Mark 6:53–56 ESV
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
Let’s begin by relocating ourselves in the text with a kind of biblical GPS approach. It’s something we need to do often. Life moves so steadily past us that we often find ourselves going from one thing to the next and losing touch with what life is about in the first place. I’m convinced this is part of the reason God commanded us to keep Sabbath, but that’s for another discussion.
In the warp and woof of daily Scripture reading, it’s all too easy to keep up with what page we’re on, yet lose touch with what story we’re in. What if I sent you a Google map that showed you my location within about a one-mile radius; would you know where I was? Well, yes and no. We can only know where we are in a meaningful sense by knowing the larger geographical context in which we are situated. You would need to zoom out a few clicks to see the town, county, state, and so forth. As an interesting aside, we can only know who we are by knowing the larger relational context in which we are associated.
We can only meaningfully understand what is going on in the Bible by understanding and staying in touch with the larger biblical story in which we are situated. We are in Mark’s gospel, which began by locating us in the wilderness with John the Baptist where we quickly met John who baptized Jesus. At this baptism, we had the privilege of witnessing the Holy Spirit descend from heaven with the voice of the Father saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). In the next scene the demons are calling him “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). Beyond that, no one gets who he is. Some call him teacher. Others know him as a healer. His family thinks he’s out of his mind. The Pharisees actually call him Satan. In the previous text, he served as something of a first-century food truck. And his disciples’the closest ultimate insiders’they aren’t getting it either. And his hometown people can’t see past him being the son of his parents.
Mark’s gospel has us on a journey of discovery. Who recognizes who Jesus really is and who does not? So we come to today’s text where we get this:
And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him.
No, they didn’t. They recognized the man who had miraculous powers to heal, who could raise the dead, who commanded the demons, who had authority unlike the teachers of the law, but they did not recognize him as the Son of God. Had they recognized him as the God of the universe, they would have hit the deck, bowing as low as they possibly could in an act of humble adoration. You know what they did instead? The text is clear: they ran.
They recognized him for what he could do, not for who he was, and they ran. Sure, it was awesome that they ran throughout the countryside finding people in need and carrying them to Jesus to heal. That’s a measure of faith to be sure. But what would it look like for faith to be placed in who he is, beyond just in what he could do?
I think that’s what he was looking for. I think that’s still what he is looking for. Jesus is looking for people who recognize not only his goodness, but his God-ness.
The interesting thing about when we begin recognizing Jesus for who he is and not just for what he can do, we will discover he recognizes us not on what we can or can’t do, but on who we are. Even better, we will find ourselves recognizing people for who they are and not for what they can or can’t do.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
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