This sermon was based on Mark 6:45-56.
Jesus Walks on the Water
45Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret
53When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
Sent into the Storm
- Jesus sends his disciples ahead of Him and says that He will catch them up later. In the meantime, He goes off to pray up a mountainside next to the lake.
- Jesus sends His disciples, I presume knowingly, into a storm. Sometimes, God will send you into a storm. Sometimes, being obedient to the instructions of the Lord, as the disciples are here, will invite storms.
- Have you ever noticed how persecution seems to come just as you are trying your hardest to be obedient to the Lord? God never promises a trouble-free life, but he does promise a hope in the trouble.
Jesus Sees them in the Storm
- Jesus then looks down and watches them row. Now, I am not sure how long he watches them, but I presume it is for quite a long time. It was just before dawn when He sets out, so He must have been watching them struggle for quite a while. But what do the disciples do? They rely on their own strength, their own resources. And this is not a wrong thing to do. Jesus will come and rescue them, as we all know, but in the moment, the disciples are acting as anyone would: they are trying their hardest to navigate and survive the storm. They persevere.
- No matter the storm you are facing, no matter what the winds and waves do, no matter how scared you may be, keep on rowing. No matter the pain, persevere. As Hebrews says, Jesus persevered the cross for the joy set before Him. Similarly, we are to persevere hardship and difficulty. But do not give up. Stand firm.
- When you are in the midst of a storm, God sees you. Always. Not once does he take His eyes off you. What is amazing about this is that the disciples cannot see Jesus. They have no idea where He is. They are completely unaware of Him. Even when they cannot see God, God sees them. And this, I believe, is what we can take great comfort from in our own lives. Even in the midst of our darkest hours, when we cannot lift our eyes above our surroundings, God sees us. When we are struggling, toiling away, simply surviving, God always sees us.
Jesus gets in the Boat
- Jesus does not immediately go to help the disciples. It says ‘He was about to pass them by…’. In some translations, it will actually say ‘He intended to pass them by…’. Jesus was not going to save the disciples, not out of His own volition anyway. So what changed?
- Sometimes, God is waiting for us to cry out to Him to answer. And it does not have to be a faithful cry. It does not have to be a prayer of power. It can be desperate. It can be in fear. And God will answer. God answers our calls, not always as we wish, but He always answers.
- I am not saying that you should take heart because God will solve all of your problems. I am not saying that life is easy because God is with you. I am not saying that Jesus will stamp his foot on the storms of your life and diminish them into nothingness. Sometimes He will. Always He can. But there are times when the storms persist. In fact, there are times when the storms will get worse. But in all things, Jesus will be with you. His very name tells us as much: Immanuel. God With Us.