Mark 6:49-52

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

June 21, 2012

 

1.      In our journey through Gospel of Mark have come to a biblical passage which has tremendous implications for and applications to our lives today.  In Mark 6:45-51 for the second time in our journey through this gospel, we find the disciples of Jesus caught in storm on Sea of Galilee.  This is not surprising since they spent a lot of time on that little lake.  One of their main means of transportation from town to town was by boat on the Sea of Galilee.  And as I've explained before, because of the unique geographical surroundings, the Sea of Galilee was often the site of sudden, vicious storms.  Look at Mark 6:14-29.

2.      Charles Kingsley, the famous 19th century English novelist, was once asked, "What is the secret of your life?"  Referring to his beloved wife, Frances Grenfell, Kingsley simply said, "I had a friend." [Brian's Lines, Vol.10, No.4, p.8]  It is difficult to over-emphasize the value of friends.  In this session I want to remind you that, as Christians, we have friend who is much greater than Frances Grenfell was to Charles Kingsley.  I want to point out from this passage the kind of friend we have in Jesus.

 

In Jesus we have a friend who does what is best for us

1.   Notice how this paragraph begins in v.45 - "And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat..."...the language Mark uses indicates is strong expression indicating urgency and pressure...why did He do that?...why did He make them leave?...Mark doesn't tell us, but if you read John's account of this event the reason becomes clear...Jesus had just fed the great multitude with five loaves and two fish...the crowd was so impressed by that they wanted to crown Jesus a king...of course, you can imagine the disciples of Jesus weren't discouraging such talk...after all, if He were made king, they would have powerful, influential places in the administration...

2.   But Jesus knew the crowds didn't understand His true identity ...He was well aware they didn't comprehend His real mission in coming to this world...He saw the disciples' enthusiasm about making Him king was misguided and potentially disastrous...so he made the disciples get into the boat and then He disbursed the crowds...

3.   There is something important for us learn in that...while Jesus doesn't always do what we want, He does always do what is best for us.  I remember reading an interesting story about Pete Rose the former baseball player...when he was involved in the controversy about illegal gambling which eventually led to his banishment from baseball, his daughter got caught up in the discussion...said she lived with her mother because Pete Rose was "a crummy father"...when her statement was relayed to Rose he said, "What does she mean 'a crummy father'?  I'm a great father.  Why, just last week, I bought her a brand new Mercedes."

4.   Some people think of God in same way Pete Rose, at least at that point in time, apparently thought of fatherhood...God is good if He gives us whatever we want...but Jesus demonstrates in this passage He is kind of friend who doesn't just give us what we want...He is able to see and give us what we really need...

 

In Jesus we have the kind of friend who is a good example

1.   V.46 tells us as disciples pushed off to sea, Jesus "departed to the mountain to pray"...they obviously knew where He was going or else Mark could not have told us about it...

2.   Many times during His three years with them they saw Jesus pull away from multitudes for time alone with the Father...they knew He began His ministry with 40 days of prayer and fasting in the wilderness...they knew near end of earthly ministry spend agonizing time of prayer in Garden of Gethsemane...and just from His example they no doubt learned the importance of prayer in their lives...

 

In Jesus we have the kind of friend who watches over us

1.   The first phrase of v.48 is intriguing...look at what says... "And seeing them straining at the oars..."...raises question of how He saw them...did see them physically with His eyes or was it some kind of supernatural seeing?...

2.   Certainly not impossible that he literally and physically saw them...in other places the Scripture tells us this event occurred during the Passover season...the moon would have been nearly full...all around the Sea of Galilee are hills and mountains which gives one a view of the entire body of water...possible that as Jesus was up on one of those mountains praying, He looked out over the lake illuminated by the Passover moon and saw the small boat being tossed by wind and waves...

3.   Of course, it's also possible and even probable that the "seeing" Mark refers to here goes beyond the physical act of seeing...in some supernatural way Jesus was aware of exactly what was happening to them...

4.   Either way, the point is the same...for Jesus to see them, He had to be looking their way...and He is ever looking our way, ever watching over us as well...and that's especially true when we're in some kind of trouble...one commentary of this passage puts it this way: "The human tendency during difficulty is to imagine the face of God with blind eyes.  But our text teaches just the opposite.  Followers of Christ in the storms [of life] are special objects of his omniscient, compassionate care."

 

In Jesus have kind friend comes to us at time of greatest need

1.   In last part of v.48 Mark tells us "...at about the fourth watch of the night, He came to them, walking on the sea..." ...fourth watch is that period of time between 3a.m. and 6a.m. ...think about the emotional and physical condition of the disciples at that point...earlier in the day had rowed the boat across Sea of Galilee trying get away from the people...crowd went around lake on foot and met them on other side...had spent entire day helping Jesus care for and feed the multitude ...were already bone tired when got into boat about sundown make trip back to other side...

2.   Instead of short trip taking the expected hour or so, they had been fighting the wind and waves for anywhere from 8 to 12 hours...had not slept in nearly 24 hours...more than likely they had taken just about all they could stand...probably were just about ready to give up and die...and precisely at their most difficult time, the time of their greatest need, Jesus came to them...

3.   We all probably have been to a point in our lives when we said, "It is only with Lord's help we are getting through this."  And truthfully, we sometimes wonder if God is there to help us.  Even the greatest of followers of God sometimes questioned where God was in their time of distress.  The person who wrote in Psalm 13:1 “How long, O Lord?  Wilt Thou forget me forever?  How long wilt Thou hide they face from me?” is the same person who wrote in Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” 

4.   Never is God so real and never does He seem closer than in the darkest times of our lives...

 

In Jesus we have the kind of friend who is gentle, patient, and encouraging

1.   Notice in last part of verse 50 what Jesus said to the disciples when He came to them..."Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid."...notice how positive and how encouraging that statement is...didn't have to be that way...as matter of fact had every reason to criticize them...their faith was weak and immature...Mark tells us in verse 52 that “…they had not gained any insight…” from the feeding of the 5000 just few hours before and that “…their hearts were hardened…”

2.   But instead of chastising them for those shortcomings, Jesus offered gentle words of encouragement...what a sense of joy and relief the disciples must have felt when Jesus said to them, "Stop being afraid, I am here with you."

           

CONCLUSION

1.      What kind of friend do we have in Jesus?  He is a friend who--

·         Does what is best for us ("...He made His disciples get into the boat...")

·         Sets the right kind of example for us ("...He departed to the mountain to pray...)

·         Watches over us ("...and seeing them straining at the oars...)

·         Comes to us at time of our greatest need ("...at about the fourth watch of the night, He came to them...)

·         Is gentle, encouraging, and patient ("...Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid...)

3.      And because of all that, when come to time in our lives when overwhelmed by some problem...crushed by heavy burden... devastated by some loss...saddened by some sorrow...can say in words of hymn of that great old hymn, "What a friend we have in Jesus!"

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