Summary: Jesus sends us into the storms, sees us in the storms and supports us through the storms.
In "On This Day" by Carl D. Windsor, the page for Valentine's Day includes this anecdote: "Even the most devoted couple will experience a 'stormy' bout once in a while. A grandmother, celebrating her golden wedding anniversary, once told the secret of her long and happy marriage. 'On my wedding day, I decided to make a list of ten of my husband's faults which, for the sake of our marriage, I would overlook,' she said.
"A guest asked the woman what some of the faults she had chosen to overlook were. The grandmother replied, 'To tell you the truth, my dear, I never did get around to listing them. But whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I would say to myself, Lucky for him that's one of the ten!' "
Mark 6:45 "Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd."
Immediately after what? Jesus had just fed 5000 plus people with two fish and five loaves. John's account tells us the people wanted to force Jesus into a ruling position, making Him king. Seeing the danger of this to the people, it was time to leave. Seeing the negative affect this could have on the disciples, he hurried them to the boat. Giving them instructions, He then turned and dismissed the crowd.
Mark 6:46-47 "And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land."
Now Jesus would be alone, through the night, to pray. The disciples would be alone, through the night on the sea. When you are feeling all alone, remember, you are never out of the sight of Jesus.
Mark 6:48 "And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them,"
"making headway painfully" means working as hard as they could with little progress. What normally would have been a three hour tour had lasted from sunset to the fourth watch, about sunrise.
High upon a seaside mountain, Jesus watched the drama and then came to rescue them. The disciples were tired, exhausted, at the end of themselves when Jesus appeared walking on the sea towards them.
"He meant to pass by them" could be a unfortunately weak translation. Some commentaries say Jesus wanted to "pass by" like He wanted to let the cup pass from Him in Gethsemane.
Mark says Jesus sent the disciples to go to Bethsaida. One account had them heading to Capernaum, another to Genathera. After Jesus fed the 5000, John said the people wanted to make Jesus king, but He refused. This, some writers say, may have confused the disciples and they just wanted to give up. So like Jonah, Jesus said, "Go this way," and the disciples saw it as an opportunity to jump ship.
As God had told Moses in the wilderness, "Let's give up on this group of misfits and start over."
But as Jesus lived in obedience to the Father, He resolved, "Nevertheless, not my will but thine." If this is what happened, it is very encouraging. Once you get on Jesus' team, He won't let you quit.
I don't think this is the case at all. "He meant to pass by." The primary definition of the word translated for "meant" is desired. The primary definition of the word for "to pass by" means "to come up beside, approach from the side."
Dr. Kenneth Wuest makes a compelling argument that Jesus, seeing the toil and futility of the disciples labor, desired to come along side them. That is supported in scripture, as Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30).
However, Dr. John Grassmick, using the common translation, points to 1 Kings 19:11-12, and says, Jesus wanting to pass by is a prophetic statement about showing who He really is. "And he said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper."