God Beyond Our Expectations

Posted: December 30, 2013 in Mark

Mark 6:45-56, “God Beyond Our Expectations”

Sometimes people exceed your expectations.  We’ve all seen the sports movies about the underdog team that makes it to the championship game (1980 US Olympic hockey).  We’ve read the survival stories about people making it out of impossible situations against all odds (127 hours – Aron Ralston).  Sometimes we’re even amazed by ourselves when we’re able to accomplish goals we’ve never been able to do before.  The reason we’re amazed is because we have certain reasonable boundaries that we don’t expect people to cross, and when people do (even ourselves), it’s always quite the surprise.

It’s natural to set boundaries for ourselves, but the problem is that we end up doing the same thing with God.  We have certain expectations for how God ought to act, not necessarily based on anything the Bible says, but just upon our own preferences and experiences.  The problem with this is that it’s illogical.  People have boundaries because we’re limited.  God is not (by definition).  The infinite God has no boundaries, and He often defies our expectations when He reveals Himself in all His power – which is what He did on the Sea of Galilee that night to the amazement of the disciples.

The disciples had no reason to set limits upon Jesus.  After all, they had just witnessed the feeding of the 5000.  They had been sent by Jesus to preach the gospel, cast out demons, and perform miracles.  They had seen Jesus do amazing things already.  They had likely lost count of the number of times they were left speechless by the work of the Son of God.  No doubt they had faith in Him AS God, but they tended to waver back & forth as they lived life with Him day in & day out.  It was during those times that Jesus would do something that would blow away any expectation they may have had for Him.

This concludes a major section in the gospel of Mark in which Jesus performs all kinds of supernatural miracles.  It had begun in Ch 4:35 with Jesus calming the wind & waves while the disciples were at sea, and now ends with Jesus calming the sea-winds again after walking upon the water.  In between, Jesus cast out armies of demons, healed a woman of chronic internal bleeding, raised a girl from the dead, sent the 12 disciples to go continue & multiply His ministry, and fed the 5000 with a boy’s lunch of fish & bread.  Any one of these instances would have been enough to provide proof of Jesus’ divine authority as Almighty God – the combination of them all is overwhelming evidence!

It’s with all of this in mind that the surrounding context becomes so astoundingly curious.  Chapter 6 began with Jesus being rejected in His hometown of Nazareth.  The people there had grown up with Jesus, and they refused to see Him as anyone other than the carpenter who had a questionable birth.  Immediately following this, Ch. 7 will show the Pharisees questioning Jesus again, attempting to cast doubt upon His methods and faithfulness to the law and traditions.  And that doesn’t begin to get into the idea of how Herod was rejecting the message of the Messiah when he imprisoned and killed John the Baptist.  All these people are rejecting Jesus, yet Jesus could not be more blatant in His display of power and authority.  Doubting Jesus might be understandable if He never did anything of note – but every time people turned around, Jesus was doing another public miracle.  His healings were so numerous that Mark virtually treats them as an afterthought in the last several verses of the chapter.  So how could all these people reject Jesus?  How could they have missed out on what should have been so obvious?  The Jews had seen miracles before, but these were no “ordinary” miracles; this was the work of God among men.  This is Immanuel: God-with-us!

Yet it was missed not only by the Pharisees, but even in-part by the disciples themselves.  Despite all they had seen, their hearts were hard.  They had certain expectations about the Messiah that they had set up in their minds…Jesus was about to blow all of them away.  This is the God beyond their expectations!

Mark 6:45–56
45 Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away.

