John Message #17 “Jesus on the Move and Stormy Sea” Ed Miller, March 27, 2024

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As we come to the word of the Lord, we are reminded that He is the Author, and He is the One who inspired it, and now He’s the One who must interpret it.  I want to share a verse from Luke 10:42 before we go to prayer.  This was with Mary and Martha, and it says, “Martha, Martha, only a few things are necessary, and really only one.  Mary has chosen the good part, and it shall not be taken from her.”  “One thing is needful,” the KJV says, and what is that one thing?  I used to think it was Bible study because Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, but the one thing needful is not Bible study; the one thing needful is having Jesus be the Teacher of the Bible.  That was the one thing needful, Mary was learning from the Lord. So, all human wisdom is vain; we need to be taught by God.  Let’s commit our time to the Lord.

Our heavenly Father, thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Thank You for the Author of the Bible, and the One who interprets it for us and teaches us the wisdom from above.  We pray, Lord, that you’d deliver us from carnal reasoning and wisdom, and show us your heart.  Take us to the Lord Jesus.  We know You desire to unveil Him.  We commit our time to You in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Alright, welcome to our meditation from the gospel of John.  This book, the gospel of John, like every book in the Bible, is the testimony of Jesus. In John 5:39, “You search the scriptures because you think in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.”  The whole Bible is a testimony of Christ.  There is no life in doctrine per se.  There is no life in ritual; there is no life in teaching.  I love principles; I want to be principle-minded, but there’s no life in a principle, and there’s no life in a church; there’s only life in the Lord.  1 John 5:12, “He who has the Son has the Life; He who does not have the Son of God, does not have the Life.”  That’s why we gather here, to behold the Lord, so we can appropriate His Life.  He wants to live in our place as He once died in our place.

Let me bring you in our meditation where we closed last time.  I’ll review a little of that, and then we’ll pick up where we left off.  We were meditating on John 6, and there are four parts to that chapter.  We’re only considering at this time the first two parts, and actually we’re only really considering one part.  The two parts that I’m referring to are the first fifteen verses which is the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, plus women and children.  Then it’s followed up in verses 16-21 by the stormy sea; the disciples were sent out into the boat and He was testing the reality of their faith. 

I presented an overview of those two sections last time.  The miracle was designed to unveil the Lord Jesus in a special way; every story reveals Him in a slightly different way.  John 6 in that miracle, there’s a special revelation of the Lord.  The Lord wanted them to see that; He wanted them to appropriate Himself as He proposed Himself to them.  That special revelation is given in the miracle.  After the miracle He sent them out into a storm in order to see if they really did understand that revelation; He wanted them to see Christ and apply it.  He sent them out in a storm to discern whether or not they had seen that revelation.  Do we know how they fared in that storm?  The answer is, “Yes, we do.  Their grades have been recorded.”  Mark 6:51, “He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, and their heart was hardened.”  They flunked; they failed the test; they did not pass the test.  They had no insight on what He was trying to show them through that miracle, and if fact, their hearts were hardened.  We need to look at that.

We’re in the process of looking at that test, the storm, and we wanted to discover how they failed, what did they miss, what was the lesson of the loaves, and what was that special revelation of the Lord, what did God expect them to do out there in the middle of the sea during that terrible storm?  What would it have looked like if they passed the test?  These are things we want to discover.  What does it mean that their hearts were hardened?  May God open our understanding as we look at some of these questions.  These questions are important, not only to understand their story, but how we respond in the storms of life.  It’s because these stories are so vital and so practical, I believe the Lord would not have me rush into it.  Lillian is always on my case, “Don’t just fly over that; spend time.”  In this case I certainly agree with her.

It may seem logical to study this chapter beginning with the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand plus women and children.  We could discover by doing that, this is the revelation.  Now, let’s see if they learned it.  We could approach it that way, and then after looking at the revelation, go out into the storm and see where they failed.  But I felt inclined to reverse the order, not to look at the miracle first, but to look at the storm first, because like the disciples, I seem to learn through failure, and I seem to learn out in the storm.  Let me rephrase that; I begin to learn.  I wonder if we ever really learn anything.  I think the Lord has to teach us the same thing over and over and over again.  Anyway, I want to present this as the Lord has begun to teach it to me, and it was through failure.

