John 6:15-21 & Matthew 14: 23-36
Life is a voyage, and although there can be many good memories made, sometimes with traveling comes storms and danger. We need to take Christ on board the ship with us. Hebrews tells us that He is the Captain of our Salvation. Hebrews 2:10 says: “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. ”The miracle of the stormy sea can be repeated many times in the life of the believer. There is a Sunday School song we sing that encourages us. “With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm… as we go sailing home.”
This story before us is simply the story of a journey featuring Jesus and his disciples. In the account in Matthew 14 Peter takes the focus. Most trips can be taken in three parts, leaving, traveling and then arriving at the destination and this is the way that we will look at this event in the life of Jesus.
In John 6:15-16 we read, “ 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. And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,” Jesus had just fed the five thousand and they now desired to make him their king- Christ departs unto a mountain to be alone. The disciples head out to sea on a dark night. They head out onto the sea of Galilee trying to get away from the crowds. Jesus has just taught and fed 5000 people a satisfying meal with only 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Jesus knew it wasn’t his time to be king. His time hadn’t come yet, it wasn’t His reigning time.
After looking at the disciples embarking on their journey we can now look at their traveling time, sailing on the sea of Galilee. What we call the sea of Galilee is actually a big lake, it is freshwater. The lake is surrounded by mountains and very often storms come hurdling down from the heights and crash into this lake and as the darkness descends and the waters thrash it makes for a difficult voyage. The wind that was upon the lake on this day was powerful and contrary.
The disciples were struggling and working hard on the oars, they had been fighting the waves until 3 o’clock in the morning (Matt 14:25- “… And in the fourth watch of the night…”) and they had only covered about 3 1/2 miles (John 6: 19- “So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs)
In the grey dawn, there comes a distant form – the disciples aren’t sure who or what this could be. Is it a ghost or a specter more awful than the storm? When the image speaks it speaks above the wind and the rain, He speaks above the raging tempest. The voice that the disciples hear is in a tone that gives them comfort. The masters voice calls them and it is a welcome sound to their ears. “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid. (Matt. 14: 27). These words of the Master drives away all doubt and fear.
Peter is so thrilled he wants to step out of the boat and go to meet the master. Jesus answers Him simply, “Come.” (Matt. 14:29) Peter steps over the side of the boat in triumph, until he spots a tempestuous wave. His focus has changed and as he looks at the waves, he’s taken his eyes of Jesus and he’s going down. “Lord, save me!
The Lord reaches down and extends His hand and saves Peter. The Lord rebukes Peter in verse 31 “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” . After this rebuke they returned to the ship and the wind ceased. (Psalm 77:19 & 107:29)
Before it can be told the disciples find themselves on dry land (Psalm 107:30)- what a series of miracles. The story and the setting are significant. The bread he fed the multitude with was His body , the mountain turns our thoughts to the Lord’s ascension and the disciples represent all of us in the turmoil of this life. One day we will land on that distant heavenly shore, after a life long journey filled with unexpected ordeals that we can only handle by giving our lives to the Saviour, Jesus Christ.
By: Brian McKibbin