The wonderful crescendo to our worship this morning comes in the thrill of examining the truth of God. I would invite you to take your Bible and open it to Matthew 14. I have to confess to those of you who weren't here last Lord's Day that we began a message last week that I didn't finish, so we'll finish today what I began last time. It may leave you a little bit empty in terms of getting the full impact, but we do that from time to time because it increases our tape sales. So I regret that, but we'll trust the Lord to minister to our hearts in spite of your not having heard last week's message. Let's look at Matthew 14, and I'll read for you verses 22-33 as the setting for our study this morning.
"Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, 'It is a ghost!' And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.' And Peter answered Him and said, 'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.' So He said, 'Come.' And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, 'Lord, save me!' And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, 'Truly You are the Son of God.'"
The last verse is the purpose of everything else - worshiping the Son of God. When we proclaim the name of Jesus, as the disciples of old, we are very much aware of the kinds of response that we can expect, just as they were. We are aware because we too have heard the teaching of Jesus.
In Matthew 13, His teaching was that there would be four general kinds of response to the message of the Gospel. He likened the responses of men to soil; there would be hard, stony ground - those who openly and overtly rejected the message. We saw that kind of reaction in Jesus' ministry in Nazareth at the end of chapter 13, when He could not do many mighty works in their midst because of their unbelief. He was rejected by the common folks of His own community. This was stony ground.
We went from the common folks to the uncommon; from the paupers, if you will, to the king. We saw at the beginning of Matthew 14 another illustration of the kinds of soil. We saw Herod, who also openly, overtly, hardly rejected the message of Jesus Christ and would, no doubt, have killed Christ as he killed John the Baptist. So we expect, even in this era of the Kingdom of our Lord, that people will reject with such harshness as they did then.
We then went to a different kind of people. We saw the feeding of the 5,000 and were introduced to the shallow soil, where, for a while, there is interest and something springs up. But it never bears fruit because its roots cannot go deep since it is too shallow.
We also saw the weedy, or thorny ground where it seems to be taking root, it seems to be something that will produce fruit, but because the other weeds have never been dealt with, they choke the life out of that which was planted. We saw that in the multitude, in the crowd who followed Jesus. They were thrill-seekers looking for a political, economic, social answer to their problems. They were seeking a Messiah who would lead a revolt, a leader who could overthrow Rome and deal with the petty dynasty of the Herodians, and give them national liberty. All they really wanted was a political end, food for their stomachs; they were crass, earthy. When Jesus, the day after He had fed them, the day after He had walked on the water, said to them, "The issues that I speak to you about are not the issues of physical food, but rather that you should eat My flesh and drink My blood and fully partake of all I am," when He said that to them, they walked away. It was shallow, weedy soil.
The Lord also gives us, in this passage, an illustration of the good soil, because we find in verse 33 that those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." It will always be that way when we minister. We can expect that hard resistance, that short-term response that will wither away, and we can also expect the true response, the true worshipers, their hearts prepared by our blessed Lord to receive His word.
We are looking at the disciples and classifying them as the good soil because they believed and responded. They were not like the thrill-seekers; the Lord wouldn't have it that way. I think they were tempted by the events of the day preceding this particular event. I think that when they saw the crowd, as John 6:14-15 says, want to make Jesus king because He had healed them, taught them, and fed them, that it must have seemed, at that juncture, to those disciples that this was that for which they had waited. They thought that all of their ministry, proclamation, anticipation, preparation had reached its climax. They wanted Him as a king, and this was it.
Then, most amazingly, in verse 22, right at the pinnacle of popularity for which they had been striving for two years, when they could see themselves overpowering the hostility and rejection of the political and religious leaders, the populous wanted Him as a king, and yet at the very moment that looked like their moment, He made them get in a boat and go ahead of Him to the other side while He sent the multitudes away.
You see, His Kingdom has never been a political or economic kingdom, or a welfare state, or dealt with physical revolutions. He said to Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world." But they must have been disillusioned as they pushed their little boat across the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, wondering how it was that the Kingdom had not come when it seemed so close.
Our dear Lord wanted to give them a picture of what His Kingdom really was, so first of all, He walked on the water, and that showed them that He was the universal King of all things. Then, He built faith in their hearts, and that showed them that He would mediate the Kingdom which is in the heart of man, in the hearts of those who love and serve Him. So in this incident, in the morning, on the Sea of Galilee, they saw the true King and His true Kingdom. They saw Him ruling the wind and the sea, and ruling the hearts of men. That was the King as the King really defined His Kingdom.
