This morning, our sermon at church was given from the Gospel of Mark. Here is the verse that was read this morning:
45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 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,49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 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.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. 53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 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. - Mark 6:45-56 ESVI won't give you a play by play on how my pastor unpacked that text for us this morning, but rather just mention one thing that jumped out at me from the text, vs. 51-52. After the disciples had witnessed the feeding of the 5,000 (found earlier in the chapter) and Jesus walking on the lake in the middle of the storm - they still couldn't understand, who Jesus is. Their hearts were hardened.
I like the way my ESV Study Bible notes address this point:
When Jesus calmed the storm earlier, the disciples had struggled with faith vs. fear (4:40); now, they struggled with faith vs. fear plus hard-heartedness. Mark explains that multiplying the loaves should have demonstrated Jesus' true identity to them (cf. 8:18–21), but neither that miracle nor the appearance of Jesus on the water could open their hearts to the reality of his divine nature.Witnessing these wonderful miracles and demonstration of Jesus' power, wasn't enough to open their hearts. Seeing isn't always believing. It truly takes a work of the Spirit to open up our hearts to him. He must open our hearts and give us the eyes to truly see Him. There is in this account a definite application to my forthcoming medical mission trip to Honduras.
My team and I can do great works of mercy for the Hondurans. We can love on them with all of our hearts. We can share with them the love of Jesus. But none of what we do will be effectual unless the Spirit of God goes before us and is allowed to work in and through us.
Therefore, it is imperative that we are relying totally on the power of God in our endeavor to Honduras.
Of course what is true for a trip to a foreign land, is no less true in our day to day life.
(artwork, St-Pierre-le-Jeune, Strasbourg. Detail from 14th cent. mural on west interior wall. It's a gothicised version of Giotto's 'Navicella' c1305-1313, Rome. Another example of the account in Matthew 14.23-33)