I introduced the facts of the storm last week, so I’ll just give you the heart of that.  They had been commanded after the miracle, strongly commanded, more than urged, they were forced, and this was an unusual way the Lord dealt with them, but He constrained them, “Get into that boat and go,” because He’s going to test whether or not they learned it. 

It was about seven miles across the sea.  He commanded them to go across to the other side.  John 6:19, “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.”  The point is that they were about half way there.  Mark 6:48 says, “At about the fourth watch of the night He came to them.”  The fourth watch of the night is between three o’clock in the morning and six o’clock in the morning.  Don’t just read that la, la, la; they had been awake all day, and now they’d been rowing for eight or nine hours, and they were only half way to obeying the Lord, and they were very frustrated.  That was their situation; they were out in the middle of a stormy sea, they were tired, they were exhausted, and Jesus was not with them as far as His body is concerned, and it was the darkest part of the night, and they’re only half way home in terms of obeying the Lord.

When we closed, I showed how the Holy Spirit in this story broke the record into three scenes.  In every scene the disciples are out in the middle of a storm-tossed sea; they don’t move; they are just out there struggling against the wind and the waves.  However, the Lord is on the move, and in each scene He’s in a different place.  They’re still in the middle of the sea, but He is on the move; He doesn’t stay in one place.  In scene one, where is Jesus?  Mark 6:46, “After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.  When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land.”  Where was He in scene One?  He’s on the mountain praying.  Where was He in scene two?  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, and He intended to pass by them.”  In scene two, He’s not on the mountain; now He’s walking on the water, on the stormy sea.  Where is He is scene three?  John 6:21, “So, they were willing to receive Him into the boat.”  Those are the three scenes: Jesus on the mountain while they’re in the storm, Jesus walking on the water while they’re in the storm or Jesus in the boat while they’re in the storm.

This dividing it up into these three scenes demonstrates the only possibilities that we have when we’re in a storm.  We can either relate to Jesus on a mountain, or we can relate to Jesus walking on the water, or we can relate to Jesus in the boat.  There are no other possibilities.  In every storm we ever face, we’re going to have to choose one of those three things.  It’s a great comfort to know that when I am stuck in the middle of a stormy sea, and failing the exam, it’s a great comfort to know Jesus is on the move.  Even though I’m stuck, He’s not stuck, and He’s going to come to me.  He always meets us as we are and where we are, in order to bring us to the place that He wants us to be.  If He sees me struggling at the oars, He’s not going to stay on the mountain; He’s going to come to me.  If that doesn’t work, He’s going to get into the boat, and that’s where we left off last week.

Here’s what I’d like to do this morning.  I’d like to return to the storm.  We’re not going to get to the miracle of the loaves, yet—that’s Lillian’s fault.  We’re still going to be looking at this storm, and I want to look at some of the precious details that the Holy Spirit has recorded for us.  I want to present the truth in John 6 pretty much as I’ve begun to learn it through failure, and we’ll see that as we go through.  Especially, I want to focus on the movement of our Lord Jesus, and how He draws near to us in the hour of failure, when we’re not doing so well.  We’re going to look at Jesus on the mountain, on the water and in the boat.

I want to underscore, before we ponder His movements, why it’s best in God’s eyes, not our eyes, to relate to Him on the mountain praying, than either walking on the water or having Him in the boat with us.  I believe Jesus on the mountain illustrates pure faith.  Listen to these verses.  2 Corinthians 5:7, “We walk by faith and not be sight.”  On the mountain He could not be seen.  It required pure faith.  Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen.”  On the mountain He could not be seen.  Hebrews 11:27, “By faith,” speaking of Moses, “He left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, he endured as seeing Him who is unseen.”  Jesus on the mountain could not be seen with the natural eye; He was watching them but they could not see Him.  Actually, it’s quite a picture the Holy Spirit has painted here, Jesus out of sight on a mountain, praying, because that’s a shadow of what is true right now.  When we say that Jesus was absent, you understand what I mean.  He’s absent from sight, but He’s not really absent; He’s there.  He was absent from carnal sight and from human wisdom.  He’s invisible but He’s closer to you than the organs in your body are close to you.  He lives inside of us.

