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Sun am 2nd August 2015 – Kobus Swart
Matt. 14:22-33; (Phil. 2:5-9); Mark 6:45-52; (Jer. 1:5); (Ps. 139:13); John 6:16-21
Let’s look at some very relevant principles in the following story of Jesus and His disciples…
Immediately He made (=compelled) the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side (Matt 14:22). We always want Jesus to go ahead of us, or with us. There are times when He would simply instruct you to go ahead. After He had sent the crowd away He went up to the mountains by Himself to pray, it was evening He was there alone (Matt 14:23). The time that He told the disciples to go and get in the boat it was still day time. But the boat was already a considerable long way from the land, battered by the waves for the wind was contrary. During the fourth watch (between three and six in the morning) of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. In normal circumstances it took people who knew the lake between two and three hours to row to the other side of the lake. The disciples got into the boat, they were rowing through the afternoon into the night and in the fourth watch they were still battling the wind. They were only half way through the lake. What would you have done if you were in that boat and you were the murmuring and complaining type? You would have thought, “Why did He tell us to go in the first place? Why did He not get in the boat with us?” You are either walking in God’s plan for your life or Satan’s plan. There is nothing in between. People misunderstand walking in the master plan of God; people think that if I walk in God’s master plan for my life; in works before-hand planned for my life (Ephes 2:10), it will always go well. Some even think that if it is not going well, it is the devil. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He compelled them to get in the boat. Interestingly enough Jesus went away to pray. In the fourth watch of the night He came to them walking on the sea (Matt. 14:25). Jesus was on earth in heaven (John 3:13). Jesus could change dimensions any given moment, but He never considered equality with God something to be grasped, but instead humbled Himself taking on the role of a bonds servant (Phil 2:5-9).
Jesus demonstrated something as the Pattern Son that He was not trapped in time and space. He could walk out of that dimension in any moment. Walking on the water demonstrated only one ability; He could do so much more. He did not have to walk on water but it caught Peter’s attention. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified, ‘it is a ghost’ they said and cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus said to them, ‘Take courage! It is I am, do not be afraid. ‘Lord, if it is you’ Peter replied, ‘command me to come to You on the water’ (Matt. 14:28). He wanted to make sure it was not a ghost calling him. It is important before you step out in faith and do something out of the ordinary that you make sure, “Lord if it is You, call me and I will come, command me”. Peter played it very safe and he did it correctly. Jesus did not first silence the storm and then call Peter to come. No, the ocean was still raging, the wind was still blowing. Peter got out of the boat and walked on that same stormy sea. When he looked at the waves, fear gripped his heart and he sank. He took his eyes off Jesus. This is our biggest challenge.
Jesus did not first quiet the storm, winds and waves. He said, “Do not fear, I am”. Under those circumstances Peter got out of his boat, brave and wonderful Peter, until he took his eyes off the Lord. Like so many of us that go through the storms of this life, it would be so easy to take our eyes off the Lord and go into fearful activity, withdrawal or rebellion. But when he saw the wind he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out Lord save me! Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him and said to him ‘You of little faith’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?’. And when they climbed into the boat the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him saying, ‘truly you are the Son of God’ (Matt. 14:30-33). When they got into the boat the wind stopped. The storm will stop when Jesus gets into your situation, your “boat”. The disciples should have had more faith by this time after seeing the miraculous multiplication and breaking of bread (Matt. 14:13-21).
Mark looks at the same story from a slightly different angle.
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side of Bethsaida. (Mark 6:45). Here Mark agrees Jesus compelled them to get into the boat. He knew the storm was coming. Then Jesus saw them … straining at the oars, for the wind was against them. At about the fourth watch of the night He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and *said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened (Mark 6:45-52).
Have you never experienced the touch of God supplying your need; coming faithfully onto the scene when you need Him? Yet our hearts do not soften up enough so that we do not fear the next time we are in trouble, but rather, we believe. How many times are we compelled to get in the boat and Jesus says “Go ahead of Me”, even though there is a storm coming? Financial issues, relational issues, health issues all of these realms are full of traps even for us believers.
John highlights another part of the same story.
The journey could have taken only two to three hours, but they were stuck in the middle of the lake (only half way!) for many hours due to the storm. Yet they did not turn around to go with the wind but they continued forward against the wind. We have to be committed to going ahead to the other side, yet something has to change: Jesus has to get into the boat. Then they were willing to take him into the boat and immediately the boat reached the other shore where they were heading (John 6:21). I have this passionate cry for the Christ in us, the hope of glory, to come to full stature. Creation is in travail to see the Son in the sons. We are so conditioned by the limitations in our lives in terms of time and space. Jesus demonstrated that we do not have to be time or earth-bound. Jesus was not a ghost. He was flesh and blood but He walked on water. He walked in the fourth dimension. He demonstrated something; when He got into the boat, time collapsed. The second half of the journey took NO time!
That should be our drive, our passion, our focus, to see Christ come to full stature in us. Start there and get Him into your boat, the boat of your life, your circumstances, your challenges, your storms and winds. Walking in His master plan is not without storms.
You know it is going well when you grow in your faith and your intimacy with God; when you are challenged and stirred from the inside and there is a cry in your heart for a closer relationship with God. When it goes too well with you, the hunger after God gets less. Do not accept the limitations imposed by the enemy or things will go on and on with no change. God is waiting for us to take His promises seriously and be willing to go against the wind; not to quit, not to get tired, not to give up, but to go forward in the Name of the Lord. Knowing that somewhere on this journey He will get into the boat and delay will be no longer (Rev 10:6).
Let us make sure, and not go anywhere without Him in our “boat”.