Who Is This?
A daily devotion for January 11th
7Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
8These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them."
12They went out and preached that people should repent. 13They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
14King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him."
15Others said, "He is Elijah."
And still others claimed, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago."
16But when Herod heard this, he said, "John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!"
17For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married. 18For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
21Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.
The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you." 23And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom."
24She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?"
"The head of John the Baptist," she answered.
25At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter."
26The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29On hearing of this, John's disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
30The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
32So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
35By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. 36Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."
37But he answered, "You give them something to eat."
They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"
38"How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see."
When they found out, they said, "Five—and two fish."
39Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42They all ate and were satisfied, 43and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
45Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
47When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 51Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:51-52)
We cannot understand this last miracle unless we see it as a kind of examination period given to these disciples after the feeding of the five thousand. Our Lord had sent them out, had given them power. They had seen their ministry confirmed and authenticated by the hand of God working through them. They had come back excited and
turned on by all they had seen and done. They had now been taught that Jesus was the one who was coming to fulfill the expectation of a Messiah to be given to Israel, promised throughout all the prophetic centuries. But somehow they seemed to miss it all.
So He gives them an examination, a test, to see how they are doing. He sends them out into a storm, but this time it is different. He is not with them in the boat. He sends them out alone, deliberately, and He goes up into the hills to pray. How many of the storms of our life are made up of these two elements--trouble that comes to us and seems to be overwhelming us, and the seeming absence of the Lord? Nevertheless, there is One up on the hillside praying for us.
After the storm has blown for several hours and the disciples are in deep distress, Jesus comes to them, walking upon the water. When they see Him they are scared out of their wits because they think He is a ghost. He has to reassure them:
It--that thing you see that scares you to death--it is I; don't be afraid. How many times does He have to say that to us? That thing that scares us, frightens us--
It is I; be not afraid. He got into the boat, and they were absolutely flabbergasted! This indicates the grade they got on this exam. It was F. It was a total failure, but it astonished them. For the second time, now, their eyes are opened to begin to question:
Who then is this? And they begin to listen. This opens the door for some of our Lord's greatest teaching to His disciples regarding why He came.
And this is our Lord's question to us:
Who is this? Who sends the storms into our lives? Who tests us? Who makes provision for our needs and then tests us on it? Who gives us a promise and then sends us out to see if we believe what we teach or what we say? It is the Lord Himself. This is what He is doing with us, as he did with His disciples. He is training us, teaching us, preparing us, building into our lives, as He built into their lives, so that we might be men and women of faith, confident and calm and able to cope with life.
Thank You, Father, for what You are doing with me. Though I live in the midst of perilous times and travel among troubled seas, I know who You are--the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Life Application: When our lives are outwardly commendable but our faith and spiritual perception is weak, what things may God use to strengthen us, train us, and make us teachable?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.