God in Action

Posted: March 1, 2015 in John
Tags: , ,

John 6:1-21, “God in Action”

One of the classic scenes in the Wizard of Oz is that moment at the end where Dorothy and the others are arguing with the “Great and Powerful” Oz, only to have Toto the dog pull back a curtain and reveal a tiny man putting on a big show in pretense. For all of the bluster, there wasn’t really anything to it.  It was just another guy pretending to be something bigger than he was.  Can you imagine if it had been the opposite?  What if there really was something to all of the show?

With Jesus, there’s actual substance.  There’s no curtain with Him – there’s nothing about Him that reveals Himself to be any less than who He claims to be.  He has all the power of God, and revealed that power in some pretty incredible ways.

Contextually, Jesus has been testified of, that He is God.  Witnessed of by John the Baptist, Jesus’ miraculous works, God the Father, and the Scripture, there were abundant testimonies that Jesus is the Son of God, equal with the Father.  Jesus claimed to do the will of God, exercise the power of God, and have authority to judge as God.  Those are some pretty big claims!  The question now becomes: can Jesus do anything to back them up?  Yes.  Jesus was about to demonstrate it in a pretty massive way.

Jesus had already said that His works testified of His identity, and indeed they did.  But most of His miracles to this point (at least in the gospel of John) were individual healings.  John records one creative miracle (the turning of water into wine at Cana), but that had been mainly private.  Only the disciples and the servants at the wedding knew what He had done.  The other works performed by Jesus were not necessarily miraculous, and were associated with His teaching and doctrine, such as calling the initial disciples and cleansing the temple at Jerusalem.

Although the healings Jesus gave were nothing short of miraculous, other prophets of the past had healed (though not to the extent Jesus did).  What would make Jesus’ works different from any other?  That’s where chapter 6 comes in.

Thus far in John, there have been no public miracles demonstrating the creative power of God (i.e. His power over creation itself).  In chapter 6, there are two (perhaps three).  It’s not by coincidence that these miracles follow Jesus’ defense about the things that testified to His deity.  If someone was to read chapter 5 and still doubt that Jesus is God, all of those doubts should be laid to rest upon reading chapter 6.  Only God has unlimited power over creation, for God is the One who created it.  Jesus has power over creation, thus Jesus is God.  If Jesus is God, then that means we personally know the One who has all power over all things.  He is our both our Provision and our Provider.

John 6:1–21
1 After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.

