"The Challenge Of The Coming Of Christ"
Contributed by Norris Harris I on Nov 28, 2002 (message contributor)
Summary: The Post-Easter Appearances of Christ challenge us to take our faith-walk to a different level.
Perhaps, it is in between the Crowds, between Sunday and Sunday, that Quality and Quantity of our Faith and Walk with the Lord is most often Measured and Manifested for its Authenticity. Because some of us, who are serious about our growth in spiritual maturity, endeavor to put into practice those Kingdom Principles on Monday thru Saturday which we heard proclaimed from the pulpit on Sunday. And somewhere in between the Sunday of our hearing and the approaching Sunday of our time of refreshing, A Storm Arises in which we have to engage in “the good fight of faith”; the quality and quantity of our faithful walk with the Lord is manifested and measured.
And that is significant because Matthew-Levi calls our attention to that self-same fact by the way he arranges the sequential order of this episode. For Matthew places this entire scene between a Crowd and a Crowd. In the verses immediately preceding our text, verses 15-21, Jesus has just miraculously fed a Crowd of well over 5,000 folk, demonstrating to His disciples in their presence that He Cares and that He is able to Provide. And Immediately following our text beginning at verse 34 and ending at verse 36, Jesus heals all of the sick in that huge Crowd of folk on the other side of the Sea, demonstrating again that He Cares and gets involved in the hurts of humans. So this entire scene, set between a Crowd and a Crowd, involves only Jesus and His disciples.
And that is significant because ordinarily the miracles of Jesus are for others, for those who come in need seeking His help. The disciples are involved in such miracles usually as witnesses and sometimes as helpers as in the feeding. But in our text, these disciples are recipients, beneficiaries of a miracle, which is very unusual in the Gospels. Jesus and His disciples are alone, and in the context of this interim of aloneness, His Helpers are recipients of a miracle.
And that is important because as it relates to the Crowds on Sundays, a segment of the Church is always engaged in Ministry; helping seekers, healing hurts, offering assurance and encouragement, engaged in the ministry of prayer, serving at the tables of distribution, ministering thru songs of praise and ministering the Word. And so, they very rarely get ministered unto on Sundays because they are engaged in ministering to the Crowds. Very rarely on Sundays in the Crowds are they themselves recipients of a miracle; they are usually witnesses and instruments of miracles. And so, in between the Crowds and in between Sundays, they require the special attention of Jesus one-on-one; they require His personal care and provision.
And so in the interim, between the Crowds, the disciples were under orders to precede Jesus to the other side. So they get in a boat without Jesus; a storm arise overwhelming and threatening them; and then Jesus comes to them walking on the water.
Perhaps in our text, the disciples are reminded that they, too, have Needs; that they, too, still have Fears, Doubts and Inadequacies. Perhaps they are reminded that they are in reality Disciples on the way to Becoming Disciples; and as such, they too needed to experience the power of Christ’s presence.
And so, it becomes significant for those of us who are on the way to becoming disciples; those of us who, in between the Crowds on Sundays, recognize that we too have needs, even fears, doubts and inadequacies in that our faith is insufficient in the storms of life; because our Text reminds us that Jesus Does Come and Will Come To Us. In between the Crowds and in between Sundays, we need to hear that Jesus Still Shows Up; there are still Epiphanies, Appearances of Jesus in between the Crowds and Sundays; because thru the week the quality and quantity of our Faithful Walk with the Lord is most often Manifested and Measured!
And that is significant for us to remember because Matthew’s proposition seems to be that when the Church at large or Individual Saints are being Harassed to the point of being in Danger, Jesus Comes! Notice what Matthew writes in verses 24 and 25: “But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.” I am not suggesting that Jesus will leave the right hand of the Father and come in bodily form; but I am suggesting that He Will show Up in some providential manifestation.
When hostile elements, forces, powers or people oppose us in doing the will of God, Jesus Will Come: the gates of Hades shall not prevail against His church! In verse 24 Matthew chose to use the Greek participle which means “to Harass, Trouble, Agitate, Toss.” Being in the world but not of it, we can expect to be harassed, troubled, agitated and tossed about. The harassment can be Verbal, Sexual, Economic, Racial, Physical or Mental. But whatever form it may take and whenever our boat is being harassed, troubled, agitated or tossed, Jesus Comes! For Matthew says in verse 25 “Jesus went to them walking on the sea.”