministers face is that people can sometimes be really thick-headed. You try and explain the gospel to them – who Jesus is, what salvation is about, what kind of lives God wants us to live, etc. – but they just don’t get it. It can be so frustrating to see people about whom you care deeply worshiping God on Sunday and then falling back into old habits on Monday.
It makes you want to grab them by the shoulders and shout, “What are you thinking?! Don’t you get it yet?!”
I’m sure Jesus must have felt that way with his own disciples quite often. They may not have been the best and brightest theologians of that era, but they were with Jesus 24/7 for three years! What I wouldn’t give just to be with Jesus for one day during his earthly ministry. Sheeesh…
However, one feature of the gospel accounts that speaks to their authenticity is this very fact. The disciples, the earliest leaders of the church, were just as flawed, prideful, and clueless as the rest of us. If these were made up stories for the sake of gaining a respectable following, they probably wouldn’t have made the leaders of the movement look so ridiculous! Mark, especially, holds nothing back. Time and time again we see the disciples lacking faith, doubting, arguing, and failing to understand who Jesus is and what he came to do.
In Mark’s account, the disciples look like idiots, especially when compared to the random people whose faith Jesus commends.
The end of Mark 6 is precisely one of those moments. I can just imagine Jesus shaking his head, saying, “Really, guys? Really?”
Jesus had just finished feeding 5000 men. It had been a long day, so Jesus wanted some alone time to reconnect with God. He sent the disciples across the lake while he stayed behind to pray. Evening came and they had only made it about halfway because the wind was against them. Jesus waited several more hours for some reason, but then around 3am he decided to make his way across the lake – without a boat.
The disciples were probably exhausted, mentally and physically, from trying all night to get across the lake. It’s 3am, pitch black, and then they see a figure walking across the lake! I’d probably have a little freak out moment, too. “It’s a ghost! Are you getting this Zak Bagans?!”
I love the little detail Mark gives that Jesus was about to pass them by. He was just going to keep going! Ha.
“Chill out, guys. It’s me.” And Jesus climbed in the boat with them and the wind stopped dead (sound familiar).
Then Mark says they were amazed, not because they just saw a human walking across the water, but because they had not understood about the loaves. **What?** Yeah, because if Jesus can make 5 loaves and 2 fish feed a small army with some left over, then naturally he can defy the laws of physics and take a late night stroll across the water.
I think the point is that they still had no idea who he was. After all that he had done and said, they still didn’t have the slightest inclination that Jesus might actually be God in the flesh. In the vary beginning we see the Spirit of God hovering over the surface of the waters (Genesis 1:2). If Jesus is God, then of course he can move across the surface of the waters.
They had no idea.
But then they came to the other side of the lake and people started flocking to him. They brought their sick so that they could be healed. We’ve seen this before. But now the crowds knew that they only needed to touch the edge of his cloak! It worked once, it could work again.
Random crowds were understanding more about Jesus than his own disciples. They had heard about the woman healed by touching the edge of his cloak, so they wanted to give it a try. The disciples had seen Jesus calm a storm, drive out demons, heal diseases, raise someone from the dead, and feed thousands of men in the middle of nowhere…but they still weren’t making connections like this!
In fact, they’re not going to make these connections until after the resurrection. It’s going to take the miracle of miracles to make them finally realize who Jesus is.
But now the question turns around on us: What is it going to take for you to believe?