How is it that they can come to such an affirmative statement in verse 33, "You are the Son of God," when they have just come from such a grave disappointment? Later on, when the crowd leaves, the Lord says to them, "Will you also go away?" How is it that Peter, speaking on their behalf, says, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," in John 6:69? How is it that they can be so sure after such a major disappointment? How is it that they aren't saying, "Wait a minute; maybe we've made an awful mistake?" The answer comes in this passage.
This was a very convincing experience. It isn't that this one stands alone, but it simply builds upon all the other experiences they had had: healings, miracle upon miracle, dealing with Satan and demons, banishing disease from Palestine, raising the dead, teaching with teaching that could only have come from the very heart of God. Now, they affirm what they have suspected all along, ever since in John 1, when Jesus first called them, and they said, "This is the Son of God." They said it hopefully then, and they say it more strongly now.
You see, it sort of came and went for them. They said, "This is the Son of God," and then they saw Him rejected, despised, hated, treated with hostility, treated with bitterness, treated with animosity, and began to ask themselves if in fact He was who they said He was. It is very much like John the Baptist, you'll remember, who in John 1:29 says, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world," and, "He must increase and I must decrease," but later on, asks the amazing and almost reverse query, "Is He the Coming One, or do we look for another?" That which began as faith sort of got lost somewhere in the hostilities and rejection because it wasn't going the way John thought it ought to go, and the disciples were working through that same thing.
They had just gone through the horrible rejection of chapter 12, where the Pharisees had said Jesus was from Hell. They knew the bitterness, and had been warned about what would happen to them when they went out to evangelize, in chapter 10. Having worked through that, they were asking some questions. Now, after the major disappointment of Him leaving the multitude in the lurch, as it were, when they were about to make Him king, they needed something to confirm to them that He was the Son of God, and Jesus gave them a most monumental and inexplicable and unmistakable evidence: He walked on water. But there was more to it that just that, because in this passage, I think we see demonstrated many of the attributes of God that they had to see in this occasion, and therefore conclude that Jesus was God's Son.
Let me just give you a footnote at the very beginning that will help you understand the whole passage. When they said, "Truly You are the Son of God," that statement 'the Son of God' is an affirmation of the deity of Jesus Christ. It is used 45 times in the New Testament. It is speaking not about Him submitting as a son, but about Him being of the same essence as the Father. It is very much like that common New Testament phrase 'the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,' which again is an emphasis of the fact that Jesus Christ is of the same essence as God; Father and Son are alike, and bear the same life principle. So they are saying, "You are deity. You are God's Son."
In fact, the article isn't even there in verse 33; it is a completely qualitative statement, "You are God's Son. You are one with God." It is that very claim that Jesus made repeatedly, and it was that claim for which He was crucified. But they understood Him to be equal with God, God's Son.
How did they come to that conclusion? How could they possibly say, in the words of Peter, "We are sure," unless this incident gave them some major lessons? First of all, we saw last week that He gave them proof of His divine authority. We saw that in the way that He controlled not only them, but the multitude as well. Secondly, He demonstrated to them His divine knowledge. Verse 23 says He was up on a mountain, praying privately. Even though separated from them by distance and darkness, He knew exactly where they were, what their dilemma was, how to go to them and help them, and He did so, thereby demonstrating to them His infinite knowledge.
Thirdly, we began last time to discuss the fact that He showed them His divine protection. They knew God to be a God of sovereignty and authority, and when they saw that in Christ, they made the obvious connection. They knew God to be a God of knowledge and omniscience, and they saw that in Christ, and also made the same connection. They knew God to be a God of protective care; that was part of their heritage. When they saw Christ meeting their needs and caring for them, it was convincing that He was one with God.
In Psalm 5:11, we find their confidence, "But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them." They would have sung that psalm, no doubt, that God was a defender of His own. They would have known Psalm 9:9, "The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble," and Psalm 18, "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." They would have known Psalm 23, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me," and Psalm 62, where the confidence is that, "He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved." They would have known Psalm 89, "I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations."
Those are only samples of what they knew to be true about God. God was a God basically defined by loyal love and faithful, protective care, compassion, and they knew that. When they saw that in Jesus Christ, it was an element of convincing them that this was One who was equal to God, and cared for His own. They had experienced the fact that He had healed them. In fact, Peter himself had known healing in his own family; his wife's mother. They had experienced the fact that He had fed them, and now they see that He meets them in the midst of their disaster and becomes their refuge.