Let me give two quotations from Hebrews to show how John 6 is a picture of the present condition.  The first is Hebrews 7:25, “He’s able, also, to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intersession for them.”  Where is Jesus now?  The answer is that He’s at the right hand of the Father.  And what’s He doing?  He’s praying.  He’s far away on a mountain praying.  And where are we?  Hebrews 6:19, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope sure and steadfast, one which enters within the veil where Jesus entered as a forerunner for us, having become a High Priest forever after the order of Mechizedek.”  This is a picture of a ship, and it has an anchor.  This anchor is unique because it doesn’t go down; it goes up.  It’s strange to be on a ship and the anchor is going up, and it’s not going down.  According to the Lord, it’s connected to the ship by two unchangeable cables, and one of them is His character, who He is, and the other one is His oath.  By those two cables our anchor goes up, and what’s it connected to?  Verse 19, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope sure and steadfast which enters within the veil where Jesus is.”  In other words, how safe are you in this storm-tossed sea?  Your anchor is connected to the throne of God in heaven, inside the veil.  The picture changes a little.  It’s still a ship on a storm-tossed sea, but the anchor is going up; you’re anchored within the veil and your tempest tossed outside the camp—inside the veil/outside the camp.  We’re connected to the Lord, and yet, we’re living in this world where the storms are.

That was anticipated by the High Priestly prayer, and we’ll get to that when we come to John 17, but that’s the first picture, the first scene.  We’re in a storm-tossed sea, and Jesus is far away to sight, not to faith, absent, invisible, and we are anchored to the throne of God, safe as a babe in its mother’s arms.

Now, I’m going to jump to the third one, only because it’s a contrast, in other words, Jesus in the boat.  If Jesus on the mountain pictures pure faith, trusting an invisible God, what is Jesus in the boat picturing?  The answer is sight; He’s there and they can see Him and they can touch Him and they can feel Him and they talk to Him and they have a sense of His presence; He is actually there.  Those two extremes, Jesus on the mountain/Jesus in the boat, one is a picture of pure faith, and the other is a picture of sight.  So, what’s in between Jesus walking on the water?  Mark 6:49, “When they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and they cried out.  They all saw Him and were terrified.”  What is, to them, a ghost?  The answer is that it’s confusion to them.  It’s Christ; we know that, but in one moment He’s visible and it looks like somebody walking on the water, “I don’t know; is that a spirit?  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe it’s a ghost.”  In other words, it’s in between faith and sight; it’s mixture, it’s both, it’s material and it’s spiritual, and you don’t know what to do with it.  You’re uncertain.  It’s a scary thing to be in the middle.  “Is this person or thing, this spirit, friendly or is that an enemy?  What’s going on in my life?  Is that a God-thing or is that just coincidence?  Look what’s going on.  Is that Satan or is that God.  Should we be glad or should we be sad?”  It’s the middle road between the visible and the invisible, between faith and sight, and it leads you, as a Christian, on the deck scratching your head and trembling because you’re not sure if it’s the Lord or if it’s not the Lord; you don’t know what’s going on. 

Satan tempts us to ask the question, “All of this loneliness and all of this frustration and this danger and this panic and this struggling against the wind and the storm and the darkness and where’s God?  He seems so far away.  Would He allow this for His child?  Would He allow this for the one He has redeemed?  I’m His child; God loves us.  Why would He allow this in our lives?”  I confess to you, when I saw these three possibilities of relating to the Lord, on the mountain, walking on the water, or in the boat, my natural heart said, “I want Him in the boat; I want to see Him; I want to feel Him; I want to know He’s there.  I don’t care if it’s subjective.  That’s what I want.  I want to know the Lord and I want to feel His presence.”  It’s a great comfort to my heart to know that He is in the boat, but I think as we go through this, it’ll be very clear why, when we look at the miracle of the five thousand and the special revelation of the Lord, how it will all fall into place, and why Jesus on the mountain is really God’s highest pleasure.

