February 26, 2017
Servant King – Week 8 – Jesus Walks on the Water
Servant King – Week 8 – Jesus Walks on the Water
Last week we looked at Jesus in the height of his ministry. He teaches His disciples, the important of belief. Then he sends them out. They come back telling Him all the amazing things they did and then He does the biggest (as far as the number of people) miracle of His ministry. He just finishes feeding some where between 5000 and 20.000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. This is the height of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In fact we will see at the end of this message that after this people begin to leave.
Today we are going to look at probably the most famous of all of Jesus’ miracles (except for the feeding of the 5000) It is Jesus walking on the water. But here is the problem most of us know this story. Most of us have probably heard a bunch of sermons on this story before. Sometimes it is good to review old stories but there is a tendency to zone out and turn our brains off when we do that. But I believe that God always has something fresh and powerful for us each time we dive into the word together. So lets ask God to reveal something to us today that is fresh to our souls.
The miracle of Jesus walking on water is not just something biblical scholars and devout Christians know. It’s a story that almost everyone knows. In fact, it is something that has even reached into pop culture. I love magicians and one of the most amazing street magicians today is a guy named Chris Angel. He preforms this trick in his magic shows. But with Jesus, it is not a “trick”. Here’s the problem with famous miracles like this one. We tend to focus on the act itself. However, every time you read the Bible and see Jesus doing something amazing, you have to ask yourself why did Jesus do that?. Jesus had a purpose for everything that he did, including miracles. Now if I am honest, if I could do this I would do it to gain attention. In fact that is why magicians do the tricks they do. To gain a following, to wow people, to show off. But we find a completely different mindset form Jesus. When Jesus does a miracle, when Jesus feeds the 5000, when Jesus heals the sick, when Jesus walks on water he has a purpose. It is to teach us something. Thats why He calls them signs, they point us to truth. In fact, this miracle is only sens by the 12 of them. No big crowds not fan fair. There is something specific he is trying to teach.
How do I know that Jesus has a point he wants to teach in this? Because he set it up. Look at Mark 6 starting in vs 45
45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
Do you see that Jesus Made the disciples get into the boat. The word “made” there means to force with urgency. Jesus sent His friends across the lake when the storm winds were coming. Was the windstorm a surprise to Jesus? No. Of course it wasn’t! Jesus sent them into this storm for a reason. He wanted to test their faith, and teach them something about Himself that they didn’t know yet.
And look at what Jesus does. He sends the crowds away. That is counter intuitive. I am sure there were many who wanted to hang out and talk all night. Jesus send them away and instead go’s up on a mountain top to pray. Even Jesus takes time out of his busy and hectic schedule to spend quiet time with God.
47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land.
John tells us that the boat was over three miles out from the shore by this time (John 6:19). The disciples were out on the middle of a eight-mile wide lake. On a normal day, it would take four hours to row across it. But they are experiencing some issues.
48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.
There are a couple of thing here that I find fascinating, Mark tells us that Jesus could see the disciples from where He sat praying on the mountainside (Mark 6:48) IF I think about that that seem like Jesus has some really good eyesight but one commentator who visits the Holy land quite often tells us that when you are on the mountainside of Galilee you can see the entire sea from end to end. So Jesus looks out and sees them struggling. I have a kayak, and I like to fish from my kayak and I can tell you I have been caught in some winds at times. An it is hard to paddle against the wind. If you let up even the slightest you loose all momentum and it is that much harder to get going again. these guys are not in a one man kayak. They are in a boat that will fit about 12 or 13 people. In fact there was a discover back in the 1980 of a boat in the Sea of Galilee of a typical boat from Jesus time.
Shortly before dawn He went outvv to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them
The ESV says it this way… And about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them,
It was the fourth watch of the night, which means it’s between 3am and 6am. The disciples had set out right after dinner. Most likely they had been rowing for nearly eight hours and still found themselves in the middle of the lake.
They are exhausted from trying to do what Jesus wanted them to do. But even more than that, they are frustrated because all their own efforts and work are failing. Does this sound like anything you have ever experienced in your spiritual life? They are exhausted and frustrated and they see a figure floating across the lake.
49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
They think He is a ghost. They are terrified. Wouldn’t you be? I would be seriously freaked out by this time. But remember I told you at the beginning the problem we have is that we focus on the miracle too often and miss the meaning… Why was Jesus walking on water? Why was he doing this incredible miracle? What was he trying to teach them and us? Go back for just second to the last phrase in vs 48.
48b He was about to pass by them…. He meant to pass by them,(ESV)
What? What does that mean? Why would he intend on “passing them by”? That phrase seems strange. but to the Jewish ear this would have a powerful ring to it.
