A wonderful crescendo to our worship this morning comes in the thrill of examining the truth of God. And I would invite you to take your Bible and open it to the fourteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew chapter 14.
And I have to confess, to those of you who were not here last Lord’s Day, that we began a message last week that I didn’t finish. And so, we’re going to finish one today that I began last time, and it may leave you a little big empty in terms of getting the full impact, but we do that from time to time, because it increases our tape sales. So, I do regret that, but we’ll trust the Lord to minister to our hearts in spite of your not hearing last week.
Let’s look at Matthew 14, and I would like to read for you verses 22 through to 33 as the setting for our study this morning.
“And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a boat, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain privately to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone.
“But the boat was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves, for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a phantom,’ and they cried out for fear.
“But immediately Jesus spake unto them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; stop fearing.’
“And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.’
“And He said, ‘Come.’
“And when Peter was come down out of the boat, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, ‘Lord, save me.’
“And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, ‘O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?’
“And when they were come into the boat, the wind stopped. Then they that were in the boat came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Of a truth thou art the Son of God.’”
The last verse us the purpose of everything else: worshipping the Son of God. When we proclaim the name of Jesus, as the disciples of old, we’re very much aware of the kinds of response that we can expect, just as they were. We’re aware because we, too, have heard the teaching of Jesus. And in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, 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.
Now, we saw that kind of reaction – didn’t we? – in Jesus’ ministry in Nazareth, at the end of the thirteenth chapter, where He could not do many mighty works in their midst because of their unbelief. He was rejected by the folks of His own community. Stony ground.
And then we went from the common folks to the uncommon, from the paupers, if you will, to the king. And we saw at the beginning of chapter 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. And 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 also then went to a different kind of people. We saw the feeding of the 5,000. And we were introduced to the shallow soil, where, for a while, there is interest, and something springs up, but never bears fruit because its roots cannot go deep; it’s too shallow.
And we saw also the weedy or the thorny ground, where there seems to be a taking of root. There seems to be something that’s going to produce fruit, but because the other weeds have never been dealt with, they choked the life out of that which was planted. We saw that in the multitude. We saw that in the crowd who followed Jesus: the thrill seekers who were looking for a political and an economic, who were looking for a social answer to their problems, who were seeking a Messiah who would lead a revolt, who were looking for 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. All they really wanted was food for their stomachs. They were crass; they were earthy.
And when Jesus, the day after He had fed them, the day after, in fact, He has 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 in all that I am,” when He said that to them, they walked away. Shallow soil. Weedy soil. Not clean, good ground. But, the Lord also gives us in this passage an illustration of the good soil, doesn’t He? Because we find, in verse 33, that they that were in the boat came and worshipped Him, said, “Of a truth,” or, “Truly, You are the Son of God.” And it’ll always be that way when we minister. We can expect that hard resistance. We can expect that short-term response, and it withers away. And we can also expect the true response. The true worshippers, the hearts prepared by our blessed Lord to receive His Word.
Now, we’re looking at the disciples, and classifying them as the good soil, because they believed; they 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 when they saw the crowd as John 6:14 and 15 says, want to make Jesus king because He had healed them all day, because He had taught them all day, and because He had fed them - and they wanted to make Him king, and it must have seemed, at that juncture, to these disciples, that this was that for which they had waited; that all of their ministry and all of their proclamation, and of their anticipation, all of their preparation had now reached its climax. They wanted Him as a king, and this was it.
And then, most amazingly, in verse 22, right at the pinnacle of popularity for which they had been striving two years, and they could see themselves overpowering the hostility and the rejection of the political leaders, the populace wanted Him as a king. And yet, at that very moment that looked like their moment, “He constrained them to get into 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 kingdom. It has never been an economic kingdom. It has never been a welfare state. It has never dealt with physical revolutions. He said it to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” But they must have been disillusioned as they pushed their little bloat across the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, wondering how it was that the kingdom had not come when it seemed so close.
And so, our dear Lord wanted to give them a picture of what His kingdom really was. And so, first of all, He walked on the water, and that showed them that He was the universal King of all things. And 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 Him and serve Him.
And so, in this incident, in the morning, on the Sea of Galilee, they saw the true King in His true Kingdom. They saw Him ruling the wind and the sea. And they saw Him ruling the hearts of men. And that was the King as the King really defined His kingdom.
Now, how is it they can come to such and affirmative statement - in verse 33, “Thou art the Son of God” – when they have just come from such a grave disappointment? How is it that later on, when the crowd leaves, and 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; Thou and Thou alone hast the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that thou art the Christian, the Son of the living God,” John 6:69? How is it that they can be so sure after such a major disappointment? How is it that they’re not saying, “Wait a minute; maybe we’ve made an awful mistake”?
