53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
A few more words about the previous post before we move on to today’s scripture. We note that Jesus “saw” the disciples struggling with the oars against the wind, although he was on shore and they were in the middle of the lake, and it was dark. His seeing was also supernatural in this situation. And he had compassion, he cared about them, and wanted to help them, but also teach them something.
We said that Jesus “intended to pass by” those in the boat being an indication of the divinity of Jesus, as God revealed himself by passing by Moses and Elijah. When the disciples again did not understand, but thought him a ghost, Jesus commented, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Again, these words connected to the encounter of Moses with God at the burning bush. When Moses asked God’s name, he said, “I am who I am.” Jesus’ identification, “ego eime”, again connects to his divinity. But then, he also shows his humanity by climbing into the boat with them. He did not float around above or stand there on the water – he climbed into the boat with them. He climbs into the boat with us, when we need him.
Moving on to today’s scripture – we can contrast the reception by the disciples, who did not recognize Jesus on the water, to that of the people, who immediately recognized him when the boat landed. They went at once to bring all the sick to him for healing. Although the text says that they had started out for Bethsaida, they actually landed in the region of Gennesaret. And Jesus went around the countryside there, into villages, towns, and farms, teaching and healing. The people continued to bring the sick to him – the word about the woman who touched the hem of his garment had gotten out; they sought just to touch the fringe of his garment (good Jews wore a garment with tassels to remind them of God in accordance with the Mosaic law – some still do). Their frenzy seems almost superstitious – they were seeing only the miracles, not the person to whom these signs pointed. This, however, is another of Mark’s transitional devices; after some specific incidents, he gives a general summation of Jesus’ activities – in a new place – before moving on to another topic.