  1. After these things…”  We’re not told how long after – obviously some time passes.  Vs. 4 tells us the Passover was near, and the previous account at the pool of Bethesda occurred while Jesus was in Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews (5:1).  We aren’t told which it was, but it means that the events of chapter 6 take place at least 6 months following chapter 5.
    1. So what?  So we have a reminder that the gospel accounts are not exhaustive transcripts of everything Jesus said and did in His earthly ministry.  There was far too much to record!  But what is recorded was written for our benefit, so that we may believe. (20:30-31).  If you ever wonder why so many applications points in John’s gospel overlap, it’s because John wrote with this single purpose in mind.  He wanted the reader to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is God, and that we can have forgiveness and eternal life upon believing in Him.
    2. Also, it’s interesting that in the 6+ months that followed chapter 5 that Jesus is still free to roam throughout Judea.  Keep in mind that the Jewish authorities wanted Jesus dead.  Not only had He defied their manmade Sabbath regulations, but (according to them) He committed the crime of blasphemy.  Yet they did nothing.  Why?  Because God didn’t let them.  Jesus would not be arrested and crucified before it was time.  Jesus was no victim of circumstance.  He was (and IS) fully in control of all things at all times.
  2. Where was Jesus after all this time?  To the north in Galilee.  Much of what John records takes place in the south in/around Jerusalem.  It is the synoptic writers that record the bulk of Jesus’ Galilean ministry.  John didn’t see the need to duplicate their efforts, but usually supplements the things they wrote.  So when John does record a duplicate event, it’s significant.  Such is the case here.  The feeding of the 5000 is one of the only miracles (apart from the Resurrection) found in all four gospel accounts.  Not even the Transfiguration is recorded in every gospel, but the feeding of the 5000 is.  What makes it so special?  That’s exactly what we’ll find out. J  Ultimately, we see a powerful public demonstration of Jesus’ identity.  This is a miracle that could not be denied, and it was witnessed by (literally) thousands of people.  It is a massive testimony to the deity of Christ.
  3. Of course the thousands were not originally there to eat lunch.  They had come because Jesus had already demonstrated His power in many ways.  Specifically, they came to Jesus for healing, which He gladly did.  Mark tells us that Jesus had originally gone to this particular location with His disciples so that they could be alone and rest, but that the rest of the crowds saw where they were going & beat them there (Mk 6:33).  It was their physical need that drove them to Jesus, but they understood at least this much: they needed to be with Jesus while they had the opportunity.  If He was anywhere available, they wouldn’t let anything keep them away from the One with the power of God.
    1. We know Jesus to be far more than a physical healer, but can we say that we are at least that desperate to know Him and be with Him?  Few things underscore our need for God than times of death and disease…but we are no less dependent on Him for the rest of our lives than we are while in the hospital ICU.  The Galilean crowds were willing to travel great distance by foot just to be around Jesus.  All we need do is pray.  May we be careful not to take our abundant opportunities for granted!
  4. The multitude came for healing, and Jesus gave it.  Why?  Didn’t Jesus know that at least some of them (if not the majority of them) were there for the wrong reason?  They came for healing; not a Savior.  Of course Jesus knew, but He still cared about them.  He had compassion for them and healed them (Mt 14:14).  He saw them as sheep without a shepherd and so He taught them (Mk 6:34).  They may have come for the wrong reasons (as we’ll see later in Ch 6), but that didn’t stop Jesus from reaching out to them.  He never stopped being God or preaching the gospel, but continued to love them, no matter what their response may have been. 

3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. 4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.

  1. What “mountain” Jesus went to with His disciples is technically unknown.  We do know that the event took place in a deserted location near the town of Bethsaida (Lk 9:10).  The issue is that there aren’t any real mountains in that area.  It is quite hilly, and John probably uses the term to refer to one of the larger hills that would overlook the plain where the people gathered.
  2. That the Passover was near is significant.  Not only does it show the passing of time, but it was the great feast that remembered God’s redemption of Israel from Egyptian slavery.  In a grand act of simultaneous grace and judgment, God brought His people out of bondage, and showed Himself as their Grand Provision.  Even beyond the night of Passover itself and the parting of the Red Sea was God’s provision for the Hebrews in the wilderness.  There He gave them food to eat in the form of manna.  It’s that picture that Jesus will call upon when later teaching the Jews about the true bread that came from heaven (Himself).

5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

  1. Jesus saw the multitude.  He knew their needs…both that which was obvious and that which was unseen and unspoken.  He knew better than anyone what was needed, even if they didn’t yet know it themselves.  The most obvious need at the moment was food.  The Synoptics tell us that in response to this, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him to send the multitudes away.  They knew the people were in a deserted place and that folks were hungry.  It wasn’t a lack of compassion on their part to send away the crowds; it was compassion in their own way.  They knew people would hurt themselves if they stayed any longer without food, so the disciples simply did the best that they knew to do.
    1. Of course, that was part of the problem.  They were doing what they knew to do, rather than turning to Jesus and asking what it was that HE wanted to do. …
  2. So Jesus turned the table on them.  Instead of sending the crowds away or immediately giving an answer to the disciples’ request, He asks them a question.  At first, it seems rather practical for Jesus to ask Philip where to buy bread.  After all, Philip was from Bethsaida (1:44).  If anyone knew where the local grocery stores or food suppliers were, it would be Philip.  But of course, Jesus had something else in mind.  He wasn’t asking Philip to provide a practical feeding strategy; He was testing him.  Verse 6 is the key to the question Jesus asks in verse 5.  Anytime God asks a question at all, it’s worth noting.  After all, what is it that an omniscient God does not already know?  Whenever God asks a question, He has a reason for asking it.  In this case, we’re told the reason: it was a “test.
    1. Question: Why does Jesus test Philip?  Does Jesus test US?  The Bible is clear that God does not tempt us (Jas 1:3), but “tempting” is not the same thing as “testing,” contextually speaking.  Yes, it seems that God does test us, or at least allow certain situations in our lives to test our faith. And that’s what Jesus does with Philip here.  Jesus gives Philip this situation, not to ask Philip to look to himself, and his own skills/intellect to come up with a solution, but to give Philip the opportunity to look to Christ in faith.
    2. Jesus will allow the same things with us, too.
  3. Notice all along Jesus knew what He would do.  The Greek is emphatic on this point, which is why it’s translated “for He Himself knew…”.  Jesus was going to be the One acting; not Philip.  That was Jesus’ plan all along.  Jesus is never without a plan.  Jesus is never caught off-guard.
    1. Isn’t it good to know that we serve the All-knowing, Ever-prepared, Always-sovereign God?  THAT’s our Jesus!

