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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, July 31, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 6:47–56

When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. (NRSV)

In this passage the central miracle is Jesus walking on water. Before this, Jesus and his disciples had taken a boat across the Sea of Galilee to find a quiet place to rest and eat. When they arrived, they were met by a large crowd seeking Jesus. Upon seeing them, Jesus had compassion and taught and healed them. Toward nightfall he directed his disciples to feed the 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and a few fish. He then sent the crowds home.

Jesus asked his disciples to take the boat across the lake and he would meet them after prayer. In the early morning watch (3:00 a.m. or so) Jesus saw the disciples straining against the wind to reach the other side. He went out to them, but when they saw him they were terrified, thinking he was ghost. Jesus called out to calm them, “‘Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.’ . . . They were completely amazed for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.”

One might wonder how the disciples who had witnessed firsthand so many miracles could not yet comprehend Jesus’ human-yet-divine nature.

The disciples’ story is our story. I have experienced the healing power of God in my life. I have discovered that there is more than what meets the eye when a spiritual perspective is brought to bear on my challenges and disappointments. In troublous, dark times we need to be open to the one who walked on this earth and who walked on water. He says, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”             

Good Lord, strengthen our faith and courage to walk this life’s journey aware that your presence and grace is with us always. Amen.

Written by Susan Cornelius, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being

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