  1. Immediately” has been a very common word in the gospel of Mark as he tends to emphasize the rapid chronology of events.  Of course the preceding context is the feeding of the 5000.  Mark doesn’t mean to say that Jesus rushed the disciples off as soon as everyone got done wiping their mouths from lunch, but rather that this was the first thing that took place after the events of the day had come to a close.  There was indeed an urgency to sending the people away – although Mark doesn’t say anything, John informs us that Jesus understood that the people were about to try to take Him by force and make Him their king (Jn 6:15).  Although Jesus came as the King of the Jews, and part of the gospel invitation is to believe upon Jesus AS the King of the Universe, there were two problems to being made King that very afternoon: (1) Jesus hadn’t yet gone to the cross, so this was outside the timing of God, (2) the people were seeking bread; not God.  They wanted what Jesus could do for them, thus they wanted Jesus on their terms.  They wanted Jesus as their earthly king, but not their heavenly Lord.  Of course, Jesus is never fooled by a lack of faith, and He knew He needed to send the people away.
  2. Notice that the multitude weren’t the only people that Jesus sent away…He also sent “His disciples.”  It makes sense that Jesus would send away the people that did not have faith, but why would Jesus send away the few that did?  Obviously the disciples had their own issues with faith (as is seen in our text), but surely there was no one among the Jews that had as much faith in Jesus at the time as His own disciples.  Yet Jesus compels His disciples not just to give Him a few hours alone, but to “get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida.”  He sends them to another town!  Was Jesus unhappy with the disciples?  Not likely.  But Jesus certainly had a plan for them.  As we’ll see, the disciples were never out of Jesus’ sight, and He wanted them to have certain experiences along the way.  He had a purpose and a plan for His disciples, even if they didn’t yet know what it was.  Their responsibility was simply to trust the plan of their Master and be obedient to His will.  (So is ours!)

46 And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.

  1. Once Jesus got some (rare) alone time, He Himself departed.  The multitude left, the disciples left, and now Jesus leaves – and He had a specific destination and activity in mind: prayer time.  We don’t know the specific mountain, nor do we know the specific prayer conversation (though wouldn’t you love to know what Jesus said to the Father?).  What we DO know is that Jesus so prioritized prayer in His life that He sent people away from Him in order to ensure He got the time in prayer that He needed.
    1. We could think of all kinds of reasons why Jesus might have done differently.  There were thousands of people in front of Him needing ministry – they needed to understand the gospel.  Jesus could always pray later, after the people had left of their own accord, right?  Or…Jesus had been through an exhausting day of ministry.  He had gone to that place with the disciples to rest, and found that the multitudes beat them to the location.  He went straight to the task of teaching them and healing them, and then performing the miracle.  Surely Jesus needed His own time of rest & sleep, and He could always pray later, right?  In our minds, there is always time to pray later.  What is lacking is the priority we put on prayer to pray right now.  Jesus prioritized His prayer time, to the point of even cutting of active outreach & ministry specifically so He could spend time in prayer.  Jesus understood the value of prayer in a way that we do not.
    2. When was the last time you departed to a place for the specific reason to pray?  Maybe it’s not a mountain – maybe it’s just a quiet place in your home.  But when was the last time you purposefully scheduled time that was designated for prayer?  Perhaps you’ve never scheduled prayer time with God.  We make appointments with professional people all the time: doctors, realtors, business partners…even exterminators.  As born-again Christians, we have a relationship with Someone who infinitely outranks ALL others – do we schedule time with Him?  Prayer time will never occur naturally…if we don’t make time for it, we won’t find time for it.  Make the time.  Jesus did.

47 Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. 48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. …

  1. Jesus may have been praying, but He had never forgotten about His beloved disciples.  They hadn’t gotten very far into the lake – they were just a few miles offshore (Jn 6:19).  Being up on the mountain (or even back down on the shoreline), Jesus could easily see the disciples out on the lake struggling against the wind.  To say that they were “straining at rowing” is almost an understatement in the translation.  The word technically means “to torture.”  This was an immense strain they were under – a massive battle.  We need to remember that as fishermen, many of the 12 were experienced sailors.  It’s not as if they did not know how to sail into the wind.  Yet despite their best efforts, they struggled against this immoveable wind.  They rowed & rowed, and yet made no headway at all.
  2. Question: since Jesus purposefully sent them away, didn’t He know that there was going to be a fierce wind & terrible struggle?  Of course He did…and He sent them anyway.  And He kept His watchful eye upon them the whole time.  Don’t miss that detail!  “He saw them…”  Jesus had not abandoned the disciples to their trial.  He had not ignored them to discover them in trouble all of a sudden.  He knew exactly what it was that they faced, and they were never beyond His sight the entire time.
    1. Sometimes we get the idea that God has forgotten about us.  As if although we know we belong to God as a child belongs to his/her parents, it’s like our Heavenly Father has allowed us to go off and play by ourselves & all of a sudden we’re lost & He’s left us alone, not knowing where we are or what we face.  Not true!  God watches us far more closely that the most involved parent supervises his/her child.  He certainly allows us to endure certain things, but God has never abandoned us to those things.  (Quite the difference!)  He certainly has never forgotten us!  As God spoke to Israel: Isaiah 49:15–16, "(15) “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. (16) See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me." []  It is no different in our relationship with God through Jesus.  Jesus proved the extent of His love for us when we were inscribed on His hands by the nails that pierced Him.  He cannot forget His own!  He does not take His eyes off of us.

… Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.

  1. What was the 4th watch?  Any time after 3AM.  This had been a long struggle!  We don’t know the exact time they had launched the boat, but surely it was just as the night was beginning after Jesus had sent away the multitudes.  In normal conditions, the boat ride ought to have been relatively short.  As it turned out, the disciples could have walked to their destination faster.  They had struggled all night (literally), making very little progress.  They are frustrated, physically exhausted, in danger from the wind…and that is when Jesus comes!  No doubt they were ready to give up all home, but Jesus came at precisely the right moment.  It may have felt late in the night, but when Jesus came, He came quickly.
  2. “…would have passed them by…” The KJV & NKJV tend to falter a bit in this translation.  The word for “would” is far more often translated as “wish/will/purpose,” which tends to be brought out in some of the other English translations.  (ESV) “He meant to pass them by…” or a more literal translation, “He wished to pass by them.”  The idea is that this is something Jesus wanted to do.  He certainly wanted to pass by the disciples upon the water, and the implication is that He wanted the disciples to see Him passing them.  Coming to the disciples in the middle of the lake wasn’t the major part of the miracle; it was HOW He did it.  Jesus could have simply materialized upon the boat; instead He walked.  The same wind that caused so much contention for the disciples was no obstacle whatsoever for Jesus.  His power isn’t seen only in His walk upon the water, but the ease in which He did it.
    1. We need to understand the sheer power of God.  We need to see and know what He is capable of.  What proves impossible for us is always possible for the All-powerful God we serve.  This is true in every area.  We struggle against sin, and find it impossible to overcome its power and hold in our lives.  Yet Jesus comes straight through.  We struggle against temptations and despair, but Jesus overpowers even the most overwhelming circumstance.  The world can throw its worst, but the worst hurricane is not even a breeze against the Almighty God.  THAT is our Jesus!
    2. What impossible struggle have you been facing?  What seems insurmountable?  Whom have you prayed for that seems unreachable for salvation?  Our God goes beyond expectations and overwhelms the overwhelming!  Jeremiah 32:27, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" []