7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”

  1. Philip’s response is natural.  Any of us might have responded the same say.  Where to go buy food?  Nowhere!  Bethsaida was a small town…there wasn’t a Mega-Mart to go buy food for thousands of people.  Besides, it would take a fortune.  Imagine attempting to feed a high-school football stadium packed with people.  It doesn’t matter how much money is in the petty cash box, there isn’t enough!  Philip responds that it would take “200 denarii” – about 8 months’ worth of wages to feed the crowd.  And even that would barely make a dent in the need.
  2. From a human perspective, it was impossible.  But with God, all things are possible!

8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

  1. Andrew was next in line, and his viewpoint was just as impossible as Philip’s.  Jesus had challenged the disciples to give the people something to eat (Mt 14:16), and the only food that turned up was the small lunch of a boy.  (Apparently, not even the disciples had the forethought to pack a picnic lunch for themselves!)  So Andrew brings forth this boy, and Andrew seems just as hopeless and bewildered as Philip.
  2. Five barley loaves and two small fish” wasn’t exactly a feast.  At first, we might imagine a couple of trout and several loaves of sandwich bread and wonder why the boy had so much to himself.  In actuality, it was more like 5 tortillas and a couple of sardines (equivalent sizes).  This was a small enough lunch for the boy – and just as Andrew wondered, how could it be split among so many?  Again, what is impossible with men is possible with God.
  3. The really amazing thing here is not the size of the lunch, but the size of the heart that offered it.  Out of all of the hopeless disciples, the one person who had hope in the ability of Jesus was this boy.  The 12 disciples lived day-in and day-out with Jesus – they had witnessed untold miracles and heard incredible teaching from Him on a daily basis.  If anyone should have had faith, it ought to have been them.  They had all the conferences and Bible teaching anyone could ask for!  Yet the one glimmer of faith came a boy who offered His lunch to Jesus (and who probably was meeting Him for the first time).  It seemed like such an insignificant offering, but in the hands of Christ, it was amazingly abundant!
    1. God can do much with little!  Who are we to be used by God?  How could God even possibly use us at all?  We never know until we offer ourselves to Him.  We may not be much, but our God is more than abundant!

10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

  1. The contrast here is so amazingly stark: the disciples are ready to give up hope, but Jesus was ready to serve lunch!  He had the disciples get the crowd seated, in preparation for them to eat.  Keep in mind that no food has yet been seen, other than the lunch of this boy.  Imagine being one of the disciples, or even one of the people in the crowd and being told to get in line ready for your meal & you don’t see any supplies.  We’d be asking, “Where’s the taco truck?”  There was none.  Jesus had been given a single lunch-box & that was it, yet He’s telling them to get ready to eat.  They had to obey Jesus and be ready for whatever it was He was going to do.
    1. The first step of faith is usually the hardest.  But if we don’t take it, we’ll never see what Jesus has next in line.
  2. Note the number of people: 5000 “men.”  The “men” is very specific in the Greek.  This is one area in which the text is not gender-inclusive.  That actually puts things into quite a bit of perspective.  There were 5000 men, which means there would have been close to the same number of women and children.  The disciples are looking out on a crowd of 10-12 thousand people, and Jesus is holding a single lunch box & saying, “Get the people ready to eat.”  One can only wonder what was going through their minds at that moment!