If I were to sum up this marvelous account in one simple statement, I would think the great lesson here is that, with Christ, we need not fear any storm because He is God who protects His own, the protector of His beloved. Let me take it a step further. Jesus had said to the disciples in verses 22-23, "Go to the other side." Mark and John tell us that He sent them toward Capernaum and Bethsaida, which were adjacent cities. The amazing thing is, the text says, that when they started that way, the wind was contrary. It would have been so easy for them to have turned around and gone with the wind back to where they came from. But instead of that, they continued to pursue the direction that the Lord had told them to go, so we find them in the midst of the storm, but we also find them in the midst of obedience.
When a believer is in the place of obedience, no matter how severe the storm, he is as as safe as if he were at home in his own bed, because the place of security is not the place of proper circumstances or of desirable circumstances. The place of security and safety, for the believer, is the place of obedience to the Lord. They were safe in the midst of a storm in obedience.
It is essentially what Jude is saying in that marvelous little epistle, where he says, "Keep yourselves in the love of God." What he means by that is, "Stay within the sphere where God's love is manifest." That sphere is obedience, and therein is God's love poured out on His own. It doesn't matter what the storm, or vicissitude, or the anxiety of the heart; if the bow is pointed toward Capernaum, and that's what the Lord said, you are as safe as you could possibly be, and the Lord shows that to them, and demonstrates not only His desire to protect them, but His ability to protect them.
Remember last time, when I told you that when they left the shore, they took the only boat? They were in the middle and knew the Lord was not there, and they knew the Lord couldn't get there because there was no other boat available. They were at the end of their extremity. What a profound lesson about God's protecting love, when without human resource, when there is no way, He makes the storm His path to save His own.
There was a fourth demonstration of deity, which was His divine love, and we find it in this part of the text that we'll look at this morning, verse 28. Although Matthew and Mark and John record Jesus walking on the water, only Matthew records this particular incident with Peter. "Peter answered Him and said, 'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.' So He said, 'Come.'"
I believe this is a picture of God's love; God is not only characterized by sovereign authority and knowledge, and by protecting, delivering care and power, but also by love. We know that. We know enough about the Scripture to know that God is a God of love. In fact, I John 4 says that God is love. As wet is to water, so love is to God. As warm is to the sun, so love is to God. As blue is to the sky, so love is to God. He loves His own with an uninfluenced love, an unending love, an unchanging love, an infinite, perfect, eternal, holy, gracious love.
The way you demonstrate biblical love is to meet a person at his need and meet the need. "God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son," why? Because if He loved, He would meet man at the great need of his sin. In John, it says that if you say you love someone but you close up your compassion to that person, how does God's love dwell in you? Because love is not some kind of sentimentality, whimsy, feeling, or passion; love is a principle, and the principle of meeting needs, taking people from weakness to strength, and we see it here.
Many commentators have discussed why Peter did what he did. It says, "Lord, if it is you," and of course, at first it looked like a phantom to them, and the Greek word means phantom or apparition. Just to be sure, Peter says, "If it's You, Lord, then tell me to come on the water." Some people think this is presumption; that brash, bold, loudmouth Peter is sticking his neck in it again, or his foot, in this case. That he is overstepping his bounds, gone too far, overconfident, and very presumptuous.
That really is a silly argument, I think. I mean, this man has spent his entire life around and on the Sea of Galilee; never has he walked on it. He may have even had difficulty floating in it, but for sure, he had never walked on it. He is no fool. You may give him a certain amount of impetuosity as an element of his character, but the man is not stupid. In the midst of a storm, his presumption would not be the dominating motive. Other commentators suggest that he was showing off, but that is just as silly. Even those of us who are show-offs know the limitations. You don't show off by walking on water, basically. I think that isn't a good explanation.
However, I think there is a very good explanation of why he did what he did. It's this: he wanted to be where Jesus was. Doesn't that seem to make sense? He wanted to be where Jesus was so much that he was willing to climb out of the boat and go to be where He was. You say, "But even wanting to be where Jesus was that much couldn't make you do that." Right, unless you believed that He had the power to hold you up as He was being held up. Simply stated in the text, it is a clear-cut act of affection built on confident faith.