Well, the answer comes in this passage. This was a very convincing experience. It isn’t that this one stands alone; it is simply that which builds upon all the other experiences they had had: healings, miracle upon miracle, dealing with demons and with Satan, banishing disease from Palestine, raising the dead, teaching with teaching that could only have come from the very heart of God. And 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.” And they said it hopefully then, and they says 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, and they saw Him despised, and they saw Him hated, and they saw the hostility, and they saw the animosity, and they saw the bitterness, and they begin to ask themselves if, in fact, it was who they said it was.
Very much like John the Baptist – you remember? – who in John 1:29 says, “Behold the Lamb of the God that taketh away the sins of the world; and He must increase, and I must decrease,” but later on asks the amazing and almost reverse query. He says, “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.
And they had just gone through the horrible rejection of chapter 12, where the Pharisees had said Jesus was from hell. They knew the bitterness. They had been warned about what would happen to them when they went out to evangelize in chapter 10. And having worked through that, they were asking some questions, and now 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 than 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.
Now, let me just give you a footnote at the very beginning; it’ll help you to understand the whole passage. We need to say it right now. When they said, “Of a truth Thou art 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; they bear the same life principle.
And 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.” And it is that very claim, you know, that Jesus made repeatedly, and it is that very claim for which He was crucified. But they understood Him to be equal with God. 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?” I believe this incident gave them some major lessons.
First of all, we saw last week – and I remind you of our outline, which you have, I think, in your bulletin; you can follow if you like – first of all, He gave them proof of His divine authority. And we saw that in the way He controlled not only them, but the multitude as well.
Secondly, He demonstrated to them His divine knowledge even though He was separated from them. Verse 23 says He was up in a mountain, privately praying. Even though separated from them by distance and darkness, He knew exactly where they were; He knew exactly what their dilemma was; He knew exactly how to go to them and help them, and did so, and demonstrated 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, omniscience, and they saw that in Christ and also made the same connection. And they knew God to be a God of protective care. That was part of their heritage. And when they saw Christ meeting their needs and caring for them, it was convincing that He was one with God.
In Psalm 5, we find their confidence in verse 11, “But let all those who put their trust in Thee rejoice. Let them ever shout for joy because Thou defendest them.” They would have sung that Psalm, no doubt, that God was a defender of His own.
They would have known Psalm 9, verse 9, “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” They would have known Psalm 18, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield, the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” They would have known Psalm 23, “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”
They would have known Psalm 62, where the confidence is, “He alone 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 Thy faithfulness to all generations.” And those are only samples of what they knew to be true about God.
God was a God basically defined by loyal love, by faithful protective care, by compassion. And they knew that. And when they saw that in Jesus Christ, it was an element of convincing them that this was one who was equal to God, who 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. With Christ we need not fear any storm because He is God who protects His own. The Protector of His beloved.
Let me just take it a step further as we saw last time. Jesus had said to the disciples in verses 22 and 23, “Go to the other side.” Mark and John kind of tell us that He sent them toward Capernaum and Bethsaida; they were adjacent cities. And the amazing thing is the text says that when they started that way, the wind came up, and it was contrary. It would have been so easy for them to turn around and go with the wind back to where they came from. But instead of that, they continued to pursue the direction the Lord had told them to go.
And so, we find them in the midst of the storm, but we also find them in the midst of obedience. And when a believer is in the place of obedience, no matter how severe the storm, he is 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. And that sphere is obedience, and therein is God’s love poured out on His own. It doesn’t matter what the storm; it doesn’t matter what the vicissitude; it doesn’t matter what the anxiety of the heart, if the bow is pointed toward Capernaum, and that’s what the Lord said, you’re as safe as you can possibly be, and the Lord shows that to them.
And He demonstrates His not only desire to protect them, but His ability to protect them. You see, you remember last time I told you that when they left the shore, they took the only boat, and they were in the middle, and they knew that the Lord was not there, and they knew that 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, and that was His divine love. And we find that in this part of the text that we want to 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. “And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.’
“And the Lord said” – what? – “‘Come.’” Now, we’ll stop there for a moment. Now, 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 by love. And we know that. We know enough about the Scriptures to know that God is a God of love. In fact, the Bible says God is love – doesn’t it? – 1 John 4. 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.