11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.

  1. For such an amazing miracle, so little is described about it.  Where are the Twitter pics?  Where is the Vine clip or gif of Jesus reaching into this basket again and again?  We’re left wanting so much more!  All the Bible tells us is a very simple description: Jesus gives thanks, and hands out the food.  It’s so different from the way we would imagine it done today.  We think about those who claim to have the miracle crusades, and they gather all kinds of people together, have lights, smoke machines, get the spotlights and cameras set, and then bring the hype before they do the “stuff.”  Jesus simply says “grace” and hands out the food.  He treats it no differently than how He would have treated any mealtime with the disciples.
    1. When it’s truly Jesus at work, God doesn’t need hype.  He presence and power is enough to draw attention to Himself.
  2. There is one huge difference between this & other mealtimes: once Jesus starts handing out the food, He keeps doing it.  He keeps handing it out, and handing it out, and handing it out.  It never ended for 10-12 thousand people.  Jesus gave it to the disciples, and the disciples gave it to the rest.  How long must this have taken?  Surely the disciples would have been amazed to split the boy’s lunch just among themselves.  They would have been truly impressed to split it among a few dozen.  But we’re talking thousands of people.  The disciples themselves would have eaten their food and built up an appetite again just in the physical labor of passing it out.  No doubt they each had seconds or thirds themselves.  On and on it would have gone – even with people helping, it surely would have taken well over an hour to distribute the food to everyone.
    1. Do you think the disciples would have gotten the point?  Actually, no – they didn’t.  Jesus would feed the thousands at this time, and later repeat the miracle with a slightly smaller crowd of 4000 men, and the disciples still would wonder about their lack of bringing bread at another time. (Mt 16:5-11)  Jesus Himself was their Glorious Provision – they were sitting in the presence of Almighty God, and they still didn’t quite yet understand.
    2. How many times must Jesus reveal Himself to us before we have faith? 

12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

  1. Just to make the point, Jesus creates so much food that not only was there enough for all to have more than just “a little” (per Philip’s concern), but there was enough for abundant leftovers.  There was far more left over and gathered into baskets than there was originally from what had been given by the boy.  When Jesus gave out of His grace, He gave out of His abundance, and there was no lack for anyone that day who chose to receive.
    1. How much does Jesus give?  More than enough!  The love, grace, and provision of God through Jesus Christ is more than we can possibly conceive!  In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul prays for them that they might catch a glimpse of this, and even he gets overwhelmed by the thought of it all: Ephesians 3:18–21, "(18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—(19) to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (20) Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (21) to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." .  Have you caught a glimpse?  When was the last time you were overwhelmed by the abundance of God’s grace and goodness?  When was the last time you allowed your mind and heart to be dwarfed by the love of Jesus for you?  We serve an amazingly good God and Savior!  There is no lack of His love and provision of grace for our every need!
  2. There was perhaps one type of person that did not experience the fullness of the provision of Jesus that day: anyone who may have chosen not to receive it.  Of course we’re not told of anyone who left hungry that day, but if anyone did, it was their own fault!  Jesus had made His grace available in abundance, but the individual people still needed to receive the bread that was offered them and eat it.  If they chose not to do so, they’d still go away hungry.
    1. That’s still the way the grace of God works today.  Jesus offers it in abundance.  What He offers covers every possible area in our lives that we can imagine.  There is no sin that cannot be forgiven – there is no past that cannot be renewed – there is no person that cannot be reconciled to God.  The only way these things can’t happen is if we don’t receive what Jesus offers.  If we turn away, it’s our own fault.
  3. Of course it is no coincidence that as Jesus tells the disciples to gather up the leftovers that there were “twelve baskets” full.  It wasn’t just that Jesus wanted to clean up the hillside; it’s that He wanted each disciple to see His provision firsthand. 

