Walk’n On Water
One day… three preacher friends… a Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal… decided they’d go fishing.
So they drove to the lake, got into a boat that one of their parishioners loaned them, and set out across the lake to a fishing hole a couple of them knew of. After a couple hours… the Baptist preacher said, “I’m hungry. Anyone want a sandwich from the marina? It’s just over that rise over there.”
Both the Methodist and the Pentecostal preachers said, “Sure”, and proceeded to give the Baptist preacher their orders. After taking it all down, he jumped out of the boat… ran across the water… jogged up the bank… and disappeared over the rise. The Pentecostal preacher was shocked at what he’d seen, and just sat there amazed until a few minutes later they saw him jog back over the rise… down the bank… ran across the water… and jumped back into the boat.
The Pentecostal preacher’s eyes just widened in amazement and he exclaimed, “What faith! That was amazing!” The Baptist and Methodist preachers just sort of looked at each other… shrugged their shoulders… and ate their sandwiches.
The Methodist preacher finished his sandwich first and said, “You know… I’m thirsty. Anyone else want a soda?” So after taking everyone’s order, he stood up… jumped out of the boat… ran across the water… jogged up the bank… and disappeared over the rise.
The Pentecostal preacher all the while was exclaiming and declaring how wonderful this all was… and that he had seen some really great faith displayed this day. He said, “I’m sure I’ve got this kind of faith. I can feel it building up in me.” Well… he went on like this for a while until he saw the Methodist preacher come back over the rise… jog down the bank… run across the water… and then jumped back into the boat with drinks in hand.
Well, the Pentecostal preacher by now was beside himself. “Oh what faith! What wonderful… marvelous… glorious faith! Glory to God! I know I’ve got that kind of faith!” Then he stood up… jumped out of the boat… and sank.
When he returned to the surface, the other two helped him back into the boat, all the while he was exclaiming about the miracle he’d seen and that he also believed God and had faith… then he jumped out of the boat again… and sank.
This went on for a few more times when the Baptist preacher leaned over to the Methodist preacher… nudged him in the side and said, “Do you think we ought to tell him where the rocks are?”
* * * * *
It’s a funny joke isn’t it. Now I wouldn’t ordinarily start out a Sunday morning sermon in this way because I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression… That I don’t respect the pulpit… the worship service… or that I make light of the Word of God.
Because just the opposite is true. I believe God’s Word… and I have profound respect for the sanctity of the pulpit of God. I know full well that “this” is holy ground.
But… I told this joke in order to use it as an illustration of how people can… and do… make light of the miraculous… or they try to “reason” away the miraculous… turning it into just an ordinary event that has a rational explanation.
This has happened over and over again. Every miracle that Christ performed in the Bible… from the creation of everything that is… “ex nihilo”… out of nothing… right up to the miracle we’re looking at today… Christ walking on the water…
Unbelievers everywhere… and in every instance… refuse to believe beyond their own very small and limited minds… They will openly declare that miracles don’t happen… therefore… there has to be another explanation.
Some have tried to reason away this miracle by saying that Christ was actually just walking along the shore… that in the storm the disciples got confused and it only “looked like” He was on the water.
They will also try to convince us that the disciples were actually much closer to the shore than they thought… and Jesus just sort of “jumped in” the boat… from dry ground.
They completely fail to take into account (or just flat out dismiss the idea) that several of these disciples were experienced fishermen by trade… and that they fished these very waters for the majority of their lives…
They knew full well the difference between being close to shore… and 3 to 4 miles out into the middle of the lake… which is where the Bible tells us they were.
No… in the face of the truly miraculous… reason fails… and what we’re left with is faith in the supreme power of God… and the veracity His Word.
So… let’s take a look at His Word now…
I. Taking the Kingdom by Force
Joh 6:14-21 NKJV 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." (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.
Now it would appear that there were those who had just witnessed the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude… and who then proclaimed… Joh 6:14b NKJV …"This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."—That they were ready to receive Him as Messiah and Lord…
Yet… instead of falling down before Him in worship and adoration… (As you might expect a true believer would do)… Instead of declaring that they were horrible and miserable sinners… crying out for mercy from the Son of God… and praising Him in the beauty of holiness…
Instead of doing any of those things that you would think that a person would do instinctively when they see Jesus, face-to-face… These people… propose to… Joh 6:15b NKJV …take Him by force to make Him king
They would rather lay hands on the one they now openly declare as the “prophet”… and force Him to be their “king!”
The first thing I want to say about this is in the form of a question… “What makes them think they can ‘make’ Him a king… who was ‘born’ the King of Kings?”
How arrogant their attitude… how empty their words… and how vain their actions! Their motives are similar to the motives of those who made Saul, Absolom and Jeroboam their Kings…
Self-serving greed…. The desire for someone to fill their bellies… Carnal cravings for the miraculous.
The second thing I want to say is that they also failed to understand that though they proclaimed Him that “Prophet”… and wanted to make Him their “King”… there was another function… another position… another title He must hold before that “King” and “kingdom” could be established…
Before He could be established as “King”… He must first be ordained as “Priest”… He had to take on the role of our High Priest and first, offer himself as the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
He had to enter that place… behind the veil… in the heavenly Holy of Holies… to offer Himself in atonement for our sins… and then be seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High… making intercession for all those who trust in Him.
These must come first. He must follow the heavenly order of things… to be first Prophet… then Priest… then King!
How dare they try to “take the kingdom” by force! To bring it about by the works of their own hands! To force God into doing things according to their time frame!
