John Message #16 “John 6 Introduction” Ed Miller, March 20, 2024

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As we prepare to look in the word, we are reminded again of that principle, that indispensable principle of Bible study, and that’s total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  Only the Lord can reveal the Lord, and He wants to do that. 

Let me share a verse from John 1, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  Another translation, “The darkness did not overpower it.”  The ESV says, “The darkness did not overcome it.”  Another says, “The darkness did not extinguish it, or suppress it.”  The whole point is that I have darkness, and when His light shines, it overpowers my darkness, and so that is the point here, that we want His light to shine, and the only way to get rid of darkness is to bring in light.  So, let’s just trust the Lord to bring in light and chase away our darkness. 

Heavenly Father, we thank You so much that our Lord Jesus is the light of the world and that any amount of darkness we have cannot stop that light from shining.  So, we just pray that You would dawn on us, shine on us, and drive away all darkness.  Thank You that we can trust You for this, because we ask it in Jesus’ precious name.  Amen.

Alright, welcome again to our meditation from the gospel of John; it’s not on the gospel.  It’s on our Lord Jesus.  We have come to meditate on the Lord.  We are now in lesson #16, and that’s a little much to review everything, so what I want to do is just, once again, review the great message of the book, and then pick up where we left off last time.

Why did the Holy Spirit lead the Apostle John to write this gospel?  He tells us in John 20:31, “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.”  We divided that up into three great truths.  God gave us this gospel that we might know who Jesus is.  God gave us this gospel that we might trust Him, and God gave us this gospel, that we might enjoy Him, and enjoy life in Him.  Every chapter, every story in this book is designed to help us know the Lord, trust the Lord, and enjoy the Lord.

When we closed last time, we were discussing John 5.  There are two clear divisions in this chapter.  The first is the first nine verses, which is the healing of that crippled man at Bethesda.  That’s only nine verses.  The rest of the chapter, 10-47 is the Jews’ response to that miracle.  We finished our meditation on the healing in the first nine verses and now the heart of that, the reason for that, I think is summarized in verse 8, “Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.’”  “Arise, take up your pallet and walk.”  Arise, take up your bed and walk.”  That tells us the whole story about the miracle.   After thirty-eight years that crippled man was delivered from and delivered unto.  He was delivered from that superstitious pool at Bethesda, and he got up that day, by the mighty power of God, and he walked away from that place forever.  He was delivered from that vanity and that hopelessness that he sat in, never to return to that place, and he was, also, freed unto.  Verse 9 again, “Immediately, the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.”  You remember that miracle was on the Sabbath day.  The Jews had a problem with that, that he would work that miracle on a Sabbath day, that he would carry his bed on the Sabbath day, but he got up and he walked into the real meaning of the Sabbath day; he walked into rest.  He was now carrying what carried him for thirty-eight years, and now he was victorious over it, and he walked into rest, away from sin and the consequences of sin.  That miracle, that transformation, that fragrance of his new life and walk, was not accepted by the religious Jews.  They felt that their precious Sabbath day had been violated.

Jesus commanded this man to pick up his bed and walk into the liberty of the real meaning of the Sabbath.  Carrying that bed, they said, “You’re not supposed to carry a burden,” and I suppose He smiled at them, and said, “You think this is a burden?  It’s been a burden for thirty-eight years, and it’s not a burden anymore, not a burden to carry this, I am now free.” 

So, the rest of this chapter, you’ve got the nine verses on the miracle, and the entire chapter has to do with the response to that miracle.  When Jesus worked the miracle of the woman at Samaria, you remember the response was positive; a whole city came to the Lord, but this man has a negative response, John 5:10, “The Jews were saying to the man who was cured, ‘It’s the Sabbath; it’s not permissible for you to carry your pallet.”  And then they found out it wasn’t him, at all; it was the Lord Jesus.  When they found that out, notice verse 17, “He answered, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’  For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him because He was not only breaking the Sabbath, but was also calling God His Father, making Himself equal with God.”  When they found out that it was Jesus, they began to persecute the Lord, and now they’re bent on killing Him.  That’s where we left off, and so I’d like to pick up there this morning.