And He loves His own. He loves them with an uninfluenced love. He loves them with an unending love. He loves them with an unchanging love. He loves them with an infinite, perfect, eternal, holy, gracious love. And the way you demonstrate love biblically is to meet a person at his need and meet the need. Right? God so loved that He – what? – 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 dwells the love of God in you? Because love is not some kind of sentimentality. Love is not some kind of whimsy. Love is not some kind of feeling, some kind of passion. Love is a principle, and love is the principle of meeting needs, taking people from weakness to strength. And we see it here.
Now, many commentators have discussed why Peter did what he did. It says that Peter said, “Lord, if it be Thou,” and of course at first it looked like a phantom to them – phantasma the Greek word meaning phantom or apparition or whatever. And just to be sure, he says, “If it’s you, Lord, then bid me to come on the water.”
Now, some people think this is presumption; the brash, bold sort of loud-mouthed Peter is sticking his neck in it again – or his foot in this case – that he’s overstepping his bounds, that he’s gone too far, that he’s overconfident and very presumptuous.
That really is kind of a silly argument, I think. I mean this message has spent his entire life around and on the Sea of Galilee. Never has he walked on it. Never. He may have even had difficulty floating in it, but for sure he 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. And in the midst of a storm, his presumption would not be the dominating motive.
Other commentators suggest to us that he was showing off. That’s just about as silly. I mean even those of us who are showoffs know the limitations. You don’t show off by walking on water basically. And so, I think that that is not a good explanation.
I think, however, there is a very good explanation of why he did what he did. It’s this: he wanted to be where Jesus was. How’s 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.”
Unless you believed that He had the power to hold you up as He was being held up. Right? Listen; simply stated in the text, it is a clear-cut act of affection built on confident faith. Don’t chastise Peter.
You say, “Well, Peter fell asleep in the prayer meeting.”
We’ve all fell asleep in prayer meeting. Those of us, at least, who go to prayer meeting.
You say, “Well, uh, he presumptuously tried to divert Christ from the cross, and the Lord had to say to him, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’”
And 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?
“Well, he stood outside the trial place of Jesus, and he denied him on three occasions.”
And we have all denied Him most often by our silence. Listen; 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 a storm to walk on water to show off or to demonstrate presumption.
The thing that consumed Peter’s heart was that he loved Jesus Christ, and he sensed in His presence tremendous safety. And he believed that if the Lord could walk on that stuff, he could get to where He was and be safe in the midst of an environment that he could not control and he was in great fear of. And I like that in him.
I like the fact that he knew he had no resources. I like the fact that all he could think about doing was running to where Jesus was, even though you couldn’t do that. He was consumed with the fact that he wanted to get to Jesus.
In fact, I think Jesus spent most of His ministry going down a road, and when He’d stop, Peter would run into the back of Him. I mean I just – I just think that Peter was always there. He longed to be where Jesus was. He tried to get as close to Him as he could, even in the time of the trial. They wouldn’t let him in, and that’s why he was outside. But he hung around as long as he could.
And all the while, the Lord is trying to build into that man the character that it’s going to take to lead and to be the key and the catalyst of the first years of the history of the Church, because he was the first 13 – 12 or 13 chapters of Acts. All the time, the Lord is trying to build that into him. And when he finally gets his sort of final lesson, when he finally gets 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 and hits him dead between the eyes is to question whether Peter – what? – loves Him. That was the crushing blow. And 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’ll be clear from here on out.” And it was, for the day came when he had to offer his life, tradition tells us, and he requested that he not be crucified but upside down, because he had not the right to be crucified as his Lord. And 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 up there, that he just said, “Lord, I’ve got a great plan. This is the end of everything else. We’re going to build permanent houses here and stay.” I mean he had reached – that was it for him; that was heaven. That was the pinnacle. That was it. “Jesus, just us. Who needs the rest of them?” See, he loved Jesus. He loved to be where he was.
In fact, the Lord went around the table – John 13 – He was washing the feet of the disciples who were arguing about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom. Right? So, nobody’s going to wash feet when they’re trying to show how great they are.
And He came to Peter, and Peter just couldn’t handle it. He just could not handle the Lord washing his feet, and he says, “Lord, You will never wash my feet. It’s beneath You.”
And the Lord says, “You don’t understand My humiliation, Peter. If I don’t wash you, you have no part with Me.”
And he says, “I’ll take a bath. Head, hands, feet, give me the whole deal. I want so much to be a part with You; I want to be a part with You.”