Don't chastise Peter. You say, "Peter fell asleep in the prayer meeting." But we've all fallen asleep in prayer meetings, at least those of us who go to prayer meetings. You say, "He presumptuously tried to divert Christ from the Cross, and the Lord had to say, 'Get behind me, Satan.'" We have all stood as a blockade to the expressed purpose of God, and therefore lined up on the side of the Adversary, have we not? He stood outside the trial of Jesus and denied Him on three occasions, and we have all denied Him, most often by our silence.
You may want to say that Peter was impetuous, and you might be right, but don't ever say that he didn't love the Lord Jesus Christ or that he didn't trust Him, and don't assign to him some kind of silly motive for what he did here. People don't jump out of boats in the middle of the storm to walk on water to show off or demonstrate presumption. The thing that consumed Peter's heart was that he loved Jesus Christ and sensed in His presence tremendous safety. He believed that if the Lord could walk on that stuff, he could get to where He was and be saved in the midst of an environment that he could not control and of which he was in great fear.
I like that in him. I like the fact that he knew he had no resources, and all he could think about doing was running to where Jesus was, even though it wasn't possible. He was consumed with wanting to get to Jesus. I think that Jesus spent most of His ministry going down a road, and when He stopped, Peter would run into the back of Him. I just think that Peter was always there; he longed to be where Jesus was, tried to get as close to Him as he could, even in the time of the trial, when they wouldn't let him in. That's why he was outside, but he hung around as long as he could.
All the while, the Lord is trying to build into that man the character that it is going to take to lead and to be the key and the catalyst in the first years of the history of the church, because he was the first 13 chapters of Acts. All the time, the Lord is trying to build that into him. When he gets his final lesson, that monumental lesson that he gets in the last chapter of John's gospel, and the Lord finally nails down his commitment to ministry, the way the Lord hits him dead between the eyes is to question whether Peter loves Him. That was the crushing blow.
I'm sure there was something in Peter that said, "If all of this has gone by, and it is not yet clear that I love Him, it will be clear from here on out," and it was. The day came when he had to offer his life, tradition tells us, and he requested that he be crucified upside down, because he had not the right to be crucified as His Lord. They tell us that he was a faithful martyr; so he learned his lesson. He loved the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Matthew 17, when they were up on the hill where the transfiguration occurred, he was so blessed to be with Jesus and his close friends, and all of the wonder of what was going on that he said, "Lord, I've got a great plan that will be the end of everything else. I'll build permanent houses here and we'll stay." That, for him, was the pinnacle, Heaven. It was it. He was saying, "Jesus, it's just us. Who needs the rest of them?"
You see, he loved Jesus, and wanted to be where He was. In fact, the Lord went around the table in John 13. He was washing the feet of the disciples who were arguing about who was going to be the greatest in the Kingdom, and no one is going to wash feet when they're trying to show how great they are.
He came to Peter, and Peter couldn't handle the Lord washing his feet, so he says, "Lord, You will never wash my feet! It is beneath You." And the Lord said, "You don't understand My humiliation, Peter. If I don't wash you, you have no part with Me." So Peter says, "Give me a bath. Head, hands, feet; give me the works. I want so much to be a part with You." That was the heart of Peter; in every sense, he wanted to be with Christ.
I love that in him, and that's why he was the leader that he was. That's why he could lead the other apostles, and why he is the first name in the list of the apostles every time it appears in the Bible. He was the leader, and the closest to Jesus Christ, because he wanted to be there and longed to be there. There was security there, safety there, strength there. That is as it should be, and I think he got out of that boat because he wanted to be with Jesus. He had seen enough of the power of Jesus Christ demonstrated and now, seeing Him standing on the water, he believed the Lord could help him walk too.
Look at verse 29; here comes the confirmation of the attitude of Peter. Jesus said, "Come." And may I suggest to you that the Lord never invites anyone to do anything sinful, proud, or presumptuous. When He said, "Come," it had all the tender compassion that a loving father would have for his little child who has longed to see the security and safety of his father's arms and calls for his father to embrace him.
He knew Peter's faith was weak, frail, faulty, that it couldn't withstand the storm any better than the little boat could. But the Lord never rejects frail faith; He takes it and builds it. He never rejects a weak love; He takes it and builds it, because that is the essence of divine love - to take a man or woman where they are and bring them through a trial that increases their capacity to believe God and love Him. That increases their capacity to enjoy life and all that God provides.
