“He saw the disciples straining at the oars,
because the wind was against them.”
Mark 6:48 (NIV)
Jesus and the disciples had just completed a tremendous day of ministry in which Jesus had performed a miracle that only God could do. He took the small meal of a poor boy and created enough food for over five thousand people to eat all they wished.
The miracle was so remarkable that the people tried to make Jesus king by force. They greatly desired someone with such miraculous powers to lead them to political victory over the Roman occupational forces.
Jesus would not have any part of such a political movement. He had already sent the disciples away from the scene into a boat to cross to the west side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus did not wish the twelve to have their minds infected with such political ambitions.
They were dealing with Galilean Jews in this scene and Galilee was the source of much political unrest. Various Galilean Jews had been involved in trying to set up a political uprising in Jesus’ time. So Jesus quickly got the disciples out of there.
Then He went up onto the mountain nearby to pray alone. Jesus had much to pray about just then. The crowds would reject His message the next morning. Herod Antipas, the Roman ruler of Galilee had recently beheaded Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist.
Further, the Jewish leaders, especially to the south, had initiated great hostility toward Him. So there was much to burden our Lord’s heart and cause Him to seek the Father’s help.
It was from this vantage point during the night that Jesus looked out on the Sea of Galilee and saw the disciples being threatened by a storm. Some of the disciples in the boat had made their living fishing on this sea at night, so they understood its temperamental ways. They had been in storms before but this one was so ferocious that it had all of them terrified.
We notice two very significant things as we read the account of the storm on the sea. First we must recognize that when the disciples obeyed Jesus and got into the boat to cross the Sea of Galilee they immediately found themselves in a life threatening situation. Obedience to God is no assurance of a safe and pleasant passage to heaven.
Through the centuries the witness of the martyrs has proven that following Jesus is often dangerous and deadly. There is no room for argument on this one. Right in the Bible we see the results of obedience to Jesus.
This is why it is recorded five times in the Gospels that Jesus said we should to take up our cross and follow Him. So Jesus calls His followers to die to personal ambition in order to live for Him.
Our Lord is constantly watching the journey of every follower He has, just as He watched the disciples on the sea. We never disappear from the watchful eye of the Lord.
Yes, we shall endure sorrow in this life but we may be assured that our beloved Saviour is watching and in His time shall appear for our deliverance.
“…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5 (NIV)