When they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.Mark 6:49
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I find it absolutely astounding that the same men who had just watched Jesus multiply a little boy’s meager lunch into a banquet for 15,000 (if we allow each of those 5,000 men one wife and one child) could, in the same 24-hr period, be at all surprised when Jesus walked across the Galilee toward them. How could their first thought not be, ‘It must be Jesus.’? And how could anything at all surprise them after what they’d experienced with Him? I mean, people … the fish sandwiches appeared just eight verses back. How short their memories!
And yet … what is the length of your memory, and mine? The God who wooed us—-is He not able to woo our prodigals? The God who cleansed our souls and washed us with forgiveness—-is He unable to soften our hearts so that we can forgive someone else? The God who made the world with just a spoken word—-can He not create a new possibility for us out of thin air, when we see no way out and no solution?
We are no more than 21st century fishermen and fisherwomen, rowing hard against the wind and yelping when God shows Himself to be God.
Fear is our default. When God chooses to take us right but we had our hearts and agendas set on going left, we default to fear. When a mountain appears before us, we forget to go to the mountain-Maker and ask for help. Instead, we quake before the insurmountable.
Does that anger God? Not according to this chapter. Hear again the soothing words of Jesus as He walked toward those men: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Don’t be afraid.
Do not fear.
Be not afraid.
Not matter how you say it, God wants to dispel our fears. In fact, the theme of “fear not” is the theme most spoken by Jesus in the four gospels. And in the entire Bible, there are hundreds of variations on that theme. One verse should be enough. But God repeats Himself for our benefit, because He knows that fear will drain us of our ambition, hope, motivation, security and peace. Fear roots us to this moment, this situation.
I love Max Lucado’s take on this:
When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life.
What do you miss when you let fear consume you? Only the exhilaration of walking on water yourself. (Matthew 14:22-33)