So He said, "Come. This is going to be the greatest lesson of your life, Peter." It says in verse 29, "When Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water." He wasn't just walking out there, he was walking to go to Jesus. That's all he had in mind: to go to Jesus. That may be the most significant part of the whole scene, that he was going to Jesus. He wanted to get to Jesus. But this was a hard test, folks. He had seen the Lord handle a storm in Matthew 8, where it tells us that the Lord was in the back of the boat, got up, and said, "Shhhh," and the whole storm stopped. He knew the Lord could handle that, and he had seen that, so his faith carried him that far. He figured the Lord was in control of the whole deal, but when he got out there, the test was a little tougher than he thought.
He is walking on the water, but the waves and the wind are terrifying. It says in verse 30, "But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, 'Lord, save me!'" He wanted to be where Jesus was; his faith got him out of the boat, but he got into a situation unlike any other in his entire life. He had been in the boat in the storm, but he had never been out of the boat in the storm. This is the whole point. We don't need to be taught what we already know; we need to be taught what we don't know yet. How do you build a man but by putting him in an extremity he's never experienced, then showing yourself faithful, powerful in that extremity so that now, he can trust You that much further, right?
I remember a lady who came and wanted me to talk to her about her problem one time. She said, "My problem is that I love my husband so much." I said, "There are a lot of husbands that would like to have someone with your problem - a wife that loves them so much." She said, "But I worry all the time that he will die, and have this great fear that he will die. So much so that I can't enjoy the fact that he is alive."
She just worried all the time that he would die. Her faith could only take her so far. I didn't say it to her at the time, but the best lesson for her would have been for her husband to die, and for her to have seen the sustenance of God in the midst of that. Because then she wouldn't have questioned. Even though the sorrow would be deep and the pain tremendous, when she looked back on it, she never would have questioned the fact that God can sustain a person even through the death of one so precious.
That's what it's all about in life, like when James says that the testing of your faith is ultimately producing perfection. The Lord runs us out as far as our faith will go, and then when our faith ends and we start to sink, He lets us begin to sink. Then we say, "Lord, save me!" and when He does, that extends our faith that much further. That is what the Christian life is all about: learning more and more to trust God, believing Him more and more so that we can step out on faith and attempt those things which we believe ourselves to be inadequate to accomplish.
So Peter was afraid, and that is putting it mildly, and he began to sink. There was no way to swim with everything he had on and in the middle of that storm, so he just cried, "Lord, save me!" Here, we see the loving Lord in verse 31. "Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'"
You know what my answer would have been? "Are you kidding? Look at this storm! I've never been here before; this is more than I've ever experienced!" But the Lord is saying, "Didn't you think I'd catch you? Didn't you think you could trust me in that extremity? Didn't you think I'd sustain you in that thing you've never encountered before? I was here the whole time." The Lord taught him, picked him up.
Let me suggest to you before you condemn him for little faith, that little faith is better than no faith. May I also remind you that our dear Lord said that if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you could move a mountain? So it doesn't take a whole lot, does it? If little faith will get you out of the boat onto the water, it's pretty substantial stuff.
I think all of us could be characterized as having little faith mixed with doubt. That is why the Lord brings into our lives the difficulties, trials, vicissitudes, struggles, and the pains - so that, going through those things, we see that He sustains us. Little faith grows and grows. Maybe it could be said of us one day, as Jesus said of one dear person, "I have not seen such great faith in all Israel."
Peter learned that Jesus could take care of him when he couldn't take care of himself in the ultimate extremity. It is a wonderful thing to realize that, from two angles. I'll remind you of these; I mentioned them last week. Jesus took care of them in their dilemma; first, in the mountain in intercession. He was up there, praying alone, according to verse 23. He was caring for them in His intercession and caring for them as He walked on the water.
We have, then, the confidence that the Lord Jesus Christ cares for us; His love reaches to express itself to us, to extend our faith, to build us up. That's how His love works in two ways - one, as an intercessory High Priest, praying on our behalf; and two, as the very source of strength who comes to us in the midst of the storm.
In Luke 22, Jesus said to Peter, "Satan has desired to have you, but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not." Do you realize that, as a Christian, you have that double promise that Jesus Christ prays for you that your faith will not fail? When you get strung out in some deal and begin to question God and Christ and everything you've thought to be true; when you don't know how you're going to handle the extremity; when you've lost perspective in life, it's at that very point that you have the confidence that Jesus Christ intercedes on your behalf and always prays according to the will of the Father? Not only that, but He comes to your rescue? If your boat is pointed to Capernaum and you are following the course of obedience, He is there to rescue you.