Since the Holy Spirit emphasizes, puts on the spotlight on the response to the miracle…  In other words, the miracle takes that much space, and the response takes that much space, so we want to follow the Holy Spirit.  That’s what He’s emphasizing.  So, we want to look at that, as well.  One fifth of this chapter is given over to the miracle; four fifths of this chapter addresses the response to the miracle. 

I want to set it up by just agreeing with you with the Jewish mindset at this time.  Why were they so upset?  Why were they so hostile?  Why did they claim to hate Jesus so much that they wanted Him dead?  I’m going to read verse 15-18, “The man went away and told the Jews it was Jesus who had made him well.  For this reason, the Jews were persecuting Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.  He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.  For this reason, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He was not only breaking the Sabbath, but was also calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”  In their minds, He violate the Sabbath, but especially they were upset because He claimed a union with God.  He claimed that He was the Son of God, that God was His Father.  To them that was blasphemy; it was a sacrilege that you ruined the Sabbath and blasphemy that You made Yourself equal with God.”  They took a rugged stand on those two things.

Listen please to John 9:28, and this was their song all along.  This is the blind man, when He healed the blind man, “They reviled him and said, ‘You are His disciples; we are disciples of Moses.’”  That was their stand, “We believe in Moses and all Moses wrote.”  Deuteronomy 6:4&5 is something Moses wrote, “Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind.”  Try to get into the thinking of the Jews, “Moses said, ‘The Lord our God is one,’ and You’re claiming,” they said, “union with Him.  God is one; He’s not two; He’s one.  He doesn’t have a Son; He’s one God.  You are a blasphemer.”  That’s why they hated Him, because He claimed a union with God, and they’re saying, “You oppose Moses, and You claim that You are equal with God.  You are nothing but an imposter.  You’re a false teacher, and we will defend God.  God is one, and He’s not two.  You have no right to say that He’s two.  We’re not going to allow You to come in and deceive our people.  We’re going to protect our people.”  That’s why they were so angry.  They were loyalists; they are standing up for their God, as they understood it.  Jesus didn’t seem to care about Moses; He violated the Sabbath.  He didn’t seem to care about one God; He claimed that He was one with God.

Last week I told you that John 5 was one of the greatest chapters, if not in John, almost in the New Testament, on the deity of Christ; maybe Colossians 1 is equal to that.  But let me ask this question, if you knew someone hated you and they gave the reason for hating you, would you keep on affirming the things that upset them?  If someone told you, “I can’t stand broccoli, would you invite them over to your house for a dish of broccoli?  It’s sort of like rubbing it in their face.  If someone hated a certain song, would you sing that song in their ear?  You see, that’s exactly what Jesus did, but He wasn’t cruel.  I’m going to show you what He did, and then show you why He did it.  He’s not being mean, and He’s not saying, “In your face.” 

What is He doing and why?  In John 5:18, “For this reason the Jews sought to kill Him.  He was not only breaking the Sabbath, calling God His Father, making Himself equal with God.”  Let me go through the conversation Jesus had now with the Jews.  They’ve already expressed their hatred, they want Him dead, He’s a sacrilege, it’s blasphemy and He’s a deceiver.  John 5:19, “Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself unless it’s something He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.’”  Let me put it in other words.  Jesus said, “You see Me doing something, a great miracle.  That’s not Me; that’s your God.  God is doing that through Me.  I don’t take any initiative, verse 20, “The Father loves His Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing, and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.”  “You claim that you love God.  Well, you need to know that God loves Me and, ladies and gentlemen, you haven’t seen anything, yet.  Greater things than these you are about to see.” 

