“Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by… For they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Mark 6:48,50
He would have passed them by?! We all know this story about Jesus calming the wind and the waves, but I had never before noticed that little phrase. It cross-references to another instance of Jesus doing the same thing:
“Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And He went to stay with them. Luke 28:29
He would have gone farther?! Reading these verses, it looks like Jesus was being was being kind of insensitive to His disciples. We know that can’t be the case. I think He was trying to show His disciples (and us) how to really recognize and honor Him.
In the first instance, the disciples were fighting for their lives in a little boat – battling with the oars against the wind. They had just witnessed the miraculous feeding of the 5,000, but were completely freaked out to see Jesus walking over to them on the water. “For they had not understood about the loaves because their heart was hardened.” (Mark 6:52) Jesus’ intention was never to pass them by on the water. When they cried out, He heard and stopped. He understood their cries of terror as a plea for help, and He came on board with them.
In the second example, the resurrected Jesus was walking with His disciples to their village. He would have continued on had they not asked Him to remain with them there. They did not yet recognize Him. He sat with them and broke bread and their eyes were opened to the truth. But what if they never had invited Him in? The Word is clear that He would have gone on.
He responds to our invitation. He answers our cries.
When we have the wind against us and we’re rowing and getting nowhere – do we call on Him? Specifically call on Him to enter our situation and calm the storm? Or do we just keep rowing and allow Him to pass by?
When we’re walking our walk through life, do we stop and invite Him into our house to break bread and show us more? Or do we say goodbye at the door and let Him be on His way?
In both cases, the disciples failed to recognize Jesus. They thought He was a ghost or a stranger. Their hearts had been hardened, even after seeing great miracles. Jesus is always with us, ready to step into our lives in every way, but He never forces His way in. We have to cry out, call on Him and cooperate. I don’t ever want Him to pass by just because I didn’t recognize Him. He longs to be with us more than we know!
As the disciples said, “Abide with us” Jesus. May we recognize Him and invite Him to stay!