March 2, 2018
“Walk on Water and Heal”
Immediately – there’s that Mark word again – the disciples are back in the boat, crossing the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida, leaving Jesus to disperse the crowd. They go ahead, he stays behind. Yesterday, they all travelled together, to retreat and recuperate together. Before that, he sent them out in pairs.
Jesus takes a solo hike up the mountain to pray, into the evening. Disciples are in the boat, and Jesus on the land, unlike the first story of a storm at sea. Jesus sees they’re rowing into the wind, so he takes a stroll across the lake, walking on the water, towards their agreed destination.
Stop now, to sort out stories again. Yep, last Saturday, he was sleeping in the boat and stilled the storm and the wind and waves. Yep, there is no reference to Peter trying to walk on the water to meet Jesus – that’s Matthew’s version of a similar story. Here, the omniscient narrator says he plans to stroll past them.
But they think he’s a ghost and cry out, scared. They were already scared of the storm. Now they are scared of how their Jesus appears. Then he decides to get in the same boat with them, and still the wind. There the disciples are astounded, not scared – like the synagogue folks in Nazareth were – but with the same tone of voice, remember Tuesday? They don’t get it. They don’t get the loaves, either, from yesterday. Their hearts are hardened, like Pharaoh’s heart was hardened between Moses’ plagues.
Back on land at Gennesaret, the crowd mobs him, and he resumes the high volume healing trade – the ‘just touch his cloak’ kind for the masses, who trust as the disciples seem unable to do. Worlds collide, things change, and those trying to respond struggle, some feeling risks, some seeking immediate relief. Where do you fit?
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat
and go on ahead to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowd.
After saying farewell to them,
he went up on the mountain to pray.
When evening came, the boat was out on the lake,
and he was alone on the land.
When he saw that they were straining at the oars
against an adverse wind,
he came towards them early in the morning,
walking on the lake.
He intended to pass them by.
But when they saw him walking on the lake,
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.’
Then 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 Gennesaret
and moored the boat.
When they got out of the boat,
people at once recognized him,
and rushed about that whole region
and began to bring the sick on mats
to wherever they heard he was.
And wherever he went,
into villages or cities or farms,
they laid the sick in the market-places,
and begged him that they might touch
even the fringe of his cloak;
and all who touched it were healed.