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On Your Mark

Just as He Was

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. (Mark 4:35,36, NIV)

The Gospel of Mark now transitions from reporting Jesus’ words to recounting His deeds. Four specific miracles span Mark 4:35 through 5:43.

All of Jesus’ miracles can be grouped into four categories, and the four miracles in this span of Mark illustrate Jesus’ sphere of authority in these areas: (1) nature (calming the sea), (2) demons (the Gerasene demoniac), (3) illness (the woman with a bleeding condition) and (4) death (Jairus’ daughter).

Not only are we taught by Jesus’ words, we also learn from His actions.

Mark tells us that evening came as Jesus finished teaching at lakeside (4:1,35). Mark doesn’t tell us the departure location, but we can assume it was somewhere along the northwestern side of the Lake of Galilee because they arrived later, after a terrific storm, on the eastern side (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26).

We should note several things about these verses.

First, we all like security and ease. After that long day of teaching and dealing with the crowd — get me a hotel reservation, good dinner, hot shower and a comfortable room. But Jesus wanted to keep going into the night hours. At necessary times, He keeps pushing us when we find it more comfortable and convenient to stop. We want rest. He wants action.

But wouldn’t you rather be in a dangerous place if Christ is with you than a safe place where He is absent?

Second, life often gets tougher before it gets better. The disciples were glad to get rid of the mass of people. It had been a long day of listening, learning and crowd control. Now they could get away and have peaceful moments in a boat, then dock later at some quiet spot along the shore.

You think you’re getting out of one stress-filled situation and moving into a calmer time when, wham, you actually get hit with something worse. The disciples do not know a violent storm and a crazed demoniac are next on their itinerary. Had they known, they wouldn’t have been so glad to get away from the crowd.

Third, what does it mean: “They took him along, just as he was”? We normally think Jesus would take them rather than vice versa. But the disciples took one look at Jesus and knew He was exhausted. The proof of that comes when He sleeps soundly during the storm.

The disciples were protective of Jesus. Here is such a great example of the full humanity of Jesus — He was too tired to go further; thus, the disciples make a transportation decision for Him. Jesus was more tired than they.

And we must never forget that Jesus carried a far heavier burden than we will ever be asked to carry.

We will never be called to protect Jesus by placing Him in a boat, but we protect His reputation by the quality of our lives. Let the “Christ in you” always be the real Jesus and not the fractured or shattered image that so many non-Christians see in professed followers.

Finally, although “they took him,” the other boats are described not as “being with them,” but “with him.” Why?

Writing from the perspective of decades later, Mark looks back on the story and subtly tells us that the other boats wanted to be close to Jesus. The disciples are mere accessories to story. The star is always Jesus.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, let not the attraction be myself, but You living in me. Help me to realize that I am never free from the possiblity of going from one crisis to another. I know not whether a day holds calm or storm. The one thing I need is You -- just as You are -- no matter what the weather.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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