Summary: The disciples weren't afraid of the storm. And they weren't really afraid of Jesus. What was it that they were afraid of that day? And what did Jesus do to deal with their fear?
I once read the story of a man who was hitch hiking on a very dark night in the middle of a storm. It was late at night and no cars were passing. The storm was fierce and the winds strong he could hardly see a few feet ahead.
Suddenly, he saw a car coming towards him and stop. Without further thought, he got in the back seat of the car and the car began to slowly began to make its way down the road. But when he looked up front to thank the… he realized THERE WAS NOBODY behind the wheel.
Just then he noticed that the car was headed for a curve but just before the car reached the curve,
a hand appeared through the window and slowly turned the steering wheel. He closed his eyes and began to pray… and when he opened his eyes again he saw that the car was approaching another curve. And again a hand appeared and steered the car around the curve.
Filled with fear, he leaped from the car and ran for his life. Before long he saw a diner alongside the road and shaking from the cold and from his fear he ordered a hot cup of coffee. As he drank his coffee he told anyone who’d listen about the horrible experience he’s just been thru.
A silence hung over the diner as the man began to weep.
About half an hour later, two guys walk into the same diner… and one says to the other,
"Hey Bob, isn’t that the guy who jumped into the car when we were pushing it down the road?"
Now, who did that hitch-hiker THINK was driving that car? (Ghost) Keep that in the back of your mind for now as we consider a little background on our story this morning. It’s retold in Matthew, Mark and John.
The disciples have been out on the Sea of Galilee headed for home. And it’s been a rough night. They’ve been rowing hard against a stormy sea for several hours and now it’s about 3 in the morning.
The day before was when Jesus had fed the 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and we’re told that after that miracle, Jesus “…made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.” Mark 6:45-46
The Gospel of Matthew tells us a little more about this incident: … “the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night (3:00 a.m.) he came to them, walking on the sea.
But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. Matthew 14:24-26
Matthew goes on to tell us the story about how Peter asked Jesus if he could come walk on the water too… and Jesus said “Well, come on out.” And Peter actually walked on the water himself… but when he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the wind and waves… he began to sink.
But this morning - we’re not going to talk about that part of the story. For some reason, God left Peter’s experience out of this Gospel. Apparently there’s something else here that God want us to see. Something about the idea of fear of the unknown.
I. In fact that’s the one fact that stands out in this story. The disciples were afraid.
The Gospels of Mark and Matthew say that WHEN they saw Jesus they thought they were seeing a ghost. Now why would they think He’s a ghost?
Well… because nobody walks on water! In fact NOBODY should be here… unless they’re in a boat! But this person is walking ON the water. That’s not normal… that’s not supposed to happen. It’s a miracle… but they’re not prepared to see a miracle.
Lots of folks aren’t prepared to see miracles.
ILLUS: About 10 years ago, a physicist and Templeton Prize winner named Paul Davies found - in the laws of nature - tentative evidence for design (i.e. he had apparently found evidence for an intelligent designer - God) but then he said: “As a physicist, I feel very uncomfortable with a God who intervenes” in human affairs.
What’s he saying? He says he’s not prepared to see miracles. Why? Because he rejects the idea of a supernatural power that would have the power to change the laws of nature he IS comfortable with.
ILLUS: But (of course) he’s not the only one to have ever rejected the idea of God intervening.