Jesus asks them, “Who is the source of all life?”  Of course, they would answer, “The one God, the only one: He’s the source of life. Listen to verse 21, “Just as the Father raises the dead, and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.”  Do you know how much salt was being put into their wounds?  He says to them, “At the end of the age you teach that there is going to be a judgment day, and you’re right.  Who is going to judge?  They said, “The only true God; there’s only one God and He’s going to judge.”  Listen to John 5:22, “Not even the Father judges anyone; He’s given all judgment to the Son.”  Do you realize what He’s saying? He’s saying, “You are going to be judged someday, and guess what?  I’m the one that’s going to do it.  You say that only God deserves worship, and you can’t worship a man. Verse 23, “All will honor the Son as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Me.”  Can you imagine Jesus standing up to these religious Jews and saying, “Do you believe in God?  I require the same honor that you give to Him.”  My goodness!  When they heard that, they already hated Him. 

Do you see what Jesus is doing?  He’s saying, “I want you to know who you are rejecting, who you are hating.  I’m the One that sustains the universe; I’m the One that’s doing these miracles; I’m the One who is the source of light; I’m the One who is going to judge the world; I’m the One that’s going to raise the dead; I’m the One that deserves the same honor as God.  God is going to raise the dead.  Verse 28, “Do not marvel at this.  An hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and will come forth.”  And I’m sure they would respond, “That’s right; they’re going to hear His voice and they’re coming from the grave; they’re going to hear God’s voice.”  Listen to verse 25, “Truly, truly I say to you the hour is coming and now is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”  Do you see what I mean when I say, “This chapter is a great chapter on the deity of Christ.”  I’m not going to review it again; we touched on it last week, but I showed you the four witnesses that He brought.  They said that if the mouth of two or three witnesses…  He said, “I’ll give you four; John the Baptist, that’s a witness; the miracles I do, that’s a witness; all the Bible and all the scriptures, that’s a witness; and Moses, your leader, is a witness, he wrote of Me.”

Jesus not only affirmed over and over again who He was; He told the truth about Himself, but then He told the truth about them.  They didn’t like hearing the truth about Jesus, and they sure don’t like hearing the truth about themselves.  They claimed, “We are standing here as loyalists defending the one and only true God.”  They had to have their ears ringing when they heard these things.  I’ll just refer to the verse and tell you what He said.  In verse 37 He said, “You’ve never heard the word of God, you religious leaders.”  In verse 38, “You don’t have His word in you.”  And in verse 38, “You don’t even believe in the God you are claiming to defend.”  And in verse 40, “You don’t have life and you refuse to come to Me, that you might have life.  You say you love God,” verse 42, He comes right out and says it, “You don’t love God; you’d rather receive men than God.”  Verse 43, “You don’t seek the glory of God.”  Verse 44, “And you don’t even believe in Moses.”  That’s pretty strong language.  The question is why?  It looks like He’s saying, “Let me tell you a thing or two, ‘I am the mighty God, and you guys are the hypocrites, and not Me.  You don’t hear from God; you don’t have His word; you don’t even believe in Him; you don’t respect Him and you don’t honor Him and you don’t even believe in Moses, and you’ve never believed in the Bible.’” Imagine telling them that!   

Why?  I’m going to tell you; there’s one verse here that shines out like a whole constellation, and it John 5:34, listen carefully, “The testimony which I receive is not from men; I say these things so that you might be saved.”  Isn’t that a marvelous verse!  Why am I telling you who I am, the mighty God who will judge and raise the dead, who has created and holds all things together, why am I telling you this?  Why am I telling you that you are the hypocrites, that you don’t believe God?  The answer is, “You hate Me, but I love you, and I’m telling you this that you might be saved.”  Everything is redemptive.  He loved those who hated Him, so He had to tell the truth about Himself, and He had to tell the truth about them. 

