Summary: Life preservers for the storms of life based on Christ’s miracle of walking on the water.
(NLT) When the people saw this miraculous sign, (the feeding of the 5,000) they exclaimed, "Surely he is the Prophet we have been expecting!" 15 Jesus saw that they were ready to take him by force and make him king, so he went higher into the hills alone.
16 That evening his disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. 17 But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed out across the lake toward Capernaum. 18 Soon a gale swept down upon them as they rowed, and the sea grew very rough. 19 They were three or four miles out when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them, "I am here! Don’t be afraid." 21 Then they were eager to let him in, and immediately the boat arrived at their destination!
We’re continuing in the series on the encouraging conversations Jesus engaged in before performing the seven "sign" miracles of John’s Good News account. In this week’s account John doesn’t include much of a conversation, but we do read the very encouraging words from Jesus to his disciples, "I am here! Don’t be afraid." But before the story arrives at these reassuring words of Jesus – there is the storm to consider.
John tells us that Jesus perceived that the multitude that had just been miraculously fed with a little boy’s lunch had mistakenly decided that it was time for him to be made king. In order to keep this misconceived plot from hatching Jesus retreated further up into the hills.
In the meantime Jesus instructs his disciples to get on a boat and head for the other side of the lake. Instead of experiencing the joy of his kingdom, Jesus chooses rather to let them experience the storm in the darkness.
Christ takes refuge on the mountaintop – and sends his followers to face the storm without him! Why did Jesus intentionally send his followers into a storm? Why doesn’t God keep you from storms? What can you do to weather the storms of life?
Based on this story, consider three life preservers for the storms:
1. Hold tight to the plan and purpose of God.
We know that the storm was Christ’s plan for his disciples because of what the Scripture tells us.
Matthew 14:22 (NLT) …Jesus MADE his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake.
We’ve been talking about this some in this series. Last week with the feeding of the 5,000 for instance, we saw that God always has a plan. The disciples, like us, didn’t always know what to do. God does always know what to do. That’s one of several great reasons we should follow his instructions implicitly.
If God says, "Get in the boat," you can get in the boat with confidence! If God says, "Go to the other side of the lake", you need to go to the other side of the lake, even if you don’t understand the reasons for God’s instructions. There are times when all you need to know is that, if God instructs you to take a certain course of action, then he has a plan and a purpose whether you fully comprehend it or not.
Jesus not only wanted his followers on the other side of the lake. He also wanted them to learn to weather the storm.
But why? Why would he want them to feel the fatigue of rowing for hours against the wind, the discomfort of being soaked by the waves, and the discouragement of not making any progress? That doesn’t seem to fit our theology of Christ. We know that he came to give us rest from our heavy burdens. (Mt. 11:28) Why would he deliberately send us into situations where the circumstances make us miserable?
You need to realize what storms can do for you:
a. Storms can actually protect you.
Think about it. If the disciples had stayed on shore they would have been infected with the polluted thinking of the shortsighted multitude. They would have been in the presence of the politically correct crowd that wanted to make Christ king for their own personal benefit. They were so bent on this plan that they followed Jesus across the lake the next day.
John 6:25-26 (Msg) When they found him back across the sea, they said, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" 26 Jesus answered, "You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs – and for free."
Jesus was indeed the Prophet the people had been expecting. He was the Messiah. They got that part right. What they misunderstood was the timeline of Messiah’s work. Before the Lord’s Anointed One would rule as king he would first have to suffer and die for the sins of the people. They skipped over the Old Testament passages that dealt with the suffering of the Savior and emphasized only his reign as king.