Scripture Text: John 6
INTRODUCTION: Did you know that there is a feat that, according to every report in history, only two men have ever done? Maybe that question may raise other questions. Is this feat something others probably could do, but they never considered it worth the time and effort? No, no one else could do it, and I’ve never heard of anyone who wouldn’t want to do it. Well, was it a thing worth doing, or important enough to know about? I would tell you, yes, it is something very important for more than one reason. It is a great encouragement to people who need help, and it is very glorifying to God. So, what is it? It is walking on water. Only Jesus Christ and His disciple, Simon Peter did it, but the fact they did is worth a lot to the rest of us in the world and tonight I’ll explain why.
Our Wed. night messages have been taken from the Gospel of John. And the story of Jesus walking on water is found in John 6:16-21. It is also found in Mark 6:45-52, and, the longest version is in Matt. 14:22-33. We’ll use John’s account as our study TEXT, but, as necessary, we will draw from the other passages for help.
I.THE PHYSICAL CONTEXT OF THE EVENT. (Jn. 6:17, Mk.6:45, Matt. 14:34,)
READ 6:16-17 (Context puts everything into perspective)
LOCATION: Tiberius, where the feeding of the 5,000 is about midway in the length of the lake on the Western (or Mediterranean) side. Bethsaida is a suburb of Capernaum to the NE about 6-7 miles. Gennesaret was about twice as far to the NE. Mk. 6:47 says “When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land.” Matt. 14:23-24 tells us, “When it was evening [Jesus was alone on the mountain].But the boat was already a long distance from the land
TIME: The Jewish night was divided into four (4) 3 hour watches , from 6 pm until 6 am. The fourth watch was between 3-6 am. So the event took place in the early morning while it was still dark and there was likely no other boat around them.
II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE DISCIPLES.
READ Jn. 6:18
A. A wind storm had come up. Mk. 6:48 says, “[they were” straining at the oars for the wind was against them.” Matt. 14:24 says, [the boat was] battered by the waves, for the wind was contrary.”
B. The disciples, were tired, having spent the day with Jesus, listening to His teaching and helping pass out food for 5,000, and then gathering it up again in 12 baskets. At the Lord’s command, they got into a boat and began to row toward the NE toward Bethsaida at Capernaum. About 1-3 miles out from the west shore and about 3-4 miles northeast. Not only were they tired, they found themselves in trouble. A wind storm had come up. Scholars say the wind often blows and can do so from most any direction. The Lake is the lowest freshwater lake in the world, about 700ft. below sea level, so all the wind blows downward, gathering strength, before it blows over the Lake. The hill country that lies on both east and west shores create “tunnels” from which winds can come, stirring up the water. The more violent storms come down from the Golan Heights in the North east. In the 1990’s a storm arose that blew 10’ high waves into the city of Tiberius. So, it can be quite dangerous. In any case, the disciples were being battered and fought against the wind blowing against their progress and causing the Sea to churn. Jesus standing behind and on the slope above Tiberius, could see their trouble. (Mk. 6:48, “[He was alone on the land]. Seeing them straining at the oars.”
III. THE LORD’S ACTION.
READ Jn. 6:19-21; Mk. 6:48-51; Matt.25-27.
- In the midst of their storm, Jesus came to them walking on the water. Three things happened: 1.) They were scared. Terrified (existanto, lit., “out of their minds,”) They thought He was a ghost, It is possible, they thought maybe Satan was fighting back! The Lord was not with them, thus they were vulnerable, not able to withstand a spiritual attack. Like so many of us, when we are close to the Lord, we feel confident, but without that closeness, we are spiritually imperceptive. It is hard for us to recognize the difference between positive spiritual experiences and negative spiritual experiences. Thus, we sometimes ignore the Spirit and/or, we invite evil spiritual input that confuse and mislead us.
2.) Jesus calmed them by saying, “Take courage; it is I. Do not be afraid.” We see the mercy of the Lord. He is calming them, bringing assurance to the troubled men. By the way, literally He said, “ego eimi“ = I am.”)
3.) In Matthew’s account (14:28-33), Simon Peter wanted to come to Jesus on the water, so Jesus said “Come!” Simon Peter stepped out and was walking, until he let his focus turn toward the wind and waves! He began to sink, because His faith had given way to fear. Even though Jesus was there, he could not remain faithful. Yet, as Peter began to sink, Jesus reached out and saved him.
4.) READ Mk. 6:51. They received Jesus into the boat and the wind immediately stopped. The storm was over. It could not resist the presence of the Lord
5.) They were immediately “at the land to which they were going.”
IV. THE LESSONS.
- There will come times we must deal with what seems like the Lord has left us alone. There are occasions when, it seems sudden, we feel like the Lord has left the room. Our prayers hit the ceiling and drop to the floor. We cannot see Him at work around us. It seems like we are walking on thin ice – or caught in a bad storm. Things go wrong or – they feel like they are about to grow wrong. Every believer experiences such times. Why? Because we must learn that just because we don’t see God or feel like He has forgotten us doesn’t mean it is true. ILLUS: If a parent tries to put a child to bed and the child throws a fit when the parent tries to walk out the door, that is the insecurity of immaturity. The mother is not deserting the child. She is just teaching the child he must trust her love even when she is not in the same room. The Lord has to teach us that just because we don’t have this constant “spiritual high,” that we are still loved and protected by Him. God sometimes lets us practice faith “from a distance.” That’s where the disciples were that night. That leads immediately to our second lesson.
- We are never out of God’s care. Notice that as the disciples struggled rowing against the wind, Jesus was fully aware of their situation! It doesn’t matter how alone or forgotten we believers may on occasion feel, we are never out of God’s sight. He knows where we are, what we’re doing, what we need, and how to help us.
- No matter how impossible it may seem, nothing can keep God from coming to our aid. Have you ever been in trouble in such a terrible way you thought that no one – not even Jesus – could help you? You were so deep in the pit, no one could reach down to pull you up. Or you were so ostracized from society, no one would even dare to associate with you. Or, just say, you were so far at sea, that no one could make his way to you!!! Surprise. Jesus doesn’t even need a boat, or a surf board, or even a floaty. He can reach you in any and every situation – even when it is humanly impossible.
- When Jesus helps you, He takes care of the whole problem. The disciples actually had more than one problem. They were tired. They were having to row hard and were running out of strength. The wind threatened to fill the boat with water. Then Jesus showed up, got in the boat – and they were immediately at their destination! No more rowing, no more wind or waves, no more fear, and time to rest and recover. Always remember, Jesus is at work on the whole problem, not just one little part. Keep the faith, don’t worry if it doesn’t look finished at first. Let Him work it out.CONCLUSION
I want to finish with a final question: why did Jesus walk on the water? Let offer several answers: He walked on the water because His beloved followers were in trouble. He walked on the water because they could not come to Him in their trouble. He walked on water because His friends were afraid and felt terribly alone. Finally, and certainly the most encouraging answer as to why Jesus walked on water. He walked on water because He could!