Summary: Expositional sermon on John 6:16-21


John 6:16-21

Have you ever gotten a pop quiz? It is the sudden, unexpected test which takes you by surprise. It isn’t like the final exam for which you spend the previous night cramming.

There is no warning. You walk into class and the professor says, "Take out a sheet of paper because you are going to be tested."

The disciples are about to get a pop quiz. They have just been through an incredible day. After sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing Him teach the multitude, they watched Him feed over 5,000 people with five bagels and two sardines.

This wasn’t done with mirrors. There was no trick photography involved. They felt the loaves of bread with their own hands as they passed them out to the multitude. And then they picked up twelve bags full of leftovers. That was the lesson of the day. It was a lesson in the power of Jesus and it was a lesson in His sufficiency. Now that they have been exposed to the lesson, it is time for the quiz. The quiz takes the shape of a strong wind.


Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. And it had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 And the sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. (John 6:16-18).

Jesus and His disciples had been on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples not board their boat and start across to the northwestern shore where the village of Capernaum is located. It is a distance of about five miles.

As we read this, we might come away with the impression that the disciples of Jesus abandoned Him and left Him stranded. This would be reading into the text something that is not there. To the contrary, Mark 6:45-46 makes it clear that the disciples were operating under the instructions of Jesus. He sent them away. Jesus told His disciples to do something and they did it. They were doing what Jesus told them to do in the right place and at the right time and they still found themselves in the middle of a storm.

Are you in a storm right now? You may be thinking to yourself, "Lord, what did I do to deserve this?" It may be that you have done nothing wrong. It is possible to be completely obedient to the Lord and to still find yourself in the middle of a storm.

If you are reading this passage and thinking that it is familiar, I want you to know that you are not alone. The disciples must have experienced a similar sense of deja vu. Though it is not mentioned in the Gospel of John, the other accounts make us to understand that this was not the first storm the disciples had encountered on the Sea of Galilee. They had been out here before, possibly in the same boat. They had come to this same spot on the lake and the boat had begun to sink. They woke up Jesus who had been sleeping in the back of the boat and He had stilled the storm.

Now they are here again. I can imagine Peter saying, "I know what to do! We’ll wake up Jesus and He can turn the storm off!" John answers, "Uhh Peter, we have a bit of trouble. We left Jesus back on the shore." And to make matters worse, John’s gospel tells us that they had taken the only boat.

What do you do when you are alone in the midst of the storm? You know that Jesus is aware of what you are going through. But look as you might, you can’t see Him.

I believe that there was something in the boat that should have comforted the disciples. There were 12 baskets of leftovers which bore mute testimony to the power and the compassion of God. When they looked at those 12 baskets, they should have realized that the God who provided for the needs of the multitudes would not fail to provide for them in the midst of this storm.

We are guilty of the same thing. We have been blessed by the Lord in an abundant way. But when the storm comes, we forget. That is why we are instructed to remind one another. The world says, "Drink and forget your troubles." Jesus says, "Drink and remember."


When therefore they had rowed about three or four miles, they beheld Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened. 20 But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." (John 6:19-20).

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