Let Us Go Farther!

Dr. Tommy Boland, Pastor, Cross Community Church

“Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 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, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded . . .” (Mark 6:45-52 ESV).


He meant to pass by them

My focus in this passage is on verse 48, which I highlighted above: “He meant to pass by them.” The notes in the superb ESV Study Bible point out that Jesus’ desire to “pass by them” was NOT so that the disciples would fail to see Him; if that had been His intent, He simply would have stayed farther away from their boat. No, He meant for the disciples to see Him pass by, walking on the water, thus giving indisputable evidence of His deity. 

Not long before, Jesus had exercised His sovereign control over the elements by stilling a furious storm on the Sea of Galilee with just three words: “Peace! Be still!” And the disciples, who mere moments before had been terrified of the storm, were now even more afraid of the One who had ordered the waves to be still! They said to each other, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41). 

When Jesus was planning to “pass by them” in Mark 6:48, he was going to answer their anxious question. He was going to give them vivid, unforgettable evidence that Jesus Christ is Lord of all, the One described in Job 9:8 and 11 — “He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. . . . When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.” 

The disciples couldn’t perceive it. They saw Jesus treading on the waves of the sea, but they thought He was a ghost, and they were terrified. And yet how gracious is our Lord? “Immediately,” we read, “he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’” As soon as He sensed that His friends were in fear, He spoke kindly to them. 

The living Word, who had spoken sun, moon, and stars into existence, the One who “fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark” (Job 36:32), laid aside all the splendor of heaven to come to earth and die for you and for me. He looks at us with love and compassion and says, “Take heart. Do not be afraid. Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Have you taken Him up on His gracious offer? 


He would have gone farther

fartherI have one last thought, which may at first seem unrelated; it is the account of the resurrected Jesus joining the two dejected disciples on the road to Emmaus and holding what must have been the most awesome Bible study ever: “Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27 NKJV),

But then in the very next verse we read, “They drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther” (Luke 24:28 NKJV, emphasis added).

How often do you and I behave just like the disciples in the boat and on the road? Jesus wanted to show the disciples in the boat His glory, but they recoiled in fear, so He met them at their point of need . . . and they missed something spectacular. 

Jesus indicated to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus that He would have gone farther; He would have shown them even deeper revelations in the Scriptures, but they wanted to stop and rest and eat. And so, as we know, He graciously went in to eat with them and opened their eyes to see Who He really was . . . then He vanished.

“They said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:32 NKJV).

How often does Jesus want to show me His glory . . . but I’m afraid of what the cost of discipleship may be? How often does He want to take me deeper into the Scriptures . . . but I hit the snooze button and miss precious time with Him in the Word and in prayer? Or perhaps I close up my Bible and settle back on the couch to have a snack and watch TV? 

Jesus has given us His Spirit to reveal Himself to us. He said in John 16:14-15, “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” He has indicated to us that He is willing to go farther. Are we willing to go with Him? Or are we still sleeping and resting, like the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Do we really want to see His glory? Or are we unwilling to expend the effort it might take to go farther with Him? Are we reluctant to let go of the things of this world? Are we fearful of what people might think or say about us? 


Please, Lord, may that not be said of us! I pray that You will create a hunger in me and in everyone reading these words to go farther with You . . . to heed the exhortation of Hosea 6:3 – “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”


This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN! 

Dr. Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach (www.thecrosscc.org). He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.

For more articles by Dr. Tommy Boland, visit goodnewsfl.org/tommy-boland.

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