14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

  1. The scope of the miracle wasn’t lost on the crowd that day.  Once they saw “the sign” of bread coming from basically nowhere, they knew that Jesus was no ordinary man.  This was not just “another” prophet who had the power of God to heal; this was a specific Prophet that they had been expecting since the days of Moses.  Just as Moses had shown the people bread in the wilderness, so had this Prophet given bread in the middle of nowhere.  In fact, Moses had spoken of a Prophet that would act as he had acted among Israel, and the people immediately thought back to that prophecy.  Deuteronomy 18:15–18, "(15) “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, (16) according to all you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ (17) “And the LORD said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. (18) I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him." .  A Prophet like Moses?  Jesus certainly fit the bill!  His doctrine was like none other.  His power was amazingly abundant.  There had been other prophets who taught the word of God (Isaiah, Jeremiah), and there had been prophets who demonstrated the power of God (Elijah, Elisha) – but the combination of both had been rare, except for Moses.  Now here was Jesus who was the whole package! 
  2. Guess what?  The people were right!  They believed that Jesus was the prophet like unto Moses & promised by Moses, and Jesus is.  This is a Messianic prophecy, and Jesus is definitely the Messiah.  It’s no wonder that they took (what they thought to be) the next logical step: make the Messiah their king.

15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

  1. All of this begs the question: why did Jesus leave?  The people saw Him as the fulfillment of Moses’ messianic prophecy, and the right response to the Messiah is to receive Him as the King of Israel (in response to the prophecies made to David).  It seems like they’re doing the right thing here – why did Jesus put a stop to it by departing?  A few reasons:
  2. Firstly (and most importantly), it wasn’t the timing of God.  God has a specific plan in place regarding Jesus, and it wasn’t going to be interrupted.  Before Jesus was ever going to be recognized by Israel as their King, He was first to be rejected and go to the cross.  In the plan of God, the cross comes before the crown – death comes before glory.  Although the people didn’t realize it at the time (though they should have), there was a price that needed to be paid for sin, and we couldn’t pay it.  Only the death of Jesus is sufficient to satisfy the wrath of God that was incurred because of our sin – only the death of Jesus can right everything that went wrong in the universe.  If Jesus had allowed Himself to be taken at this particular time to be made King, the plan of God would have been short-circuited.  Jesus would have ruled as King, but the people still would have perished in their (our) sin.  Eventually, there wouldn’t be anyone left over which to rule!  So Jesus removed Himself at the time, submitting Himself to the plan of God, which eventually led Him to the cross & resurrection.
  3. Secondly, because for as much the people had the right idea about Jesus at the time, it wouldn’t last.  People are generally fickle, and the Jews of ancient Judea were no different.  They would think of Jesus as the Messiah one minute, and be ready to stone Him the next.  They had a glimpse of faith for a moment, but it wasn’t rooted in anything deeper.  This will become obvious later on in Ch. 6 when Jesus gives them an answer they don’t like.  They follow after Jesus, start complaining about Jesus, and then turn away and reject Jesus.  They were willing to believe, as long as Jesus would be their Messiah on their terms – but it doesn’t work that way.  Without true faith in who Jesus truly is, they didn’t really believe anything about Jesus at all.
    1. People still treat Jesus in this way.  They say they believe in Jesus, but they want to believe that Jesus is anything but the way He revealed Himself to be in history.  They want the hippy-Jesus, or the feel-good-Jesus, or the Jesus-is-my-butler, or the Jesus-is-my-boyfriend…what we need to believe is the Jesus-is-my-Lord!  Faith in Christ isn’t about picking and choosing what we want to believe is “spiritual” and then declaring ourselves to be good with God; it’s about going to Jesus on His terms for who He truly is and surrendering ourselves to Him in faith.  HE is the One that makes us good with God; He’s the One that reconciles us to God in truth.
  4. Lastly, because they were trying to do things their way.  Notice they were going to “take Him by force…”  The word is the same word from which we get the idea of the rapture of the Church (ἁρπάζω) – it speaks of a “seizing / snatching away.”  Depending on the context, it can refer to a violent action, as someone takes another in an attack (which is obviously different from the rapture).  This is what they were attempting to do with Jesus: violently seize Him and force Him to be their king.  That doesn’t exactly sound like humble submission and worship, does it?  If they truly believed that Jesus is the Messiah, then they shouldn’t be trying to force Jesus to do anything!  They ought to have surrendered themselves to HIM, and followed what it was Jesus wanted to do.
    1. We sometimes make the same mistake.  We’ll call Jesus our “Lord,” but we’ll act as if we’re actually the ones in charge.

