Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 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, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.In the midst of their exhaustion and the raging storm, Jesus meant to pass by. Really? Look at it. It sounds like he meant to walk right past them and meet them on the opposite side. He saw their distress and he didn't care? Like rubberneckers on the freeway after an accident. I'll just look at the trouble and say, "Bummer!" Jesus often confuses me, but this seems so contrary to his character. To see distress, to see his men making headway painfully and to pass by.
But then we were pointed to Moses and to Elijah. God also passed by them--passed by his chosen, stiff-necked, hard-hearted people. The disciples, Moses, Elijah (and often us, too) were/are in places of chaos, fear, separation, darkness. And God, the God who sees, passed by:
The Lord said to Moses, "I will make my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The Lord.' And I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy....Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by."And Elijah, when he was in great despair, hiding and wishing to die:
Behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him...So I think about us. When we are in chaos, fear, separation, darkness.
Oh, God, pass by! Pass by and show us your goodness, let us know your grace, mercy. I want to see your glory. Let us be by you. Cover us. Speak to us with your low whisper.
May we see with our eyes--
when the man on the water walks toward us,
hear with our ears--
in the midst of the whipping wind, the earthquake, the fire,
understand with our hearts.
May we turn and be healed.