Thes storm was sent by the Lord as a test, a test of faith.  Remember that we haven’t looked at the miracle of the loaves, yet so we haven’t identified the revelation of Christ that they were supposed to have applied.  You might think from what I’ve already said that the revelation of Christ is the invisible Priest praying on the mountain.  No, that didn’t happen until after the miracle of the feeding.  That’s not the revelation I’m talking about.  It’s going to lead into that, but that special revelation is what they’re being tested about, and we haven’t identified it yet.  We’ll come to that revelation, but first I want to dive a little deeper into those three stages: Jesus on the mountain, Jesus on the water and Jesus in the boat.

As we closed last time, I emphasized that important principle, and I’ve already mentioned it once this morning, and don’t doubt this; the Lord will always meet you where you are, and not where you think you should be or where He wants you to be.  He’ll meet you where you are, and take you by the hand and lead you to the place that He wants you to be.  Mary Cox gave a very powerful testimony last week of the Lord’s faithfulness in her life, no matter how she failed, that He was always there.  That is one of the great lessons in this chapter.  I think we’ve all sung at one time or another from that hymnal, that we know that He’s been so faithful and rescued us when we were blowing it.

Let me start with Jesus praying on the mountain, because that’s God’s pleasure and that’s the ideal, to trust Him even when you can’t see Him, even when He seems far away, even when He seems absent.  But what if I fail to trust Him when He seems far away?  Mark 8:48, “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.”  He was doing more than praying when He was on the mountain.  The Bible says that He was also watching.  There’s not a lonely moment that He takes His eye off of you.  Twenty-four hours a day the Lord has His eye on you; He’s watching you.  And even though they didn’t see Him, He saw them.  The NIV and the NAS says, “He saw them straining at the oars.”  The margin of the NAS says, “They were harassed in rowing.”  Wuest says, “He saw them continually distressed in rowing.”  KJV says, “Toiling at the oars.”  Willians translation says, “They were struggling at the oars.”  Darby says, “They were laboring at the oars.”  You get the idea.  These guys were fighting against a contrary wind.

I told you that they were exhausted.  They had been up all day and rowing all the night long, and on the level of earth I can see why they are struggling at the oars.  But I think that expression, “The Lord saw them struggling at the oars,” is more than tired muscles.  I think that’s more than limp limbs.  I think that’s more than aching bones.  I think that’s more than sore arms.  I think there’s a spiritual reality, and when we’re going through the storms in our life, and we’re trying to do it in our own strength, He sees us struggling at the oars.  Thousands of Christians haven’t yet learned Matthew 11:30, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  For many Christians, the Christian life is not easy and it’s not light; it’s a terrible struggle and it’s a frustration and their whole Christian lives, in some cases, can be described by struggling at the oars.  In that storm I doubt if anybody in the boat said, “You know, we ought to be meditating on what we learned when He fed the five thousand.”  I don’t think they’re thinking about that.  I don’t even think they knew they were in a test.  I think they’re just trying to get to the other side, and they’re facing this terrible storm. 

