Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. 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.” Then 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.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
There’s a stark contrast here between the disciples and the people of Gennesaret. The people have such a deep faith in Jesus that they immediately recognize Him (thought they have never seen Him before), and they bring people from all over to be healed. The disciples mistake Jesus for a ghost (though they have spent countless hours with Him), and they are afraid of and don’t understand His miracles. This strikes me as very strange. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Why is it that the disciples’ hearts were hardened while the regular people’s hearts were open to miracles? I honestly don’t have a good answer for this. I think that maybe the disciples didn’t really understand who Jesus was. Verse 52 says they didn’t understand about the loaves. Possibly the disciples just didn’t get how or why Jesus had the power to do such amazing things.
The lesson for us is that simply spending time with Jesus does not guarantee that we will open our hearts to Him. Sometimes our hearts might be hardened without us even realizing it. This is only one of the many reasons I think it’s important for us to think about where our heart is and what our intentions are on a regular basis. When we don’t self-analyze it’s really easy to overlook a gradual change away from Christ-like hearts and actions. Easier said than done, I know (believe me, I know), but it’s so important that it’s worth all the extra effort.