And that was the heart of Peter. He wanted to be with Christ. In every sense, he wanted to be with Christ. And 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; that’s why he’s the first name in the list of the apostles every time it appears in the Bible. He was the leader. He was the closest to Jesus Christ because he wanted to be there; he longed to be there. There was security there; there was safety there; there was strength there. And that’s as it should be. And I think he got out of that boat because he wanted to be with Jesus, and he had seen enough of the power of Jesus Christ demonstrated and now seeing Him standing on the water that he believed that the Lord could help him walk, too.
And look at verse 29. And here comes the confirmation of the attitude of Peter. “And He said, ‘Come.’” And may I suggest to you that the Lord never invites anybody to do anything sinful. The Lord never invites anybody to do anything proud or presumptuous. When He said, “Come,” it had all the tender compassion that a loving father would have when his little child, who’s longed to see the security and safety of his daddy’s arms, calls for his father to embrace him. He said, “Come.” He knew Peter’s faith was weak; He knew it was frail; He knew it was faulty. He knew it couldn’t withstand the storm any better than the little boat could.
But, you see, the Lord never rejects frail faith. He takes it and builds it. You understand that? He never rejects a weak love; He takes it and builds it, because that’s the essence of divine love, to take a man and a woman where they are and to bring them through a trial that increases their capacity to believe God, to love God, and therefore increases their capacity to enjoy life and all that God provides.
So, He said, “Come.” It’s going to be the greatest lesson of your life, now, Peter. And it says in verse 29, “When Peter was come down out of the boat, he walked on the water” - now, he wasn’t just walking out there; he was walking – “to go to Jesus.” That’s all he had in mind was to go to Jesus. That may be the most significant part of the whole scene – to go to Jesus.
That’s where he was going; he wanted to get to Jesus. But this was a hard test, folks. I mean he had seen the Lord handle a storm. In chapter 8 of Matthew, it’s recorded that the Lord was asleep in the back of the boat, got up and said, “Shh,” and the whole storm stopped. He knew the Lord could handle that; he’d seen that. So, his faith carried him that far. And so, 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.
I mean he’s walking on the water, but the waves and the wind – and it says in verse 30 there, “When he saw the wind, he was afraid, and he, beginning to sink, cried 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’d been in the boat in the storm, but he’d never been out of the boat in the storm.
But, you see, this is the whole point. You see, we don’t need to be taught what we already know; we need to be taught what we don’t know yet. Right? And how do you build a man but by putting him in an extremity he’s never experienced, showing yourself faithful and powerful in that extremity so that now he can trust you that much further. Right?
I remember a lady who came – wanted me to talk to her about her problem one time, and she said, “My problem is I love my husband so much.”
I said, “There are a lot of husbands who’d like to have somebody with your problem: a wife that loves him so much.”
She said, “But I worry all the time that he’ll die. And I have this great fear that he’ll die. So much so that I can’t enjoy the fact that he’s alive.”
She just worried all the time he’d die. You see, her faith could only take her so far. I didn’t say to her at the time, but the best lesson for her would have been for her husband to die, and then 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 would be tremendous, when she looked back on it, she would have never have questioned the fact but that God can sustain a person even through the death of one so precious.
But, you see, that’s what it’s all about in life. When James says, “The testing of your faith is ultimately producing perfection.” You see, the Lord runs us out as far as our faith will go, and then our faith ends, and we start to sink, He lets us begin to sink. And we say, “Lord, save me.” And when He does, that extends that faith just that much further. That’s what the Christian life is all about; it’s about learning more and more to trust God. Right? Believing God more and more so that we can step out on faith and attempt those things which we believe ourselves to be inadequate to accomplish.
And so, Peter was afraid. And that’s a mild way to say it; he began to sink. There was no way to swim, not with all the stuff he had on, and not in the middle of that storm. He just cried, “Lord, save me.”
And here we see the loving Lord in verse 31, “And immediately” – immediately – “Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him and said unto him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”
And, you know, my answer would have been, “Are you kidding? I mean look at this deal. I’ve never been out here before. This is more than I’ve ever experienced.”
What 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 been in in your life before? I was here all the time.” The Lord caught him. Picked him up. Little faith.
May I suggest to you that 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, “If you had faith as small as a grain of mustard seed, you could move a mountain”? So, it doesn’t take a whole lot, does it? I men if little faith will get you out of the boat onto the water, it’s pretty substantial stuff.
