Passing By

Last Sunday Manny Fernandez, one of McKinney's mission partners, spoke during our main service. He talked about the two storms Jesus' followers faced with Jesus and pointed out something I hadn't ever seen before.

In the familiar story about Jesus walking on the water in Mark 6, where the guys have just witnessed Jesus feeding more than 5000 people. It's obvious from their constant arguing about bread (Mark 6:30-44; Mark 8:1-13; Mark 8:14-21) that they don't really understand who Jesus is. They understand he's a miracle worker, but they don't "get it" that He's the God of the Universe.

He forces them to get in the boat and runs the crowd off, and then goes to pray. He sees (Mark 6:48) the disciples straining - in their own power, with their own strength, and their own effort - to row the boat against the current. But they're about to be overpowered by the wind.

In fact, there was an old sailor's tale that the Phantom of the Deep would appear to sailors right before they "swam with the fishes." When Jesus comes walking on the water, the seasoned fishermen think He's the Phantom of the Deep, and they're about to die. They're straining against a sinking ship.

And Mark says, "Jesus was going to pass by" (Mark 10:48). Doesn't that seem awfully insensitive of Jesus, like He's taunting the disciples as he passes by them and waves?

Here's what Manny pointed out. Think about a couple of other times when God-followers worked hard in their strength and were ready to give up and hit "reset" on the whole thing. Moses got there in Exodus 33, worn out from leading the people by himself and desperate for someone to help him. Elijah got there too in 1 Kings 19, worn out from running from Jezebel and defeating the prophets of Baal.

In both those cases, these leaders, worn out from straining, begged God to reveal Himself. And in both cases, God "passed by them." He revealed Himself in such a way that there was no mistaking, no wondering, no denying that they had been graced by the presence of the Lord God.

Is it possible that Jesus was about to provide something to these disciples? Is it possible he was "passing by" them in the sense that he was about to reveal Himself in a way that far exceeded their temporary circumstance? Possible that they were about to get a revelation of Jesus that compared to the revelation received by Moses and Elijah?

If so, Mark 8 is a great reminder for people who follow Christ - even more important than seeking temporary relief from life's greatest storms, we ought to be on the lookout for God to pass by. God tends to reveal His character most clearly in times when we are primed to see it. In those cases, in the middle of the storm, the best thing Jesus could do is pass right by.