In order to hear this with Jewish ears lets look at
12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked,because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
When this phrase is used the Jewish ear would have heard Jesus was intending on showing them His glory. He was about to prove to them who He was. He was about to reveal His deity. See here is one of the major truths in this passage, They still didn’t know who Jesus was. They still didn’t get it. That should encourage us and scare us at the same time! Vs 52 says that they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
They understood Jesus miraculously broke the loaves so hungry people would be satisfied. They didn’t understand that Jesus Himself was the bread of life and He Himself must be broken so hungry souls would be satisfied. They understood Jesus had power, but didn’t understand He was power. They understood Jesus was from God, but didn’t understand Jesus Himself was God.
So they found themselves in danger. The external danger of the storm is just a picture of the internal danger of not really knowing Jesus. Their physical struggling and painful attempt to make headway through the storm was a picture of their spiritual struggle in trying to understand who Jesus really was.
That is a common danger we face today.
The disciples were always around Jesus, His teaching, and His kingdom work. However, they were still missing who He was. That is the danger we face. There is a way to always be around Jesus without ever really knowing Him.
Sunday worship service, Bible studies, missional communities are all good things. But, there’s a way for us to be around these good things without ever really getting to know the best thing, Jesus Himself.
The danger is maybe we’re serving Jesus and you know all about Him, but you don’t really know Him. In a very real way, we’re in the boat with the disciples, painfully trying to make headway from the storm.
The disciples were physically drained from rowing against the wind and waves. They were spiritually drained for having no categories for understanding who this person Jesus was. They were frustrated by trying to do the work Jesus called them too but not relying in the power He gave them to accomplish it with.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
3 simple phrases. Three powerful ideas.
Take courage… Literally… have confidence. You are right where I want you do int right what I want you to be doing. This is about trusting God with where you are right now.
It is I… literally “I AM” In this simple statement Jesus declare He is God! Ex 3:14 He is telling them who He is. This is THE LESSON that they needed to learn.
Do not be afraid. Stop operating in fear. I love the fact that Jesus sandwiches these ideas for trust and fearlessness with who He is. It is about Jesus.
We must realize that God calls us as His disciples to do what He calls to not because we feel ready or capable but because He is God. We must trust Him. We must not let fear set the agenda.
Often we approach our situations and say ‘Yes God, I know You can, and that you have done _________________, but my situation is different. I know you can do the impossible, but my situation is beyond impossible.” And Jesus lovingly walks on the water to us to show us HE IS GOD! But he doesn’t just stop there.
51 Then He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
He climbs in with us. His presence is right there. He wants to be part of your situation. He wants to be right there with you in the midst of it. They still struggled with this, all the way up to the resurrection. But they are beginning to get it. Jesus revealed His divinity to the disciples when they were unbelieving, when their hearts were hardened.
This is good news for us.
Sometimes we think the only way God is going to come near to us is when we’re living in perfect faith and obedience, if we’re having time in the Word everyday, sharing the gospel with others and not sinning.
Jesus will cross any barrier to meet with us. Not just when we’re living in obedience, but also when we’re in the darkest of times and struggles.
As the disciples were struggling with unbelief, they thought Jesus was impossibly far off. They knew He was with them the last time they were struggling against a storm, because He was sleeping in the boat. However, this time, they feared He was far off. It’s the same for us. Sometimes when we struggle, we know Jesus is right there with us. However, other times, we fear that He’s absent and impossibly far off.
The reality is that nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. He will walk on water to come to you. He does this to show you that there’s no barrier, no amount of shame or sin that will separate you from His love.
Jesus revealed His divinity by coming near to them. He walked on water, proclaimed His name, “I AM”, and then got into the boat with them.
No matter how hard life gets or what you’re struggling with, Jesus has walked on water for you. He has crossed that impossible barrier that separates you from him. He is the perfect high priest who can empathize with you in all of your weaknesses.
Not only that, but He has stepped into the boat with you.
53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
They arrive on the shore and it is back to ministry but now with a new understanding.
What happens to a person when Jesus reveals Himself in that way? John 6 tells us. When Jesus and his disciples finally make it to the shore, the people that have just been fed have walked across the lake and are waiting for them. Jesus tells them something very difficult. He says they didn’t come seeking Him because of who He was. Rather they came seeking Him because of what He did for them.. He tells them if they really want to follow Him, they have to believe and know that He is the true bread of heaven. Unless they eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, they can have no part of Him.
People refused to see Jesus as God. They walked away and He let them. The condition of the disciples out on the lake, not understanding the power of who Jesus was, was the same as the people who had previously walked away. But since they were His, He didn’t let them walk away. He walked on water and came to them.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spiritand life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Jesus met with His disciples on that stormy lake in such a way that caused those who once were hard of heart to be able to say, “Jesus, where else are we going to go?” It caused them, who were once unbelieving, to be able to believe.
If you’re in Christ, he will not let you go. He will come to you. Our security is not dependent upon our ability to never doubt or struggle, but His ability to walk on water and come to us over and over.
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