Sermon on Mark 6:45-54: You’ve Got to See This

Sermon on Mark 6:45-54: You’ve Got to See This

Well, good morning. My name is Andrew. I serve as one of the pastors here at Christ the King, and it is my privilege to welcome you to our service this morning. And if you are new or visiting with us this morning, we’re going to be continuing our series in the New Testament Gospel of Mark, so please turn with me to Mark chapter 6. And as we’re turning to Mark chapter 6, I don’t know if you all have ever had this experience, but where you’ve seen something that was just incredible. Maybe it was a sports highlight, maybe it was a beautiful sunset, something that you saw and you looked at a person next to you, maybe they were looking down at their phone and you said, hey, check this out, you’ve got to see this.

And if you’ve ever had a moment like that, then you can relate to what I’m experiencing right now, because as we come to this passage this morning, this is like every passage, this is something I’m like, man, you have got to see this. So let’s see this together in Mark chapter 6, beginning in verse 45. Immediately he, Jesus, made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.

And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 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, 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.

And 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 Jenesaret, and moored to the shore.

And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him, and ran about the whole region, and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 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.” Friends, this is the word of the Lord.

Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you that you have shown us who you are through your true word. And we ask and pray this morning, Father, that you would open our eyes, open our hearts to see you for who you truly are, to believe who you are, and to respond, Lord, accordingly.

We ask all of this in the name of Jesus. Amen. Well, Rico Tice is a British man.

He’s also, if you’re a believer in Jesus, he’s a member of our family in Christ. He’s a Christian. He’s also a teacher and an evangelist.

And some of you may be familiar with Rico and some of his teaching through the course Christianity Explored. And in that course, Rico tells the story about a time when he was invited out for lunch. And he arrived a few minutes early and he was waiting in the stairwell just outside of the main dining room.

And you’ve probably had experience like Rico’s had. You’re on your way somewhere. Maybe you’re in an elevator or perhaps you’re waiting at a crosswalk and it’s like you and maybe one other person and you don’t know that person.

And so, you know, you feel a little bit awkward. And that was Rico’s situation. He’s standing in this stairwell outside of the dining room and there’s another man just standing right across from him.

And he vaguely recognized who this man was, but he didn’t really think much of it. And so, you know, as many people do, they just sort of stood there and were like, hello, and, you know, gave a little awkward head nod and then just stood there in awkward silence for about five minutes. Well, after these five minutes had passed, they’re standing there and another man, he comes around the corner.

He looks at the man standing near to Rico and he goes, ah, William, there you are. We’re just in the private dining room. And as William walked away, Rico realized that he had just been standing for five minutes in awkward silence with Prince William, his future king.

And as he stood there, he’s like, oh, I can’t believe it. That was William, Prince William. I can’t believe I didn’t recognize him.

And he was just lamenting this lost opportunity to have a once-in-a-lifetime conversation with Prince William. Now y’all, this passage this morning is telling us a similar story because Rico, he didn’t realize who he was looking at. He was seeing Prince William, but he wasn’t really seeing him.

He didn’t understand who he was. And that is exactly what is going on with the disciples this morning. This is what we see happening in Mark chapter 6, 45 and following.

You see, Jesus has just walked on the water and once again, He’s calmed the storm. But when the disciples first see Jesus on the water, they don’t like start cheering for Him. They’re actually afraid.

They’re afraid because they don’t think it’s Jesus. They think that it’s a ghost that they’re seeing coming out to them. And when He does speak to them and board the boat, they are utterly astounded.

And they’re astounded because they are amazed and they are confused. Look with me at the end of verse 51. Jesus gets into the boat and they were utterly astounded for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

You see, if you remember from last week and the story just before this one, the disciples had just seen Jesus feed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread, but they didn’t connect the dots to what this showed about Jesus. When the disciples looked at Jesus, they didn’t really see Jesus. They didn’t understand who He was.

And brothers and sisters, this true story in Mark chapter 6, this story is acting like a mirror for our own hearts because so often our hearts make it really hard to see and understand who Jesus is. Now, for many of us, you’re probably sitting here thinking, Andrew, what are you talking about? I know exactly who Jesus is, and I trust Him, and I follow Him, and I have followed Him for years, and I agree with you, and I have too. But all of us, no matter how long we have followed Jesus, we have also had times where it is very difficult to really see and believe and remember who Jesus is.

