Summary: Mark 6:52 connects the miracles of walking on the water and the feeding of the multitudes with this conclusion: Jesus is all you need.
Mark 6:45-52 – All You Need
Bob heard a rumor that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all walked on water on their 21st birthdays. So, on his 21st birth-day, Bob his good friend Brian headed out to the lake. "If they did it, I can too!" he insisted. When Bob and Brian arrived at the lake, they rented a boat and began paddling. When the got to the middle of the lake, Bob stepped off of the side of the boat... and nearly drowned. Furious and embarrassed, he and Brian headed for home.
When Bob arrived back at the family farm, he asked his grandmother for an explanation. "Grandma, why can I not walk on water like my father, and his father, and his father before him?" The feeble old grandmother took Bob by the hands, looked into his eyes, and explained, "That’s because you were born in July, dear. Your father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all born in January."
Well, the water Jesus walked on certainly wasn’t frozen. Today we are going to look at the story of Jesus walking on the water in Mark 6. Now, I’m going to refer often to the same story as recorded in Matthew 14 and John 6. Now, this story is one that we like to tell to kids in Sunday school about how Jesus can do such wonderful things. But as with many stories, they gather dust upon our shelves, and we forget that perhaps they might mean something to the grown-ups they were witnessed by, written by, and written for. So, my goal today is to take an old story and make it relevant to you in the situations you find yourself in now. Let’s read Mark 6:45-52.
Now, here’s a little background on this story. Jesus and His disciples are along the Sea of Galilee, also lesser known as the Sea of Tiberias. The sea was really a large lake, set 650’ below sea level, and surrounded by cliffs and mountains. This made for good fishing but horribly surprising weather conditions. Our story here starts out in v45 with Jesus and his disciples at a solitary place along the shore – v32.
It was there that Jesus took 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fishes – one little lad’s lunch as we are told in John 6:8 – and fed 5000 men, let alone women and children. Jesus did a great miracle – actually, the only miracle recorded by all 4 Gospels - here at this solitary place outside of Bethsaida. We don’t know exactly where Bethsaida, a little fishing village, was, but obviously it was nearby. Jesus sent his disciples on ahead with the boat while he would catch up to them later. First Jesus dismissed the crowds with some final words, and then went to pray. In the meantime, the disciples head out onto the water.
Soon, the disciples were in trouble. A storm had arisen, and they were in the middle of the lake – v47. John tells us they were 3-1/2 or 4 miles out – which is a long way to swim in a storm. They were seriously concerned. Now, at this point, I have to draw your attention to a certain detail that I could not find a decent explanation to. In Mark 6:45, Jesus told His disciples to go to Bethsaida. But, in John 6:17, we read that they were headed to Capernaum. If Jesus told them to go to one place, why were they headed to another?
I have 3 possible explanations, well, 4: 1) Somebody didn’t get their stories straight and so one of them is wrong. I don’t buy it. I believe in the infallibility of scripture, that is, it will never fail, and it was without errors or mistakes when it was first written down. This leads me to believe that what we have is right and from God, who never makes mistakes.
So, we search for another explanation. 2) Jesus told them to go to one or the other, either Bethsaida or Capernaum. Well, I don’t see any clues as to Jesus not making up His mind. I can’t grasp this one.
3) The disciples were sinning. Jesus told them to go to Bethsaida, but since Jesus sent the crowds away because they wanted to make Him a king before His ministry was done (John 6:15), the disciples got disillusioned and confused. Out of these, they decided to withdraw.
That almost sounds logical, and that would explain why they got caught in a fierce storm – disobedience always makes messes in our lives. But I also don’t see Jesus rebuking them over it. I don’t see that kind of defiance in their lives at this point. This was my best explanation until I read that people today really aren’t sure where Bethsaida was.