All of us, I think, could be characterized as having little faith sort of mixed with doubt. And that is why the Lord brings into our lives the difficulties and the trials and the vicissitudes and the struggles and the pains so that going through those things we see that He sustains us, and little faith grows and grows. And maybe it could be said of us someday, 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. And, you know, it’s a wonderful thing to realize that from two angels. And I’ll just remind you of these; I mentioned them last week. Jesus took care of them in their dilemma. First in the mountain in their intercession. Remember he was up there praying alone it says in verse 24 – 23? He was caring for them in His intercession, and he was 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. Two ways: one as an intercessory high priest, praying on our behalf; two, as the very source of strength who comes to us in the midst of the storm.
Do you remember what – in Luke 22 – Jesus said to Peter? “Satan has desired to have you, but I have” – what? – “prayed for you that your faith fail not.”
Do you realize, as a Christian, that you have that double promise that Jesus Christ prays for you that your faith fail not? When you get strung out in some deal, and you 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, and not only that, but that 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 1 Peter and 2 Peter - we could show you so many ways that he reflects this lesson, but in chapter 1, he says this, verse 6, 1 Peter, he says, “In this you greatly rejoice” – that is in your salvation – “though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold trials.” See, he says, “You rejoice in your salvation to come, in the glory that’ll be yours when you see Christ,” and so forth. “You rejoice in that, even if need be you be going through heaviness because of your manifold trials.”
You see, now he sees the end of the deal, doesn’t he? It’s okay to be going through these things, “because the trial of your faith is much more precious than gold that perishes. And it is making you to be fully to the praise and the honor and the glory of God.” It’s making you into what you can be to give God glory. And the greater you faith, the greater you trust Him. The more you trust Him, the more you honor His blessed trustworthy name. And so, Peter can look back and say, “All those trials you’re going through, I’ve been there. And I learned, and you’ll learn that that’s more precious than gold because it increases your capacity to glorify God.”
Lazarus died, and Mary and Martha didn’t understand why. They were all intimate with Jesus, and they had sent word that he was sick, and Jesus was up beyond the Jordan. And they said, “Come because he’s sick.” And He didn’t come. And then the word came that he was dead, and not only was he died, but he was dead and four days went by. And the Jews didn’t embalm bodies. And so, after four days, his body was decayed. In fact, they had a tradition that the fourth day, the hovering spirit left because it couldn’t recognize the form anymore. And Jesus still waited.
And finally, on that fourth day, He came. And they said, “Oh, you’re too late. You didn’t come.”
But, you see, Jesus had run them out to their extremity. He had run them to the limit of their faith, and they were sinking. And He went over to the grave, and He said, “Lazarus, come out.” And he did. And the faith of Mary and Martha jumped from questions about whether the Lord could heal to know questions about whether He could raise the dead. That’s increasing faith, isn’t it? Great lesson. Great lesson. No wonder he said to them, “Just stay calm, ladies, and you will see the glory of God.” And they would then have had greater capacity even 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. Divine love.
There’s a final point, and I only mention it 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 walking on the water and all the rest, but it says in verse 32 – and it is so matter-of-fact – “And when they were come into the boat, the wind stopped.” He got in the boat, and the storm stopped just like that.
And the text tells us that the boat was instantly at the shore. They were in the middle of the sea, the storm stopped; in a blink, they’re at the shore. Sort of a personal, little, private look at the rapture, how fast it might be. Blink, blink, at the shore. And the – Mark says in Mark 6:51, “And they were amazed. And they wondered greatly.” They were amazed. And then he adds this little P.S., “And they must have forgotten about the feeding the day before.” They should be amazed? This is routine. And here it says, “They worshipped Him.”
You see, they knew that power belongs only to God because they knew Psalm 62:11. And they knew Psalm 89:6 which says, “Who among these in heaven can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord?”
And they knew 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, and they worshipped Him.
What is our message to 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?
And you are called as they were by the clear sight of what He did, to bow the knee. The word “worship” proskuneō, to bow, to kiss toward. And they did it. And it says, “They that were in the boat” – 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 chapter 2. This, the ultimate expression of God’s purpose for Jesus Christ – listen to it – “Wherefore” – Philippians 2:9 – “God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and in earth and under the earth, and 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. They were good soil, and they bore much fruit. You see, 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,” Psalm 77:19.
They knew they were in the presence of Him of whom the prophet Habakkuk said, “Thou didst walk through the sea, through the heap of great waters.” They knew they were in the presence of Him of whom Job 9:8 writes, “He treads upon the waves of the sea.” This was God, and they worshipped Him as such.
Father, as we come to the conclusion of our fellowship of worship this morning, it is with deep gratitude in our hearts that we have met the wonder and 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. We see all of the display of His marvelous person, and we conclude with those in the frail rowboat of a truth: You are the son of God.
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