The story of the disciples encountering a storm as they crossed the Sea of Galilee after the feeding of the five thousand is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John. For this message we will consider John, borrowing a few lines from Mark 6:45-52 and Psalm 107:23-32. It can be considered that true Christians are basically spiritually experiencing today what the disciples did as they encountered a late night storm on the sea of Galilee. From John 6:15-21 we will see five things that actually apply to us today.
I. The Task 16b-17a
“…His disciples went down unto the sea, And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum.”
Mk. 6:45 – “And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.”
Our passage depicts our time when Jesus is “physically away” and we, by trust in Him, have a job to do in this world, which is represented by the sea. Our job is to stay on course and to get to the other side despite the sea (world) we are in. In other words, once we commit and surrender to Christ, we need to endeavor to stay on that path until we leave this world either by death or the rapture of the Church.
Given the data found in the Gospels (John speaks of “toward Capernaum” and Mark states “unto Bethsaida”), it seems like the disciples were traveling NW departing from the east side of the Sea of Galilee aiming for a point between Capernaum and Bethsaida. Christ, of course, knew a storm was coming and they would be sailing against the storm. However, He made them get into a boat with the focus of going to the other side of the sea (what some North Americans might call a lake).
For us, Christ has physically gone into heaven, but He left us with a number of things to do, the most important and foundational being to finish the course set before us by His grace. Surely fishing (rescuing souls) is another task we have, but unless we stay on course ourselves, all other tasks will fail.
II. The Time 16a & 17b
“16a And when even was now come … 17b …And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.”
Mk. 6:48 – “Now about the fourth watch of the night “
Obviously it was late at night, and given the watch time mentioned in Mark we can figure anywhere from 3 to 6AM. Personally, I do not think that the incident occurred at dawn although it could have very well occurred just before dawn, which is something for us to lovingly ponder.
What I mean is, ask yourself are we not living in some terribly dark spiritual times? It seems like almost every moral value we adhered to at the start of the 1900s has been inverted. Does it not seem like the whole world is more violent and divisive? Here in the U.S.A I have never seen such an amount of anger, distrust and more in the past sixty years as I see now.
Most true Christians hope for the soon rapture of the Church where the dead in Christ are first raised then we who remain join them to meet Christ, all in a split-second moment (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). For many of us our hopes are strong because after almost 2,000 years of geographical non-existence Israel is back on the map since May 1948. This sets the stage for the literal fulfillments of prophecies that mention the third Temple. This means the Great Tribulation is due to come to pass, but it also means the dawn of a new day, the Millennial Reign Of Christ on earth.
Despite that it is presently very spiritually dark, Christ has not returned. However, knowing the Holy Scriptures we are now considering, we know He sees us and will return precisely when the Father says He should. While that is true, we can also get from the Gospel passages that He will enter “our boat” when we diligently seek and earnestly desire Him.
III. The Tempest (of the world) 18
“And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.”
Psalm 107:25-26b “For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. 26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths…”
God has certainly set the times for the nations of the world and has told us through His Son and prophets what will happen in the latter days of the “Age of the Gentiles.” The disciples had no idea that a storm would arise and the sea would be in tumult. However, thanks to the written Word of God we generally know what is ahead.
IV. The Temptation 19
“So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.”
Ps. 107- 26 “Their soul melts because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end.”
With the world in unrest and the fact that it is getting very spiritually dark the devil would just love that not only the unsaved but also the redeemed to cave-in to fear. There is a pull upon some, if not all, true Christians to either just give up – floating downstream like a dead fish, or just go with the current, or be sucked into some whirlpool, all motivated by fear. We are being asked, even demanded at times, to violate our conscience, or turn a blind eye to sin, or blend in and be politically correct, or jump into the latest controversy, or just plain shut up.
In the previous point I said God told us what is ahead. Christ also promised that He would not leave nor forsake us, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). We need to tightly cling to that promise.
If we fail to do this and succumb to fear, we may eventually acquire the spiritually drunken stupor of those who do not fully trust in Christ.
V. The Triumph 20-21 & 15
“But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. 21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.”
Ps. 107-28 “Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses.”
If Christ dwells within we need to by faith commit to the fact that from within He says to us, “It is I; be not afraid.” He must be in our “boat” and we must not only keep Him in our “boat” but make Him truly Captain of our salvation so we, indeed, reach the other side.
He must be Captain for He is our very triumph. Verse 15 reads, “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” As you see, just after the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 some were going to force Him to be King. He did not give in to the will of men, but was totally dedicated to the will of the Father. He had a task and He victoriously finished it. Now, if we have Christ within as Captain, we can travel through this world and reach the other side.
This article is a form of a message (sermon) outline. God willing, you will find links to the actual message (sermon) sometime hopefully by February 22, 2013 at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M232 .
Holy Scripture is from the 1769 Authorized Version.
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