A Miracle or Not? You Decide

From the Word of God, the Gospel of Mark:

45 And straightway [immediately] he [Jesus] constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he 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, and would have passed by them. 49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. 51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. 52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.”Mark 6:45-52

The Doubters of the World:

Some have recently suggested that this may not have been a miracle after all because the boat may well have been so near to the shore that Jesus was really only walking in ankle-deep water along the shoreline. They say the original Greek text of this passage suggests that Jesus walked “on the water” much like we would say that a home is located “on the lake” when, in fact, it is next to the shore and not out in the water. Some in the internet circles have even suggested that he was walking on ice!

They present us with a rational-sounding theological and grammatical explanation of why this may not have been an actual miracle and simply leave it up to us to decide what we wish to believe as if God’s Word were a salad bar from which we are free to pick and chose what we like and dislike.

The Backdrop:

Just prior to this event on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus had fed a crowd of 5,000 men (plus all of the women and children who were present) by blessing and miraculously multiplying five loaves of bread and two small fishes. After all 5,000 men plus the others had eaten “until they were filled,” the disciples gathered twelve baskets full of leftover scraps! Verse 52 identifies this as a miracle, and nobody denies that fact.

The Scenario:

Then the passage says Jesus “constrained” or physically compelled His disciples to board the ship to sail to the other side of the sea to the town of Bethsaida while He stayed behind to disperse the crowd of more than 5,000 people whom He had just fed. Verse 46 says that Jesus then went up into a mountain to pray.

Later, well after midnight, He noticed that the disciples’ ship was “in the midst of the sea.” It says He saw His disciples “toiling in rowing” because of the contrary wind they were fighting against. Here is where the Lord Jesus comes out to them walking upon the water!

Some Questions to Ponder:

1. If this were not an actual miracle, why did the Holy Spirit see fit to include this account in His inspired Word at all?

If this is not the documentation of a genuine miracle, then the entire account is nothing more than an absolutely pointless anecdote which only makes the disciples look somewhat stupid.

2. If this were not an actual miracle, why did the disciples react the way they did?

Verse 49 says the disciples thought they were seeing a ghost walking upon the sea. They were in great fear to the point of crying out loud. Once the Lord joined them in the boat (v. 51) they were “sore amazed beyond measure.” The Greek is loosely translated, “They were scared spitless!”

Many of these disciples had been professional fishermen from their youth and were intimately familiar with the Sea of Galilee. It is absolutely inconceivable that they could ever confuse the shoreline with the middle of the sea! They knew exactly where they were, and to see Jesus walking on top of the water totally freaked them out. Verses 51 and 52 together clearly indicate that the disciples should not have been surprised by this miracle, since they had just witnessed Jesus perform a huge one only a few hours before!

Further, Matthew’s account of the same event (Matthew 14:22-32) includes Peter’s request to Jesus to allow him to also walk upon the water. The Lord granted to Peter his request. Then, in verse 30 of Matthew’s account, we see that when Peter started to worry about the boisterous wind and waves, he took his eyes off of Jesus and he began to sink! It is unfathomable that he would begin to sink if he were walking in shallow water along the shoreline as the doubters have suggested.

3. If this is the Holy Spirit’s documenting of an actual miracle, why would anyone attempt to rationalize it away?

Verse 52 answers this question succinctly: their hearts were hardened. Is your heart hardened, too?

The First Test of Faith:

When one suggests that a miracle recorded in the Bible may have some plausible physical, theological, or grammatical explanation, he not only sins by unbelief (Hebrews 3:12), he undermines the Word of God and causes others’ hearts to harden and be deceived.

The very first test of anyone’s faith is found in the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” -Genesis 1:1

If you believe that verse is true, do you also believe He created it all in six literal 24-hour solar days as the Scriptures say He did? (See Genesis Chapter 1, verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31).

If any part of God’s Word can be questioned or doubted in any way, then none of it is trustworthy, including all those verses about salvation, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life. Satan tries hard to sow seeds of doubt about the recorded miracles because he knows that if he can weaken the foundation of the Truth in a man’s heart, then he can lead him astray.

What Do You Believe?

My friend, you are completely free to believe what you want to believe; but when it’s all said and done you will be judged by God’s Word. There will be no excuses. God’s Word is either the complete inerrant Truth, or it’s all a lie.

Are You Ready to Face Eternity?

Matthew 7:21-23 tells us that religion is not the way to Heaven. It is found only in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. He prayed this for us:

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17:17

If you have been involved in a “religious system” which undermines the Truth of God’s Word in any way, why don’t you repent and trust Jesus Christ alone as your Lord and Savior today? Instead of engaging in dead religion, you can have peace and assurance through a joy-filled, vibrant, born-again personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that His Word is sure!

1. Purposefully change your mind about your sin and realize your urgent need of Christ’s forgiveness. Turn from sin and turn to Him. This is called repentance.

2. Believe in your heart that Christ died on the cross and paid the full and complete penalty for your sins; also that He rose again on the third day conquering death and sin for you so that you could have His lasting Peace and eternal life with Him in Heaven!

3. Confess with your mouth in prayer to God that you believe Jesus died to pay for your sin and that He rose again on the third day. Surrender fully to His authority and receive Him as your personal Lord and Savior!

4. By faith, claim His mercy and forgiveness and receive His Peace! This is how to be born again.

Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

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