Jesus Meant To Pass Them By

I have always been fascinated by the account of Jesus walking on the water in Mark 6.  There is an important detail in this story that I hadn’t noticed until recently:

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…  – Mark 6:48-49

There are two main perspectives to look at this that I can think of.  The first is that Jesus truly intended to pass them by without being noticed, but he made a mistake and passed by to closely so that the disciples saw him from the boat.  I do not believe this is a correct perspective.

The second perspective is that Mark, when writing his Gospel, chose his words carefully to tie in this event with other parts of scripture.  There is a very interesting parallel that Edwards suggests in commentary on Mark:

At Mt. Sinai the transcendent Lord “passed by” Moses (Exod 33:22; also 33:19 and 34:6) in order to reveal his name and compassion.   – Page 198

In an act of passing by, Jesus used the situation to reveal himself as God to the disciples.  This adds a fascinating element to understanding this account in Mark.


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