Introduction: Where do you look when you are driving a car? The worst
thing is looking down while fiddling inside the car with your radio,
cell phone or navigation system. However, just keeping your eye on
the road is not good enough. You need to be looking far enough down
the road to anticipate problems. Is discipleship like driving? Does
it matter where we have our focus? Let’s jump into our study of the
Bible and find out!

  1. Sudden Storms

    1. Read Mark 4:35-36. What do you think the text means when
      it tells us the disciples took Jesus “just as He was?”
      (Apparently, getting into the boat was not like getting
      into your car. Normally, some preparation is made.
      Whether this is a reference to a floatation device, food,
      or clothing, the text does not say. We know some
      preparation is lacking.)

    2. Read Mark 4:37. One commentary (Barnes’ Notes) includes a
      first hand report of the storms that hit Galilee. The lake
      is 600 feet below sea level. The ground around it is
      filled with ravines and gorges that lead up to much higher
      ground. These act like funnels for the cold wind coming
      down from the heights to the head of the lake. The result
      is sudden and violent storms. Were the disciples used to
      these storms? Were they experts in boat-handling on the
      lake? (Surely they must have been since many were
      commercial fishermen.)

      1. What do the words “it was nearly swamped” mean? (So
        much water had gotten into the boat that it was about
        to sink.)

      2. What parallels do you see between being in a boat and
        the Christian life? (I love the water. I love to
        sail. One of my favorite things in life is to sail
        catamarans. When the wind is blowing you use your
        skill and strength to set the sails to make the
        maximum speed. The boat skips over and through the
        waves. Although this is a pretty safe sport, you can
        drown. I think of water as being like the world.
        There is a thrill in it, but we think that by our
        skill we can handle it without being drowned.
        Unfortunately, that approach to life is much more
        dangerous than sailing.)

    3. Read Mark 4:38. Were the disciples, with all of their
      skill and strength and youth, up to the challenge of the
      storm? (No. They thought they were in danger of drowning.)

      1. Consider the question the disciples ask Jesus. What
        seems odd about it? Is this the way you would have
        asked for help? (The obvious plea is “Help us, or we
        are going to drown!” Instead, they challenge Jesus’
        concern and love for them. The good part is that it
        assumes Jesus is supposed to care about them. They
        bad part is that they suggest Jesus doesn’t care.)

    4. Read Mark 4:39-40. Jesus hints that the disciples would
      not have been afraid if they had faith. Should they have
      been fearless in the storm?

      1. Put yourself in the middle of this wild storm; the
        boat is sinking and you have tried everything you
        know to keep it from sinking. How would you
        naturally feel? (I suspect Jesus is referring (at
        least in part) back to their question. Fear is
        natural in such a situation. The problem was that
        they doubted Jesus’ concern for them. They had not
        set their sight on His love and care. Jesus rebukes
        them for fearing that He did not care.)

    5. Read Mark 4:41. Have you heard the expression “Take a
      chill pill?” It means to calm down. The disciples were
      afraid during the storm and now that Jesus has calmed the
      storm they are “terrified.” Why do they go from one terror
      to another?

      1. If they weren’t expecting Jesus to calm the storm,
        what did they have in mind when they woke Him up and
        asked “Don’t you care if we drown?” (Perhaps they
        just wanted Jesus to hug them.)

        1. When you are in deep trouble do you usually know
          exactly what you want?

        2. Which do we want most: Someone to care or
          someone to fix the problem? (There are a couple
          of lessons here for disciples. First, we
          underestimate the power of God to help us. We
          need to have a firm view of His power. Second,
          if God lets us get into trouble, we begin to
          accuse Him of not caring. This story teaches us
          that through the eyes of faith we will have
          confidence that He cares. We will not doubt
          that. We then leave it to God to tend to the
          problem however He chooses.)

    6. Mark recounts the story of the miraculous feeding of the
      5,000 followed by another sea storm story. If you do not
      know the story of the feeding of the 5,000 (out of just
      five loaves and two fish) read it in Mark 6:34-44. Let’s
      continue by reading Mark 6:45-46. What kind of an attitude
      would the disciples have after the feeding of the 5,000?
      (What a day! Jesus had shown His power to create food.)