49 And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

  1. That the disciples thought Jesus to be a ghost (phantasm) doesn’t speak so much of any of their superstition so much as it does their panic.  They didn’t know what they were looking at!  They had been struggling for hours on end, and they didn’t have Jesus with them this time.  To their knowledge, they were alone on the water & they weren’t expecting to see Jesus at all…much less in THIS way!  It’s no wonder that they were afraid.  Any one of us would have freaked out as well!
  2. It is interesting that they jumped to the worst-case scenario.  Of all the things they could have imagined, the first thing was to panic and think that they were in worse trouble than before.  They did not react with curiosity – they did not react with prayer – they reacted with unhealthy fear.  They “cried out…and were troubled.
    1. Thankfully, they did not all STAY fearful & troubled.  We know of at least one disciple who ended up responding positively to Jesus: Peter.  This is the famed instance in which Peter walks on the water out to his Lord at Jesus’ invitation.  Curiously, only Matthew records Peter walking on the water; not Mark or John.  If any gospel was to record this account, we would think it would be Mark – after all, Mark wrote the various accounts of Peter’s own recollections of Jesus.  The whole book is basically Peter’s point-of-view of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Why wouldn’t Peter have told this story (or at least have Mark record it for him)?  Obviously we can’t know – anything we imagine is speculation.  Some have suggested that Peter was embarrassed by the event since he was chastised by Jesus for having so little faith.  However, Mark includes THE most embarrassing moment of Peter when Peter denied the Lord three times.  Besides, it could be argued that the “chastisement” of the Lord wasn’t said in anger, but in commendation.  After all, Peter was the only disciple with ANY faith – he was the only disciple to get out of the boat!  … Perhaps Peter didn’t want any undue attention upon himself.  The only reason Peter could walk on the water at all is because Jesus made it possible.  Maybe Peter didn’t want people want people to think that Peter was any more special than anyone else.
  3. The best part in all of this was not Peter’s walking on water, but Jesus’ response to the disciples.  The disciples are understandably afraid, virtually panicking in the boat, and the Lord Jesus calls out to them with a message of peace.  Yet what seems to be a pretty simple statement is actually tremendously profound.  (NKJV) “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”  (NASB) “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” 
    1. The first phrase is actually interchangeable…two different ways of translating the same words.  In the context, the NASB makes a lot more sense.  There is a positive command & a negative command, virtually saying the same thing.  DO have courage; DON’T let fear take over.  The first is present tense, active voice…something that the person is supposed to actively do at the time (and on a continual basis).  Take up courage – reach out to it & hold on to courage.  As God told ancient Joshua, “BE strong and courageous.”  Courage isn’t something that simply happens to a person; it’s something that a person has to decide upon.  There is a lot of misconception about bravery.  People often think that bravery is the absence of fear from the get-go – as if a person is never afraid in the first place.  That’s not usually a sign of bravery; it’s a sign of stupidity.  A person who doesn’t acknowledge the existence of danger is often going to get sucked in by it.  On the contrary, REAL bravery/courage is acknowledging the danger & deciding to move forward anyway.  It’s a decision to take on courage in spite of everything else going on around us.  Jesus told the disciples to take courage! … God calls US to take courage!  We have our own storms – we have our own battles – we have our own times in which it seems as if we’re alone.  Take heart – take courage!
    2. The last phrase is the opposite: “do not be afraid.”  Here, it is still the present tense, but it is the passive voice…something that happens to someone.  Unhealthy fear is one of those things that just happens to someone.  Few people actively decide to take on panic & fear; it’s generally something that creeps up and takes over.  It’s something that we give into.  Though the Bible repeatedly tells people not to fear, too often we give into it, and our actions are guided more often out of fear rather than faith.  That’s not what God would have for any of us.
    3. The middle phrase is the key to it all.  HOW could the disciples actively take up courage, and not allow fear to take over?  Because Jesus was there.  Jesus had not abandoned them; He was right in their midst.  Can you imagine the relief at the words “It is I”?  Amazing!  They had panicked in their exhaustion and desperation, but to learn that it is Jesus Himself that had come out to them…blessed rescue!
    4. Actually, it gets even better than that.  A literal translation of Jesus’ words is simply, “I am.”  When God revealed His name to Moses, He said, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exo 3:14).  Jesus was not only telling the disciples that it was really Him & not a ghost upon the water; He was telling them it was GOD upon the water.  “Be courageous.  I AM.  Be not afraid.”  GOD was with them.  As Immanuel, God came in the flesh among all humanity – but this was far more personal than the general call to all the world.  God was among them.  God was in their midst.  God was in their storm.  They faced desperation and danger, and needed help.  They received far more than assistance; they received the presence of Almighty God in the person of Jesus Christ.
  4. Those same words are not just words of comfort to the disciples, but to all of us!  Have courage – be not afraid.  Why?  Because Jesus IS.  He is here, and He is Almighty God in the flesh.  The One we trust for salvation is the only One who can grant salvation.  The One we turn to for help is the One who created the heavens and the earth.  The One in whom we trust is God Himself.  And THIS God sees us, knows us, loves us, and is with us.  We have every reason not to fear, because we belong to the fearless God!

51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.

  1. As soon as Jesus (and Peter) get into the boat, something amazing happens: “the wind ceased.”  The massive resistance that the disciples had struggled against all night long was suddenly over.  The wind was gone (and the boat had miraculously arrived at its destination – Jn 6).  The wind was still blowing while Jesus walked upon the water, but the moment Jesus entered the boat, it was over.  The presence of Jesus was enough to calm the wind.  There’s an interesting contrast here with the earlier event in Mark 4.  At that time, there was a massive storm taking place, and Jesus was completely calm in the midst of the chaos.  So at ease was He that He was actually asleep on deck in the middle of the driving storm.  The disciples were panicking, and woke up Jesus accusing Him of not caring about their fate.  Jesus said a word, and immediately the crashing waves became still as glass.  But that’s not what happened here.  In Mark 4, Jesus spoke to the storm to tame the sea, yet apparently His words were not even necessary.  All that was needed is the will and presence of God.  Once Jesus is there, that is enough.  His simple presence is calming to creation.
    1. Have you felt tossed and torn lately?  What happened when your attention was refocused upon Jesus & you spent time in His presence?  Immediate calm. … This is exactly what the Bible promises us: Philippians 4:6–7, "(6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (7) and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." []
  2. The disciples’ response?  The same as ours would be: they were dumbfounded.  Mark emphasizes it with all of the extreme superlatives: “they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.”  IOW, this completely blew their minds.  Every expectation they had was leveled, and their minds reeled in the presence of the One they were beginning to understand was God.  As Matthew recounts, they “worshipped Him, saying ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” (Mt 14:33)  You bet they marveled & worshipped!  What else could they do?

