Summary: If we are going to be more like Jesus, we must learn to walk by faith.
Jesus had just fed 5,000 men, besides women and children with 2 fish and 5 barley loaves. The people who benefited from this miracle sought to make Jesus their king (John 6:15), but this wasn’t the Father’s plan, so Jesus sent the disciples away in a boat while He dispersed the crowd. After He had sent them away, Jesus went up on a hillside to spend some time in prayer. By this time, it had become dark.
The sea of Galilee is known for the storms that come up, being created by winds that sweep down the surrounding mountains. The disciples had set out to cross the sea of Galilee, when one such storm came upon them and they struggled against the winds and the waves. As the night wore on, Jesus went to meet the disciples on the other side. Scholars tell us it is likely that this event occurred near the time of the Passover observance, in mid April. So there would have been a full moon.
In ancient times, night was divided into four watches - 6 pm to 9 pm, 9 pm to 12 midnight, 12 midnight to 3 am, and 3 am to 6 am. Since we are told this miracle occurred during the fourth watch, we know Jesus went out on the water to meet His disciples sometime between 3 and 6 am. As He stood on the hillside, in the light of the full moon, Jesus saw them struggling, and went to them in their time of need.
There are many lessons for us to learn from this story. But over the next few of weeks, I want us to focus on what this story teaches us about what it means to walk by faith. This lesson is important because:
Without faith it is impossible to please God!
“And it is impossible to please God without faith.” - Hebrews 11:6a (NLT)
To not live by faith is to live in sin!
“. . . everything that does not come from faith is sin.” - Romans 14:23b (NIV)
The degree of faith I possess will determine the degree of blessing I receive!
“According to your faith will it be done to you.” - Matthew 9:29 (NIV)
Faith is the key to the Christian fulfilling His call to live a Christ-like life in this world.
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” - John 20:21 (NIV)
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing." - John 14:12a (NIV)
Jesus took this miracle and used it to teach His disciples a lesson about faith. Let’s see what we can learn as well. What does it means to walk by faith? It means getting out of the boat!
Peter’s walk on the water is a great illustration of the walk of faith. But before Peter could walk on the water, he had to get out of the boat. He had to be willing to forsake what he had been trusting in for security and find his security in the Word of the Lord. When he left the security of that boat, it was in response to the Word Jesus gave him - “come!”
One day a preacher, a priest and an atheist went on a fishing trip together. They are in the boat and the preacher says, “Oh no! I left the paddles on shore!” So he gets out of the boat and walks on the water to the shore to get them. Once he had got back into the boat the priest says, “Oh no! I left the bait on shore too!” And like the preacher, the priest exits the boat, walks on the water, and gets the bait. When the priest climbs back into the boat the atheist yells, “Well if you guys can do it so can I!!!” and proceeds to climb out of the boat, but he falls into the water. At this point the preacher says, “Do you think we should have told him where the rocks are?”
We are told within the pages of Scripture where the rocks are! As we order our lives according to God’s Word, we will trade the false sense of security the world gives for a security far greater than anything this world has to offer. The things the world offers me for security - money, friends, possessions, health, etc. - are here today and gone tomorrow; but the God’s endures forever! God’s Word will not let you down!
Kay Arthur is well known for her “precept upon precept” Bible study. What many do not know is that this has been her positive response to tragedy in her life. Her first husband attended a liberal seminary that denied the inspiration of God’s Word. His confusion not only had an impact on their divorce, but eventually led to his hanging himself. Kay knew she needed a sure foundation for her life and turned to God and His Word for direction. She now has made it her mission to point others to God’s Word, too.