What we must not miss in this story is the fact that it would please the Lord if we could just trust Him while we’re going through the storm.  But what if we fail, what if we blow it.  I think we’ve all been there.  What if we flunked the test?  What if we’re wearing ourselves out trying to live the Christian life; they’re just trying to obey the Lord.  He said to go to the other side, and they’re doing their level best to do it.  They’re trying to obey the Lord, but what if we don’t trust an invisible God?  The answer is that He’s not going to forsake you.  He’s going to get up from that mountain praying, and He’s going to come to you on the sea.  We might be saying, “Lord, I can’t take much more of this storm going on in my life.  I need some relief; give me a break.”  Is He just going to leave you there to struggle and finally sink from the relentless battering that you’re taking?  When we fail miserably, pull out the stops, believe this with all your heart, is He going to fail you?  He’s not going to fail you, He’s not going to forsake you, He’s not going to give up on you, He’s not going to cast you aside, He’s not going to leave you alone, just to contend with the elements; He’s not going to do that.  Ask God to help you believe that He’s praying for you and He’s watching you and He sees what you are going through.  What is He waiting for?  I’ll tell you what He’s waiting for.  It’s spelled out in the Old Testament and it’s spelled out in the New Testament.  Let me give it to you from the Old Testament.  Deuteronomy 32:36, “The Lord will vindicate His people; He will have compassion on His servants when He sees that their strength is gone.”  That’s what He’s waiting for; He’s waiting for your strength to go; He’s waiting for you to collapse; He’s waiting for you to give up; He’s waiting for you to through in the towel; He’s waiting for you to quit and stop doing it.  Once He sees that, He says, “Now I’m going to come.”

So, Jesus is on the move, and He moves from the mountain where He was praying, and He causes them some fear, I think.  He saw them and they were all exhausted.  This is the second scene.  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.”  Let me read the rest of the record to complete the record.  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,” now notice this, “He intended to pass by them.”  He intended to pass by them.  What’s another was to say that?  He did not want to get on the boat; He wanted to pass by.  There is no question that the disciples wanted Jesus to come them, but they didn’t expect Him to come that way.  In fact, He rarely comes to us as we expect Him to come to us.  This was so  unexpected that, at first, they were not even sure it was the Lord Jesus.  Mark 6:49, “When they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost.  They cried out.  They all saw Him and were terrified.” 

I want to show you three things that the Lord desires to accomplish by walking on the water.  When you look at these facts, there are principles, age-abiding principles that are illustrated by these facts.  The first thing the Lord wanted to accomplish by walking on the water was to make Himself known to them.  He drew close enough that they could identify Him and hear His voice.  John 6:20, “He said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’”  He wanted them to know that He was there, that it’s Him.  They were not only tired, but they were scared to death when they saw this appearance of someone on the stormy sea, so He came close enough, so they would know that it’s Him.  When you’re going through your storm and you fail to trust an invisible God, and He’s sees you struggling, He’s going to come close enough, so you say, “Somehow, I know it’s the Lord; the Lord is in this.”  But we get the idea that even His voice, “Take courage, it is I, and be not afraid,” they weren’t quite ready to digest that.  The reason I know that is because of Peter’s statement.  Matthew 14:28, Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  They aren’t sure, yet, “If it is You…”  It would be terrible if it were an enemy and they said to come.  Anyway, that’s another picture. 

Jesus will come close enough to identify Himself, address your fear, and He sees you struggling, and He knows you are trembling, and He knows you’re afraid but He wants you to know that He’s there.  Remember that they’re still dependent on the natural eye; they’re still dependent on the carnal eye; they’re still dependent on human wisdom.  They’ve got eyes and they see the waves and they see the darkness and they see some strange appearance coming near them, something or somebody coming to them.  I can’t blame the disciples, actually.  It would be nice if I had the eyesight that God gave Job.  Remember what he said in Job 1:21, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”  We know from the record that the devil took it away, but he had faith and he saw an invisible God.  He said, “The Lord took it away.”  I’d love to have the eyes that Joseph, son of Jacob had, when he was speaking to his brothers.  Genesis 45:5, “Do not be grieved or angry with yourself; you sold me here, for God sent me.”  “You sold me, God sent me.”  It would be nice to think like that!  I wish I had that kind of faith or verse 50:20, “You meant evil against me; God meant it for good.”  When I’m going through a storm, I’d like to think that God did that.

There’s a second thing He longed to accomplish, not only to make Himself known and quell their fear, but He was walking on the water.  He came close enough, and by walking on the water He wants to let you know that the storm, the test, is under His feet, under His control, that He’s in charge of this storm.  The storm is not in charge of Him; He is in control of this storm.  Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t miss the simplicity of this.  The Lord allowed the storm, the Lord sent the storm, the Lord is in control of the storm, and it’s under His feet.  The thing and the only thing that would cause fear in the storm is not recognizing that the Lord is involved, that He is in the storm.  It’s a miracle of God to let us hear in the noise of the wind and the waves, to hear His voice.  When we’re going through something to hear the Lord say to our spirit, “It’s I; be not afraid.  I’m in control.  The storm is under My feet.”  That’s the second thing He wanted to accomplish.

