“Immediately he spoke to them and said, 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:50-51, NIV)
The story of Jesus passing by the disciples in the middle of the story is familiar (Mark 6:45-53). As Jesus is about to “pass them by,” the disciples fear he is a ghost and they are afraid. Jesus climbs into the boat with them, and the wind dies down. However, Mark concludes by telling us that the disciples were afraid because they had not understood about the loaves-the story about Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fish which immediately precedes the story of Jesus walking on the water (Mark 6:30-44).
In the story of Jesus miraculously multiplying the loaves, Jesus showed the Glory of God at work in him. Jesus, as the incarnation of the son of God, demonstrated what was pictured over and over again in the Hebrew scriptures: God is with the people, God provides for the people, God will show his glory (see Exodus 33:11-20). The disciples witnessed this glory, but did not “take that witness with them” into the boat. In the next incident, they find themselves in the midst of a terrible storm, and when Jesus intends to pass them by to show them his glory, they are filled with fear. Jesus tells them not to be afraid, but to take courage in the fact that he is with them.
We do the same thing. God demonstrates his provision and care repeatedly in our lives. Yet, often we do not take these experiences “into the boat” of our current crisis. We do not allow our present fear to be educated and quelled by the reality that God has already proven that will be with us in the present crisis.
Growing in faith and faithfulness has to do with learning from our past experiences that God is with us. When we face a current faith challenge, the point is to reflect on how we know from our past experience that God will be with us. We let that encouragement help us to respond to our current situation with confidence and faith. “Take courage it is I. Don't be afraid.”