Prepared by John E. Marshall
John 6:16-21 (Holman) When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid. But He said to them, AIt is I. Don=t be afraid!@ Then they were willing to take Him on board, and at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading.
John=s Gospel records none of Jesus= parables. Instead, the miracles serve as parables. Literal events communicate moral and religious truths. Through the events of our text, the disciples were reminded again, whatever troubles they have to face in life, Jesus will be there to help them.
They had just undergone a mountain top experience. On such occasions, we would like to linger in the glow awhile, but after the sun-shine of comfort expect a storm. Elijah on Carmel was soon followed by Elijah under the Juniper tree.
In times of calm, prepare for trouble. It is inevitable and can arise with little advance warning. When trouble arrives, we need to remember three truths illustrated by this incident.
First, Jesus always comes. He had been away from the disciples, on a hillside praying and communing with God. When Jesus saw them having difficulty, He came down to them.
He was not so absorbed in prayer that He forgot them. True prayer always makes us more conscious of others.
Jesus does not watch us with unmoved detachment. When life seems too much to bear He comes to us, and brings strength necessary for us to overcome. Never and nowhere do they wait in vain who wait on the Lord. He always comes.
Jesus often draws nearest to us on the stormiest seas. Sorrow does not necessarily drive us farther away from Him, but rather can draw Him nearer to us.
Jesus said, AI am with you always, to the end of the age@ (Matthew 28:20). We may sometimes feel deserted, but Jesus is with us at all times. The wonder of Christian living is, we are never left alone to do anything.
The encouragement for the disciples not to fear followed Jesus= words, AIt is I.@ Once our hearts realize Jesus has come, confidence floods in.
Any stormy trouble we face is never as substantial as Jesus. The waves are not near as real as the Christ who stands on them. They pass away and become quiet, but He abides forever.
In our troubles, the Lord always comes. As we embrace this and fully understand His love, we can say with David, AGod is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil@ (Psalm 46:1-3).
Second, Jesus has power. He who had turned water into wine now turned water into pavement.
Christ truly was AThe Prophet,@ superior even to Moses. Moses parted the waters, Jesus walked on water. The Lord has power over laws and customs of nature. He controls them all.
This marvelous feat proved our Lord to be King over a kingdom larger and more profound than what the shouting crowd wanted to force on Him. His display of power was so awesome that He caused more of a stir than the storm did. According to the other three Gospels, the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost. They were more afraid of Him than of the storm.
Our Helper has power when we face difficulties. This strength is what we want. We need dependable aid, Someone who has enough power to help us.
Jesus let the Twelve=s extremity become His opportunity. Jesus= power is so great that He uses hardships, troubles, and oppositions we face as means of achieving His purposes. He turns to His advantage circumstances totally antagonistic to His purposes. He uses even head-winds to fill the sails.
By a divine irony, Christ=s enemies often become helpers of His cause. What they plot for destruction often becomes an instrument of overwhelming victory. Haman=s gallows, Jesus= cross, and this raging storm became opportunities to display God=s power.
Jesus turned even His temporary absence to a benefit. By absenting Himself through part of the storm He made Himself much dearer to the disciples. His being away became another aid in helping them value His Presence above everything.
Third, Jesus often tarries. AJesus had not yet come to them@ was the worst thing that could happen to these disciples, and they knew it. Without Him they were helpless.
Since Jesus had helped them out of a similar predicament once before, they were probably wondering where He was. They may have been harboring hard thoughts toward Him, especially since He was the One who had forced them into the boat (Mark 6:45).
However, He had not forgotten them. Up on the hill Jesus had been watching their plight. The disciples could not see Jesus, but Jesus saw them. The darkness only hid Him from them, not them from Him. When we face trouble Jesus is looking.
Jesus saw them, but did not come immediately. He does not make life too easy for us.
He is like a parent watching a child try to unravel a difficult task. The child must be allowed to learn, grow, and handle difficulties. Jesus often lets us struggle through difficulties in order to develop in us character.
None of us should see our troubles as some kind of sinister, evil plot against us. We should not see ourselves as mistreated. Even the Apostles faced repeated traumas.
A law of life is, we face constant demands and conflicts. Trouble is not the exception, but the rule. AMan born of woman is short of days and full of trouble@ (Job 14:1).
In the other three Gospels, when Jesus entered the ship, the storm ceased, and the voyage ended. These two go together. For believers, the storms never fully cease until the voyage of life reaches its final harbor.
Life is a voyage with plenty of troubles. But with Christ on board, life takes on a pleasant spirit. In the presence of Jesus the longest journey is shorter, the hardest battle easier. He keeps us from shipwreck, calms us in the storms, and will bring us to the haven.