But there’s a third thing in this scene with Jesus on the move.  It’s in Mark 6:48, “He came to them walking on the sea and He intended to pass by them.”  He didn’t want to get into the boat.  It should have been enough when they failed to know that it’s the Lord.  It should have been enough that He would take their fear away.  It should have been enough for them to know that He’s in charge and for some mysterious reason the storm is under His feet.  It should have been enough, and then He would have walked on by.  But it wasn’t enough, not for them.  They were failing again.  So, in John 6:21, “They were willing to receive Him into the boat.”  So, they invited Him into the boat.  They were excited to see Him.  You can imagine that, after rowing all those hours, excited to have the bodily presence of Christ in the boat with you, that had a calming effect on everyone.  He moved from the mountain to the water and now into the boat.  Don’t read this la, la, la.  It wasn’t His first pleasure to come into the boat.  Even though they failed once and didn’t trust Him when they couldn’t see Him, even though they failed again when it wasn’t enough to hear His voice and know it’s Him and know He’s in charge of the storm, now for a third time they invite Him into the boat, and against His pleasure, you need to understand that, He didn’t want to get in the boat.  He’s always on the move, but when I’m that weak He’ll come into the boat.

At this point I’m deferring the story of Peter walking on the water; that’s part of this whole thing.  The reason is because he’s so closely connected with the revelation of the Lord in the miracle of the feeding, so when we get to the miracle I’m going to bring Peter in and you’ll see how wonderfully connected it is.

Let’s look at this third scene, Jesus moving into the boat.  There are two great miracles that took place when Jesus got into the boat.  Mark 6:51, “He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped, and they were utterly astonished.”  That’s the first miracle, the storm is over.  That put an immediate end to their struggle at the oars.  They didn’t have to struggle at the oars anymore.  There’s no more contrary wind; now there’s peace and everything is calm.  They’re not being battered by the waves anymore.  The exam is finished; it’s over, and now they’ve got to hand in their grades, and we’ll see how they did.  We did see how they did.

The miracle of the quelling of the storm was wonderful for them, but I want you to know, also, in its spiritual significance it’s wonderful for us.  Part of the Christian life is having Jesus in the boat and working marvelous miracles.  Those of you, like me, have often in their own strength to obey the Lord, struggled at the oars; how humbling and how welcome it is when Jesus shows up, when He actually comes into the boat.  Many of you, and perhaps some that I know, are still being battered by the waves; you’re still going through the storm. There’s nothing you’d like better than for Jesus to get into the boat and calm the storm, “I want peace; I’ve been going through this long enough.”  For those of us who have experienced that moment, how welcome is that peace that follows the storm.

  The worse beating that I’ve ever taken in my Christian life was a long season of temptation.  I was tormented by an indwelling corruption over which I had no control and no victory, and I cried out for victory, and it was a long, long time.  I had not victory.  Finally, I just gave up.  I’m not saying that I learned something and decided that I knew now how to trust Jesus; I did not.  I begged Him to come into the boat, and He did, and the storm stopped and I was delivered, and what a deliverance.  I didn’t deserve the deliverance.  I didn’t do anything right.  It’s just that He showed up, He came in a boat and He stopped the storm.  To my heart it was like a rapture.  That’s the kind of deliverance testimonies are made of.  Again, I didn’t do anything right, but I could testify, “I struggled with this many times over this particular sin,” (none of your business what that was).”  I’m not going to tell you what it was, but it was tormenting me.  I had no victory over that thing, and I couldn’t get victory, and then you get up and you give a testimony, marvelous.

