Friday, March 2, 2012

John 6:16-24

Today’s story is so familiar to some of us, that we may miss the wonderful lessons for us in it! After having fed the crowd, Jesus saw that they were wanting to make him their king, Jesus went alone to a mountain to pray, while He sent the disciples off in a boat to head to Capernaum.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (John 6:16-21)

One of the details that John doesn’t give here, but that we find in Matthew 14:27 and Mark 6:45 is that Jesus MADE the disciples get into the boat. He purposely sent them out into a storm. So Jon Courson points out that Jesus is not just the Savior in the storm, but also the Sender of the storm. Some of you are in the middle of a “dangerous storm” right now (financial, marital, health issues, teenager problems, etc.), and you may be wondering what in the world is God doing, and why is He allowing it. Courson proposes that God has several purposes in sending us into storms: to give us new direction, to give us necessary correction, to give us needed protection, and to nurture perfection. Don’t you love four-point sermons with rhyme? :)

So how does this play out in our lives? First, because we are such stubborn creatures, sometimes God needs to let us face desperation before we will cry out to Him. In our self-sufficiency, we hang onto the idea that we are in charge until we’re forced by our circumstances to finally give over the reins. I have to admit that, before Don became a Christian, I used to pray, “God, get him, whatever it takes!”

Have you ever prayed that way for someone? And for some people, it’s that whatever-it-takes storm that finally breaks down their resistance. HOWEVER, I later discovered Romans 2:4 that tells us that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. Now, I know that Paul may have meant that God’s character is so good that He is the One who, in grace, leads us to Himself, which is certainly true! But when I discovered that verse, God gave me an “AHA!” moment, and I began to pray that God would so BLESS Don, that he would clearly see God’s hand in his life and turn to Him from a place of thankfulness. Isn’t that a nicer way to pray? :) Unfortunately, though, some stiff-necked sinners need a storm - a big storm!

When we look at the story of Jonah, we realize that sometimes God sends a storm our way to correct us. Jonah was running away from God, so God put him in a “whale” of a situation so that Jonah would come to the place of obedience. Because He loves us, God will not let us get away with disobedience - and He WILL chasten us!

In the case of the disciples, I agree with Jon Courson, that Jesus wanted to give the disciples protection by sending them into the storm. They were in danger of being swept up by the emotions of the crowd seeking to make Jesus king for all the wrong reasons, so He made them get into that boat. Sometimes, when the world threatens to pull us away (through our association with a worldly group of friends, because of our love of alcohol or material things, etc.), God will send us into a storm to remove those temptations and distractions.

Finally, God loves us too much to leave us the way we are, so storms can be a necessary step to our purification. He wants us to become mature, and the only way to mold us into the person He wants to use is to put us into situations that will grow our faith - and there’s nothing like a big storm to put the fear of God into us! When the waves are so high around us and threaten to destroy us, we learn that the Sender of the Storm is also the Savior of the storm. And, surely, this is what the disciples learned when they saw Jesus coming to them on the water. No wonder they were “willing to take him into the boat !” And IMMEDIATELY the seas calmed (Matt 14:32), and they “reached the shore where they were heading.”

Jesus knows where He’s taking us! If you are in the midst of the most frightening storm of your life, don’t fear. Take courage! The Sender of the storm is also the Savior of the storm. Job learned this in the midst of his storm:

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. (Job 23:10-11)


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