When We Don’t Recognize Jesus

Immediately after Jesus fed the 5000+ people, Mark 6:45-56says that Jesus made His disciples get into a boat and return back ahead of Him to Bethsaida (since they wanted to go anyway?), while He dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, Jesus went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on the land. Jesus saw His disciples straining at the oars because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass them by, when they saw Him and thought He was a ghost (because he was walking ON the lake). Terrified, they cried out. Immediately, Jesus spoke to them saying, “Take courage! It’s I. Don’t be afraid.” Then, as soon as Jesus climbed into the boat with them, the wind died down. They were all completely amazed, for they hadn’t understood about the loaves, and their hearts were hardened. They crossed over and arrived in Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got there, people recognized Jesus. They came from all around to be healed and have Jesus heal their loved ones. All who touched Jesus were healed.

You know, I still don’t understand why the disciples were crying out like little girls when they saw Jesus, even if they did think He was a ghost. I mean, they had just finished a tour of mission where they healed, preached, and CAST OUT DEMONS. They had authority over “ghosts”. Yet, they were all so terrified when they saw Jesus and thought He was a ghost.

So they left Jesus’ presence, and now Jesus is walking up to them, and they’re afraid because they don’t recognize Jesus. (I wonder if there’s also something here about the fact that, as their hearts were hardened, they didn’t recognize Jesus, but as soon as they got ashore, everybody else there, immediately recognized Him?)

This is not just something that happened to them, though, but is also very common among people today. Many who claim that they had accepted Jesus earlier in their lives, become lost somewhere along the way. Then, when He’s standing right in front of them, or revealing Himself to them somehow, they don’t recognize Him.


  1. Why do you suppose the disciples were so afraid of Jesus? Why do you suppose they didn’t recognize Him? What kinds of situations tend to cause you to panic? How do Jesus’ words in verse 50 speak to that terror?
  2. When we accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord, somewhere around that time, He sent His Holy Spirit to live within us…within you. Did you know that with God’s very own Holy Spirit in us, we are given the authority over demons, just as were the disciples? But the disciples weren’t the only ones who tend to forget this, for we do also. Why do you suppose we tend to forget about the authority that Jesus gave us? What are some ways that we can keep from forgetting?
  3. Notice, the 12 were ready for some time away from the crowds, so Jesus takes them across the lake, only to find an even bigger crowd waiting for them on the other side. So they missed breakfast, they missed lunch, and though they were able to eat with 5000+ people, Jesus now sends them back (alone). And on their way back, the winds and waves are fighting so strongly against their boat that they’re barely getting anywhere. Then, to make matters worse, as soon as they get to the other side, what’s there waiting for them? Yep, another crowd of people. How frustrated they must have been! I wonder if maybe Jesus was also a little annoyed by His 12, and that that was why He sent them ahead of Him (notice, they didn’t even wonder or ask how He’d get back!). So the 12 were having a really bad day, their hearts were hardened, and their focus’ were off Jesus. And along with that, the day just got worse into the night. Jesus, on the other hand, seemed a little annoyed by His disciples, also, but HE dealt with it differently. Have you ever had those days when nothing seems to be going as you’d planned or hoped? How do you deal with such days? Compare how each (Jesus vs. the 12, vs. you) dealt with their day. What are some ways you can think of that can you combat hardness of heart?
  4. I believe there’s a lot more to this event. What are some other themes, events, or things that jump out at you?

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