 I’ll come back to that in a moment, but I want to call attention to the second miracle that took place.  Only John records it.  John 6:21, “And they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.”  I want you to think about that.  We sort of read that la, la, la; the boat was raptured.  They were in the middle of the sea and all of sudden they were at the marina where they were heading.  They are at their haven.  I would have loved to see the boys working on the marina at that time when a boat filled with twelve guys all of a sudden appears at their dock.  They must have had eyes the size of garbage can covers.  Just imagine what that must have been like.

The principle connected with the boat being raptured is this, that when Jesus comes in the boat, He’ll not only calm your storm, but you will arrive at the destination to which you were heading.  In other words, your obedience, then, will have been fulfilled.  In a storm when Jesus shows up, He calms the storm, and you arrive at your destination.  Be honest; who wouldn’t want Jesus in the boat?  I know I would.  That’s the place where the storm is quelled, and that’s the place I get peace and that’s the place where I have a sense of His presence, a subjective sense, and I know the Lord is there.  These are the facts, as Jesus is on the move.

Now, let’s understand what the Holy Spirit intends by all these facts.  I’m going to sort of run over again what I’ve said, but I want to focus on two great truths.  One I’ve already mentioned, but we need to understand it.  The facts are these; it’s God’s highest pleasure that you trust the Lord without seeing Him.  That’s His highest pleasure.  He’s invisible to our natural eye, to our carnal wisdom, but He’s not invisible to faith; faith sees Him.  But here’s the next thing. If you fail, if He sees you struggling at the oars, He’s going to come close, and He’s going to identify Himself, and you’re going to recognize His voice, and you’re going to know that He has the storm under His feet, and all things are under control, and He’s going to invite you, “Let not your heart be troubled.” 

What if you fail again?  What if that’s not enough?  What if you say, “Lord, come on into the boat.”  The answer is that He’ll come into the boat, and He’ll make Himself conspicuous, and He’ll give you a subjective awareness of His presence, and He might even do it dramatically.  You might get chills and you might get the hair standing up on the back of your neck and you might get a warm feeling come over you.  Some have claimed that they have been slain and have actually fallen down.  I don’t know what the Lord is going to do, but He will do whatever you need in order to go forward.  He’ll let you see His power, He’ll let you see His wonders, you might have a dream, you might have a vision.  God will be there and you’ll know it because you’re going to know it with these eyes, with sense, with feelings, with emotions, you’re going to know it.

One great truth we get from these facts is that the Lord will never fail us; He’ll always meet us in our need.  He wants us to trust Him when He’s distant, seemingly distant, far-away and invisible, and if we fail, He’ll come walking on the water, and if we need to, He’ll come into the boat and give us a sense of His presence.  The first truth is that God will not fail you; He will come to you, whatever it takes.  Here’s the second truth, and it’s quite like we’ve already talked about.  John 6:60, “Therefore, many of His disciples when they heard this, ‘This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?’”  When we get to the end of this chapter I’ll show you what that difficult statement was, but a lot of statements that Jesus made are difficult.  It’s a surprise to us to read, to know that Jesus doesn’t want to get into the boat.  That’s a shock.  I would think He would want to get into the boat, so that we could know and feel His presence, but He doesn’t.  It’s shocking to discover that He doesn’t want to come into the boat and work miracles. 

A great company of believers think that’s the goal of the Christian life.  You haven’t arrived and you aren’t victorious unless Jesus is in the boat working miracles.   That’s how they described the Christian life.  It’s a hard saying to tell them that He would rather pass by than do that.  That’s a difficult saying.  They glory in the subjective, in sight.  Signs and wonders are not always a fruit of faith.  I’m not saying that it’s not.  Some teach that if we have enough faith, He’s going to work wonders and work miracles, and sometimes He does.  If anybody denies that they’re denying the Bible.  He does work miracles.  Matthew 8:10, remember the Centurion, “When Jesus heard this, he marveled, and said to those who were following, ‘Truly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.’”  And the woman with the issue of blood in Matthew 9:22, “’Daughter, take courage, your faith has made you well,’ and at once the woman was made well.”  Does He do miracles in answer to faith?  He does.  Luke 17:19, remember the leper that returned from the ten?  “And He said to him, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.’” 