When He spoke about the future resurrection, did you notice how He worded it?  Verse 25, “Truly, truly I say to you, an hour is coming and now is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God.”  What is that “now is”?  He’s saying that you guys don’t have to wait until the resurrection.  Do you know why the dead are going to rise in the future?  It’s because I’m going to be there to raise them up; that’s why.  Guess what?  I’m here now, and I can raise you up right now.”  He’s saying, “You don’t have to wait; it’s now.”  Verse 24, “Truly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed on his death into life.”  “You know that there is a judgment day coming; you don’t have to wait for that.  If you believe Me right now, you’ll pass out of judgment and into life.”  That’s what Jesus said.  They studied the scripture, but the scripture testified of Him.  Verse 40, “You are unwilling to come to Me that you might have life.”  “Why am I telling you these things?  It’s because I love you and I want you to get saved; I know you hate Me, and I know you want Me dead, but I love you and I want you to be saved.  You can be raised from the dead right now.  You can pass judgment right now.  You can come to Me and find life right now.  That was the response to the miracle.  As I said, John 5 is the great chapter on the deity of Christ, but oh my, because of verse 34 I think it’s also a great chapter on the love of God, on the love of Christ.

I want to give one last thought about John 5 before we go to John 6.  Put yourself back in the shoes of the man that Jesus healed.  All of this revelation of His deity, all the truth about Jesus in response to their response, was all possible because a man was crippled for thirty-eight years and was finally healed.  Do you know how we say that everything is redemptive?  This man had no clue as he was sitting helplessly by that pool, that some day God would use his testimony in order to give the greatest revelation of the deity of Christ in the whole New Testament.  Without his affliction, without his healing, without his carrying the pallet on the Sabbath Day, all of this conversation would not have happened.  It’s all redemptive and it’s such a beautiful, beautiful thing.

The question comes, “Did it work?  Did any of these Pharisees come to the Lord?  Did any of these religious Jews?”  I can’t say for certain, but that was their best shot, and according to Acts 6:7, “The word of God kept on spreading and the number of the disciples continued increasing greatly in Jerusalem,” now notice this, “and a great many of the priests were coming obedient to the faith.”  A great company of Pharisees turned to the Lord.  I think some of the priests were probably in the temple when Jesus died and that veil was rent.  I think that’s one reason they turned to the Lord, but this also might be another one, that God gave this conversation…  I know Nicodemus responded, and I know Joseph of Arimathea responded, and now from Acts 6 I know a great company of priests finally turned to the Lord. It was important for Jesus to let them know exactly who He was; He was not only the Son of God, but He was God the Son; He’s God Himself, and He had to let them know who they were; they were sinners in desperately need of Him.

Before I show you the content of chapter 6, I’d like to introduce chapter 6; it’s a large chapter.  In fact, it’s the largest chapter in the whole gospel of John.  We’re not going to even begin to introduce it, but I want to first comment about the way John writes the gospel.  Notice John 6:1, “After these things, Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee or Tiberias.”  “After these things,” what things and how long after?  You may get the idea he healed the crippled man at Besthesda and after these things… then immediately He went to Galilee.  But He leaves quite a few events not mentioned; you see them in the other gospel.  There’s probably at least a year and maybe a year and a half between Bethesda and “after these things”.  He did the same thing in John 5:1, and it begins with these words, “After these things, there was a feast.”  Which feast, and how long after?  You might get the idea that he healed the nobleman’s son and then He came next and healed the crippled man at Bethesda.  Some teach that the events we’re going to look at in chapter 7 actually took place before chapter 6, if you relate the gospels together.  The point is that John does not write chronologically; he writes logically. 

His point in writing is so that you’ll know who Jesus is, so you’ll trust Him, and so you’ll enjoy Him.  He’s not giving you a chronology.  If you want the chronology of events, you are better off reading the gospel of Luke; he puts more things in order than John does.  Or if you really want it, then I would suggest that you pool the gospel record together yourself, that’s not easy to do.  There’s a book out by Edward Reese called “The Chronology of the New Testament”, and that’s been very helpful if you want to get those things in order.  It’s published by Bethany Press.  We call this place “Bethany”, it’s not really Bethany Press—in a sense I guess it is Bethany Press!  The Bethany here, you know, is the place where Jesus is welcomed and fully accepted.  I used to own Edward Reese’s book, but Lillian stole it; she likes it more than I do, so I have to keep borrowing my book from her.  Anyway, I’m just telling you about John’s way of writing.  There are undefined intervals between these particular events, and sometimes the sequence of events is altered with John.  There are unexplained transitions from story to story, and if you know that, it’ll just help you, instead of trying to piece it altogether.

