Courage! I AM! Fear Not!
Posted in Courage/Perseverance
Scripture: “…When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, 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 sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, 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, ‘Courage! I AM! Fear not!’ Then He got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand…but their hearts were hardened.” – Mark 6: 47-56
In Mark’s gospel, there’s an ongoing dance between Jesus and his disciples. It’s a dance of dullness and incomprehension. Jesus does amazing things, one after the other; they blaze out with the dazzling glow of God’s presence and power for good. In the two chapters right before this, Jesus has already calmed a raging storm with a single command; he’s calmed and cured a man who’s possessed by a hideous demon and who’s been terrorizing a local town; he’s cured a woman who was sick and incurable for 12 long years; and then he raised a little girl, brought back from death itself! All these things, Mark tells us right in a row, and then Jesus feeds a huge crowd of people who, of course, have started following him wherever he goes because of these amazing deeds. Jesus feeds them all, as we know, with only five loaves and two little sardines!
With all these amazing things, though, Mark wants us to see that the even more amazing thing is that the people closest to Jesus don’t understand who he is. In fact after Jesus has calmed the raging storm out in the sea, the disciples ask themselves that very question, “Who then is this, that even the winds and the waves obey him?” And this story, the second story of disciples out on the sea of Galilee, is intended to answer that question — if not for them, at least for all of us. When Jesus comes to them in the night time, walking on the water itself, the point is, “This is God himself, and he is here to help us!”
I have translated Jesus’ words here as literally as possible — five English words, because Jesus says just five words in Mark’s Greek version — “Courage! I AM! Fear not!” The middle words, the same two words in Greek, “I AM,” are printed in all capitals to show they’re the special words of God Almighty. They’re the words that God says to Moses, “Tell my people, ‘I AM!’ has sent Me to you.” (Ex.3:13-14) When Jesus says this, he’s not just saying, “I’m here.” He’s saying, “I AM God,” he’s in charge, he’s the one who put them in the boat, who sent them across this sea, who’s allowing this wind to challenge their crossing.
That’s what Mark wants us to know. You’ve got a boat, you’re on a sea, and there are winds against you now. Do you see the presence and hear the voice that’s calling you, leading you on this day? “Courage, I AM, Fear not.”
Prayer, “Lord, how easy it is to forget you and your promise to be with us in every place that we can be and wherever we may go. Help us to trust you and to walk with you as you call us out and call us on this day. Amen.”
Submitted by Rev. Dr. Mark Durrett