from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 13

Mark 6:45-56: Walking on the Sea

The Story


After the feeding of the multitude the Lord sent His disciples by boat across the sea to Bethsaida, while He sent away the people. This was not the Bethsaida, where the multitude were fed, but another town near Capernaum. (Verse 53) The name means "Fishertown," and it is not surprising that there were more than one Bethsaida by the Sea of Galilee. We see a reason for this, for we are told in John that the people were so excited by the miracle of the loaves that they wanted to take Him by force and make Him a king. Then He sent the disciples and the multitude away, and went up into a mountain alone to pray.

When evening was come, He saw His disciples still toiling and rowing upon the sea, "for the wind was contrary"; and at about the fourth watch (between three and six o'clock) He went to them walking on the sea. The disciples were frightened, but He said, "Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid." And He went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased. And they were very amazed. The Lord is always near to help us in trouble wherever we may be.

Do you remember another miracle something like this?


The Lord had fed the multitude. Show me where it was. The people were excited when they saw this sign of power. They had always heard from their parents and from teachers, of the great Prophet the Messiah, who some day would come. They thought he would be a great earthly king, and would make them the strongest and richest people in the world. These hopes came to their minds when they saw the Lord's power. They thought the time had come. They would take the Lord by force and make Him king. They thought He would lead them to Jerusalem, and drive out the Romans, and make them rich and great. Even the disciples expected a great earthly kingdom, and that the Lord would make them rulers in it. (Matthew 20:21; Acts 1:6)

The Lord was truly the great Prophet and the Messiah who had been predicted, but He had not come to be such a king as the people expected. He said by and by to Pilate, "Thou sayest that I am a king." "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36, 37) The Lord did not wish the people to love riches and to rule over others. He bade His disciples first to get into a boat and to go before Him back to Gennesaret while He sent the people away. When He had sent away the multitude He went up into a mountain to pray, and as the evening came and it grew dark He was there alone.

We can think in part what His prayer must have been. Remember how after His baptism the tempter showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and said that they might be His. This temptation must have come again when the excited people came about Him to make Him king. He must overcome in Himself all thoughts of worldly power, that He might help His disciples and all people to put away such thoughts, and to be humble, and to think only of being useful, for they must learn like Him to love not to be ministered unto but to minister. (Matthew 20:20-28)

So the night was passing while the Lord was alone in the mountain in prayer, and the disciples were on the sea going toward home. But a storm of wind was against them. They rowed but they could not go forward against the storm. The Lord "saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them." They were half way across the water, or a little more. It was now the fourth watch of the night, which means very early in the morning, soon after three o'clock. The Lord came to them walking on the sea. But read the story. If we trust in the Lord He comes to us when we need His help, and brings the morning light, and takes us safely to the heavenly land whither we are going.

1. After the feeding of the five thousand where do we find the disciples? The Lord?

2. What thoughts excited the multitude?

3. What did the Lord do in the mountain?

4. How did He show His power as He came to the disciples?

Spiritual Study


Have you clearly in mind the two times when the Lord saved the disciples on the water? When they awoke Him from sleep and He calmed the winds and waves which way were they crossing? What had taken place at the shore which they were leaving? What took place when they came to land? When the Lord came to them walking on the water which way were they crossing?

Let us think what spiritual work this miracle represents. What does the sea represent? Remember the calling of the disciples, and the promise that they should become fishers of men. They should lift men up from a natural worldly state of life to a spiritual state; they should also teach natural truths in a way to serve spiritual life. The sea is like an atmosphere of thought that is natural and worldly, and sometimes evil. And a storm on the sea? It represents a state of temptation when worldly thoughts and ambitions are aroused and threaten to swallow us up from the light of heaven. The winds are like the unseen influences from hell which arouse the evil in us. Had there been any such excitement of worldly thoughts and feelings at the time which we read of in this lesson? What had just taken place on the eastern shore? Excited thoughts of worldly power and greatness were aroused in the disciples' minds, which they had not power to resist. Their helpless state is pictured in their toiling against the storm. The same temptation, with greater force, came to our Lord Himself, and in the mountain He quieted such worldly thoughts, and put them in their right place under His feet. So He gained power to help the disciples and all men. Then He showed His power by coming to the disciples walking on the sea, and He stilled the storm for them. "Be of good cheer," He said at another time, "I have overcome the world." (E. 514)

Both the storms on the sea were in the night. Does this tell anything of our state of mind in temptation? Are our minds sometimes dark and sometimes light? They are light when we see clearly, and dark when we do not see. There was spiritual darkness over all the earth at the time of the Lord's coming, and He brought light. (Isaiah 60:1, 2; John 1:5, 9) Remember other times when darkness is mentioned in the Gospel, where it plainly tells also of spiritual darkness. (Luke 6:12; 22:53; 23:44; John 13:30) It is always dark when we are in a state of temptation and seem far from the Lord. When we let Him come near by listening to His words and accepting His help, the night passes by and our minds grow bright. We see new meaning in the words: "It was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them," and in His coming in the early dawn. (Psalm 30:5; A. 6000, 10134)

What fact in this lesson, like the Lord's sleeping during the first storm upon the sea, shows how the Lord seems indifferent until we desire His help? (Verse 48. Compare Luke 24:28.)

Tell me of other times when we read of the Lord's praying. (Luke 6:12; Mark 14:32-42) The appearance is that the Lord in prayer looked up to someone else for help, but as we learn more about Him we see that it was not exactly so. There was no one else to whom He could look for help; but His weak, human nature which was like ours, looked up and within to the Divine love which was in His inmost heart, and labored to bring that down into the human life. The Lord wishes us to learn from this seeming separateness from the Father in His times of prayer, that at those times His strength seemed far away; He felt forsaken. He feared that He might not conquer in temptation. So completely did the Lord come down into the darkness and helplessness where we are, or He could not help and comfort us when we feel forsaken and alone. (A. 1787, 2535, 2580; T. 126)

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