Mark 6:45-56 (ESV)
45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 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.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. 53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
As soon as the crowd finished eating, Jesus rushed his disciples into a boat to cross over the sea. He had the disciples set sail while he dismissed the crowd. After Jesus fed the 5,000 men plus women and children, people must have been pretty excited to follow him, but Jesus always wanted to make sure they followed for the right reason. So when the disciples were gone and the crowd had taken off, Jesus drew apart to pray. Even after it was dark and the disciples were well out at sea, Jesus remained alone on land talking to his Father, God. Jesus saw from the shore that the boat was fighting against a strong wind, and wasn’t going in the direction they had intended. The disciples rowed and rowed, yet struggled against the severe weather. The disciples must have been totally exhausted from rowing all through the night. Without the wind, it wouldn’t have normally taken long to cross. About the fourth watch of the night (v. 48), anywhere from 3am to 6am, Jesus decided to go out to the boat. Can you imagine the disciples screaming as they looked out on the sea and saw Jesus standing there? They were horrified! They thought it was his ghost. Jesus looked at them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Then Jesus walked to the boat and climbed in with them. After he got in the boat, the wind stopped. As the passage says, “they were utterly astounded.” The Greek word translated “astounded” can mean “out of their minds or senses.”
When Jesus was with the disciples, they would usually act in faith. But when Jesus wasn’t physically near them, they would often panic once things got rough. Jesus used this opportunity to demonstrate that he was God over creation by walking on water. Because he is God, he is always with us. Earlier, Jesus showed compassion on the hungry crowd, and now he showed compassion on his tired and frightened disciples. We may wrongly think that Jesus’ compassion is limited, and he can only dispense of it in metered amounts. We think it can “run dry,” but that’s not true! We can never exhaust the supply of God’s compassion. If you are tired or afraid, call out to Jesus, ask him for his kindness, and trust that he will meet you, even in the middle of the storm.