God often does miracles in response to faith, but this is also true, and it’s a hard saying.  The Lord will often do miracles, not in response to faith, but in response to unbelief, in order to encourage faith.  Listen to Matthew 8:26, “He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’  Then, He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea and it became perfectly calm.”  Jesus came into the boat and worked miracles, not because they trusted Him, and not because they had faith.  In our story we read that they gained no insight from the miracle of the loaves and their hearts were hardened.  When He worked those miracles, it was in response to a hardened heart.

Now, we need to be careful because we can’t set ourself as judges; somebody sees a miracle in their life, and we can’t say, “Well, he just did that because they don’t have faith.”  And we can’t say, “He did that because they had faith.”  I’ll tell you what He always does, whether you have faith or not, He’ll always encourage faith.  If you don’t have faith, He’s going to encourage you and do a miracle.  If you have faith, He’s going to encourage you and do a miracle.  The bottom line is that He’s always encouraging faith, so don’t go judging people and say, “Just because they’re seeing wonderful signs and wonders, that they’re unbelieving.  That may not be so; they might be trusting the Lord.

I said over and over again that the Lord meets us where we are, as we are, and another way to say it is, “He knows what you need; you don’t know what you need,” and I don’t know what I need.  That’s why He says that many of you are in manifold temptation, if need be, you might be in that temptation because you need it.  He knows your need.  I promise you this, if you need a word from the Lord, you’re going to get a word from the Lord.  If you need to have a feeling of His presence, if you need it, you’re going to get that feeling.  If you are going to need a sign or a wonder, you’re going to get it.  He meets our need.  If you need a miracle, He’s going to give you a miracle.

What if you prayed for a miracle and you pray for a sign and you pray for a visible evidence, in other words, you invite Him into the boat, what if He doesn’t come in?  What if you don’t get the miracle you prayed for?  What if you prayed that for yourself or someone else for a healing?  What if you prayed for yourself or someone else that you would get clear guidance or that there would be special provision or that you would have an evidence that this is the will of God?  What if He doesn’t come in the boat?  Let me just encourage you, brothers and sisters in Christ, you might have more faith than you think you have, because if you cry out in desperation, “Come into the boat,” and He doesn’t come in, you didn’t need Him to come in, and you’ll go on without that, and that was His pleasure to walk by.  He would much rather walk by, but if you need it, guaranteed He’s going to give it to you. 

So, we can’t go condemning people.  God meets every one of us where we are, and we ought to thank the Lord for everybody He deals with.  It’s not like in the world where they grade you, and you go into the class and the first day and you got 100%, and if you mess up you get 98%, and a little while later you got 96%, and pretty soon you’re under water.  It’s not like that.  He doesn’t grade us from 100% down; He grades us from zero up; everybody is zero.  Then some will get 2%.  Praise God they’re going up, even if it’s a little bit.  They got 10%.  Praise God!  We need to grade them up and not grade them down.  We don’t need to condemn people.  We’ve got to do it the Lord’s way, So, He’s not going to come into your boat unless you need it, and if you need it, He will come in, and He’ll not only come in, but He’ll calm your storm and you’ll reach your destination.  He’s just such a faithful God.

So, it’s not bad news if you beg Him to come into the boat and He doesn’t.  It’s good news.  I’m going to leave it there, and we’re not quite finished with this.  We’re going to come back a little bit more on the storm and then we’re going to look at the miracle of the feeding and the revelation of Christ.  Let’s pray together.

Heavenly Father, we thank You; how we thank You that You are always on the move, and You’re always on the move toward us, and you’re always coming to rescue us.  Even when we fail, You don’t fail; You’re so faithful.  You let us know that You are there, and You let us know the storm is under control, and You let us know that we don’t need to be afraid, and You come into the boat and You work miracles.  Lord, we just praise You, for meeting us where we are and taking us where You would have us.  Work these things, we pray, into our lives and into our experience.  We thank You in advance that You are doing it.  You are going to continue to do it in an ever rising tide of blessing.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.