Summary: This is not a happy story about Jesus saving the day. This is not another comforting account of how Jesus solves our problems in the storms of life. This is a story about growing real faith in God.
JESUS WALKS BY
TEXT: MARK 6:45-52.
THEME: THE STORMS OF LIFE TEACH US MORE ABOUT US THAN GOD.
The Native American group in Nova Scotia, Canada, had a long standing tradition. Each young boy had to live in the wilderness by himself for a week. It was a right of passage for an Indian male child. Before he was given the right to marriage and has a family, he has to survive in the forest. He was given a bow, some bread, and a mat for his travels. He was not to return to base camp for a week. During this time, he had to hunt, provide, and sustain himself. This trip was more than a test of courage and skill, it was a spiritual journey. On this journey, the young boy would discover his true manhood. The test was not to destroy the boy, but to build his confidences in his ability to manage the difficulties in life.
Sometimes God also commands us to leave the camp. God instead of protecting us from all of life’s harms, he pushes us out the door to fight for ourselves. Instead of providing another job, he tells us to deal with it. Instead of delivering us from sickness, he commands us to be patience with it. Instead of saving us from difficult people, he tests us. Instead of providing a child, he tells us we have all we need. Instead of rescuing us from all of life’s problems and difficulties, he sometimes just walks by us. Sometimes God forces us out of the house to stay in the cold, pain of life.
This is not the typical image of God that is portrayed in today’s Christian world. People do not like hearing about a non-anxious God. A God that is more concerned with your faith development than you physical, spiritual comfort. A God that is willing to let you deal with the difficulties of life on your own. A God that sends you into the storm and is willing to leave you there; this is not a popular God. In fact recently I was watching a great movie. I enjoyed the movie and was encouraged by the movie. It was called “Facing the Giants.” It was about this football coach. He was having a losing season. The parents were turning on him and were fighting to have him fired. He was dealing with money problems, and his wife could not get pregnant and it was his fault. His whole world was turning against him. As the movie continued, he decided to give God the honor in all that he did. The movie begins to unfold in a different direction. The team turns around; he is given a large raise and a new truck. His football team ends up winning the state title against overwhelming odds. At the end of the movie his wife finally gets pregnant. It seemed that as soon as he gave God the glory, his whole life changed directions. The movie portrayed God as the benevolent Santa Claus: just believe and you will receive. We like this God. We like this comfort. We like this friend. But life does not always paint this picture. God does not always rescue the suffering and save the oppressed. Sometimes God allows us to life in doubt and uncertainty. And God has no intentions of helping out.
This is the case in Mark 6:45-52. This is the account of Jesus walking on the water. We love to hear this story as a promise of God to help us in the storms of life. We love to know that Jesus came to the disciples and stilled the storm. But this story is not about the comfort that Jesus brings. Mark pictures this account as a rebuke to the disciples. He pictures Jesus not has the great rescuer from our fears but as the cause of our fear. Jesus even is willing to allow us to remain afraid. With the storm and the sea raging around us. Jesus is intending to walk right on by. Jesus does not even want to relief us from our anxiety.
Mark 6:45-52 tells the story. “And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away. And after bidding them farewell, He departed to the mountain to pray. And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land. And seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night, He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were frightened. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid." And He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were greatly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.”