Completely Amazed

Key Texts: Mark 6:45-52

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. 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.

When I read this story from the Gospel of Mark, I find that I am more than a little amazed.

I am amazed not by the fact that

  • Jesus came to the disciples in the middle of the lake, walking on the water
  • He had authority over the wind and the waves
  • He performed yet another miracle, almost without fanfare, just a simple, declarative, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

All that sounds like the Jesus that I accept on faith as the Son of God.

What I am amazed by is that these disciples, these hand-picked chosen ones, just didn’t get it. Even all they had experienced with him, after seeing thousands fed with just a few fishes and a little bit of bread, even then – they thought they were seeing a ghost – not the Lord of the Universe.

Maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on them. Perhaps, had I been there, I would have been the first to cry “Ghost!”

Still, I have to wonder.

Isn’t it something that we can “harden” our hearts – close our minds – to such an extent that despite rock solid evidence of the miraculous we just don’t see it.

It’s frightening – amazing really – that we can so easily fail in our faith.

Jesus must have, at times, gotten very frustrated with his disciples about that. I suppose he gets frustrated with me as well.

So, let’s leave it at this – a simple reminder.

A closed heart, and a closed mind, is a powerfully dangerous thing.

It’s easy to lose sight of the miraculous. It’s easy to fail to see just how powerful, and wonderful, God is.

So, as Jesus might say, “Let those with ears to hear, hear. Let those with eyes to see, see.”

Keep your hearts open, soft, vulnerable, teachable – and I believe you’ll start to see the miraculous – right there in front of your very eyes.


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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