The gospel of Mark recounts the story of Jesus’ disciples panicking as their boat took on water in the midst of a great storm on the sea. Jesus rebukes the storm, and it settles down. He then rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith but with little effect. Mark says something I have found fascinating ever since I first noticed it.

Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Whether we take the story of the multiplication of loaves and fishes as a physical miracle (the food really did multiply) or a miracle of heart (hungry people sharing what they had) seems to me to miss the point.

Faced with utter destruction on the stormy seas of life, and tempted to despair and to panic, we will keep the faith if we understand the loaves and the fishes. We will lose hard — find our hearts hardened as pharoah’s was if when we do not understand.

Now there’s a challenge.


3 responses

  1. Exactly, Kwak; I’ll put that in my commentary.

  2. but what are we to understand? That, with Jesus, all of our needs are satisfied, whether literally or spiritually? That seems to be the answer, because if the disciples understood that, they wouldn’t have feared the storm.Of course, I relate to these disciples, if Jesus were going to do something, why wasn’t he doing it? It seems the deck is stacked against them — Jesus doesn’t seem to do anything, they panic, Jesus takes care of things then rebukes them.Probably has something to do with faith and patience. But the passage doesn’t really tell us at what point the disciples panicked, maybe it was immediately, maybe it was later.

  3. The Markan version on this story began my kwakersaur blog — it seesm like ages ago now. I think Mark deliberately showed the disciples’ lack of faith in order to show us how to be faithful. The wind and sea obey Jesus. Later the unclean spirits possessing a demoniac obey Jesus but the disciples simply do not understand his authority. What is the lesson of the loaves and the fishes — a poor child gives what little he has to Jesus and 5,000 people are fed. Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies it cannot bear fruit. The kingdom is like a woman who worked a small bit of leaven into the dough until the whole batch rose. Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days.

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