Alright, we come then to John 6, the largest chapter in the gospel of John, seventy-one verses in this single chapter.  The miracle that’s mentioned in John 6 at the beginning is the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand plus women and children.  It’s one of the two miracles that’s mentioned in all of the gospels.  I wonder if you know the second miracle that’s mentioned in all the gospels.  The answer is that it’s the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, the death and resurrection of Christ.  If Matthew, Mark and Luke record this same miracle, then the question is, why is John’s account so much longer than theirs? 

There are four parts to this chapter; let me just sort of give you that overview.  The first fifteen verses give you the miracle, called “the feeding of the five thousand”.  That’s the miracle.  And then in verses 16-21 they are sent out on the stormy sea, and that’s the next story.  And then John gives a long discussion, a discourse on the bread of life, which he explains the miracle of the loaves.  Then, finally, at the end his disciples still don’t get it, and so from 60-71 He deals personally with His disciples.  I’m going to repeat those divisions, but try to tie them together, and we’re moving closer and closer into the revelation of the Lord.  In the first fifteen verses, He does that great miracle, and in that miracle, He gives a special revelation of Himself.  We need to identify that; we need to see what the great revelation of Jesus was.  Then in verses 16-21, He sends them out into a storm and tests them to see if they learned what they were supposed to learn by the miracle, if they appropriate it.  Then, in verses 22-59, He gives a long sermon explaining what He really meant.  But, as I said, even after that miracle, after the storm and after the explanation, His disciples, many are still scratching their heads, and so He explains it again to them.  A lot of people left Him because of this explanation.

The other gospels write about the miracle and the storm, but Luke doesn’t mention the storm.  Luke leaves that out, but none of the others—Matthew, Mark or Luke—they do not include this long discourse on the bread of life.  That’s why John 6 is so long.  In John 5 we saw how the Lord Jesus was persecuted in Jerusalem.  Now in chapter 6 He goes to Galilee and the opposition continues.  He was persecuted in Jerusalem and now in Galilee and increasingly now the opposition is going to get greater and greater until it culminates at the cross.  We’ll be following that as we go along.

Let me show you how I’d like to go through this awesome chapter.  The first story, as I said, is the miracle, the feeding of the five thousand plus women and children.  That miracle is designed to give a great revelation of Christ.  It wasn’t just designed to show off His power or to feed their bellies; He wanted to show who He was.  There’s a lesson there; there’s a teaching there.  But it’s more than a lesson or a teaching; He’s not just out to drop a truth or give a maxim or give a principle or a doctrine.  He loves us too much to leave us with a cold doctrine.  That miracle presented Christ in a way that he had not been presented so far in that same way.  That was a great message.

Now, in this particular case, Jesus uses some pretty strong language to show how determined He is that they get it, that they learn that revelation.  Listen to Matthew 14:22, “Immediately, He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side while He sent the crowds away.”  That expression, “He made them get into the boat,” the KJV says, “He constrained them to get into the boat.”  Darby translates it, “He compelled them,” and that’s Wuest, as well.  Mark emphasizes the same thing, Mark 6:45, “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat.”  He made them get into the boat.

Don’t you think it’s curious that we haven’t seen this reaction of Christ since He cleansed the temple, and He threw the tables over?  But now we’re seeing a side of Jesus that we don’t see all through the gospels.  He compelled them; He constrained them; He forced them; He made them.  The Greek is, “He necessitated them; He drove them.”  That Greek word implies resistance, and that’s why He had to compel them, because He told them, and they resisted.  He told them again, and they resisted.  He told them again, and they resisted.  Maybe they had a good reason.  Maybe they said, “No, you know Lord, thank You for sending us over; we’ll wait for you.”  He said, “Get in the boat!”  And they said, “Yeah, but it’s a mess here; we’ll help clean up, these five thousand people plus others, we’ll help you clean up.”  “GET in the boat!”  They said, “But they’re trying to make you king, and you might need protection, so we’ll just hang around until You are ready.”  “GET IN THE BOAT!!!!”  That’s exactly the way that Greek is written, that He compelled; He forced them, and why?  It’s because they are about to go into a stormy sea, and God is saying to them, “I will teach you who I am, and then I’m going to send you on a test; I’m going to give you an exam; I want to see if you pass; I want to see if you learn it; I want to see if you understand who I really am.”

