In Mark 6 today, Jesus is walking on the sea early in the morning towards his disciples who are struggling alone in the boat because of an adverse wind. He actually was not going to stop, the Gospel tells us; he intended to pass them by. He might have just been going to calm the sea and continue on his way in prayer. They happened to catch sight of this creature though and thought it was a ghost. They were terrified. His cover blown, he reached out compassionately to them, with these words: Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid. Nonchalantly, perhaps, he simply joins them in the boat, this man who had been out for an early morning stroll on the sea. When he does, the wind ceases. Needless to say, they were utterly astounded. Wouldn’t we be too?
This Jesus who we choose to follow is not predictable on many levels. He is on one: His love and mercy will always win out. I am sure he might have wanted a few extra hours to himself on that morning, wild and unruly as the elements were. Instead when he realizes that he has frightened the poor disciples, he identifies himself and tells them not to be afraid. Jesus does not mean to scare us.
These past 12 months for me have felt a little like being in that boat. I imagine that when they set out, the disciples thought it was safe to do so. They had read the signs, pushed away from shore and assumed they would reach their destination without incident. They had left their Master on top of a mountain in prayer. When the wind picked up and the waves lashed at the boat, they strained at the oars and I am sure in the struggle wished that the Master was with them so he could bail them out. The boat, we are told, is at sea and Jesus is alone on the land. It does not say if he was still up on the mountaintop and could see the little boat being tossed around or if he was on the shore, and could make out that all was not well. What it does say in Mark, who never minces words, is when he saw that they were straining…he came.
Jesus, it appears, was keeping his eye on his friends and the moment all was not well, he came to them. Even before they thought to ask….even before they knew how much trouble was coming. Especially in prayer, Jesus kept his friends in his heart. This, this, is the Jesus I know. I do not need to know how he had time to go up and down a mountaintop and how he walked on a raging sea. All that is important is that his eye is on me. Pretty simple. I do not need to be afraid. I am not saying that in these past 12 months, fear has not chased me down. Quite the contrary! I am saying that when I finally see that Jesus has caught up with me and my panic, that I too can be utterly astounded. I still need to learn that this Jesus is watching from the land, his gaze ever on me. He will do whatever it takes to reach me in my storm. Sometimes I know this completely. Some days I forget it. I take heart in the Gospel today, knowing that my Saviour has this and is ever faithful to me.
When did you experience a time of struggle when Jesus’ eye was on you?
What is predictable to you about Jesus?
You who created the sea and walked upon it,
You who created us and calm us in the storm,
You are ever-faithful, keeping an eye on us,
arriving before we even know we are in over our heads.
You, dear Saviour, help us to take heart and not be afraid.
Thank you for sea-ing us.