Summary: Even though we accept Christ and have faith, we still encounter storms.
A little background might be helpful in understanding our Gospel lesson this morning. Everywhere Jesus went multitudes of people have been following Him. Now remember, Jesus just suffered the loss of John the Baptist, His disciples had just returned from the mission trip He had sent them on. And He had attempted to get away with them by crossing the sea.
However, the crowds had followed them on foot and were waiting when they came ashore. Instead of turning them away or fleeing from them, Jesus had compassion for them and healed all the sick. Matthew tells us there were 5,000 men including women and children, so there were literally thousands of people present. When the first evening came, about 3:00 pm, Jesus performed the miracle of feeding them with 5 loaves of bread and two fish.
Now the second evening arrives, which would be around sundown and instead of providing shelter for the night, Jesus commands the disciples to get into the boat and head for the other side of the sea. He also dismisses the crowds and sends them on their way. What happen to the ever so compassionate Christ? What is the urgency to dismiss the people and get the disciples out of there? The answer is found in John 6:15 “When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.”
You see the Jewish people were looking for the promised Messiah and would have accepted Jesus as that Messiah, except for one thing. He did not fit the mold, He did not fit their idea of what the Messiah should be and do. They wanted a Messiah that would lead a revolt to overthrow the Romans and re-establish Israel to a Davidic type kingdom. Isn’t that just what some people do today, accept Christ but only on their terms? Jesus alone again, goes up into the mountain to pray, to recharge His batteries, and to spend time with the Father.
Meanwhile, the disciples, who were only following the Lord’s command, are between 3 and 3 ½ miles from land and they encounter a fierce storm. This is also a symbolism for us Christians today. Just because we accept Christ as our Savior, just because we do what is right, doesn’t mean we are promised fair and clear weather for the rest of our lives. By following Christ we will also encounter rough seas in life. Fair weather will be ours in eternity.
Shortly after the death of their daughter Robin, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans met a pale little boy who stuck out his hand and said, “Howdy, pahtnah!” He had been abandoned in a Kentucky motel, and was physically and mentally disabled. Roy and Dale adopted him, calling him Sandy in honor of his hair. He was bright-eyed and good-natured. During a Billy Graham Crusade, Sandy became a Christian.
Roy and Dale enrolled him in military school and he loved it. At seventeen, he enlisted in the army “to prove myself.” Sandy worked hard and won respect. He was sent to Germany, and then volunteered for Vietnam. “Put your faith in the Lord,” he wrote home, “because (as I have found out) he’s always around when you need him. All he asks in return is your devotion.”
Then one day, Dale Evans, returning from a trip, was met at the airport. “It’s Sandy, Mom. He’s dead.” Sandy had returned from 26 days of maneuvers, dog-tired. His buddies had taken him out for the night, needling him to “prove you’re a man.” Sandy, who couldn’t tolerate alcohol, had given in. They fed him hard liquor until he collapsed. He was found dead in his bunk the next morning.
Dale Evans survived the sorrow only by drawing strength from Scripture, particularly from Job 13:15. “Tragedy in a Christian’s life is a refiner,” she wrote. “God has not promised an easy way, but peace at the center of the hard way. The clouds of sorrow have been heavy, but I have reached the point of no return in my Christian experience, and with Job I can cry, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.’ ”
Sometime between 3 and 6 am, the fourth watch of the night, Jesus seeing the disciples in distress comes to them walking on the water. The disciples when they see Jesus are afraid and cry out. They think they are seeing some kind of a ghost! Can you just hear their teeth chattering and their knees knocking? I don’t know about you but I think I would have been afraid myself. Isn’t that just like us though? When we are in the mist of the storms of life, we fail to recognize Jesus.
One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I’ll catch you." He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you." But the boy protested, "Daddy, I can’t see you." The father replied, "But I can see you and that’s all that matters."