Did Peter learn his lesson? Sure he did. When he wrote I and II Peter, I could show you so many ways that he reflects this lesson, but in I Peter 1:6, he says this. "In this you greatly rejoice," that is, in your salvation, "Though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials." So he's saying, "Rejoice in your salvation to come, and the glory that will be yours when you see Christ, even if, need be, you'll be going through heaviness because of your many trials."
So now, he sees the end of the deal, doesn't he? It's OK to be going through these things, "That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." It's making you into what you can be to give God glory, and the greater your faith, the greater you trust Him; the more you trust Him, the more you honor His blessed, trustworthy name. So Peter can look back and say, "All those trials you're going through - I've been there. I learned and you'll learn that that is more precious than gold because it increases your capacity to glorify God."
Lazarus died, and Mary and Martha didn't understand why. They were intimate with Jesus, and had sent word that he was sick, and Jesus was beyond the Jordan. They said, "Come, because he's sick," and He didn't come. Then the word came that he was dead, and not only was he dead, but he was dead for four days. The Jews didn't embalm bodies, so after four days, his body was decayed. In fact, they had a tradition that on the fourth day, the hovering spirit left because it couldn't recognize the form anymore.
Jesus still waited, and finally came on that fourth day, and they said, "Oh, You're too late. You didn't come." But Jesus had run them out to their extremity, to the limit of their faith, and they were sinking. He went over to the grave and said, "Lazarus, come out," and he did. The faith of Mary and Martha jumped from questions about whether the Lord could heal to no questions about whether He could raise the dead. That's increasing faith, and a great lesson. No wonder He said to them, "Stay calm, ladies, and you will see the glory of God." They would, then, have had greater capacity to give Him glory. Oh how He loves His own!
I see Him in this, demonstrating that divine love, reaching out to a frail, weak disciple, taking him where he was, not condemning him for his weakness but building on it to strength.
There is a final point that I only mention in passing because it's so obvious. I believe they saw here the Son of God because also, He demonstrated divine power. Verse 32. They had seen enough, with Him walking on the water and all the rest, but it says so matter-of-factly, "When they got into the boat, the wind ceased." It all just stopped. Then it tells us that the boat was instantly at the shore. They were in the middle of the sea, the storm stopped, and in a blink, they're at the shore. It was sort of a personal, private look at how the Rapture might be. Mark 6:51 says, "They were amazed, and wondered greatly." Then he adds as a little post script that they must have forgotten about the feeding the day before. They should be amazed? This is routine.
Then it says that they worshiped Him. You see, they knew that power belongs only to God, because they knew Psalm 62:11, and also Psalm 89:6, which says, "Who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD?" and Job 26:14, which says, "The thunder of His power, who can understand?" They knew that God was almighty El Shaddai, and when they saw Christ demonstrate that, there was little question but that He was one with God. So they worshiped Him.
What is the message for you? Worship Him; how can you not worship Him? He demonstrated the sovereignty of God, the omniscience of God, the protective care of God, the divine love of God, the power of God; how can He be else but God in human flesh? You are called, as they were, by the clear sight of what He did to bow the knee. The word worship is proskuneo, which is to bow, to kiss toward, and they did it. It says, "All of them," overwhelmed with the affirmation that this was the Son of God - one with God.
In closing, I draw your attention to the call of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:9. This is the ultimate expression of God's purpose for Jesus Christ; listen to it. "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Listen, God calls you to bow the knee to Jesus Christ; they did it, and were good soil, and they bore much fruit. They knew they were in the presence of Him of whom the psalmist said, "Thy way is in the sea, and thy path is in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not understood," in Psalm 77:19. They knew they were in the presence of Him of whom the prophet Habakkuk said, "You walked through the sea, through the heap of great waters." They knew they were in the presence of Him whom Job 9:8 said, "He treads upon the waves of the sea." This was God, and they worshiped Him as such.
Father, as we come to conclusion of our fellowship of worship this morning, it is with deep gratitude in our hearts that we have met; the wonder, majesty, and beauty of the music lingers in our minds. The beauty of the scene on the Sea of Galilee that night is fresh again. We see our blessed Lord walking on the water, and see all of the display of His marvelous person, and we conclude with those in the frail rowboat, "Truly, You are the Son of God."
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