I mean, just think about it. In Matthew chapter 28, Jesus, He gives His people, us, the church, He gives us an incredible mission to go and make disciples, to love our neighbors in action, to speak of Jesus with our words so that others would come to know and love and follow Jesus too. And this mission He’s given us, we call it the Great Commission, and that is aptly named because it is great.

It is great in beauty, it is great in purpose, and it is also very great in difficulty because the Great Commission, as great as it is, it is not easy to do. And the reason for that is because we are sent on this mission by Jesus in the middle of a war zone with sin and with broken in this world. And when we are out on this mission, sometimes those waves of opposition, it can feel like those waves are just towering over our heads.

And in those moments, our hearts can make it really hard to remember and to see and to believe in who Jesus is. And in those moments, we can feel discouraged, we can feel disoriented, and some of us, we might even feel like deserting the mission, maybe even the church, maybe even at times we might feel like deserting Jesus. I know I’ve experienced those times, and I imagine that many of you in this room have probably experienced that as well.

And so, when our God brings us to this passage in the midst of all the struggles we face on our mission, this story, it shines like a welcoming beacon into darkness because this true story helps us to see Jesus. And you all, seeing Jesus changes how we see our struggles. And right off the bat, this true story helps us to see who Jesus is.

Now, remember where the disciples were at the beginning of this story. Look back in verses 45 and 46, and we see Jesus had just finished feeding the 5,000. He sends the disciples across the sea while He goes to pray.

And in verse 47, it highlights that the disciples were out at sea while Jesus was alone on the land. And then at the end of verse 48, we see that the disciples, they were having a difficult time on their voyage. It says that they were making headway painfully.

I love how the NIV translates it. It says, the NIV translates that phrase by saying the disciples were straining at the oars. And in verse 48, we also see that they were doing this until the fourth watch of the night.

What that means is that these guys were at this until about three or six in the morning, somewhere in that time range. Now remember, they had left the shore around nightfall. This means they had been at sea for at least nine hours.

And in the gospel of John, we learned that during this time, they had only gone about three to four miles. You don’t have to be a sailor to know that’s not great progress. This was their situation, rowing hard through a windstorm, making painful progress, straining at the oars, all in service to Jesus.

Can anyone in the room relate to that? Don’t get me wrong, y’all, this is a true story. Like these guys were actually out in the water. As one commentator says, like they would have felt the waves splashing them in the face.

Now, we’ve never been ordered by Jesus into a boat to go out and row against a windstorm, but we have experienced other challenges in following Jesus that drain us physically and emotionally, that leave us feeling like we are straining at the oars as we follow and serve King Jesus. For some of us, maybe our hands have like literally become blistered as we have given of ourselves to serve one of our neighbors. Or maybe for others, our hearts are just, they’re exhausted from the grief of praying for and pleading with a friend or family member who has gone down a heartbreaking path.

Maybe for others, it’s just seeking to be faithful in the good work God has called us to do, but work that actually more often feels like a grindstone than it does feel good. And all of this can feel, leave us feeling a little bit like we’re in the book, Where’s Waldo? Y’all remember the book, Where’s Waldo? You know, you probably read this book growing up. You know, you’ve got this little, the classic character, he’s a candy cane shirted figure, and he is lost somewhere in like just the sea of busyness and chaos.

And if you’ve ever, you know, looked at a Where’s Waldo book, as you look for Waldo, you remember that you can strain for sometimes, at least in my case, long periods of time before you find Waldo, if you’re able to find him. And y’all, when we’re facing these difficult situations, we can feel a lot like Waldo. We can feel a lot like we have just been lost in the shuffle, like no one sees us, we’re just a drop in a sea of chaos and busyness, and we just feel completely alone.

And y’all, in those moments, this true story, it truly shines like a beacon in the night, because it helps us to see who Jesus sees. Look with me again in verse 48, Jesus was not unaware of his disciples’ struggle. He wasn’t aloof, he hadn’t checked out.

Jesus saw his disciples and what they were going through, and y’all, the same is true for us today. Who does Jesus see? He sees his people. He sees me, and he also sees you.