Well, let’s jump to the end; did they pass?  Mark 6:51, “He got into the boat with them, the wind stopped, and they were utterly astonished,” now listen to this, “They had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.”  They blew it.  Altogether they flunked the test.  He said, “I want you to see Me this way; I’m going to push you into the storm to see if you can appropriate Me and apply it,” and they failed completely; they did not apply the manifestation of Christ they were supposed to learn in the miracle. The miracle revealed Christ, the storm tested whether or not they learned that.

Now, you would have expected that as a Bible teacher I would follow the Holy Spirit’s method in presenting this, in other words, God says, “First look at the miracle and look at the revelation, and then we’ll look at the storm and see where they messed up, and then we’ll look at the sermon and see how He explains it, and then we’ll deal with the disciples in a special way.”  But, I’m not going to start there.  I believe it will be more helpful…  I know in my own life that I’m an expert at flunking tests.  You can look at my transcripts; I was under water the whole time; that’s below sea level.  All through my college I was under water and I was flunking.  Every time after I flunked, the teacher would say, “That’s the wrong answer; this is the right answer,” and then I learned the right answer.  So, I thought if we could look at the test, first, how they flunked, and then Jesus said, “Here’s what you missed,” it might stick with us a little longer.  Anyway, that’s what we’re going to do.  We’re not going to look at the miracles of the loaves first of all, but I’d like to take you to the test, and I want us to go with them in the test; I want to see what they did, and I want to see what they didn’t do, and I want to see what they should have done.  How did they flunk?  That’s going to be the question.  We won’t answer it fully today, until we see the revelation, but we’ll begin there.

We’ll begin with the storm.  Let me set up the situation.  Jesus had ordered the disciples, He commanded them, He compelled them, He forced them, He insisted that they go.  Don’t get confused….  Matthew says, “They landed at the Gennesaret, and Mark says that they went to Bethsaida, and John says, “and so they landed at Capernaum.”  We’re talking about the same place; we’re talking about a direction.  When Lillian tried to guide me, I get lost everywhere, she’ll show me a sign, “That way,” and it says New York; I’m not going to New York, and I don’t want to follow that sign.  She says, “Yeah, but you’ve got to go in the direction,” so that’s what you have here.  Gennesaret is a direction, you go toward Bethsaida to get to the land of Gennesaret in order to land at the port of Capernaum.  Just don’t get disturbed about all of that.  They are to row across the lake to Capernaum.

Scholars tell us that was about a seven-mile trip from where He fed the multitude.  John 6:19, “And when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea drawing near to the boat, and they were frightened.”  Three or four miles; KJV says it’s twenty-five or thirty furlongs, but that’s about three or four miles.  What we need to know is that it’s about half way to their destination.  It’s interesting to note that John 6:16, “Now, when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea.  Getting into the boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum, and it had already become dark.”  They left just before dark.  Don’t read that just la, la, la; they were awake the whole day, and they were with the multitude, and so they were awake for a whole day, and they get into the boat around 6 pm or so at night.  Listen to Mark 6:46, “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida while He Himself was sending the crowd away.  After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray, and when it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land, seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them at about the fourth watch of the night.”  I want you to look at that “fourth watch of the night”.  They divided the night into four watches, at three hour intervals; it started at 6 o’clock.  6-9 was the first watch, 9-12 was the second watch, 12-3 was the third watch, and the fourth watch was between 3 in the morning and 6 in the morning.  Again, don’t read it la, la, la.  What that means practically is that these boys were up all day long and they had rowed about nine hours, and somewhere between 3 in the morning and 6 in the morning, and they were struggling at the oars.  I guess they were. 

