How often in our lives do we look at situations and wonder, "What are You doing, Jesus?" We pray for a person or a situation, but we don't see God answering. Or we don't see Him answering in the way that we asked or in the timing that we asked for. Often, we can't even see him in the situation.
But I want to suggest to you that at those times, we don't see Him because we're looking in the wrong places. We have our eyes fixed on what we wanted to see happen. And when we do that, we can easily witness a miracle but fail to see it as a miracle. We can see the Hand of God move in our lives but don't even see Him at work? And I wonder how much do we miss because we not looking for it?
God still moves in the lives of His people but how often do His people even recognize what He is doing?
This message today begins on a hillside near the town of Bethsaida. This little town was built along a river that flowed down to the Sea of Galilee. It was on that hillside that one of the great miracles of the Bible happened. That's where Jesus blessed the fish and bread from one person's lunch basket, and fed 5000 men plus the women and children. With 2 small fish and a few loaves of bread, under the direction of Jesus, every one ate all they wanted and then 12 baskets were left over.
What can we see in this miracle? What is the Holy Spirit trying to teach us in this? Does the Spirit tell you that this is a story of God's power to provide whatever we need? Does the Spirit tell you that God really cares and loves mankind? Does the Spirit tell you that, if God can do that, then there is nothing that God can't do? Does the Spirit tell you that God didn't stop creating after six days in the beginning but is still creating today? Does the Spirit tell you that God was using this miracle to not only meet the needs of the people but as a test to help the disciples grow in their knowledge of Him?
Just what does the Spirit tell you and what do you see?
The fact is, that unless we are paying attention to what is happening, and unless the Holy Ghost opens our minds to see what God is doing, then we may not see anything at all. So the question comes to mind again, "How much does God move in our lives, and how often does He perform miracles for us, but we don't see it as a miracle because we are not in tune with what's really going on?" I think that this is exactly what happened to the disciples here.
They were so busy working to feed the people that they didn't stop to think much about the miracle that was taking place right before their eyes. Yet, in their work, they somehow didn't see what was really going on. You don't see them start to shout for joy, or praise God for the miracle! They just kept breaking, dividing and passing it out without much thought. They just didn't seem to understand what had happened.
How do we know that the disciples didn't recognize the full lesson of the feeding of the 5000? We know it because it said so in the passage that we are focusing on this morning.
READ Mark 6: 45-52
So, as soon as the 5000 were fed and Jesus' teaching was finished, he sent the disciples into a ship to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee while he went into a mountain to pray.
Here is a side note – Why do you think Jesus went to the mountain to pray? Why not just go find a place in town? Why not just pray where He was? It was Jesus regular practice to go to a quiet, solitary place to pray. And if He needed to do that, how much more do we need to do that?
The fact is that we all need to find our "quiet place" to pray and get alone with God. Praying here in the church is great. Praying as a group around the altar, or around the dinner table is great, but we must have our own secret place to be alone with God.
It's only there that we can really pray as we should. But how often do we do that? I know that it is hard to find the time. In this busy life where so much of our time and energy is taken up with other things it is difficult to make this happen. But think about this. Jesus needed to be alone with the Father in prayer so He went up into the mountain, where most of the crowd would not try to follow because climbing the mountain would be hard.
The crowd would have followed him anywhere else because the way would have been easy. But no one followed Jesus up that mountain. That was just too much hard work. It is hard work to find the time and the place for our quiet time with God. Think about that the next time you try to pray and remember it's hard work to climb up the mountain and get alone with God. Getting to the place where we need to be in God requires a lot of hard work and effort. It never comes without a price that must be paid. End of side note
So the disciples were sent away on the boat and Jesus was alone on the land. But look at vs. 48. Jesus saw that they were in distress. I don't think that he could literally see them. It was the middle of the night and he was far away. But whether he literally saw them saw them in a different way is irrelevant. The fact is that Jesus was aware of what they were going through and that gives us hope this morning!
Jesus saw the disciples working hard in rowing for all they were worth. He saw their distress. He saw them being tossed about by the winds and waves of life. He saw that they were doing everything in their power to reach the safety of the shoreline. He does the same for you and I. He knows that every wind that blows against you tends to only drive you in the wrong direction. He knows that every wave of temptation that comes over you, threatens to sink you soul. So for the disciples, just like he does for us, Jesus made a decision – since the disciples couldn't make it on their own – He would go to them.
Now back to the question of "What are you doing, Jesus", what was happening in the very last part of vs. 48? Mark is the only gospel writer to record that Jesus intended to go past them. Where in the world was Jesus going? What was he doing? I have no idea. No idea what was going on in his mind. It was like he was out for a midnight stroll across the water to the other side of the lake. It seemed like he was oblivious to the plight of the disciples. They even thought he was a ghost and cried out in terror. I mean what would most of us have thought under those circumstances?
Have you ever feel like Jesus just passed you by and left you to drown in your troubles? You know He is there but He just seems to keep on walking. But then Jesus, hearing their terror, spoke to them, climbed onto the boat and it said that the wind stopped. It is interesting that Mark's account is also the only one that doesn't say a word about Peter walking on the water.
There would be some that look to this as a contradiction and they might try and use it to say that the Bible isn't reliable and isn't God's word. But I think that is all part of how God formed His Word. He had Matthew, Mark, Luke and John recording many of the same incidents but they do so from different perspectives. For Mark, Peter walking on water wasn't the point of the story. Matthew doesn't make reference at all to the feeding of the 5000 in this story. Both perspectives are there on purpose to teach us something.
What Mark chooses to emphasize was that at that point in their lives, the disciples still didn't grasp who Jesus really was, even after all of this! But why didn't they know it was Jesus walking on the water? Why didn't they recognize the man who had walked with them and talked with them and who had just performed the great miracle on the hillside not more than 10 hours before?
The answer is found in Mark 6:52. They were still spiritually blind, not because sin, not because they had rejected Jesus, but because of their own lack of paying attention to what God was doing in their midst. Their minds were dull. How can anyone who has witnessed, first hand, the feeding of the 5000, and Jesus walking on the water, and calming the stormy seas, still not know who Jesus was.
The answer is simply this – no man can know Jesus unless the Spirit gives him eyes to see Him for who He really is. The disciples could not know Jesus as God, until it was revealed to them. They could not understand the meaning of the miracles until they could know the God that created those miracles. Until them, it was all just coincidental circumstances.
How much has Jesus been doing in us that we have not seen? How many miracles have happened that we didn't recognized because we too were ignorant of what God was doing?
Are we still spiritually blind? Can we see God at work in our midst, or do we count it all as circumstantial? Are we fearful of the storms of life? Do you feel like you are about to go under for the last time? Can you see Jesus afar off, but He just doesn't seem to come your way?
I pray that today God will give us some Divine Illumination, that we may see the Lord as He really is. I pray that we will recognize the Hand of God in operation in our lives.
If you need Jesus to calm your storms today – just call on Him. He already sees your need and He's already coming to you. Call out to Him and let Him speak peace into your heart and life. Then let the Holy Spirit give you some Divine Illumination so you too can see and know Jesus as He really is.
Jesus loves you and He wants to come to you. Will you let Him into your heart?