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Bread for the journey

When Jesus miraculously calms the storm in Mark 6, the disciples’ response should be shocking to us. They just saw Jesus feed 5,000 families with a few fish and some bread. Yet a few hours later, they are “greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure” as Jesus subdues a storm-driven lake (Mark 6:51). Wasn’t one miracle enough to demonstrate Jesus’s power over the natural order?

It’s easy to read the feeding of the 5,000 as an extravagant act of compassion. But it’s also about the disciples because Mark explains their shock by saying, “[the disciples] had not understood about the loaves.” (Mark 6:52). Jesus commanded the disciples to cross the lake without him as part two of a test that began when He asked how they might find enough bread to feed the hungry multitude earlier that day. The detailed account of these miracles in John 6 makes it even clearer that Jesus was challenging the disciples, “What is your life dependent on? Physical things or spiritual things?”

Jesus always tests us to put more of Himself into us. To know Christ’s joy and power, we must receive Him personally. We cannot experience joy or power by marveling at His work for others. Jesus must climb into our boat—into our personal trouble—to meet our greatest need. Only then will we know the true comfort that comes with the words “Be of good cheer! It is I.” (Mark 6:50).

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