By Nick Batzig
In fear, we all struggle with a desire to control the events of our lives. But though the things that trouble our hearts and minds may feel unique to us, they are actually common among all humanity. Consider the disciples. They were fishermen, experienced in navigating the seas in order to ensure their livelihood. But they, too, experienced fear in the middle of the storm when they realized they had no real mastery over the waters.
These disciples had just witnessed Jesus’s miraculous feeding of the multitudes (Mark 6:30–44). Through this miracle, Jesus was showing them that He is our provider, “the bread of life” (John 6:35). He could’ve brought bread down from heaven (vv.32–33), but instead, He chose to work through the existing resources of His disciples in order to feed thousands (Mark 6:38–44).
Jesus then sent the disciples back to the boat in order to cross over to the other side, and He went to pray by Himself (Mark 6:45–46). While in the boat, the weather had become tumultuous. And in the middle of the night, Jesus “saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them” (v.48). After witnessing a miraculous provision, the disciples found themselves in the midst of stormy seas, cold and wet and fearful. How quickly they’d forgotten who Jesus is and what He can do!
Mark then records how, “very early in the morning [Jesus] came toward them walking on the sea wanting to pass by them” (Mark 6:48). When the disciples first saw Him, they were afraid. But Jesus assuaged their fears and told them, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (v.50). Jesus took the opportunity to show them that, apart from Him, they had no real mastery over the water. And by walking on the water at the height of a storm, He allayed their fear and displayed His authority, teaching them there is someone truly in control of even the most tumultuous of seas. There is someone more powerful than any circumstance that produced fear in their hearts.
Of this strange encounter with His disciples, J.C. Ryle, an Anglican writer and preacher, writes, “Our Lord sees the troubles of His believing people, and in due time will help them.” This is the eternal Son of God, who came into the world to save sinners. As His disciples today, we can’t miss the central importance of knowing Him and His divine power. Whenever we are afraid, we need to listen to the words of the One who walked on water, the One who calmed the seas and the troubled hearts of His disciples. He is the same powerful Christ today.