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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


It Is I!

It Is I!

He was about to pass by them, but 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. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:48b-52, NIV)

What does it mean, “Jesus was about to pass by them”? Did Jesus intend to walk past them undiscovered? If so, what purpose would that serve?

Maybe the point is that Jesus often passes by when His people are in trouble. He doesn’t immediately stop to help. This is the terrible mystery of suffering — that Jesus is near but not immediately active. That He has the power to help us but does not. He passes by.

Is He indifferent? Does He not care? Is it a matter of conserving His power so that He is not continually intermeddling with the laws of nature?

At first the disciples did not see Jesus walking on the water. Often that’s also our first reaction when we hit a rough spot. We don’t see Him because we are so focused on the bad news swamping us.

But for the disciples and us, Jesus is there — whether we see Him or not.

The reaction to His presence is twofold: incredulity and terror. Incredulity because their first reaction is to dismiss Him as an apparition, a ghost. Their thinking shows us that Jesus had not yet theologically cured them of believing in folklore. Ghosts don’t exist!

Their second reaction is somewhat mystifying because by now the disciples had already gone through an earlier storm. They should have had confidence that if Jesus brought them to safe harbor before, He would do it again. However, the difference now is that He is outside the boat rather than in it with them.

But whether in or out of the boat — both times they are terrified (4:41).

This reaction to Jesus is rarely talked about. We see Him as the gentle, loving, open-arms Jesus. Do we also see Him as so Almighty that His presence terrifies us? He is both the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah, so we draw near to Him in love, but we also bow down before Him in awe.

Jesus speaks three short sentences to them: The first and last sentences relate to their fears and the middle sentence relates to His identity, “It is I.” If we keep Jesus in the middle of our beginnings and endings during whatever trauma or difficulty comes our way, we too will be safe.

Jesus steps from the water into the boat. The disciples didn’t expect Him to show up because “they had not understood about the loaves” — that is, they didn’t make a connection between His most recent miracle and their present need. When we forget what He has already done for us, we walk in fear in the present moment.

You will note that Mark omits the account of Peter’s walking on the water toward Jesus (Matthew 14:22,23). Whenever Peter looks good in another Gospel, Mark downplays it. Why? Most likely because it is believed Mark wrote at the influence of Peter. If Peter is really telling this story through Mark, we see evidence of a truly humble servant.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, how many times have I missed hearing You say, “It is I”? I get so caught up in heartbreaks and disappointments, tedium and unresolved issues of life, that, like the disciples, I am fearful. Help me, Lord, to always realize that “It is I” is sandwiched between “Take courage” and “Don’t be afraid.”

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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