Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.
We read about the miracle of the loaves and the fish with awe and wonder, and we expect that those who witnessed the miracle would have felt so much more. The disciples not only saw Jesus perform this miraculous multiplication, but they also partook of that meal. Thousands of people had been gathered to hear their teacher preach. It was late in the day, and there was no place nearby for them to get food. The disciples were challenged by him to feed the people with what they had, but they had only five loaves and two fish. Somehow He was to feed the multitude with that paltry supply. They had just been part of that miracle, and it should have been fresh in their minds when they were on the sea in that wind.
When Jesus approached the boat walking on the water, the disciples had a very natural reaction. They felt fear and confusion at what they were witnessing. Once they realized it was Jesus, they had peace, but they also were amazed. Jesus showed that He had control over that water and that wind, but He already had shown his control over the physical when he multiplied that food. The problem is that the disciples did not understand that miracle when it happened. For some reason, its impact was lost on them. The hardening of their hearts was about not comprehending the miraculous around them. However, even though the Lord knew they would not get it or appreciate it as they should, He still allowed them to experience that miracle.
Seeing a person walk on water should amaze us and make us do a double take. Seeing Jesus walk on water should not. If we know him, then we know that He works in the miraculous. The disciples had witnessed his miracles first hand and still could not grasp that He was able to live outside our physical limitations. Even though they and many of the others who partook of that miraculous provision might have walked away from there without realizing the magnitude of what they witnessed and experienced, God still blessed them with the miracle. The hope is that we realize the miracle for what it is when we encounter it. Father, soften our hearts, and give us the understanding to appreciate your miraculous provision when we receive it.