In my church's ladies Bible study we recently completed an inductive study on the book of Mark. As someone who has been a believer for a long time, and someone who writes Bible lessons, I sometimes find that I'm too familiar with Jesus, too familiar with the Bible. I think to myself... I've read this before. I know what this means. What I learned from this study in Mark is that I need to slow down and really get to know God. through His Word.
There are two things that force me to slow down in Bible study. One is being a part of a group inductive Bible study and the other is having a 3 year old, or preparing to teach 3 year olds at church. The group studies forces me to go verse by verse or word by word and keeps me from rushing. And, spending time with my son, or other preschoolers, allows me to see the Word afresh through little eyes and littles hearts. There’s nothing like answering a thousand questions a day and trying to explain the Bible at a child's level that helps you to marvel at the goodness of God.
Last night, in God’s providence, as I was thinking about writing this, during our evening Bible time, as my son does, he interrupted the story multiple times with ‘I have a question.’ After saying just a minute several times, I stopped and I listened to his question. His question was, ‘who is Jesus?’ As soon as I heard his question I realized that his question was so much more important that the story I was trying to teach. And this question of 'who is Jesus?' is the question that's woven throughout the book of Mark.
Before answering I asked him, 'who do you think Jesus is?' He told me that Jesus is God and that he died on the cross and rose again and that he’s in heaven now. I said, yeah, that’s exactly who he is. He asked about the story (which happened to be Jesus healing Peter’s mother in law) and asked how Jesus did that. I simply reminded him of what he had just told me... Jesus is God!
That’s a truth that we all know, but let that sink in for a minute. Jesus is God! Marvel at that truth.
His question made me think of Mark 6 where Jesus sends the disciples ahead of him in a boat. As Jesus stays behind, he watches them struggle rowing against the wind for hours. They can't see Him, but He can see them. They feel like they are alone in their struggle, but Jesus sees them. And then the Bible says that He came to them walking on the water planning to pass by them. They see Jesus and don't know who He is.
Then, in verses 50-51 of Mark 6 we read:
for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded.
In this moment the disciples got a glimpse of who Jesus really was. They were astounded! But they still didn’t really understand. They regularly saw these glimpses of Jesus’ deity but still had veiled eyes, and at times would continue to act like 'God-in-flesh' wasn’t right there with them.
As I thought about it, I was reminded that I do the same thing. I know Jesus. I know who He is. I know He’s with me in the Holy Spirit, and yet I forget sometimes. I live like He’s not there. I find myself struggling 'against the wind' forgetting that Christ sees me and that He is sovereign in this situation. How about you, when was the last time you felt you were alone in your struggle - maybe in recruiting volunteers, maybe in classroom management, maybe simply feeling alone in ministry?
Not too long ago I was reminded of this truth as I drove home. As I got to my exit I realized I could see snow capped mountains. I have lived in the same house and exited the highway in the same place for almost two years, but had never even seen those particular mountains because haze, smog, etc had always hidden them. But that day they were clear and they were there. They had always been there. I just couldn’t see them. Since then I’ve gotten a glimpse a few times, but even when I can’t see them I find myself looking for them… knowing they’re there, even though I can't see them.
This passage in Mark 6 and those mountains reminded me once again that when it doesn’t feel like God is there, when we can’t feel His presence, we still need to look to Him. We need to see Him in the Word. We need to remember that we're not alone in our struggle. When we’re more focused on the wind and the storms being thrown at us, we need to remember he’s always there. And like the disciples, when Jesus got into the boat we need to be astounded at who He truly is!
My prayer for you is that this week as you teach the precious children that God has called you to serve that you will not only point their little hearts to Jesus, but that you will remind yourself of Jesus' words in Mathew 28:20 where He said, "I am with you always, tothe end of the age!"