Read Mark 6:45-52
What is it with this back-and-forth across the Sea of Galilee?
In Sunday morning's reading, Jesus and the disciples cross from Jewish to Gentile territory. Remember Jesus asleep on a cushion in the midst of the storm? Since then they have crossed back to Jewish territory (Mark 5:21).
Today he instructs the disciples to sail back to Gentile territory (6:45).
Each of these crossings is accompanied by stories of Jesus' extraordinary power. He subdues the raging sea, cast out a legion of demons, heals a woman who has been ill for twelve years, raises a young girl who has just died, and feeds 5,000+ people. In today's text Jesus rejoins the disciples by walking on water.
Not only is Jesus' power dramatically displayed, his feats are met with awe and amazement from crowds of onlookers. Yet, in the midst of these travels, Jesus comes to his hometown; and the people's lack of faith makes it impossible for him to perform many miracles (6:46). Perhaps Mark has framed these stories to highlight the weak faith of persons whom we might expect to be the strongest believers: the disciples, who never quite get it, and people who had known Jesus all his life.
The sequence underscores the down-to-earth humanity of Jesus and the Gospels. It is true, isn't it, that our attempts to reach out and help family members are often rebuffed. The greatest appreciation of our efforts may be found elsewhere. Don't be surprised. It happened to Jesus.