This is Part 2. See the previous month’s edition of WCN for Part 1.
In this narrative, Jesus was praying in large part for His disciples. He was praying for these men, that they would receive giant-sized faith.
Think of this folks – the men that would turn the world upside down by proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God were all in one little boat in the middle of a raging sea. This was a teaching moment for the disciples. Did Jesus know the storm was coming? Yes. Why did He wait until the disciples had been struggling for 7-8 hours against the waves? He waited so that the disciples would learn that circumstances, even distressing circumstances, cannot defeat our Father’s plan.
Matthew 14:25 says He came to them. Mark says something quite amazing.
In Mark 6:47-48 we read: “When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.”
Let me emphasize something here, friends. You are never out of the sight of God. You are never in a situation that God does not see or know about.
The boat the disciples were in was in the middle of the sea. The Sea of Galilee is about 7.5 miles across at its broadest point. For the sake of illustration, let’s say that the disciples were in the middle of the sea, about 3-4 miles away from their departure point on the shore.
Jesus walked alone into the surrounding mountains to pray. BUT He saw them straining at the oars. Jesus saw the disciples fighting against a tremendous storm from perhaps 4-5 miles away.
You are never at a place where God cannot see you and will not help you.
And so, Jesus comes to the aid of the disciples. And it freaked them out, Matthew 14:26: “When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear.”
The word ‘ghost’ (in Mark 6:49 also) is the Greek word for ‘phantom’ – they thought it was an evil spirit bringing disaster upon them.
Now, Matthew and Mark both record Jesus saying exactly the same thing, v27: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” What’s interesting here is that this word ‘courage’ is used by Jesus eight times in the New Testament.
Jesus wants us to be brave because we know Him. “It is I.” It’s Me — be brave! Not brave based on our own resources, but bravery born from our trust and faith in Jesus.
And folks, we will be brave when bravery is needed when we know Him, when we are walking in obedience to Him.
Now we arrive at the part that Mark and John left out. Peter takes Jesus at His word — he will be brave, and he will be obedient. Matthew 14:28: “Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’”
Peter demonstrated wisdom here. He first asked Jesus to command him to come out of the boat and walk to Him. Peter wanted to know if Jesus was going to supernaturally enable him to do it. Once Peter understood that Jesus wanted him to walk to Him, he obeyed immediately. Obedience responds to the leading of Yahweh.
There is another principle that I see here. That principle is that faith unleashes the supernatural. Faith in Jesus enabled Peter to get out of the boat. That act of getting out of the boat, taking the first step, unleashed the supernatural upon Peter to enable him to walk on the water.
What a picture! The very thing that Jesus was likely praying for these men — courage and obedience, Peter asks for from Jesus. Open their hearts, Father!
Do you spend time in your secret place? Your secret place is prayer. Have you come to a place in your spiritual walk that you long for time away with Him in your secret place, where only You and the Father commune?
When you pray, do you pray with an expectation that God will give an answer?
I think this is the point at which the disciples, at least eleven of them, came to the undeniable conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah.
Recall what we read in Mark 6:51-52: “Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.”
Now look at Matthew 14:30-33: “But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’” Mark 6:51 says that they were astonished.
Worry or worship? The disciples were consumed by the circumstances of the raging sea but when Jesus showed up, they began to worship. Fear can distract us from worship. Anxiety can smother our thankfulness and gratitude toward God. Be sure you are not shortchanging yourself from what God desires for you because of worry.
Now let’s look at Mark 6:53-56 where we read: “When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was. Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.”
Let me show you the conclusion of this event and the lasting impression it had on eleven of the twelve. Turn with me to John 6:21-27. Here we read: “So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. The next day the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone. There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus. When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, ‘Rabbi, when did You get here?’
“Jesus answered them and said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.’”
The people from the vicinity of Bethsaida and Capernaum, most of whom were fed by the miracle of the biscuits and sardines were back for more and Jesus calls them out.
This is the beginning of what is often referred to as “The Bread of Life” sermon. Follow along down to verses 33-39.
“For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world. Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, always give us this bread.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.’”
Did Jesus look at the disciples? Notice the reaction, verses 41-42: “Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread that came down out of heaven.’ They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?’”
Then Jesus focused on them, verses 50-51: “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
Their response, v52: “Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, ‘How can this man give us His flesh to eat?’”
Jesus presses the point, v53: “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.’”
Their response, v66: “As a result of this, many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.”
Then Jesus turns His attention to the twelve – verses 67-71. “So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?’ Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.”
Let’s conclude by focusing on some spiritual principles.
1). What preceded all of this?
2). What preceded the worship of Jesus in the boat?
3). What preceded the disciples’ testimony that Jesus is the Son of God?
4). What moved the disciples to proclaim their faith in Jesus who has the words of eternal life?
One thing – Prayer! Jesus prayed, Father, open their eyes, their hearts, their minds. Brothers and sisters, we must pray.
• Pray for one another.
• Pray for our families, friends, and co-workers.
• Pray that the scales that blind will fall from their eyes.
• And join your prayer with fasting; Join your fasting and prayer with study of the Scriptures.
No matter how busy we are or how tired you are, you must make prayer a priority.
Then DO your faith – become a doer of the Word and not merely a hearer. We want to see our world changed and so we must pray and then we must get busy telling people about Jesus and putting our faith to action.
What will be required of us? First our eyes must be on Jesus and Jesus alone. There is no other source of power that will enable us to stand in these wicked days.
When we clearly hear the commands of God, obey them without reservation. A situation may look impossible, but when God calls, He provides the necessary resources for you to complete His assignment. Don’t allow fear to distract or immobilize you.
Jesus is well aware of our weaknesses and frailties. Just as Jesus stopped Peter from drowning, so will He rescue you when you stumble.
Worship detoxifies worry and anxiety and renders them inoperable in our mind.
Dr. Mike Spaulding
P. O. Box 3007 • Lima, OH 45807