John 6, Part 2: A Troubling Storm
“Jesus, knowing that they intended to make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6: 15)
The people had decided this was the kind of king they wanted: one who would supply their material needs. Jesus withdrew from the crowd to prevent this from happening and sent his disciples by boat by across the lake to Capernaum. We are told in the passage: “By now it was dark and Jesus had not joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. (The KJV, states: ‘and the sea rose by reason of a great wind that blew.’) A sudden storm arose on the Sea of Galilee, in the dark of night and Jesus was not with them.
What a picture of life: storms which come into our lives in the darkness of night. Some storms are of our own making, others are those which Jesus has not only allowed, but sent us into. Mark tells us in Mark 6: “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to Bethsaida. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and He was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. “
Jesus had led them to middle of nowhere to teach them a lesson on a deserted mountaintop. There He would thank His Father in heaven and break the bread and feed 5,000 men all they could eat from the little boy’s lunch of 2 fish and five barley loaves. They had the leftovers in the boat with them, 12 baskets full. WE now understand the feeding of the 5,000 was the lesson, but the storm was the examination to see if they had learned the lesson.
Jesus comes walking to them on the water and we read ‘they were terrified.’ But He said to them, “It is I, fear not.” In Mark 6, we are told: “The wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves, their hearts were hardened.” Remember the area where Jesus had the people sit down to eat as was described in John 6: 10? “There was plenty of grass in that place…” Now He has caused the wind to cease the waters are still. “The Lord is my Shepherd, he leads me beside still waters, He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He restores my soul.”
Jesus had sent them into the storm. They were filled not only with the bread and the fish; they were filled with a sense of power, excited about the miracle. But a storm was just ahead. We have those days and nights when everything is perfect. We are ‘sailing along through life’ without any problems. Then a storm of adverse, troubling circumstances strikes like a sudden storm on the Sea of Galilee.
No wonder people today are so frightened by the physical hurricanes, the threat of war, while an economy teeters on the brink, and a government seems to be completely ineffective. It is dark and Jesus has not come into their lives. Nor do they know He is on the throne high above in heaven praying with His eye on the storm and those He loves. What an absolutely terrifying place to be- alone, in the dark, in the middle of trouble, without Jesus in your life.
What a comfort it is to hear his words: It is I, fear not.
The disciples we are told in the other gospels were straining at the oars. They were stuck in the middle of the sea. Could not seem to go forward and in the darkness could probably not see the shoreline behind them. They had plummeted spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally from the high of the day’s miracles to the reality of a life-threatening storm. Yet the One who created the seas knew exactly where they were, and they were exactly where He wanted them to be – in the middle of nowhere in a stormy sea, and unable in their own strength to make any progress. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtains, where Jesus, who went before us has entered on our behalf. He has become our high priest, forever, in the order of Melchizedek. “(Hebrews 6) Here is our first anchor: There is nothing which comes into your life except that Jesus either causes or allows. One way or the other, you are guided by His Providential care. It may be too dark for you to see Him, but He has his eye on you. Your storm is not beyond His control. The anchor holds.
Do you see what Jesus is doing? He is teaching his disciples. He wants them to grow in their faith. So He allows storms to come into their life. Remember He will never place more on you than you can bear. But do not forget His goal which is to make you Holy, not happy. So by studying how Jesus trained His disciples we see part of the plan of growth includes growing through troubling circumstances.
I don’t know about you, but suspect you are probably like me, I want to avoid trouble. I mean, really, who enjoys trials? Not me. But then after a while, you realize the Lord puts you through these for they are one of the most important ways He uses to enlarge our faith. David wrote: “Thou has enlarged me when I was in distress.” Psalm 4: 1) Adrian Rogers said, “Faith is like film, it is best developed in darkness.” God may have you in the dark room of development. But know this truth: God’s plan for our spiritual growth includes storms and trials. When I was growing up we bought Wonder Bread, it builds strong bodies in 12 ways! Bread is necessary for physical growth. And Jesus is teaching us about the bread of trouble and trials. It is part of God’s plan for our spiritual growth. And Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is our Daily Bread.
Now here is the next anchor we must not forget in storms. Jesus, our Great High Priest is praying for us, just as He was that night on top of the mountain. Jesus has a perfect view of our life and situation in which we find ourselves in the middle of. He sees it all. He has His eye on me and mine. “Thou shall guide me with thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory.” (Psalm 73: 24) And as the song we all know tells us: His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me. He lives today in heaven, and he ever lives to make intercession for you and me.