Listen to Matthew 14:24, “The boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves, for the wind was contrary.”  The Lord is testing them, testing their faith.  So, He sends a wind; they get halfway out there, and He sends a wind, and the waves are battering them, and they’re rowing.  John 6:18, “The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.”  This is not an ordinary wind; they’re not only rowing, but they are rowing against a contrary wind.  Mark 6:48, “Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them walking on the sea.”  As I said, Luke doesn’t describe the storm, but just put it altogether and try to picture this test.  They’re in the middle of a storm-tossed sea; they’re being battered by waves, and they’re rowing against a contrary wind; they’re tired and exhausted.  They’ve been awake all day and they’ve been rowing at least nine hours; it’s the darkest part of the night, and Jesus is absent, and He’s not there, and they’re not half way home to their destination. 

That’s a test!  Ever been there?  Do you know what I’m talking about?  Have you ever been at such a test, and you’re trying to do what they did; they’re trying to obey the Lord.  He put them in that boat and told them where to go.   They’re trying to obey the Lord, and they’re tired and they’re exhausted and they’re frustrated; they’re tough fisherman but this is too hard for them to take, and I don’t expect that they’re singing, “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.”  I don’t think that’s what they were doing!  I don’t think their tongues were tame, yet, at this time.  These are strong fisherman.  The Bible doesn’t tell us what exactly they were singing, but my guess is they’re in trouble, and sometimes when God teaches us something and tests us, and He seems to be absent, and we’re in a storm and we can’t handle it, and we’re going against a contrary wind and we’re trying obey, and we’re not half way to our destination, we throw our hands up in despair and we say, “Lord, what in the world is going on, and where are You, and why haven’t you come to my rescue?”  That’s the test.  Just don’t read this as a Bible story; this IS a Sunday school story, but it’s more than that; it’s a reality.  Jesus said, “I want you to learn this; I want you to see Me this way.  Now, let’s see if you did,” and they didn’t.  If fact, their heart was hardened.  We’re going to look at that in another connection. 

The Holy Spirit breaks this up into three scenes.  So, I’d like to present the scene before you.  In the scenes, the disciples stay put.  Where are the disciples?  Scene one: they’re in a boat in the middle of a stormy sea.  Scene two: they’re in a boat in the middle of a stormy sea.  Scene three: they are in a boat in the middle of a stormy sea.  Although they don’t move, very interesting, Jesus is on the move.  We’ve got to see this.  Jesus is on the move.  And that’s how we have to study this storm if we’re going to end up with the revelation of Christ.  Where’s Jesus in scene one while the disciples are in the middle of the stormy sea?  Mark 6:46, “After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray, and when it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, He was alone on the land.”  Scene one; He’s on a mountain praying.  Matthew 14;23, “After He sent the crowds away, He went on the mountain by Himself to pray.  When it was evening, He was there alone.”  John 6:15, “So, Jesus, perceiving they were intended to come Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.” 

That’s scene one; the disciples in the middle of storm-tossed sea and Jesus on the mountain praying.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t tell us what He was praying about.  Maybe He’s praying that they’ll pass the test.  Maybe He’s praying about the crowd that He had just fed.  Maybe He’s fellowshipping with His holy Father God.  We don’t know.  We know He prayed, and we know He watched; He was watching them.  Somewhere between three and six, He saw them, and they were struggling at the oars.  That’s scene one.

Where is Jesus in scene two?  Matthew 14:25, “In the fourth watch of the night, He came to them walking on the sea.”  Now He’s on the move; they’re still out there in one place, but He’s on the move.  Mark adds in verse 48, “At about the fourth watch of the night He came to them walking on the sea and intending to pass by them.”  Very important; we’ll look at that in another occasion.  John 6:19, “And when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat.”  So, He’s not only walking on the sea, He’s approaching them; He’s drawing near to the boat.  That’s scene two.  Scene one, He’s on the mountain praying, and they’re in the storm-tossed sea.  Scene two, Jesus is walking on the water, and He wants to go by, and He’s going toward them, and they’re still in the boat on the storm-tossed sea. 