16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. 18 Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.

  1. So Jesus left, the people (presumably left), and now the disciples left.  The disciples weren’t abandoning Jesus on the mountain; this was an arrangement Jesus has previously made with them (Mk 6:45).  He wanted some time alone, and sent the disciples on ahead.  How the disciples thought they would later meet up with Jesus is anyone’s guess.  Obviously Jesus knew what He had in store.  He was keenly aware of the miracle that was about to take place; it was in His plan all along.
  2. What Jesus knew about, the disciples didn’t.  They got into the boat and began to sail, when a storm arose on the Sea of Galilee.  Sudden storms were not uncommon, and they can quickly become quite violent.  Many of the disciples were experienced sailors (being fishermen), but apparently this was a storm in which they struggled.
  3. BTW – sometimes we get the idea that the disciples were in some sort of yacht as they went across the sea, and thus were somewhat sheltered from the storm.  In truth, they were in a tiny vessel, and had the full brunt of the storm beating down on them. 

19 So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.

  1. So picture it: the disciples had left quite some time prior to Jesus – likely at least a couple of hours.  These seasoned sailors are struggling on the waves in their tiny boat, having only made it 3-4 miles out to sea.  Jesus knew where they were heading, but this is a big lake – there’s hardly any way someone would be able to see a tiny fishing boat out on the lake at night in the middle of a storm.  Yet Jesus quickly and calmly catches up to exactly where they are.  He displays His power as God simply in that! 
  2. Better yet was His mode of transportation: He was literally “walking on the sea.”  The same waves that were tossing the boat to & fro (Mt 14:24) provided a solid footing for the Lord Jesus.  Not only was Jesus fully in control over the food that was served that day – not only was He fully in control of the crowds and His plan to go to the cross – but He was fully in control of the wind, waves, and laws of gravity!  There is no fear in His eyes (as there was in the disciples’) – there is no lack of assurance in His step.  No matter what turmoil surrounded Him, Jesus overcame every obstacle and walked out to the disciples right where they were in the middle of the sea.
  3. Remember how the crowds considered Jesus to be the Prophet who was like unto Moses.  Here, Jesus just trumped him!  With the power and command of God, Moses could part the Red Sea; Jesus didn’t need the sea parted in order to cross…He simply took a stroll on top of it.
    1. This is the power of Almighty God in action!  There is nothing He cannot do!  Do you believe?

20 But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

  1. His words are both wonderful and ironic at the same time.  They are wonderful because they are spoken by Jesus, and the disciples truly did not need to be afraid.  They thought they had seen a ghost walking on the water, not knowing what to think when they saw Jesus out there.  For all they knew, the storm was about to sink the ship, and here came a ghost to collect them.  (Superstitious, but understandable!)  It’s ironic at the same time because Jesus is walking on the water.  How could they NOT fear when seeing that?!  If there is anything that would cause someone to fall on their face in fear, it is the undeniable power of God in action.  Ancient Israel saw the glory of God and heard the voice of God on Mt. Sinai & they were so afraid they asked Moses to speak to God for them.  Isaiah had a vision of the glory and power of God in heaven, and he declared “Woe is me!” although he had been a faithful prophet of God.  The 12 saw Jesus walking on water & feared…rightly so!  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!
    1. At the same time, Jesus reached out to them in love and grace.  At the time, they were fearful for all kinds of reasons, but they didn’t need to be.  Jesus was with them, and all their worldly fears could be laid to rest.
  2. As wonderful as that statement to the disciples is, it’s even better in the Greek.  It could be literally translated, “I AM; do not fear.”  For all the testimonies that had been said of Jesus being God – for all of the demonstrations of power showing that Jesus is God – Jesus directly claims it here, taking upon Himself the name of God.  Remember how God revealed Himself to Moses: “I AM who I AM” (Exo 3:14)  God was telling Moses that He is the Ever-existent One – the God who had no beginning and no end.  This was the covenant name He gave to Moses to describe Himself to the people of Israel.  “Yahweh/Jehovah” is basically the 2nd person form of the word, as the people referred to God in the same way.  This is the name Jesus claims for Himself.  “I AM; do not fear.”  How is it that the disciples did not need to fear the storm?  Because Almighty God was right outside the boat!
    1. Christian, how is it that you do not need to fear life?  Why is it that we can experience peace that passes all understanding?  Because Almighty God has taken us to Himself.  Jesus is I AM, and He is enough for every need!