52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.

  1. What does the bread have to do with the amazement of the disciples?  The bread was a direct tie from Jesus to God the Father.  The God who gave bread from heaven in the wilderness was now doing the same thing again with the 5000.  Multiplying the loaves and fishes was not merely a demonstration of His power; it was a declaration of His Deity.  It’s one thing to work in the power of God (as Elijah or Moses); it’s quite another thing to wield that power AS God.  That is exactly what Jesus did in the wilderness.
  2. With as much as the disciples had already seen from Jesus (and they had seen a lot!), they were still coming to grips with the idea of Jesus being THE God in the flesh.  They had readily acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah – the anointed Son of David meant to rule all of Israel in the power and authority of God in a glorious kingdom.  But they had a more difficult time with the idea that the Messiah might be God Himself and that somehow they all had to partake of Him.  Yet that is who Jesus repeatedly demonstrated Himself to be.
  3. We typically think of “hardened hearts” belonging to those who don’t believe in Jesus, such as Pharaoh as he rebelled against God’s command through Moses to release the Hebrews.  However, in the gospels the phrase is used twice of the disciples, and only one other time as a quote from Scripture in referring to the Jews who rejected the Messiah.  Apparently Christians can have hardened hearts.  It’s not only unbelievers who harden their hearts to the work of God…those who believe in Jesus can do the same thing.  We might acknowledge Jesus as the Lord, but perhaps we believe there are some things God can’t do – or won’t do.  We might believe the accounts of what Jesus did in the past, but our hearts are hard to the idea that Jesus might do something similar in the present.  Or perhaps we’re fine to follow Jesus in certain contexts, but we’re uncomfortable with the idea that He could break through our barriers and truly show Himself as the Living God, as the disciples were likewise shocked on the Sea of Galilee.
  4. If the 12 disciples at this point in their ministry with Jesus could still have hardened hearts, what does that say about the rest of us?  To be sure, the disciples had not yet seen the cross and resurrection – they did not yet have the new birth of the Holy Spirit & the constant indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  At this point in their walk with Jesus, there were many differences between them & us.  Yet there’s no question they had already seen much & had already been used by Jesus in incredible ways.  Remember, they had been sent out by Jesus to go all over Judea, personally empowered by Him to work miracles and cast out demons as they preached the gospel in His name.  And if they could do all of that and STILL have their hearts hardened to the truth of God, that ought to serve as a sobering warning to the rest of us.
    1. Beware hardened hearts!

53 When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored there.

  1. As this whole series of supernatural events comes a close, Mark adds the remaining few verse in almost as an afterthought.  The disciples and Jesus get to the region of Gennesaret on the northwest shore of Galilee, and get out of the boat.  John goes into great detail about some conversations that take place with the people at that time, but Mark goes straight to the action.  See vs. 54… 

54 And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, 55 ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was.

  1. The people “recognized” Jesus immediately.  This was the Man who had healed the sick, cleansed lepers, and raised the dead.  They had seen with their own eyes what Jesus had done with people in the not-too-distant town of Capernaum & indeed all over Galilee, and they weren’t about to miss out on their opportunity to meet with this Man.  So what did they do?  They rounded up everyone they could find who was sick & brought them out to Jesus.
  2. What a great example of evangelism!  Obviously, we don’t know how much these people actually understood about Jesus.  All they knew is that people needed help, and that Jesus could help them.  So they brought people however they could.  They went into their homes, running through the region, and brought every sick person that they could find to wherever Jesus happened to be.  If they needed to be carried on a bed, so be it – they just needed to get people to Jesus.  That’s exactly what we do in evangelism: bring people to Jesus!  We can’t help them, but Jesus can.  And so we bring people out to Jesus however we can.

56 Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.

