Summary: When a person is born again, they are like a newborn baby. The disciples were really no different. They had a lot of growing up to do in just a short period of time, and all through the Gospels, Jesus grew them and nurtured them. He purposely put them in
We all know what happens when a person is born again, right? The very instant that we’re born again, we’re automatically fully mature Christians, right? We’re able to handle anything the devil and the world has to throw at us, right? We have all of the wisdom, experience, knowledge that we need, right? Of course not. When a person is born again, they start off just like a little baby. They start off very helpless and completely dependent on the hovering, loving, nurturing protection of the One who gave him life. The disciples were really no different. They had a lot of growing up to do in just a short period of time. It wasn’t too long before our passage this morning, that they first began to follow Jesus. But all through the Gospels, Jesus grew them. He nurtured them. He encouraged them and taught them. He didn’t keep them as newborn babies. He purposely put them in situations that would test their faith. And as they passed those tests, their faith grew. Sometimes their faith even grew when they failed the test. Our passage this morning is the fifth sign that John records. Matthew and Mark also record it, but they add some details that John doesn’t include. We can combine the three accounts to come up with a fuller historical account, and we will do some of that. But John’s purpose wasn’t to give us a completely detailed historical account. As with all history in the Bible, it is completely accurate and true. But he doesn’t record every detail, because that’s not his purpose. John’s purpose in recording this sign is the same as his purpose for writing his Gospel. His purpose is to show us that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. And that we might believe in Him. And that when we believe in Him, we will have life through His name. That’s John’s purpose in writing his Gospel. And that’s his purpose in recording this sign. This sign shows that Jesus is God because He has complete control over the universe that He created. When we combine the accounts of this event in Matthew, Mark and John, we can see that there were actually four miracles that took place. First, Jesus walked on the water. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to do that, but if you have, you will quickly realize that it’s impossible. A man named William Barklay wrote a set of commentaries that was very popular in the ‘50s. The problem was, he didn’t believe in miracles. So he spent most of his commentaries explaining away the miracles. In his comments on this passage, he said that Jesus didn’t really walk on the water. The disciples were just rowing their boat really close to the shore. Jesus was walking on the shore, and because it was dark and stormy, they just thought He looked like He was walking on the water. That’s just plain silly. The fact is that Jesus defied the laws of gravity that He created in the first place. He defied the principles of buoyancy that He created in the first place. Jesus walked on water. But not only did Jesus walk on water, Matthew records that Jesus called Peter out of the boat to walk on the water too. And as long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus and not on the waves, he was able to miraculously walk on the water too. That was the second miracle that happened there. Matthew and Mark both record the third miracle. When Jesus and Peter got back into the boat, the wind immediately stopped. It was such a sudden change that Mark 6:51 says, “and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.” This wasn’t just a slight change in the weather. It wasn’t like things just calmed down when the storm passed by. This was instantaneous. Immediately from gale force winds to glass. Have you ever been in the kind of storm that as soon as you go inside and shut the door, your ears are ringing from the noise? I imagine that happened to the disciples. If they were in mid-sentence shouting at the top of their lungs so they could hear each other—then they could instantly go to a whisper. There was no doubt in their mind that another miracle had happened. But one more happened too. John is the only one who records this one. We just read it in verse 21. Look at it again. “Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.” Remember how far verse 19 says that they had rowed? 25 or 30 furlongs. A furlong is an old English measurement that they used to translate the Greek measurement, “stadia”. It converts to about 3 ½ miles. The disciples had been rowing most of the night into a horrible headwind—probably about nine hours—and had only gotten that far. And that was not even halfway to where they were heading. And then as soon as Jesus got in the boat, the wind immediately stopped and they didn’t have to row anymore. They didn’t have to row anymore, because they immediately were where they were going. Not really, really, speedboat fast—immediately. Another obvious miracle. Four in a row. Unmistakable, unexplainable, unrequested miracles. The question is, why? Why did Jesus go through all of that? There wasn’t a crowd of people watching. The only unbeliever around was Judas. The other 11 were already believers. Jesus wasn’t trying to convince them to believe. So why would He perform this great sign? Because Jesus knew that His disciples were newborns. They were newborns who needed to grow in their faith. In Mark’s account, after he says that the disciples “were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered,” he says, “For they considered not the miracle of the loaves, for their heart was hardened.” Remember that they had just witnessed Jesus feed 15-20000 people with five loaves and two fish. But their faith was still small. Jesus knew that it still needed to be grown and encouraged. So Jesus encouraged their faith in the best way that it can be encouraged. He encouraged it in a test. And He does the same thing with us. How does Jesus encourage our faith? The same way He did with the disciples. He puts us in the right place. He prepares us for the right position. And He presents us with the right person.