21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

  1. There’s actually a third creative miracle that takes place, which is often overlooked: the fact that the moment Jesus was received into the boat, the group immediately arrived at the shore in safety.  The disciples had struggled to get just 3-4 miles out into the lake, Jesus shows up…they’re at their destination.  All the troubles and trials are over – the storm has ceased – the struggle has ended – the fear (at least of everything else) had vanished.  All that remained was Jesus & the disciples, and the realization that they were in the presence of Almighty God Incarnate.  The One who Created the heavens and earth stood before them, and they were able to live to tell the tale.
  2. If you’re one who knows the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, you can claim virtually that same experience.  You have been born again by none else than the God who knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  You have met the God who created the heavens and the earth.  You speak with Him every single time you pray.  You have known Him from the moment you believed upon Jesus’ death and resurrection, and asked to be forgiven.  You are actually indwelled by Him right now, as God the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in your life, since our bodies are His present-day temple.  Christian, you truly stand in the presence of the Almighty Creator God, and that’s something that ought to blow our minds every single day.
    1. How often we forget!  How often we take for granted the privileges we have in Christ!

Conclusion:
Had Jesus made some big claims to be God?  Sure – but He had the power to back them up.  No obstacle was insurmountable to Him.  Faced with 10-12 thousand hungry people?  Jesus is able to feed them.  Faced with a mob ready to force Him to be king?  Jesus is able to avoid them.  Faced with a stormy sea and a boat full of frightened disciples?  Jesus is able to walk to them, comfort them, and bring them to a place of safety.  There is nothing Jesus cannot provide, for He shows Himself to be our ultimate provision in all things.  His power is abundant – His grace is sufficient – His love is beyond comprehension.

What is your response to all of this?  To be sure, you could be like many in the crowds, coming to Jesus for the wrong reasons having the most superficial of faiths.  The Lord Jesus still loves you, and still offers to provide you the same grace He provides to all the world…but you miss out on what the fullness of His grace supplies.  He didn’t just come to heal or to feed the hungry; He came to give eternal life.  He came to reconcile sinful humans with God.  Until we see Jesus AS God, we can never experience that peace and life.  We cannot make Jesus into who we might want Him to be; we have to go to Him as He actually is – and thankfully, He freely invites us to do just that. 

Others of us know Jesus as Lord, but perhaps we’ve lost sight of what all that means.  We’ve asked Jesus to forgive us our sins, but we’ve gone back to life-as-usual.  We’re thankful for our new life in Christ, but we’ve gone back to trying to solve problems in our flesh using our own plans, rather than seeking out the Person and will of God.  We’ve lost sight of the fact that we personally know the Living God, and we are invited to go to Him at all times with all things.

Christian, don’t lose sight of Whom you serve!  Jesus makes possible what seems to be impossible.  He takes what is meager and makes it a mighty offering.  He calms storms, walks on waves, and grants peace that passes understanding.  Go to Him as your Lord – go to Him as your King – go to Him as the I AM, for that is exactly who He is!  May we never take for granted the privilege it is to personally know the Living Lord God of all creation.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s