But Jesus will not be tempted with kingdoms by either Satan… or man! He had already turned this offer down once, at His temptation… and He would do it again.
So, instead of being caught up in this worldly, patriotic zeal… He removed Himself from their presence and retired to the mountaintop once again… to return to that duty of every priest… or pastor…
He will isolate Himself and spend as much time as necessary in prayer for His people… for the sheep of His pasture!
And while He spends time before the Father on this day… I would imagine… asking that the Father open the eyes of those who still don’t understand…
We see the disciples… making their transition…
II. From Mountaintop to the Violent Storm
Joh 6:16--18 NKJV (16) Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, (17) got into the boat, and went over the sea toward
And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. (18)
Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. Capernaum
It would appear… from both Matthew and Mark’s accounts of this event… that the disciples might have gotten somewhat caught up in the patriotic zealotry of those who wanted to make Jesus… King.
After all… we know that at least one of His disciples was called Simon… the zealot. So… it’s no real stretch to think that they could be just as easily caught up in the same Messianic enthusiasm as the rest of the people.
Both Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus “compelled” the disciples to get into the boat and leave. Mark, for instance, says… Mat 14:22 NKJV Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.
Now, the word “made”, which both Matthew and Mark use here… the greek is… anagkazō (an-ang-kad'-zo)… and it means: to necessitate, compel, constrain… usually by force, or threats.
So, Jesus compels the disciples to leave… probably to get them away from these other influences. Then He calms and dismisses the crowd… and goes up on the mountain to pray.
While He’s up there… the disciples get into their boat and begin to row… probably along the shore in case Jesus caught up with them… When suddenly… the wind began to pick up and the power of it caused the sea to swell and it forced the disciples out and away from the shore…
Now this type of storm is a common occurrence for the
Sea of Galilee.
This is because it’s around 700 ft below sea level. With the surrounding mountains… even to this
very day… the area acts like a gigantic vacuum cleaner… sucking in the cooler
air with such force that the water can develop violent swells… very quickly.
And, being the experienced fishermen they were… from this very area… these men knew all about this event and how to deal with it. Lower the sails (if the boat had any)… and start rowing and bailing water as it splashes in… hoping all the while that you stay afloat long enough to reach the shore again.
These disciples had just come away from the experience of a lifetime. They had been instrumental participants in the miracle of feeding thousands of men, women and children with only enough food that a single small boy could carry by himself…
They had been elevated to the very heights of emotional and spiritual euphoria… They had their “Mountaintop Experience”… and now they’re facing their own mortality in the “Valley” of this violent storm!
How many times, beloved, have you been up on that mountaintop… feeling the heights of wonderful spiritual exhilaration… and enlightenment… only to return to the valley of everyday life, and find that valley… changed… worse than you remembered… turned not only upside down… but inside out too? Or, maybe everything is just as it always was… but now it seems dull… boring… and mundane…
Beloved… remember… if you’ve ever seen the
Rocky Mountains or the Grand Tetons… you’ll understand when
I say, that though mountaintop experiences may be grand and wonderful… And you
may want to stay up there indefinitely…
Be aware… that nothing grows up there past the tree line. All the growth is in the valley. The valley is where life is lived.
And though the valley may contain those trials and struggles that we go through on a daily basis… Though we may strain at the oars in our little boat, which we call “life”… and we seem to be constantly bailing the water out… that the world splashes in on us… as we struggle just to stay afloat…
We can be confident and rest assured in the knowledge that… (As the song goes…)
III. His Eye is on the Sparrow… I Know He Watches Me
Joh 6:19-21 NKJV 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. (20) But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." (21) Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
Even while the disciples pulled at the oars… vigorously rowing… making little progress… we read in Mark that… Mar 6:48 NKJV …He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them…
Jesus was on that mountain… praying… for them… for the people below… and all the while… He had his eye on the disciples…
He wasn’t indifferent to their struggles… He had His eye on them. Even though the darkness and the spray of the Sea water and the splashing of the waves, hid them from view… He saw them…
Psa 139:7-12 NKJV Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (8) If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. (9) If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, (10) Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. (11) If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me; (12) Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
There is no darkness or mist or waves of the Sea can block His view of His disciples… nor will it hinder His view of us… for His eyes are still upon His elect.
And though He allowed the disciples to go through their storm… in due time… in His own time… He went to them… defying the very laws of nature… Laws He created and set into place Himself…
He walked across the water as if it were dry ground… in order to reach His disciples. I’d even venture to say that the very water itself… refrained from getting even His sandals wet… because all of nature itself… bends to the will of the Word made flesh…
And as He drew near to the foundering boat… He called out to them, and said… Joh 6:20b NKJV …"It is I; do not be afraid."
Words that comforted and calmed their hearts. Just as the Lord encouraged Joshua before he led God’s people into the land of promise… Jos 1:9 NKJV …Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
He now comforts His disciples… and us with… Joh 6:20b NKJV …"It is I; do not be afraid."
The only One who can truly help us in and through our struggles and temptations… our pains and our heartaches…
To all who are willing to hear Him… He still says, “I’m here. Don’t be afraid!”
And then the Scripture tells us that… Joh 6:21 NKJV … they willingly received Him… as He entered their boat…
The storm subsided… the struggle was over… and they arrived at their destination.
Notice that Christ didn’t force Himself into their boat… they willingly received Him. And so must all who Jesus shows Himself to.
The Father doesn’t beg… or cajole… or plead with us to believe in His Son…. He commands us to do so…
And to all who hear that command… and obey… He says… Joh 1:12 NKJV …as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God…