    7. Read Mark 6:47. What is different about this sea story?
      (Jesus is not in the boat.)

    8. Read Mark 6:48. After this high day, in what kind of
      situation do the disciples find themselves? (Difficult.
      There was a storm and they were “straining” to make any
      progress. The fourth watch would be 3:00 in the morning.
      They had been rowing for eight or nine hours and made it
      only half way across the lake.)

      1. Is your life like this sometimes? A very high
        spiritual experience followed by an experience in
        which you are straining?

      2. What is Jesus doing? (He is watching them.)

        1. Why doesn’t He intervene? Why leave them
          straining for all this time?

        2. Why don’t they ask Him to intervene? Where is
          their “vision” focused?

      3. Look at Mark 6:48 again. When Jesus finally appears
        to be doing something, we read that He was going to
        “pass them by.” Why would Jesus walk past them?
        (Jesus is watching and concerned. He begins to act on
        the problem before He is asked for help. But, it
        appears He is not going to actually intervene without
        some sort of request.)

        1. What lesson is there in this for us?

    9. Read Mark 6:49-50. Do the disciples recognize Jesus? (No!)

      1. Why would Jesus do this? Why would He come so close,
        but not close enough for the disciples to recognize
        Him? (I believe that Jesus was waiting for them to
        call upon Him. He probably delayed coming because He
        was sure they would not call on Him for a while –
        they would continue to depend on themselves. But even
        now, when they are tired and frightened, they still
        do not call on Jesus.)

      2. On what basis does Jesus calm them? (He has
        compassion and He helps the disciples even though
        they have not specifically called for His help. They
        are still not looking in the right place for help.)

  2. Bread Stories

    1. Read Mark 6:51-52. The disciples “had not understood about
      the loaves.” What did they fail to understand? (Notice the
      sequence here. Jesus calms the storm when He is in the
      boat. He then performs an extraordinary miracle (feeding
      the 5,000) in which they are coworkers. Immediately after,
      they get into some major trouble. Jesus is watching them,
      but they are simply straining through it. They do not call
      on Jesus, but He comes near anyway. Finally, they are
      completely terrified and He rescues them. They are amazed
      because they do not understand about the loaves.)

      1. What is loaf understanding? (That Jesus can master
        any problem in your life. They should have called
        upon Him at the very beginning of the problem. They
        should not have been amazed that He was the solution
        to their problem.)

        1. How about you? When do you call on Jesus to
          help? Only after you have been “straining” for
          eight or nine hours? Does it take you that long
          to look to Jesus?

        2. Does Jesus wait to help you because He knows you
          will not look to Him earlier?

    2. Let’s consider at another bread analogy. Read Matthew
      16:1-4. What is the sign of Jonah? (Read Matthew 12:39-41.
      Jesus is saying that they do not want to believe He is the
      Messiah, even though it is obvious from what He has done.
      They refuse to believe the evidence that they see. Their
      sign will be His death and resurrection.)

      1. How about you? Do you resist Jesus’ teaching? Do you
        resist the Holy Spirit? Are you looking in the wrong

    3. Read Matthew 16:5-7. Aren’t you glad the disciples put
      their collective intelligence together?

    4. Read Matthew 16:8-11. Why does Jesus say “You of little
      faith” as opposed to “You of little intelligence?” (They
      thought Jesus was telling them to beware of purchasing
      bread with bad yeast from the Pharisees and Sadducees.
      Jesus had fed thousands with nothing. They should never
      have to worry about buying bread when they were with Him.
      If they had faith, they would not have taken this first
      logical misstep.)

      1. Read Matthew 16:12. Yeast (leaven) represents
        impurity or corruption. Compare Leviticus 2:11 with 1
        Corinthians 5:6-8. The disciples finally got the
        point. What is the lesson for us today? (How many
        times we reach the wrong conclusion because we do not
        approach our problems through the eyes of faith.
        Instead of keeping our eye on God, we keep our eye on
        the mundane things that He will supply- like bread.)

    5. Friend, will you determine to adjust your vision so that
      you look at every problem through the eyes of faith? Will
      you focus on the spiritual rather than the material?