Recently, a morning devotional I read suggested Mark 6 for further reference. There you’ll find the familiar story of Jesus’ miracle of feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes. After satisfying the crowd with this special meal, Jesus sent the people back home and His disciples out to sea while He went to a mountain to pray.
When evening came, the disciples’ ship was in the middle of the sea, and Jesus saw them “toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them; and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them walking upon the sea” (verse 48). When the Lord made it into the ship and the wind ceased, the disciples “were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.”
The first word I thought might be a modern equivalent of “sore amazed” is “gobsmacked.” “Gob” is slang for mouth, so being left gobsmacked is much stronger than ordinary surprise; it rises to the level of jaw dropping, being left utterly speechless or otherwise stopping someone dead in their tracks. Who wouldn’t feel sore amazed (or gobsmacked) at witnessing Jesus coming to their ship in that manner?
But something Mark tells us next (verse 52) also stopped the narrative dead in its tracks for me. “For they considered not the miracle of the loaves; for their heart was hardened.”
Wait….what? How could they? We ask that so readily, don’t we? Thousands of years later, wondering how people back then failed to see or do things. Why did the writer make mention of their lack of consideration at Jesus’ previous miracle earlier in the day? Since he brought it up, though, why was it any less impressive to them than walking on water?
Stepping down from my judgment platform, I tried to put myself in the disciples’ sandals that day. Maybe they were overwhelmed with crowd-control duties, especially when Jesus tasked them with seating the people in groups. You’ve heard the term “herding cats,” right? I imagine the distribution of the food to such a hungry multitude was anything but calm. The chore of cleaning up leftovers that filled twelve baskets somehow overshadowed the fact that there were leftovers from where it all started, as unbelievable as that sounds.
My takeaway? In the darkest hour of night, Jesus notices when we are exhausted, rowing against the wind in our storms, and He sets out to rescue us, completely in control of the elements. We all long for and are amazed at rescue miracles, aren’t we?
Truthfully, I have to admit that, just like the disciples, at times I’ve failed to consider the Lord’s other type of miracle He works for my benefit. The less dramatic but sustaining miracles occur daily amid my chaotic life because He is full of compassion for my needs. Is my heart hardened because I am focused on the mundane work around the provision that I can’t see leftovers from where it all started? Every time I’ve heard the miracle of the loaves and fishes presented to me as a child in Sunday School or as a sermon, the lesson is that God takes our meager offerings, blesses and multiples them.
Now I also understand Mark’s simple reminder to not overlook all kinds of miracles the Lord performs in my life, including both rescue and sustaining miracles. He knows so well we need them equally as we follow Him.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.