We take prayer requests each week and we send them out to probably close to 75 people. But think of this- you are on Jesus’ prayer list! If He is for you, who can be against you?
The miracle of feeding the 5000 with the two fish and the five barley loaves was the lesson. Now comes the test to see if they understood the miracle. Jesus has sent them without his presence into a storm in the dark of night. Mark writes: “…for they had not understood about the loaves, their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6: 52) They had not forgotten the miracle; they had 12 baskets of leftovers at their feet. In the midst of their problems, they had forgotten the Lord. He who had fed 5000 with this boy’s simple, sparse lunch could keep their boat from sinking. This is the problem with miracles. We continue to depend on miracles. Want miracles, believe in miracles. But here is another lesson: MIRACLES DO NOT PRODUCE FAITH WHICH LASTS. We always want another miracle.
The disciples wanted another miracle; they wanted to be out of the storm and this life threatening situation. But what they needed, was not another miracle. They needed the Miracle Worker- Jesus Himself.
Now the disciples had been fighting this storm for some hours, which probably seemed endless to them. Jesus waited for just the right time to come to them. His timing is always perfect. He comes at exactly the right time. Why does He seem to delay? Here is our answer: “Therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you.” (Isaiah 30: 18) After all it is Isaiah who tells us the Lord can make a way, where there is no way.
I believe, and this is my belief, the greater the delay, the more gracious He can be. The story of Lazarus bears this out. Jesus delayed until Lazarus had died and been buried for four days. Martha and Mary were so disappointed in the Lord for his delay and told him, ‘if you had been here our brother would not have died. ‘They had suffered grief and disappointment which had broken their hearts. Can you not imagine how great their joy was because their grief and disappointment had been so great and devastating? Now can you imagine when we all get to heaven- what a day of rejoicing that will be?! Let your hearts be lifted and gladdened with the thought He always comes at the right time. And when you look back after these times, you realize when you thought you were in the middle of nowhere; you were actually in the center of God’s will. His eye was upon you. He already knew before He sent the storm what He was going to do.
We are guarded by His power. Jesus came at just the right time that night. He came walking on the water. His presence terrified the disciples until He spoke to them. “It is I, be not afraid.” Have you heard your Master’s voice and believed? He has told us: I am the bread of life. I am the door, I am the great Shepherd, I am the water of life, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And I am in the midst of your storm. Do you see He walked on the stormy sea? The stormy sea raised up by the mighty winds was about to go over their heads. Jesus came along and showed them what they feared was under His feet.
Jesus is telling the disciples and us- fear not I am with you. I am the Great I Am. I am your present help in time of trouble. I am always with you and will never leave you.
Here is what Jesus wants us to remember and know: “In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world.” (John 16. 33)
Is the boat of your life being filled with stormy seawater? Are the winds of troubling circumstances of all types blowing against you? Are you stuck in seemingly impossible situation of which you cannot get out of, try as you might? Remember where Jesus was during their most difficult hours when they strained against the oars? He was on top of the mountain praying for them.
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made the heaven and the earth. “Psalm 121.
In all of this we want to keep in mind, God has a purpose in all of this. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. ..”
There it is we are being guided by God’s purpose. And as stated earlier, His purpose is not make us happy, but holy. Even when you are in a dark storm at sea and taking on water. He is the Lord who made the heaven and the earth.
What we realize in this semi-private miracle just for the disciples is the miracle had three parts. He calmed the storm, the winds and the sea obey Him. He walked on water. And He immediately had the boat reach the safety of the shore, from the middle of the sea. He overcame the laws of time and space.
Will the Lord be able to accomplish His purpose in you? You may be wondering and worrying you are not going to get there. But we have this promise, another promise to anchor our souls. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. “ He will complete it. (Phil 1: 6)
WHAT DO YOU NEED DURING A STORM?
Peace. These miracles assure us God will see us through to the other side. Nothing is too hard for Him. He will supply your needs.
He will guide you through the storm.
He has a plan for you- to grow you. Trouble is the means through which we grow. Remember it is God who gives the increase. He enlarges our faith in distress.
He is praying for you. He has His eye on you.
He is your present help in time of trouble. Trust Him. Even when you cannot see Him, or understand His plan, trust His heart.
His almighty power protects and guards you. What is over your head is under His feet.
He has a purpose for you. So do not panic in the storm. Thank the Lord for the storm because you know it will not sink your boat, but build up your faith.
His delay is not a delay, it has as its goal to be gracious to you.