Alright, scene three, they’re in the boat on the storm-tossed sea, and in Matthew’s account, this is where Peter walks on the water, but we’re after Jesus now.  Where was He?  Matthew 14:32, “When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.”  So, now Jesus gets into the boat.  Mark 6:51, “When He got into the boat with them, the wind stopped; they were utterly astonished.”  And then John 6:21, “They were willing to receive Him into the boat.”  So, those are the three scenes:  Jesus on the mountain, Jesus walking on the water, and Jesus in the boat, and all the time they’re just in the boat in the middle of a storm-tossed sea.

Let me try to bring all of this together, those three scenes, because it is displaying what is God’s plan for His people, for His disciples, for His children, for believers in Christ.  There are three ways, and only three ways that we can relate to Christ when we are in a storm-tossed sea.  What happened to them was not only history, it was prophecy; it’s how God deals with all His children all the time.  Christians today can be described as in the middle of a storm-tossed sea.  That’s where we are and we’re waiting, struggling, trying to get to our destination; we’re trying to get to the will of God, and where He wants us to be, but we’ve got to relate to the Lord.

As believers, we can relate to the Lord on the mountain praying, or we can relate to the Lord walking by toward us, but wanting to pass, or we can bring Him into the boat, as the disciples did.  They’re being tested; this is a test.  We know they failed.  Where did they fail?  What was the revelation?  Again, Mark 6:52, “They had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves; their heart was hardened.”  Of course, we’ve got to study the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men plus women and children to get that revelation which, Lord willing, we will do, but we need to identify what they should have done.  What did they miss?  What was the revelation?  I know this is a pretty bad place to close this study, but I pray this gets you to praying and meditating and pondering on these things, but just let me ask you this, and don’t answer, because you might be surprised at the Bible answer.  When you are in trouble, and when you’re in a storm, where would you rather have Jesus?  On a mountain praying, absent where you can’t see Him, walking by close enough, in the boat?  We’ll touch on that next time?  I think you might be surprised at that third option. 

Walking by, notice in verse John 6:49, “They saw Him walking on the sea, and they supposed it was all a ghost and they cried out, for they were all frightened.”  On the mountain you can’t see Him, in the boat you can see Him and you can touch Him and He’s right there, physical, when He’s walking by, you aren’t sure.  Is that a Person?  Is that a ghost?   They were uncertain if it was a real Person.  Would you rather have Him when you can’t see Him, where it’s mixture, or when you can see Him?  Is that just a coincidence or is that Jesus?  Is that a God-thing?  Is that the devil?  Is that the Lord?  Is that an enemy, or is that friend?  These things are amazing.

I’ve got to close on a positive, so I will.  I’ll close with this comforting reality; they flunked the test.  Here is the reality.  Even though they flunked, Jesus was on the move.  That’s the comforting part.  Even if I fail, He’s on the move.  He’s not going to leave me; He’ll see me struggling at the oars, and He’ll get close enough to identify Himself and tell me not to fear, and He’ll show Me that He’s walking on the storm and it’s under His feet, and He’ll work a miracle and He’ll stop the storm, and He’ll take me to my destination.  He’s on the move.  I may fail the test, but I can trust that the Lord will always meet me where I am. 

We’ll pick it up here; we aren’t done with the storm, yet, let alone start the miracle.  So, we’ll pick that up next time.  Let’s pray together.

Heavenly Father, thank You for this marvelous chapter in the gospel of John.  Lord, we need to know who You are; we need to trust You, so we can enjoy You.  We need to relate to You.  What does it mean that You’re on the mountain praying?  What does it mean that You’re walking by and You want to continue walking by.  What does in mean when You get in the boat?  Lord, help us, and prepare our hearts to fellowship these great realities.  Thank You, Lord, that You’re always on the move, that Your Father is working, and You are working, and that You continue to work.  Meet us where we are, and take us where You would have us.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.