And brothers and sisters, seeing who Jesus sees, that changes how we see our struggles. Because in those moments when we feel like we are alone at sea, like we’re straining at the oars, and distress and discouragement just begins to rock the boat, screaming, no one sees and no one cares, Jesus begins to settle our souls by showing us that he does see us, and that we are not alone, and that we are not forgotten. And we begin taking comfort in knowing that God sees us.

But y’all, that would actually be a shallow or short-lived comfort if Jesus saw us, but did or could not do anything. But thanks be to God, this true story helps us to see where Jesus is. Look with me again in verse 48, Jesus saw the disciples and he came to them.

Where is Jesus? He was present with his people then, and he is present with us today as well. Y’all, we started off this morning talking about the great commission. And if you look back at that passage in Matthew 28, Jesus, when he gives that commission, he says in verse 19, go and make disciples, that’s the mission.

And then right after that in verse 20, Jesus says, and behold, I am with you always to the end of the age. Jesus, the one who sees us, is also present with us through his Spirit. And y’all, I will never forget a conversation that reminds me of how important Jesus’s presence truly is.

Right after my, I know we have a number of our college students today, it’s awesome by the way to see you guys. I’m really glad you’re back. And after my, at the very end of my freshman year in college, that summer, me and my classmates, we were actually sent out to do summer training, training that was going to help continue to prepare us for our future jobs as officers in the Navy and the Marine Corps.

And so my training that summer included going out and spending some time on a Navy destroyer. And one of those evenings, I was sitting on this ship down in the gunner’s office with a sailor who worked down there, and he was, as he was cleaning the ship’s weapons, he was telling me this story about other things he had used to do in the Navy. You see, the sailor I was talking to, he had not always been assigned to a ship.

In fact, a few, not too long before that, he had actually been assigned to San Diego, California where he was training to become a U.S. Navy SEAL. Now, if you ever heard of SEAL training, you know how challenging and hard that training is. And like many who had tried to go through this training before him, this young man, the training had just become too difficult for him.

He could not complete it, and he went to his instructors and said, I wish to resign from this program. Now, I’ve never been through that training myself, but I have been told that when you’re going through SEAL training, one of the most important keys to your success in that training is having your shipmates around you. To having your shipmates around you to support you, to encourage you, to literally act like a human safety net to keep you from falling through the cracks.

And I will never forget how this young man, as I was talking to him, he looked at me and he said, that night when I quit, it was in a moment when I was all alone. He had quit in a moment when he was all alone. I don’t know about you all, but there are times when I’m following Jesus, and that’s exactly how I feel.

I feel all alone, and I just want to go and say, I no longer wish to be here. Is there an easier path I could take? That’s how we can feel sometimes when we are following Jesus. And y’all, that is what makes the gospel such good news, is that it shows us that our feelings, they do not always give us the facts.

Because the glorious fact of the matter is this, our Lord and Savior Jesus, He always sees His people, and He promises that He is always with His people. And seeing where Jesus is changes how we see our struggles. Because when we feel like quitting, seeing that Jesus is present with His people helps us to press on against the wind.

Why? Why does seeing where Jesus is help us to press on? Well, it’s because this story helps us to see not only who Jesus is, not only where Jesus is, but this true story also helps us to see who Jesus is. Now, you all know that we actually can communicate a lot about who we are through our actions, and that is exactly what Jesus does here. We saw how Jesus goes to the disciples, right? Jesus, He didn’t jump on a jet ski or hop in a kayak and paddle out there to them.

No, in verse 48, Jesus walks out to them on the water. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been around a lot of regular people on the water, and I have never seen something like this. And the reason I’ve never seen something like this is because Jesus ain’t no regular person, y’all.

Jesus, in the Old Testament book of Job, Jesus, what He’s doing through this action is He is showing us something special about who He is. In the Old Testament, in the book of Job, chapter 9, verse 8, it says that God alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea. In the book of Exodus, when God was rescuing the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, God easily made the water move out of the way for His children so that they could go free.

And one commentator explains that historically, the people of Israel, they would have considered the sea to be a place of dangerous storms and sinister power. But when we see Jesus and His interaction with the sea, what was a frightening thing for many people was for Jesus literally a cakewalk. Jesus was walking on the water, and it recalls the mastery of God as Creator and Savior over the sea of chaos.

