Scripture Text: Matthew 14:22-33
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
- First let me say that life is a series of storms and they come in all shapes and sizes. As I have said many times, “We are either coming out of a storm, going into a storm or in the middle of storms. If you have calms seas and blue skies be thankful but be humbly thankful. Don’t ruin your blue shy days by worrying about on coming storms but be sympathetic to those who are in the middle of a storm. You may not have encountered an F-5 and you may never but you will face some storms.
- Jesus being the Son of God had to know that a storm was coming. I believe that He intentionally sent them into a storm. So the question becomes WHY? We know that Jesus loves His disciples so why would He send them into a storm? I think He did it to teach them. They had just failed a major test and they were extremely deficient in faith. Jesus intended to strengthen their faith so He sent them into the storm as a test, a crucible.
- He knew what His disciples needed and it was more faith. He never rebuked them for their lack of finances. He never said, not even once, “O Ye of little finances.” Some of you under the sound of my voice think that more finances would solve your problem but your major problem is “Lack of faith.” Jesus said to his disciple in chapter 17…”You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
- Which would be more valuable to you, earth moving faith or a few million dollars? Don’t answer too quickly, you need to give the question some thought. Jesus never rebuked His disciples for their lack of money or ability, it was always their lack of faith. Matter of fact, Jesus nicknamed His disciples oligopistos which is the Greek word for “Little Faiths.” In the Greek, it is one word. “Come on you bunch of Little-faiths, how long am I going to have to hang out with you guys before you get it.”
So I believe Jesus sent them into a storm to teach them some faith lessons.
LESSON NUMBER ONE:
Obedience to Christ does not give us immunity to storms. I want you to notice…Jesus instructed them to get into the boat… Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake. [v. 22]. So make a note: These guys are where Jesus put them. They are doing this to please HIM. They are obeying His orders. It is His will that they get into the boat and go to the other side. He literally sent them into a storm. Obedience does not make us immune to storms. Paul spend two chapters talking to Timothy about suffering for Christ sake and then at the end of that discussion, Paul says, “Everyone who lives a godly life is Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Being a Christian does not give us immunity from suffering. Suffering accelerates our learning, enhances or witness and it God’s primary tool of circumcision to cut away at our pride. Job was a good man. To be honest with you: I don’t know that he is not the best man in scripture other than Jesus and John the Baptist. This is what the LORD said to Satan about Job, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” The finest man in all the earth is pretty high praise and yet Job got hit with an F-5, an unbelievable and devastating storm. I have noticed that most of us are fortunate enough to advance without encountering and F-5 but we are going to face some storms. Being obedient to Jesus is not going to keep us out of the storms: it may even get us into some storms.
We desperately need Jesus to get through the storm and to the other side. We are not self-sufficient. We need someone beyond ourselves. We can’t get to the other side without help. Is there anything wrong with you admitting that you need help? A few days back, our 18 month old grand daughter was going to get down from a stool and I reached out to help her but she refused my help. I backed off and said to myself, “OK, lets see you get down on your own.” She reached that place where her little feet were 6-8 inches off the floor and she had a decision to make, do I let go and take my chances on a crash or do I reach out to Granddaddy. It was the cutest thing: she looked up at me and then reached out her little hand. Our human nature longs to be independent but from time to time we need help. Just as I wanted to help my granddaughter, so our Heavenly Father who is infinitely better than any earthy father or grandfather, wants to help us if we will reach out our hand in faith. You can live this life without Jesus, many do, but you can’t get to the other side without HIM.
LESSON NUMBER THREE:
Jesus is present in the storm whether you see Him or not. The disciples panicked because they did not think Jesus was aware of what was going on in their lives [boat]. They felt emotionally that Jesus was at a distance. They were convinced that He was far away, beyond reach. They did not even resort to hollowing for Jesus. This is the strange thing: Jesus let them feel alone but He always knew where they were and what was going on. He did not send them into a storm alone but He gave them the impression that they were alone. In reality, Jesus was in the storm and eventually they see Him in the storm. Storms are not that frightening if you can see Jesus in the storm. What fills are hearts with fear and unbelief is when we feel alone in the storm and that Jesus is distant. Make a note: Jesus was out there but He intentionally stayed out of sight for a while. He becomes visible when He chooses to become visible. Sometimes we go to looking for Him in the early part of the storm and He doesn’t manifest His presence until the later part of the storm. The thing we have to remember is: JESUS IS PRESENT WHETHER WE SEE HIM OR NOT. He transcends and inhabits His creation. You cannot go anywhere in His universe that He is not present. He is omnipresent.
Jesus is greater than the storm. To me, this is the most comforting fact of them all, Jesus is greater than our greatest storm. Jesus winks at the things which horrify us. He can speak peace to a troubled heart or a disturbed mind. Jesus is the PEACE SPEAKER. In an instant, He can calm the storm and bring instant peace. As a young pastor, 35 years old with four kids, I encountered a storm of massive proportion, at least as far as I was concerned. I came under fire, I was getting heavy criticism, my job was threatened and my confidence was at an all time low. To make matters worse for my confidence, I went to some trusted friends for consolation but found out later that they were involved in the plan to get rid of me. After realizing that I had been deceived, my confidence really took a dive. By the middle of the week, my confidence was shot. I didn’t think I would ever preach again. On Wednesday evening the LORD spoke to me unlike any time before. He spoke a peace and calm to my soul that I have not been able to explain. His instructions were so clear that I wrote them down and made a commitment to follow them. I had some good men who had already committed to following me so long as I followed the LORD. I shared with the church on Wednesday night what the Lord had instructed me to do. I sure there was some tension in the community. One man told me up front, “You are making a big mistake.” My response was, “You may be right but I believe the LORD has spoken to me and I am going to obey His instructions. It is possible that I have misunderstand. Time will tell.” This is Wednesday night and the confrontation is Sunday morning. I am a worrier so this means I have enough time to go crazy before this is settled. This was back in the day that I worked with daddy occasionally and just so happened he called later that night and offered me a job working with him for two days in Huntsville. We were actually pouring concrete for the Associate Director of Missions for Madison County. This is the miracle. I didn’t talk to daddy or the preacher we were working for about the problem. I enjoyed the two days working with daddy and gave little or no thought to the problem. When I got back to the church field on Saturday, more than one tried to discourage me from confronting the problem but the LORD gave me peace and confidence. I knew that if I obeyed, He would take care of me one way or the other. Long story short, it was a painful ordeal for a lot of us but the LORD came through. This happened almost 30 years ago but I have not forgotten Jesus speaking peace to my very troubled heart. He calmed my storm and He can calm yours because He is greater than the storm.