  1. Can you imagine the sight?  It would have been like a travelling hospital!  Everywhere Jesus went, people were waiting for Him with their ill loved ones, begging Him for help.  Other kings would travel through the countryside & see the local dignitaries lined up to meet them; Jesus travels through the region and people bring the outcast and sick by the droves.
  2. Notice what they were willing to do: “just touch the hem of His garment.”  Sound familiar?  This is exactly what happened with the woman who had the internal hemorrhage for 12 years. (Mk 5:28)
  3. Notice also that none were turned away.  All were healed…at least, all who had faith were healed.  They had to at least be willing to come to Jesus and touch Him.  If they had faith enough to trust Jesus to heal them though a touch, they “were made well.”  If they didn’t?  They missed out.  Jesus was available to all; He was trusted only by some.

Conclusion:
The ministry in Galilee is starting to wrap up.  Jesus is at the height of His popularity, and multitudes of people follow Him everywhere He goes.  Thousands had come out to the wilderness and were fed by Him in the deserted place.  Scores of people lined the streets and marketplace as He passed by, simply to touch His clothes.  This Man was like none other they had ever seen, and all they knew is that they needed some point of contact with Him…anything, just as long as they were with Him.

The disciples had even more contact with Him, yet apparently they didn’t understand too much more than the crowds.  Every time Jesus demonstrated His power, they were amazed & they marveled…yet even now their hearts had remained hardened and dull.  They had faith, but it seemed to be less like a roaring fire & more like faint ember.  Jesus went beyond all their expectations, and they were left dumbfounded.

The confusion of the people is understandable.  After all, how would we ourselves react if we had experienced this in real-time, versus reading about it 2000 years later?  Even now, after we’ve believed the gospel of how Jesus died for our sins upon the cross and rose in victory from the grave – we still have our own confusion.  We still have trouble believing in the present actions of the Living God.  We still have trouble letting God be God, and allowing Him to break into our lives.

Thankfully, Jesus is compassionate despite our confusion!  This is the God who never took His eyes off of His disciples.  This is the God who knew the struggle His disciples would face, and had a plan for them in the midst of it.  This is the God who personally went to His disciples, meeting them at their need at the deepest part of their hours-long torture.  This is the God whose very presence calmed the storm they faced.  This is the God who breaks through ALL expectations!

This is OUR God!  This is OUR Jesus!  The Jesus who walks on water is the Jesus in whom we have believed.  And He does not change.

Christian, do you feel as if you are abandoned in your torturous struggle?  Do you feel as if God has sent you into some terrible situation and left you alone?  Know that His eyes have never left you!  Remember that His presence is enough – His grace is sufficient.  No matter what the trial is – no matter how bad the situation may be – Jesus is enough to calm any storm.  When we face those battles, what we need most is not the personal strength to conquer them ourselves, but the overwhelming presence of our Lord Jesus.  The power isn’t IN us.  We can use all our skills & all our might, and still never get anywhere.  The power is in the person of Jesus Christ.  When we seek His face, we can experience His peace no matter what is going on around us.  So reach out to Him.

All people everywhere are invited to reach out to Jesus in faith.  He is available to heal, to bring peace, and to forgive.  Everywhere He walked in Galilee, He healed everyone who reached out to touch the hem of His robe.  Have you stretched out your heart in faith?  What happened with the disciples is a great picture of what happens so often with believers in Christ.  We struggle in our trials, and are rescued by the calming presence of the Living God.  What happened with those who were sick in Galilee is a great picture of what happens with those who don’t yet believe in Jesus.  They are sick in their sins – they are dying, and desperate for God to intervene.  Their sin and rebellion against God has left them hopeless…and then God Himself comes and is in their midst.  All they know they need to do is come to Him as best as they know how, lay themselves in front of Him, and reach out to touch Him.  And Jesus doesn’t turn any away.

Maybe that describes you today.  Perhaps you haven’t understood much about God in the past, but you know this much: Jesus IS God, and He can forgive you your sins against God.  You’ve come to the understanding that your sin has left you sick & dying, and you need the type of healing that only Jesus can offer.  And He DOES heal!  He offers true forgiveness, and a new life that lasts for all of eternity.  Like those in the marketplaces & villages, you need to come to Jesus by faith, reaching out to Him.  Turn away from the things you did in the past – turn away from the way you’ve sinned against God – and turn to Jesus in faith as the Living God.  Reach out to Him, asking Him for His forgiveness and promise of life, and Jesus WILL give it.

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