Jesus has just fed the five thousand in the previous encounter. That was the story found in all four gospels. At the end of that encounter, everyone was so amazed that they were ready to do something great! What was it?
14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
They were ready to make Him king! So what did Jesus do to avoid them doing such an act?
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
- First He put the disciples into a boat and sent them off. They were also involved in trying to make Him king. It wasn’t obviously just the crowd otherwise the disciples could have handled it. And then He sent all the multitudes away. Sent them home!
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
- Jesus then goes up into the mountain to pray. But what was happening while He was praying?
- Matthew 14:24
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
- The disciples now come face to face with another storm. Probably not as bad as the previous they had faced when Jesus was sleeping in the boat with them and they cried out – Jesus don’t you care that we perish?! Remember that?
- But this storm had a purpose. It was to divert their attention away from wanting to make Jesus king. The disciples were instrumental in wanting to make Him king and when He broke it all up and sent them off, they weren’t very happy. They probably were thinking that Jesus didn’t know the right timing or didn’t know the politics well enough. So when they saw their plans broken up by Christ, they weren’t all too pleased.
- Jesus didn’t explain anything to them, He just sent them packing. But before they could continue brooding over their disappointment on what Christ did to them, they came face to face with the storm on the sea.
- Mark 6:47-48
47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them…
- Christ is in the mountain praying and He can see all that is upon His beloved disciples. Isn’t that a comforting thought? To know that even when we are in the midst of trial and danger, that God is watching. He has His perfect timing.
- Matthew 14:25
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
- Finally Christ comes walking out to them. He’s walking on the water. It’s the fourth watch of the night by the time Jesus comes.
- When is the fourth watch of the night?
- The Jews in Jesus’ divided the night into 4 watches. From sunset to sunrise. That would be from around 6pm to 6am. That gives us 12 hours. So the first watch would be from about 6pm to 9pm. Second watch 9pm to midnight. Third watch midnight to 3am. And fourth watch 3am to 6am.
- Jesus comes walking to them on the water at the fourth watch. It is from 3am to 6am. They must be exhausted by this time from the storm and trying to save themselves. But Jesus knew they wouldn’t perish from the storm. But they used up enough energy to focus on the task at hand without having to keep brooding over what had happened just the evening before when they tried to crown Jesus king!
You know, God is merciful that way sometimes. He allows trouble to come into our lives so that we don’t keep focusing on the wrong things. Sometimes our disappointments make us so laser focused that we can’t do anything else. So God in His mercy gives us some small trouble so that we can learn to let go of that disappointment.
And that is what has happened to the disciples for at least the past 6 to 8 hours. So now the disciples are ready to learn from Christ again. Had Christ come to try and teach them and explain to them right away when they got in the boat, they probably would not have listened. So He needed to give them time.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
- Christ uses an unusual method to come out to them. He simply walks on the water towards them. First, they are afraid. But Jesus immediately responds and tells them that it is He!
- This is where Peter steps in and says – Jesus if that really is you, the bid me to come out to you on the water! You know, Peter is known to be so outspoken in the Bible and it has come out in a bad way for him so many times. But he is the only human being (apart from Christ) that can lay claim to the fact that he actually walked on water because he asked!
- Now what is the purpose of this object lesson? Why did Jesus come walking out to them on the water? And why did He bid Peter to come out to Him?
- Remember, Jesus has just broken up their little party in wanting to make Him king. They are disappointed. Probably even a little angry or annoyed at Christ. Not only did He break up their plans, but He tells them to get on a boat and leave. And for the past 6-8 hours they have been battling this storm. Whose plan was it to get on the boat? Jesus! So if it was me, as time wore on, the longer I had to fight this storm, the more angry I would have gotten at Christ! If He was the Messiah, where is He? How did He now see this storm coming?
- But now Christ walks out to them. He didn’t come rowing out to them or come out swimming to them. He used a supernatural method – walking on water! Something never done before! Why?
- Maybe first to show them that He was still God! He was still divine! To remind them of the power that fed more than 5000 people from 5 barley loaves and 2 small fishes which they had just witnessed a few hours earlier was not a mistake! They had seen it with their own eyes! They were not mistaken that He was more than an ordinary person, but they were mistaken in trying to make Him king.
- So not only does Jesus walk out to them on water, but with His own power He sustains another person to walk on water – that is Peter. Christ demonstrates to the disciples His power. They were not mistaken as to Him being more than human, more than a prophet. But to crown Him king? That is not the reason as to why Jesus came.