Jesus walks on the waves like God. And friends, Jesus does this because Jesus is God. Now, back in verse 48, it also says that as Jesus was walking on the water that He meant to pass by the disciples.

Now, first, this might confuse us a little bit, kind of like, hey, why was this part of Jesus’ plan? Like, wasn’t He going to stop and help them? And, you know, there’s actually different ways that scholars have explained this situation. And at this point, I believe that the best way to understand what Jesus was up to here is by looking back again at the Old Testament. You see, this isn’t the first time in the Bible that we hear about someone passing by.

I’ll give you one example. Back in Exodus chapter 33, Moses had asked God to show him His glory. And what does God do? He passes by Moses, and He tells him who He is, saying, the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God.

Y’all, I believe that Jesus intended to pass by as He walked on the water, not because He didn’t care, not because He was ignoring them, not because He forgot them. I believe Jesus was passing by so that the disciples could get a good long look and know just who Jesus is, God Almighty. And this truth about who Jesus is gets driven home even more in verses 50 through 51.

In those verses, He speaks words of comfort. He climbs into the boat and the winds cease because Jesus is the Lord, or as one commentator puts it, the master of wind and water. And you all seeing who Jesus is, that changes how we see our struggles because we see that no matter how great our struggles may be, we also see that our Savior is even greater.

And He is the one who sees us. He is the one who is present with us in all His power. And so our souls can be settled and we can keep pressing on against the wind as we follow Him.

Now, I know that we are all hearing these true things about Jesus this morning, but maybe our hearts are still struggling to really understand and believe these things. So what’s a really practical way that we could participate in God’s process of softening our heart so that we can see Jesus more and more clearly? Well, I believe that Jesus actually gives us a model for where we could begin in this process of how we could participate. You remember before Jesus went out walking on the water, He was up on a mountain in prayer.

We actually don’t know what He was praying about that night, but when we look throughout the Gospels, we see that prayer was a central part of the life and the ministry of Jesus. You can’t turn around without seeing Him praying at some point. And He sets the tone for our lives as well.

There is nothing in our lives that, like Jesus, should not be covered in prayer. So let me just ask you, what would it look like to go home this afternoon, to find a quiet place, and actually pray your way through this passage? To read it, to remember that this is the Lord speaking to us through His Word, and then to talk back to Him, to literally have a conversation with the Lord, and pray, Lord, as I am seeing these things about Jesus, would you help me to believe them more deeply? Would you press these truths into my heart so they’re not simply up here in my mind, but that they just shape my entire being? Help me to see what Jesus is showing me about Himself. And as we pray and ask God to help us see Jesus and to press on in our mission, we can do this, you all, because Jesus pressed on in His mission to rescue us.

Look at the very end of our passage there. In verses 53 through 56, Jesus, He continues His ministry. He continues showing His power as He cares for and heals the sick.

But, y’all, Jesus’ ministry didn’t end there. His earthly ministry reached its climax when He ultimately goes to the cross, gives His life for our sins, and rises from the dead, showing His ultimate power as the Lord God who is victorious over sin and death, so that we could be in His presence as His people. Maybe you’re here today, and for the first time, you are seeing Jesus for who He truly is, not just a wonder worker, not just a good teacher, not just an interesting historical figure, but God in the flesh, the One to whom you and I both owe our allegiance, and also the One who loves and sees and is present with His people, the One who gives His people an incredible purpose, who has the power to help them fulfill that purpose.

Would you like to know Him? Would you place your faith in Him today? Would you trust Him for the forgiveness of sins, so that you can be a member of His people and a part of His mission in the world? Would you do that? And if that is what you now see and believe about Jesus, you don’t have to wait. You can pray right now, and you can share with Him those things. And then after you do, please come and tell another Christian, because we would love to see you now as a member of our family, and to rejoice and to welcome you into the family of God.

Let’s pray. Lord, we thank You that You are a God who sees us, and that You are also the God who shows us who You are, and so we ask this morning, Father, that You would soften our hearts to truly see and understand You, that we would see that when we look at You, You are our true King. Help us to see this, whether it’s seeing it again for the 100th time or seeing it for the very first time.

Help us to see and love and trust and follow You. And it is in Your name that we pray, Jesus. Amen.