There’s this story about the Queen of England. Reportedly, on one of her walks around the estate at Balmoral Castle, she encountered a group of tourists. Totally clueless to who they were in the presence of, the group of American tourists struck up a conversation. They asked the Queen if she was living nearby. The Queen, reportedly, said that she did live near by. The tourists then asked if she’d ever met the Queen herself. The Queen pointed to her personal protection officer, Richard Griffin, and said, ‘No….but this policeman has.” And the tourists went on their way none the wiser.
Right through Mark’s gospel there are so many people failing to recognise Jesus. Like unsuspecting tourists, so many times in Mark’s gospel we see the crowds, and even the disciples themselves, failing to understand who they’re in the presence of.
Jesus has come as the King of God’s Kingdom. He has made this pretty clear. While people are amazed by Jesus, totally blown away by what he can do, they haven’t yet truly come to terms with who he is. Why is that?…They’ve have failed to ask the right question….What do all the amazing miracles that we’re witnessing actually mean about Jesus?
Mark 6:45-52 says this:
45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
Here in this section of Mark’s gospel, we see a master story teller in action. Mark is using the disciples like a foil in the narrative. As you read this story, I just want to shout at the disciples. ‘Don’t you guys get it? Don’t you understand who you’re in the presence of?’ But here Mark is turning the question back onto us and wants us to check our own hearts. Do we understand what the miracles are all about? Have we truly come to terms with Jesus identity?
If we see Jesus for who he is, then these verses have wonderful news for us. If we recognise Jesus, then we’ll see that he’s the God who walks on the sea. The God who not only is all powerful over the storm, but the God who steps into the boat and speaks words of eternal comfort and hope. “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”