- So He comes to the disciples to in-still faith in Him again. Sometimes it is through our own misunderstanding of God that we fail or we become disheartened or begin to doubt. That’s not God’s fault. That’s our own! But Christ is so merciful and gentle to us.
So Peter begins to walk out to Christ. He begins to walk on water.
- Matthew 14:30-31
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
- Step by step Peter walks out towards Jesus. Starts to get a little more self-confident. And just when he thought he had the hang of it, he let’s go his hold on Christ. He sees the waves, the storm. And he sees the trouble that he is in. He’s probably thinking to himself at this point – what was I thinking to walk out into the middle of a storm?! And so he begins to sink.
- In that instance, he cries out to Christ. And without even 2 blinks, Jesus is there to grab a hold of him and bring him into the boat.
- Christ then says to him – O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? He helps Peter to see, that he sunk because he had doubt, because his faith was very little. Definitely an important lesson for him and for all of us reading or listening in.
- The challenge for us is not the magnitude of the storm. It is not because some people’s storms are bigger than others that some leave Christ or leave the church. It is the size of our faith, to the extent that we believe and hold on to Christ. The doubt because the storm is bigger than our faith.
- But Christ has said:
- 1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
- God does not give us what we are not able to handle. So then how does it harmonise with what I’m saying then? If God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, why would he give us storms that are bigger than our faith then?
- 1 Corinthians 10:13
- The answer is simple.
- It’s because we neglect to cultivate our faith, that the storms of life catch up to us. It’s because we neglect the secret place of prayer and our personal devotions that we aren’t able to handle life in general! It’s because we misuse the time given to us to spend on many other things rather than building and strengthening our faith that we sink like Peter did in the storm.
- If the disciples had been praying in the garden of Gethsemane rather than sleeping, they would not have fled when Judas and the mob came looking for Jesus. They would have all been faithful and stood by Jesus until the very end.
- And so it is with us. We can lackadaisical with our spiritual life, with our walk with Christ, than all it takes is one wave to sweep us away.
- So when we look at 1 Corinthians 10:13 about Christ not allowing anything to come into our lives that we can’t handle, then we have a clear indicator as to where we stand in our faith as well! And maybe Christ is saying to you this evening, why did you doubt? Where is your faith?
- Matthew 14:32-33
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
- Christ once again calms the storm for the disciples. He gives evidence once again of His divinity, that He was more than human. They themselves declare that He truly is the Son of God.
But this question that Christ spoke to Peter when he was in the boat after saving him from drowning had a greater implication than for just Peter alone.
- When He said to Peter just before calming the storm – where is your faith? Why did you doubt? It was also for all the disciples to hear as well. You see, they had misunderstood Christ. He did not come to this earth to be a human ruler, a king for the Jews. But it did not mean that He was anything less than that. In fact, He was MORE! He was God in the flesh. He was, as they said He was – the Son of God!
- But because He had pushed the crowd away, put the disciples in a boat and sent them off, and foiled their plans, they began to doubt in everything they had seen of Him. They began even to doubt that He was God.
- Mark 6:51-52
51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. 52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.
- You see, their hearts had been hardened because He had rejected their idea of making Him king. So not only did they get angry and doubt Christ, they even forgot the miracle that He had just performed in their very presence of feeding five thousand people!
- So what does He have to do again? ANOTHER miracle! Come walking on water and then calming the storm before their very eyes. Oh how patient Jesus is with us. So slow to believe. So easy to let go of our faith. So quick to doubt. All because we misunderstand God’s will for us.
How many times does Christ have to prove Himself over to us? How many miracles do we have to see? How many answered prayers do we have to experience? How many stories and sermons do we have to listen to before our faith will anchor itself in Christ and never let go?
Well that’s the thing friends. It’s not a one time experience. It’s an everyday experience. It’s a life long commitment. This is what we call sanctification.
- Justification is something that happens at one point in time when God forgives us of a certain sin.
- But victory? It’s not assured the next day. It is something that we must learn to commit to God each day as we live. We can be preaching the gospel one day, and healing people and casting out demons, and then the very next, betraying the Son of God!
- It’s not about the greatness of the works even that we do. But the deepness of our relationship that we have in Christ. The depth of our foundation. And everyday, adding to it as well.
Sanctification is the work of a lifetime. Something that we have to experience everyday of our lives. May God grant each of you the courage to continue to step forward, and the strength to meet each trial!