If we know Jesus Christ in a personal way, we know that He will deliver us from many things. How many testimonies have we heard from people who have been delivered from something? Illness, death, financial situations, relationships, etc. Tonight we see Jesus’ deliverance from yet another peril, fear.
When was the last time you were afraid?
• Afraid of losing your job.
• Afraid of losing a loved one.
• Afraid of being alone.
• Afraid of becoming dependent on someone.
Tonight’s passage is just a short episode of Jesus walking on the water. But in this episode Jesus shows us opening that He is Someone that we can count on when fear grips our lives.
We stopped last time with Jesus feeding the 5,000. That people wanted to make Jesus their king, their earthly Messiah but Jesus wanted no part of that. He went to the top of a mountain to be by himself. Now we pick up the story. READ v. 16.
Now it’s evening time. It’s getting dark. The disciples set sail to cross the Sea of Galilee. As I just said, the crowd was about to take Jesus by fore and make Him a king. There was a danger that the disciples might be swept up in the excitement of the temptation, so Jesus instructed them to set sail. They obeyed Jesus, doing exactly what He said; they fled and escaped the temptation.
READ v. 17. Note the words: “Jesus had not yet joined them.” Apparently, Jesus had told them to row out some distance and then to turn and pick Him up at some other point on the shore. But they were not to wait for Him beyond a certain time. Mark’s account of this tells us that Jesus was going to send the crowd away and withdraw to pray. The violent winds caught the disciples by surprise and apparently pulled them out into the lake.
READ vv. 18-19. In these verses we find 4 causes of fear. Let’s talk about them.
1. Being in the dark will cause fear. How many are afraid of the dark? It was now dark, so the disciples couldn’t see. The threat and danger and the emotional strain of the storm was probably more intense because of the dark.
Let’s think about that for a moment. A person in spiritual darkness cannot see. That person’s blindness is a strong threat and emotional strain on them.
The threat is strong because they don’t know what lies ahead (trouble, sorrow, difficulty, loss, death).
The danger is strong in that they will definitely face some difficult times ahead. Being in darkness, they will be caught unprepared. They’ll be in the dark about God, about how to call on Him and receive strength and help from Him.
Being in the dark spiritually is a strong emotional strain in that fear will swarm over a person, covering them with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
2. The second cause of fear comes from being without Jesus. At this point in our passage, Jesus had not yet joined the disciples. So they didn’t have His presence or His help. They were left alone to fend for themselves. They had to rely on each other and their own strength. There was possibility of them dying in this storm. So they had every reason to be afraid. These guys were honest men and they knew deep down inside that their strength was limited and would eventually fail.
3. Another cause of fear comes from being caught in one of the strong, violent storms of life. A strong wind and a violent storm arose. Notice that when they had launched out, it was calm and peaceful. They thought their journey would be successful with no trouble whatsoever. They never expected a violent storm, but the winds and the clouds DID COME. The terrible storm DID STRIKE and threaten their lives.
It’s the same way with the strong, violent storms of life. Trouble, trials, sickness, death, financial problems, and a host of other storms strike everyone. They strike unexpectedly when we are the least prepared. That causes a fear to set in gets our lives out of sorts.
4. Being tired and gripped with a sense of impending death, will cause fear. The disciples had been struggling against the storm for six to nine hours, and they had only gotten three or four miles.
Now let’s note what happens. The disciples saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water. It scared them to death. These guys were physically exhausted and mentally drained from the exertion. Their lives were at stake. They were struggling for survival.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere they see a figure. It looked like an apparition (ghost) walking on the water. And it wasn’t just one of them that saw it; all of them saw the figure. They were scared. They might have been thinking that the death angel or a premonition of their death was at hand.
Fear can do that do us. The storms of life can cause a sense of horror, even of impending death, and can strike an awful fear in our hearts.
So there are the four causes of fear listed in these verses:
1. Being in the dark.
2. Being without Jesus.
3. Being caught in the strong, violent storms of life.
4. Being tired and gripped with a sense of no escaping death.
The disciples were experiencing all of these.
READ vv. 20-21. The answer to all fear is Jesus Himself. And Jesus will deliver you from any fear that you might have.
Just Jesus’ word will deliver you. He proclaimed to the disciples, “It is I; don’t be afraid.
“It is I” is one word in the Greek. (eimi). It simply means “I AM.” Jesus was saying “I AM” has come—fear not. He was reminding the disciples who He was, the Son of God Himself. He had the power so there was no reason to fear.
This was the same message God gave to Moses at the burning bush. “I AM WHO I AM.” It was the same message that Jesus used as a defense against the religionists. In Jn. 8:58 Jesus says, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” There are at least 15 times that Jesus calls Himself I am.
• I am the Messiah.
• I am (It is I), don’t be afraid.
• I am the Bread of Life.
• I am from above.
• I am the Light of the World.
• I am before Abraham was born, I am (eternal)
• I am the door
• I am the good shepherd
• I am the God’s Son
• I am the resurrection and life.
• I am the lord and teacher
• I am the way, the truth and the life.
• I am the true vine
• I am the alpha and the omega.
• I am the first and the last.
So when Jesus said, It is I, or I am, the disciples understood and their fear left.
Receiving the presence of Christ delivers from fear. There is a critical note that needs to be mentioned here. Having Christ present and hearing His Words “don’t be afraid” are not enough. A person has to be willing to take Christ into his life. Deliverance came to the disciples only after they had taken Jesus into the ship.
The results of receiving Jesus were twofold. There was deliverance from fear but there was also the calming of the storm.
Jesus gives the strength to row through all the storms of life. He has the power to erase fear and calm any storm.
So the next time you feel the grips of fear controlling your life, listen to Jesus telling you, It is I. Don’t be afraid. And if you reach out and take Jesus by the hand, you will feel all your fears vanish. Isn’t that a calming and comforting promise?