WHEN the people saw the Lord’s power in feeding them with bread and fishes they were excited. They had heard of the Prophet, the Messiah , who was to come. They expected He would be a great earthly king. When they saw the Lord’s power they thought that the time had come, and He would be their leader. They would take Him by force and make Him king. They thought He would go with them to Jerusalem and drive out the Romans and make them great and rich. Even the disciples expected a great earthly kingdom, and rulers with the Lord.
The Lord was indeed the Prophet and Messiah, and the King, But not such as a king as they expected, He said by and by to Pilate, “Thou sayest, that, I am a king.” “My kingdom is not of this world.” The Lord did not come io make people rich and great, but to make them strong in spirit that they might rule well the little kingdoms of their own hearts. It made Him sad to see the people excited by the hope of earthly greatness. He first sent the disciples before Him back to Gennesaret. Then He sent the people away, and went into a mountain alone to pray.
We can understand in part why He prayed. In one of the temptations which came to Him after the baptism at the Jordan, the devil showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and said, “If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” We may believe that this same temptation came again on this day by the shore of Galilee when the worldly hopes of the people were excited, and they wished to take Him by force to make Him a king. We may believe that on this night, alone in the mountain, the Lord was overcoming in Himself all desire for and all thoughts of worldly greatness, that He might help the disciples and the multitude and all people forever to overcome such thoughts.
Meantime the disciples were on the sea. They had gone half way or more towards the Gennesaret shore. It was dark. A storm of wind had arisen, and the Lord ” saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them.” About the fourth watch of the night, which means the early dawn, the Lord came to them walking on the sea. The storm had been like a picture of the excited state of the disciples’ minds. The Lord’s walking on the sea showed that He had put all troubled worldly thoughts under His feet, and would calm the storm for them. He said at another time, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” But read the story.
And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.—Mark VI. 45-56.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
The Lord praying >> His human nature, which was like ours, looked up and within to the Divine love which was in His inmost heart
Sea >> An atmosphere of thought that is natural and worldly, and sometimes evil
Storm on the sea >> A state of temptation when worldly thoughts and ambitions are aroused and threaten to swallow us up from the light of heaven
Storm occurs at night >> Temptation occurs in spiritual darkness
Winds >> Unseen influences from hell which arouse the evil in us
Toiling against the storm >> Excited thoughts of worldly power and greatness were aroused in the disciples’ minds, which they had not power to resist
Walking on the sea >> The Lord has the power to quiet worldly thoughts, and put them in their right place under His feet (because he had conquered the human by means of the Divine), “I have overcome the world.”
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum