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Matthew 14:22-36


“And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.  And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray:  and when the evening was come, he was there alone.  But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves:  for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid:  and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.  Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.  And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.  And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; and besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment:  and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.”


The Storms of Life


“Turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 14.  Open in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 14, if you don’t have a Bible with you, some of the seats in front of you may have a green Bible on the back of those seats, and you’re welcome to take one of those and read along with us.  Matthew chapter 14.  So The Kry will be here tonight in concert at 7 O’Clock, at 5:30 we’re having our prayer-meeting.  Normally we have our prayer from 6pm to 7:30, but tonight prayer is just going to be from 5:30 to 6:30, and then we’ll have The Kry in concert.  And if you could keep in prayer as they mention, this next week as they do this outreach in Montreal, ah, pretty cool.  We are working with a group of churches to go up in a couple weeks and do a couple days of just a follow-up to what they’re doing.  So if you weren’t able to go this week, there’s a chance to go in a couple weeks, where we just go up for a couple days and do a little follow-up.  [This is sort of a short-term evangelistic trip.  To learn more about Short-Term Evangelism, and it’s importance, log onto: ]  Matthew chapter 14, maybe you heard the story about the Norwegian Dawn this cruise ship, I remember hearing about it, pretty intense [ for a history of this ship log onto:].  But this ship sailed from Miami to New York City, and went through a really large storm, some pretty huge waves.  In fact, one of the waves was 70 feet high (actually three of them, three rogue waves).  Maybe you heard about that.  A real trip, for sure.  Passengers after this experience were accusing the Captain, Captain Nicholas Peterstam of unnecessarily piloting this ship through this storm.  They believe it could have been avoided for certain reasons, but the pilot and cruise line actually shortened these folks vacations by five hours, they were supposed to stop at the Bahamas in Nassau for just a quick time, but they got the announcement on the ship that ‘We’re not stopping there, we’re going to New York City, going to get there five hours early, and we’ve got a special event to be part of.’  Well, 20 hours journeying through a storm, a storm that they knew about, but I guess there was a surprise wave that was larger than they were expecting, this huge wave, 70 feet or so high [actually three of them in a row].  When it hit, it actually flooded sixty-two cabins, overturned tables, broke windows, tore loose the Jacuzzis on the Pool Deck, and even injured a number of people.  Some folks on the ship were sure they were going to die, so there are stories of them even calling their loved ones as this was going down, and saying ‘Good-bye honey, good-bye’, just thinking this is it.  When they finally got to safety, and they heard what was allegedly the reason to go through this storm in the way that they did, twenty-five of the passengers have grouped together and are actually filing a law-suit presently against The Norwegian Cruise Line for 100 million dollars.  So, horrible experience.  [We’d see these waves not so infrequently on my submarine, cruising the North Atlantic in winter.  Our bridge was 30 feet above the water, so we’d get wet if we were on bridge-look-out watch when one of them hit.]  I couldn’t imagine being on that ship, and going through that, that’s for sure [I could, little bit exciting].  My wife and I have actually been on the Scotia Prince a couple times out of Portland, going over to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, maybe you’ve been on it.  Mentioned it the first service, and then somebody reminded me, that ain’t quite like going on one of these cruise ships.  But we’ve been on it a couple times, and even with fairly calm seas, we found ourselves getting a little sea-sick, and we’re thinking this cruise-ship thing isn’t for us.  So we haven’t really gotten too excited about the idea, but I guess somebody explained to me, it’s a little bit different when you’re on a bigger ship [they also have stability control fins some 10 to 20 feet under the waterline, so they don’t roll very much at all in normal seas---but every ship is subject to “the higher powers, or powers that be”].  That’s just a boat I guess, and a cruise ship is a little bit different.  But to go through that experience, and then to get on the other side and learn the futility of what they’re allegedly saying, I mean, just the foolishness of the whole experience, man, that would be pretty tough to find that that stormy experience could have been avoided, and that the whole ordeal potentially was because of even greed and pride [like the Titanic anyone?], ah, the alleged reason was, and this is what people are accusing him of, is that Donald Trump, his program “The Apprentice” called up Norwegian Cruise Line and asked if they could get that ship to New York City quickly so they could use it in a shooting for their program.  So, they cut the trip short evidently, and 2,500 people lost a few hours of their vacation and instead went through this knarly storm.  That’s what they’re accusing him of.  And I guess that’s yet to be totally proved in court.  Well, being in a storm, and on a boat is never an easy experience.  We’re going to see that this morning, as we pick up in verse 22 in Matthew chapter 14, because we watch the disciples now at this point in time.  It happened before, it happens again, but they’re going to be on a boat, and they’re going to be in a storm, and clearly, yet again, it is not an easy experience.  And as we study them through this physical storm, it’s also once more a reminder to us, there are principles that we can pull out.  As they’re going through this physical storm, it’s also yet a spiritual storm, it is an experience, it’s a lesson for them.  And you and I go through storms too at times in our lives, not necessarily physical ones.  This summer in this town we’ve had plenty of those.  But we go through storms too, and they don’t necessarily have waves, and they don’t have a boat, and don’t have winds, but we do through storms that can be quite hairy and pretty intense, and at times very painful.  Some of them are even long storms, they go on for quite a season.  But unlike the Norwegian Dawn passengers, as we’re going to see as we go through this, being a child of God, when I go through a storm and get out on the other side, at times even right after the storm, I can look back and maybe see some fruit that’s already started to grow in my life.  Or maybe when the ordeal is over, when it’s all said and done, there’s an experience right there and then that I can see, or over time begin to discern God’s purposes in it.  But in time, I can look back in the storms of my life, and see good in those storms.  I don’t look back and get on shore and say ‘That was futile, that was foolish’, and then have to deal with that frustration.  I may go through a painful time, but as I find out, ‘You know, God, you actually designed that whole experience.  You worked it for a purpose, a glorious purpose, and I yet can see good that’s come into my life as a result.’  You know, the Bible says, you guys know the verse, Romans 8:28, ‘That all things work together for good, for them that love God and are called according to his purpose.’  And so we will consider that, but a whole lot more as we look at this particular storm the disciples go through.  And we’re reminded this morning that the storms you and I go through are for our good and to the glory of God.  They do not come randomly, they do not come aimlessly, they instead serve a very good and perfect purpose of the Lord.  Let’s say a word of prayer, because it’s very possible you’re sitting here this morning, and you’ve gone through a storm, or you’re in the midst of a storm, or you’re about to go through a storm.  So some of these points you and I need to fully appreciate.  Let’s say a word of prayer.  ‘Lord, we want to thank you for this opportunity to go through these Scriptures together.  And so Lord as we do, we pray that you would open our minds and hearts even now, and you would give us light.  Lord, thank you for your Word, that it is living, that it is active, that as we study your Word it does produce indeed an effect in our lives, you speaking to us.  Boy we so much need to hear your voice.  So I just pray in your grace as we spend this time, that you’d keep away distractions, focus our hearts and minds.  Holy Spirit be upon all of us, and even upon myself now, we pray, in Jesus name, amen.’


Jesus leads them, purposely, into a storm---they’re right where God wants them to be


Matthew chapter 14, verses 22-33, “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat, and go before him to the other side while he sent the multitudes away.  And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up on a mountain by himself to pray.  Now when evening came he was alone there.  But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.  Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’, and they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘Be of good cheer, it is I, do not be afraid.’  And Peter answered him and said, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’  So he said, ‘Come.’  And when Peter had come down out of the boat he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out saying, ‘Lord, save me!’  And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, and caught him, and said to him, ‘Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?’  And when they got into the boat the wind ceased.  Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’”  So, quite a storm for these disciples. They go through this storm, but notice in verse 22, this is something that Jesus led them into.  It says right there that Jesus made his disciples get into the boat.  No doubt he knew what was down the road, too.  So this is something that the Lord has led them into.  The word for “made” there in verse 22 in the Greek literally speaks of being compelled, commanded, they’re forced.  So he was very firm in getting these disciples into this boat.  And just in a little time, they get out into the water, the waves start to pick up, and they’re having quite a difficult time.  Now we learn a little bit as to the reasons partly as to why this is happening.  In John chapter 6, verses 14 to 15, you know, last week we studied too that Jesus through the disciples miraculously fed the 5,000 men, and of course with the women and children the crowd was potentially 10,000 people.  He used just five loaves and two small fish and he fed all these people.  But in John we learn, that after that, miraculously that happening, the people then, it says in John they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who has come into the world.’  And then it says in John that Jesus perceived that they wanted to come and take him by force to make him king.  ‘This is the Messiah’, they reasoned.  ‘The Messiah’s come to reign, so let’s make him king.’  Well it’s not time, Jesus is the Messiah, but he’s come at this time for a different purpose, and it’s not time for that.  And so I’m sure that’s part of the reason why he get’s the disciples into the boat, he doesn’t want them getting caught up in this whole deal, he gets them into the boat and sends them across.  But there’s more reason than just that, as we’re going to study on in a bit.  He then quickly dismisses the crowds, and then you see in verse 23 that he then goes up on the side of the mountain there, to spend some time in prayer.  So, they in a moment find themselves in a storm, and it’s completely designed, Jesus led them right into it.  It was not their decision, they wouldn’t be in it if it wasn’t for him.  It was completely his will.  [As a teenager in my 14 foot sailboat I used to go out in weather older people wouldn’t hazard to do.  But as I got older (and wiser), there were times I wouldn’t venture out to sea.  These guys probably didn’t want to set sail, they knew what the Galilee could be like when the winds whipped up the water.]   And as it’s true for the disciples in this storm, it is also true for you and I today as believers in Jesus Christ.  That when you and I find those seasons when we are in storms, it is also according to the will of the Lord.  You may be in a storm right now, and it may be a horrendous storm.  But if you are, when we are at those times, we are still in the will of God.  Sometimes things start to toss us around, things start to get all crazy in our lives, and we start to think, ‘Man, what have I done wrong?  Where did I go wrong?  Is God upset with  me?  We are sure that something isn’t quite right between us and God.’  But that might not be the case at all, in fact, we can be in the middle of an awful storm, and yet be right in the center of God’s will and plan for our lives.  That’s what’s happening here for the disciples, they’re right where God wants them, journeying across this lake, and it gets pretty hairy as they go.  And no matter how it my seem to them, they’re exactly where God has planned for them to be.  So, you and I, you know, security in our lives, we can’t judge security by our circumstances.  Our relationship with God, we can’t just say ‘Well, it’s peaceful in my life now, things must be good with me and God.’  We can’t do that [it’s very dangerous to do that, cf. 2nd Corinthians 13:5].  We can’t do that at all.  You can be in complete obedience to the plan of God for your life, and yet, the world around you, your life is falling apart, it’s a mess.  It has been said about the disciples, ‘We’re safer in the storm of God’s will, than on the land with the crowds, if we’re out of God’s will.’  And so, it can be true for you and I, like the disciples, man, we can be right in the midst of a storm, yet right in the center of God’s will.  Maybe today you’re in a storm, maybe you’re wondering why this is going on, and wondering where things went wrong.  It’s very possible nothing’s gone wrong.  It’s very possible you’re right where you need to be, right in the center of what God has for you in this season of your life. 


God has a purpose for us when we’re put into storms---he is in control of events


Now, that’s the case for the disciples, and as is the case for them here, when we are sent into a storm, God has a purpose for it too.  There’s a reason for it.  And that’s important to remember.  And often the reason is to test us, is to refine us, to perfect us.  Sometimes to correct us too, you know, Jonah was corrected by a storm.  But if correcting is part of perfecting too, when I’m in a storm, in the end, you know it’s part of the sanctification process, I’m being perfected.  And so in storms there’s lessons that we learn, and experiences that we have, they’re so vitally important.  And that’s what’s happening with the disciples, there’s a lesson here for them that they need to learn and to understand and appreciate, that they need to have with them for the rest of their lives from this point on.  Now, in a little while, Jesus is going to not be with them anymore, he’s physically going to ascend to heaven [the third heaven, God the Father’s throne and his throne.]  And after he does, they’re going to go through storms, man, they’re going to go through some real intense storms.  As many of you know, all the disciples eventually will die a martyrs death.  Every single one of them will die for Christ [except for John, whom they tried to kill, but couldn’t.  He eventually died of old age]. Some of them will be skinned alive, some crucified upside down.  One will make it through and not die as a martyr, but he was, they tried to kill him, the apostle John, he was boiled in a vat of oil, and he survived.  Then the Roman government took him and exiled him to the Isle of Patmos, just a rock in the Mediterranean, and he stayed there, and was later released at the end of his life and went around ministering as a very old man.  [His exile was from 86AD to 96AD, ten years.  He received the vision from Jesus of the Revelation, which turned into the Book of Revelation.] But they all go through tremendous storms, and this is after Christ ascends.  So right here, right now, God sends them through this storm, he’s got something to teach them, a lesson that’s so vitally important to them.  At this point in time, now they’ve been through a storm before, and Christ was in the boat [a humdinger of one, they all thought they were going to drown].  He was right there with them.  So as it started to happen they went and woke him up, ‘Hey!  What are you gonna do?’  But now they’re going through this storm, and he’s not in the boat, he’s not in the boat.  So, you know, they could begin to wonder, ‘Man, this is unbelievable, look what he did, he just sent us out and left us alone, and here we are on our own, this is awful, and we’re gonna die…’  Well that’s not the case at all.  God is in control and he’s got a purpose and plan.  Jesus is totally in control at this point, and this is going to work out to good, and they need to know that.  They need to be able to trust him in any season that they’re going to encounter in their lives from this point on.  Now, it is interesting, the beginning of the Book of Acts, these men, same men in this boat right now.  Just a moment ago, we studied, they fed the 5,000, were part of that experience.  Now they get into a boat and they go through a storm.  You go through the Book of Acts, it is interesting, Acts chapter 4, at that point in time, soon after Pentecost, these men lead 5,000 men to Christ.  It says the Church, in verse 4 of chapter 4, including the 3,000 and the ones in the upper room, is at 5,000, the Church is now at 5,000.  So these men, spiritually speaking, feed the Bread of Life to folks right after Pentecost, and there’s this work, there’s this Church.  So they’re part of that feeding experience in a way of spiritually speaking.  Right after that, chapter 4 of Acts, as that is happening, they get to 5,000, and suddenly the winds start to blow, and persecution comes into their lives, and some of the experiences are very intense.  So ultimately, I mean, one after another, you know where it ends up, these men are going to die for Christ.  And so here they are, they’ve fed the 5,000, now they’re in the boat and they’re in a storm, and they need to learn things about their Lord that are so vitally important, so that they can endure the storms later. 


When we’re in the storm we’re still in his will, and under his care


As we see in this story, and it’s so true in our lives also, for the disciples, but also for us, when we’re in the storm we’re still in his will, still in his will.  After sending the multitudes away, Jesus journeys up the mountain side to be alone to pray.  If I was Jesus at this point in time, you remember from our study last week, if you were with us, they’ve been through a long day already.  The other Gospel writers had noted that before the multitudes even came to them, and Jesus began to teach and to heal them, and before they fed them, it already was stated it had been a long day, they hadn’t eaten, and they had been busy.  And now it’s evening, and they’re wanting the day to end, ‘Go send the multitudes away’, but Jesus doesn’t do that, he uses them to feed the multitude and teaches them a principle through that.  And now they’re going through this storm.  But Jesus himself, I mean, if I was him and going up to the mountain at this point in time, I’d have my pillow and my sleeping bag with me, I’d be sleeping, I’d be tired, seeking physical refreshment.  But Jesus goes up to pray.  And you see this pattern throughout the Gospels, studying the life of Christ, where he at times draws alone to be with the Lord, even more so from this point on, to be with his Father.  And as he does, man, it’s no doubt that as he draws near to the Lord, the Lord draws near to him.  He finds, in that, strength, he finds refreshment, and he finds spiritual power.  As we go on, we’ll see Jesus doesn’t even go to bed this night, he stays up all night [after that very long day previously].  And when they get to the next morning, there’s work to do, there’s ministry, and they continue to minister.  The disciples, because they’re with him, have the same experience, they never go to bed.  Jesus, you’d think for this moment, I’d be with my pillow going, I’d take a break, just take a nap.  But yet he knows what’s going down, he draws near to the Father.  And I’m sure he finds physical strength and refreshment in this time.  You remember the Scripture, and it’s a picture for you and I, but Isaiah, I remember memorizing it as I was a little kid, but Isaiah chapter 40, verse 31, “But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  [That’s the passage for this website, going along with the Memphis Belle analogy.]  And there are times that as Christians we can experience that, and we should.  I mean, there are times when you’re tired and you want to stop, but God has more to do and wants to use you, and man, you need to draw near to the Lord.  And when you do, I’ve had those experiences where I’ve experienced something from the Lord, and it has picked me up, given me strength, and then I move on.  So, Jesus, draws near to the Father in prayer.  Matthew says it’s evening time, he’s alone there on the mountain.  Mark’s account gives us an important description that we don’t have here, and it says in Mark chapter 6, verse 4, that at this time they go out, the disciples, Jesus can yet from the mountainside can see the disciples out there on the water.  They go out to the midpoint of the lake, which is several miles according to John, three or four miles.  I’ve been to the Sea of Galilee, and we’re going to be having another trip there in March.  But it’s seven or eight miles across, and you can see across in the day time, for sure.  And you could see out in the middle of the lake, but this evening time, it is dark.  And Jesus can yet see them, and they don’t know that.  It’s dark, you know.  But he can see them, he has his eyes upon them.  And I wonder if there isn’t even something supernatural going down, that he can see them at this time.  I mean, he’s the Son of God.  So here they are in the middle of the lake, and they’re thinking they’re alone.  But yet the whole time Jesus has them in his sight.  And I would imagine too, he’s here praying, so as he prays to the Father, he’s seeing them, he’s also praying for them.  He knows what they’re going through, he sees the storm.  I’m sure, you know, on a lake you can hear often the voices, as acoustics go, sound waves travel really well [on the water], and I’m sure at times maybe he even hears them, struggling, and it’s been a long day, and now you’ve got waves.  It says they’re going contrary to the wind, the wind is blowing against them.  [And if that’s so, the waves are picking up and going against them as well, both wind and waves coming against their hull.]  But he sees the whole deal, this picture later in their lives, Jesus is now ascended, they’re just like you and I, earthly church.  Man, we don’t see Jesus physically.  Yet we believe in him, we know he exists.  And we go through storms and trials, and he’s not physically there to take ahold of it and talk to.  But they’ll be able to think back and think about when he was on the mountain, the picture, he was up there, he saw us, he knew what was going down.  And no doubt, when he’s up now at the right hand of the Father, he can see us, and knows what’s going on, and he’s got his eyes right on us, and as he was praying then, I’m sure he’s praying now, because the New Testament writer of Hebrews says he’s our High Priest and he intercedes for us.  Maybe this morning you are in a storm, maybe today you’re going through things in your life, and things aren’t easy.  And you’re wondering, you know, you’re thinking you’re alone, you’re wondering what God’s up to, and does he even care.  Well, you know the picture here is a picture for you too.  Absolutely, according to the Scripture it’s a fact, Jesus sees where you are, he knows what you’re going through.  And I do believe he’s praying for you.  And I tell you, to have Jesus praying for you, that’s pretty cool, I like having people praying for me.  But to have him praying for me, man, that’s just beautiful.  They’re learning, and going to learn that they are still in his will, in a storm, but still in his will, but also they’re still under his care.  Still in his will, still under his care.  True for you too.  You’re in a storm, things aren’t very easy, you’re still in the will of God, and you’re still under the care of God.   God sees you, no doubt about it.  Sometimes when I go into a storm, you might feel like this, I think I’m on the Norwegian Cruise Line, you know.  ‘I think that this is futile, this is crazy, why is it going this way?  Whose piloting this ship anyway?  This is a mess.  Hard.  I don’t understand.’  And maybe you feel a little like that too, and the Lord just by his way has you here, sitting here listening to a study this day.  “You know you’re in my will, and you’re in my care, I’ve got the ship, I’m piloting this ship, and no worry, no fear, all things work together according to good, to those that love God according to his purpose.”


There’s a timing element to our storms---you’ve just got to hold on, because God is coming to you


Verse 24, “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves:  for the wind was contrary.”  Verse 24, they go at it for a number of hours, and here’s a timing thing that I see.  Because it’s, you know the sun’s going down when they’re feeding the 5,000 and ready to dismiss them.  And after that, now they’re in the water, and when you see there, it says it’s the fourth watch in the night, there’s a number of hours that go by.  Potentially there’s as many as eight or nine hours that go by.  Rowing and rowing and rowing, it’s been a long day, and now you’re rowing against the wind in a storm for hours, hours.  It almost could seem like, could God actually, is it fair for him to be testing me at this point in my life?  It’s been a long journey as it is.  And now to be coming through this?  I mean, these guys are wiped, emotionally and physically drained, and this is certainly a deal.  But there’s a timing thing here.  The timing I believe is critical.  In order for God to meet them where he’s going to meet them, and reveal himself to them in the manner he’s going to, which because of this experience later they will be thankful for.  It will be so significant in their lives later.  But in order for it to be that way, there’s a timing thing.  And so, you know the wind is blowing against them, I believe by God’s design.  It’s slowing them down, it’s making the journey take longer.  And as it does, the hours grow longer and longer, and it gets darker and darker.  And now it’s about the fourth watch in the night.  The first watch was from 6 to 9pm, the second watch was from 9 to 12midnight, the third watch was from 12 to 3 in the morning, and the fourth watch was from 3 to 6 in the morning.  It is at the fourth watch, sometime after 3 in the morning that Jesus now decides it’s time to do what he was going to do, what he intended to do in revealing himself to them.  I believe it’s by his design.  There’s no way, to me, I’m sure this could not happen in the daytime.  You know, he fed the 5,000, and the multitudes were ready to make him king right there, they were pretty hysterical over that.  And just imagine, if they saw Jesus then get on the lake and start to walk across the lake, just think what the multitudes would do.  I mean, they’d be on their knees, they wouldn’t stop, they would be in awe.  He could never get away from them.  So, time’s got to pass, people got to go to bed, people got to fall asleep.  ‘The disciples need to stay awake though, so we’ll keep ‘em busy.  I’m gonna show them something, and not only that, but I’m gonna let it get really dark, the darkest point of the night where nobody could see if they tried to.’  Because this is special for the disciples, and so Jesus comes to them at that time, and begins walking on the water.  I believe there’s a timing thing.  And it’s true in our lives.  You can be in a storm and it can be going on and on and on, in that season, and you can be ‘Lord, I’ve been praying, I’ve been calling out to you, I’ve asked for grace, I’ve asked you to give me answers, this is confusing, and it just goes on and it goes on.’  Well, God has timing, and timing is God’s timing, and it’s perfect, it’s important.  And maybe you feel that way now.  You just hold on, because God is going to come to you.  He’s going to meet you where you’re at.  But it’s according to his time, he’s got a plan.  Well, long day, not easy for these guys, but as we see in verse 25, fourth watch of the night, I’d say it’s probably right around 3am, little bit after, Jesus goes to them.  He’s walking on the sea.  It is incredible that scholars, as they do, I don’t think they’re scholars, but people call them scholars, there are people that say that what Jesus does here, he actually walks along the edge of the sea, he doesn’t go out into the deep.  The Sea of Galilee is a really deep lake, and they don’t see any miracle here, what happens [according to these eggheads] is he’s just walking along the edge.  But you know, if he walked along the edge, how does he get to the middle?  You can walk along the edge all day and never get to the middle.  [see ]  But he goes out to the middle, and there is a supernatural work that goes on here.  He walks, he radically walks on top of the water---and get the visual---there’s waves.  It’s stormy, so he’s walking, he’s going up and down, you know.  It might be pretty wild, better than surfing or boogie boarding, he’s walking these waves.  Pretty wild, man.  Everybody’s asleep, they’re not knowing what’s going down.  But God has got a work to do and a thing to teach these disciples.  And it’s so beautiful.  God comes to them, Jesus comes to them in a most unexpected way.  And that’s often too what happens in our lives.  You know, he waits till they get to the middle of the lake, now they’re at a point where they can’t do anything really about it.  Humanly they’re pretty much in the deep you could say.  Mark chapter 6, verse 48 says that as he’s walking towards them and he gets near to them, he’s walking in a sense that he’s going to walk by them.  And the disciples, you can just imagine, they’re rowing, and they’re tired, and they’re in a mental state I’m sure that’s not good.  I’m not at 3 o’clock in the morning, especially after a long day, especially in the midst of a storm.  You know, you’ve been there, maybe your basement’s flooded [been there, done that, and that’s where my office is], kids are sick in the emergency room and you haven’t gotten to bed, and you’re thinking not clearly.  And then one of them looks out and sees this thing in the water, you know, maybe he went up and went down, they saw the head and it went out of sight, ‘What was that!?’.  And then one disciple starts to talk to another disciple, and it’s no doubt this happens that it says here the disciples saw him, but Mark says specifically “that they all saw him.”  So they start to gather together, trying to figure out what this thing is in the water, as they’re there, coming towards them.  Well, the result of that is, as he gets closer, they start to get a sense of this figure, they are troubled, it says.  That word “troubled” is kind of a weak word, compared to the Greek word.  The Greek word, a better word might be “terrified”, because that’s the sense.  They’re absolutely in fear.  So much so it says that they cry out, and when they cry out, the Greek says they were “shrieking”.  So you get the sense, big burly heavy fishermen, manly guys, screaming, you could hear these high pitched squeals.  I mean, that’s the picture.  It ain’t good, man.   I mean, it went from bad to worse.  Can you imagine?  [Sailors do tend to be the superstitious type, goes with the territory I guess.]  I’ve been there, man.  Some of the strangest sounds have come out of me, man, in the most intense seasons.  And God is dealing with me, and I’m on the carpet, whimpering and whining, I’ve never done that before, you know.  And then a little later, feeling pretty foolish, when it all gets done, saying ‘I can’t believe I was doing that, I’m glad it wasn’t on a video, nobody saw me---it was only my wife, she’s gracious with me, she knows I’m weird as it is, so no big deal.  They see this apparition.  You know I had a week once, working at the radio station, it was a long week, long day.  Early on, when we were getting the station on the air, this AM station, there were just endless hours, 80-90 hours a week, and it just went on and on and on.  And we had to deal with all the technical stuff, it was always off the air, we were going through a re-design of the station for the first couple of years.  [These sermons, btw, are broadcast on that radio station.]  There was a day where there was stuff after stuff, God dealing with me, God testing me, I get to the studios, it’s night time, I’m about ready to go home and end the day, and don’t you know, as I come in I get a sense of this noise and there’s a squirrel in the studio, a squirrel.  I mean, radio stations and squirrels don’t go together very well.  So now I’ve got to catch this squirrel [can be dangerous, they’re in the same family as the rat, and will jump for the throat if cornered].  Well I end up trying to do different things, I can’t get it out the window, I can’t get it in another room.  So I call this guy who has a pellet gun, and so he comes by and I know some of you folks aren’t going to like this story, but this was a superman squirrel, because it didn’t work, but I got this pellet gun, and it was actually shaped like an M-16 [laughter].  And I go in there, and I wondered, you know, it’s night time now, lights are on in the studios…[tape switchover, some text lost, just at the wrong moment]…And you know when they call you up, something’s wrong, and it’s the middle of the night, I’m tired.  And it turns out that the station up there, the transmitting facility, got a ton of power up there, actually flooded.  And so it’s in the woods, it’s always a little nerve-racking to go up there, you can even ask the guys who fix it now, to be up in the fields up there at night, it’s just kind of eerie you know.  You’re wondering as you go, you can’t see anything, and you’re working on things, it’s dark around you.  So I park my car, and it’s a stormy night, there’s sleet, a little bit of snow, I don’t know if it was light from my headlights or whatever, but, you move quickly in those times, get out of the car as quick as I can, get into the building, close the door and lock it.  Look out the window and make sure nobody’s around.  And I’ve got this little bit of a walk to walk through the dark, and I remember catching a glimpse of my shadow, man, it just sent my pulse way high.  They think they’ve seen a ghost, and they’re crying out in fear, because that’s what it looks like to them.  ‘There’s a ghost coming out, that would be bad, now a ghost, this is all we need.’  Well they think it’s going from bad to worse, but you know the reality, it isn’t is it?  We know the story, we get God’s perspective, it isn’t going from bad to worse, in fact, it’s about to become very great.  Isn’t that interesting?  At this very moment they think it’s the worst of the worst.  But it’s actually on the verge of being the best of the best.  You know, it’s true in our lives too, you can be that way, I have been that way, where I’m so sure I’m just so distraught, finances are so goofy, and God has not come through, and how can this possibly be, I’m rejected and what a witness I am, and on and on and on, down and depressed, past the 11th hour.  And then, you know, the check comes.  I had an experience like that once, with my wife, and I remember she was having a real hard day, we’ve had a lot of stories like this.  But I remember this one story, she’s having a really bad day, because we were really struggling financially, early on, you know, didn’t have a lot.  And so she’s crying and upset, and she’s saying things like ‘God has rejected me.’  You know, you feel that way, maybe you’ve been there, I’ve been there.  I’ve been there, she’s been there.  And I hope she’s not mad at me for using this illustration, but she let’s me do this.  But anyway, as she’s doing this, this is no joke, I look over her shoulder, and there’s an envelope sitting on the counter, nightstand, and it’s sitting there.  And so she’s going on and on and on, and I say “What’s this envelope?”.  So I walk over and I open it up.  And it’s filled with money, at the very moment she’s going ‘Waaah’.  I’m like, ‘What’s this?’  Somebody, somebody in our family evidently, had been in our house earlier, had put the money right there on the nightstand, and we’re like ‘He’s rejected us’, while it’s sitting there at the same time.  [chuckles]  You can be there, maybe you’re there today.  And you don’t know what’s right around the corner.  It could be so different this afternoon.  Or maybe it’s a month, or a year, or little longer [how about ten years, going on 11], lot longer.  Charles Spurgeon, he says, “It’s noteworthy that the nearer Jesus was, the greater was their fear.  Lord be near, and let me not have to say with Jacob ‘Surely God was in this place and I did not know it.’”  There is that question, why didn’t they recognize Jesus.  Of course they didn’t recognize him because they didn’t expect him.  I wouldn’t either.  I wouldn’t expect a guy to come walking across the lake when I’m in the middle of a storm on a boat.  They didn’t expect him.  They weren’t looking for him, and so that’s why they didn’t recognize him.  However, later in life, they become the type of men that I think are a little different.  That in these types of situations they’re looking for the hand of God.  They’re looking for the work of God, and maybe later, when they spotted this, they’d be thinking ‘Maybe it’s Jesus, maybe it’s Jesus.’ 


Jesus comes to us in very unexpected ways


You know you see when we’re in the storms, his disciples are here in this storm, it’s true too for us, we’re still in his will, and we’re still under his care, but also Jesus comes at those times in those storms and appears to us in very unexpected ways, very beautiful ways.  Sometimes it’s at times and places that we would least expect it, sometimes through means and ways that you could never have guessed, ‘Here comes the Lord, man, here he comes, and he comes to minister to us and bless us, and work in our lives in a very wonderful way.’  And man, what’s true for them is true for us.  It can be in the darkest of night, it can be at a moment where my faith is the littlest, and in unbelief I’m saying ‘There’s no way God can work, there’s no way he possibly can come now.’  But yet then he comes, then he comes.  Faith says ‘I know he’s gonna come.’  Unbelief says ‘No way.’  But he comes.  You know, Jon Courson in his commentary in this teaching on this text, he says a little statement I like, and I’ll quote it to you.  “There are times, we look around and we say ‘The Lord is nowhere, this is awful, the Lord is nowhere.’  But what we should do is slow down, we should slow down, and we should say, we should put his face in it when we say it, instead of ‘The Lord is nowhere’, put his face so that ‘The Lord is now here.’”  Pull that “w” from that “h”.   Not “nowhere”, “now here.”  And that’s what happens here, these guys are thinking ‘He’s nowhere’, a moment later ‘He’s now here.’  And it’s true for you too.  He appears at the chosen hour, at the most timely moment, to give us an experience to teach us something about himself that is so valuable.

          I wish I could have had this letter with you to read to you this morning, and not able to get it.  I referred to coincidentally last week in our study of a friend of mine, Glen Wade, back in San Diego when I was coming here.  He was a good pastor friend of mine, and boy he was so involved in my life, and so excited about me coming here, this whole radio thing.  But just as I shared last week, as I was coming out to see the station, he came by my office at Caterpillar and said ‘Hey, pray for Pam, she’s got this cyst, ovarian cyst, probably no big deal, just pray for her.’  Came back from seeing the station, and went back there, and he came into my office, I was so excited to tell him, but he had news for me, and that was when they opened up Pam, it turned out they just closed her up, she had cancer.  I came here, was here for about six months getting this station going, and my friend, Glen and Pam Wade, they’re back there, she went through chemo, and it turns out come December she died.  Hard season.  He’s got two young boys.  Well I have a letter, I wish I could read it, wish I could read it, but maybe another time.  But it was a letter from a man who wrote Glen, this man had also lost a young wife, had a couple young kids.  Biggest storm of his life.  But he writes to Glen, because in the storm, Jesus came to him in an unexpected way, and revealed himself to him, in such a way, that when it was done, he learned, as he wrote to my friend Glen, he says “I learned in this season that the love of Christ, the love and life of Christ, is greater than life, it is greater than life.”  And so then he wrote to Glen this question.  He says, “Glen,” as Glen was in this storm, “do you know, are you experiencing in this, that the love of Christ is better than life.”  I tell you, that is a lesson.  When we learn that lesson, life from this point out is different, it’s not the same.  When you know that the love of Christ is better than life.  But you know, those types of lessons often only come in the storms, in the storms.  It is an amazing thing as a Christian, you could be in such a storm as my friend Glen, and then later he’d tell you, “I learned in that storm, the love of Christ is better than life, it’s better than life.”  These guys, Jesus appears to them, they don’t understand at this point, this is all unexpected.  They’re shrieking, and suddenly, you know there’s the waves and the wind and the shrieking, now there’s his voice they suddenly hear, the voice of the Lord.  He says to them “Be of good cheer.”  Right then, right there, “be of good cheer.”  Man, that is so amazing.  They’re screaming, he says “Be of good cheer.”  You know, I’m going ‘Waaaah!’, “Be of good cheer!”.  And you know, the Christian life is like that at times, isn’t it?  It can be an emotional rollercoaster.  I’ve found that to be true.  I can be ‘Waaah!’, and then a moment later going ‘Praise the Lord!  I can’t believe that happened.  That’s incredible.  That’s wild.’  ‘Seems so hopeless,’ then ‘That’s so beautiful’ it’s a rollercoaster at times.  They’re screaming, they’re in fear, “Be of good cheer,” he says, “it is I, do not be afraid.”  “It is I”, the Greek is Eimi, [Strongs # 1510, AM as in I AM, plus other applications], and that is an expression that he uses at other times, referring to himself.  He does it a number of times, and one of those times is when the religious leaders have him there, and they’re of course trying to get at him, and he responds at one time, he says “I AM” as he speaks “Before Abraham was”, he says “I AM” [cf. John 8:58], referring back to Exodus 3:13-14, when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and God said to Moses “I AM who I AM.”  That Greek statement, it’s Hebrew there, but later in the Greek, when Jesus says before Abraham was I AM, that’s the same words he uses here.  He says “It is I”, same words.  And you know, those words have weight at this moment.  He says that, “It is I”, and it can be seen that way “I AM”, Son of God, “It is I”.  Man, standing on the waves of the sea right there, those words suddenly mean something when I look at you, you know, you’re God. 


When Jesus arrives, there’s that peace, peace from the storm


When Jesus comes, he comes at times in these storms to us in unexpected ways, but also we see there, he says “Be of good cheer, it is I, do not be afraid”, we know too, and we experience it at times, that when he comes, man, his presence brings peace.  When I’m in a storm, and I begin to experience the presence of the Lord, what comes with that is peace. He says, ‘Don’t be afraid, be at peace.’  The NIV, in verse 32, it’s interesting, it says “When he got into the boat, the winds ceased.”  The NIV says “the wind died down.”  Literally when it says “the wind ceased” [in the King James Version], and the other translations don’t have this bit about Peter, it goes right from him saying “Be of good cheer, don’t be afraid”, and then he gets into the boat, and it says “the wind ceases”, and it’s put that way in the other Gospels.  And the point is, when he arrived, there’s that peace, peace from the storm.  It is as if the wind just stopped right then.  And you know you can be in such an awful circumstantial experience, where things are so hard and so painful, and the emotion that you’re experiencing is so intense, and then as you open your heart to God, or somebody begins to pray for you, maybe, this sense of peace comes that is beyond understanding.  It is completely supernatural, comes into your life.  And that is true of the presence of God, being a Christian is a supernatural life.  It’s supernatural.  There are times where you experience the peace of God, you cannot explain, ‘How could I have peace at this moment, in the midst of this?’  [I’ve had that experience at least once.]  I’m sure many of us have our own stories.  And there are people that have told stories,  that you’d be ‘How’d you, beautiful that you’d have the peace of God at that point.’ 


It’s in the storms of life that you and I learn to walk on water, as Jesus walks


Verse 28, Peter answers him, and Peter’s so radical, “Lord, if it is you, command”---that word ‘command’ is like a king giving a command---“me to come to you on the water.”  I don’t know why he’d say that, but he does.  Many people have noted, with a guy whose name was just changed to rock or stone, that would be a pretty foolish thing to be asking.  But Jesus said to him “Come”.  And Peter got down out of the boat, maybe even the other disciples helped lower him, and I wondered, he gets down, and it says he walks on the water, what was that like?  Was it like stepping off onto the floor, or did he sink into the water and come up for a moment?  I mean, he stepped on the water.  Whenever I go across the Sea of Galilee, I’ve been there twice, I think about this experience of Peter, going, ‘How, what was that like, feeling water under your feet [and not sinking].  He stepped down and he actually began to walk on the water towards Jesus, and it says as he’s walking towards Jesus, then he saw the wind, and it was boisterous, it was intense, he’s looking towards the Lord, now he sees the circumstances.  The Greek word speaks of him being torn, pulled between the two, and as he does that, never good situation being torn like that, in his heart he gets distressed, and as his heart is distressing his feet begin to sink.  Somebody said his heart failed him, so then his foot then failed him, and that’s what happens, he begins to sink into the water.  And he cries out “Lord, save me!”  Simple prayer, short prayer, sweet prayer, not a long flowie prayer, just right to the point “Save me Lord!”  I thank God that he hears, just the heart and hears the prayer.  There are people I know that think that they have to pray long prayers, there are people I know that actually believe that before you can go on to your petitions, you have to go through this little thing of praise, and you have to say certain statements about this and that, and then you can pray the petitions.  They honestly believe you have to do that.  If that was the case, Peter would be in trouble at this point.  He’d be gurgling at this point, because he’d be underwater.  When it says he went down, it says he actually plunged.  I mean, he just went down.  Yet, Jesus grabs him.  Jesus was no wimpy guy, forget the paintings that you’ve seen, with the long hair, wimpy frail guy.  But that guy was buff man.  He takes ahold of Peter, historically Peter is known as a giant of a man, big guy.  He grabs him and pulls him up.  And probably the best way to render the rest of it is, I think what happened is, I don’t think Jesus carried him, I think Peter with Jesus from that point on then walked on the water.  He’s walking on it again, and they get into the boat.  That’s the way I understand what happens here.  Jesus catches him and says “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  In that sense, ‘You don’t need to doubt, man, don’t need to doubt.’  You know, you can have times where God calls you in a step of faith, where he’s led you, he’s put things on your heart, and now you’re like ‘Lord, I’m ready’, and you step out, initially you do well, and then there’s other seasons, it goes on for awhile, where the next moment you’re struggling, crying out to the Lord.  But he’s there, man.  He pulls you up.  I love Psalm 139, I thought of this as I was reading it, preparing for this study.  Psalm 139, you’re walking man, you’re struggling, you’re going down, the night is dark, the winds are blowing, Psalm 139, God says to the heart of David, as David speaks, “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.  If I say ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me…” (verses 9-11)  Man you can be in the sea, you could be in the dark, God’s there, leading you, he’s with you, he’ll save you.  Isaiah chapter 43, verse 2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”  Well, Peter walks on the water, and that’s a picture of us here as we get to the end of our time.  In the storms of life, it’s in the storm he walks on the water.  It wasn’t like a sunny day on the beach, where Peter says, ‘Hey Jesus, teach me how to walk on the water.’  Or Jesus says ‘Look what I can do’, and Peter says ‘Oh I’d like to do that.’  No, it’s actually in the storm, Jesus walks on the water, and Peter says ‘Show me how to do that, I want to walk on the water.’  And he actually walks on the water.  And there’s a picture there, when you or I enter storms in our lives, it’s in the storms of life that you and I learn to walk as Christ walks.  And that is what the Christian life is about.  The Christian life is a life larger than ourselves, it is the Christian life, it is the Christ-like life, it is a life to live like the life of Christ.  I can’t do that of myself, I can’t live like Jesus.  But when I come into the storms, and I go through the storms, what I find is, I stop trying to work things out, part of me dies, and now Christ is able to live through me.  And I come out of the storm and I find myself walking more like Christ walked, living the life more like he lived, living more of a Christ-like life.  I’ve had that experience indeed, I’m sure many of you have had it where you have gone through a horrendous storm, and then later, one of the reasons why it was so sweet and good, it was so hard, but later looking back, it was, ‘I became a greater man or woman of God as a result.  I walk closer to Jesus, I live more like him now as a result of that storm.’  Well, storms of life, I learn to walk as he walks. 


Why walk on water?---the Lord reveals himself through what we fear


You know, they then get into the boat, the wind ceases.  It says in John, another miracle happens, as they get into the boat they immediately arrived at the shore, they go three or four miles immediately [like being teleported, Starship Enterprise sort of stuff].  With all that, they then come to him.  Mark says they are greatly amazed, they are just beyond themselves and marveling, that’s the words in Mark, and they come and they worship him, and they say “Truly, you are the Son of God.”  This is the first time you see the disciples saying this.  We’ve heard these words from demons, but we’ve never [up till now] heard them from the disciples.  Why are they saying this?  It’s because of what they’ve just gone through.  They’ve got a revelation of the Lord, and that’s what happens in the storms, I also have greater revelation, in the experience my eyes are opened to who he is in greater ways.  You know, the question, why did Jesus have to walk on the water?  Why did he have to walk on the water?  It is interesting to think about this, in the wind, in the boat, in the storm, what did they fear the most at that moment?  What they feared the most was the water.  [All sailors have a healthy respect and fear of what the power of water in an ocean or large body of water can do, the force---kinetic energy---it is capable of conveying.]  When you’re in a boat in a storm, what do you fear the most?  On the Norwegian Cruise ship what would you fear the most?  You feared the water.  And Jesus walks on the water, the very thing that they fear, is the very staircase that he treads to get to them.  And that is a picture and a principle for you and I.  You go into a storm, you’re going through a storm, you’re having a real difficult experience, and the very things that we often fear, those very things are the things the Lord then comes to us, reveals himself to us through.  You know, you may be here this morning, and you may be afraid of certain things in life.  And for that reason, some of it may be debilitating to you, and things have got a hold of your heart because you fear certain things.  Well God may let you go right through that fear, so that you can find that very deal, the Lord is the Lord of it, he’s the Master of it, I don’t need to fear it.  I don’t need to fear the water.  The Lord walks on water. 


Closing verses


Well let’s just read the last verses.  Verses 34-36, “When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret.---it’s now morning, we may assume---And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to him all who were sick,---they’ve stayed up all night now, now people are coming, multitudes are there---and begged him that they might only touch the hem of his garment.  And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.”  Day’s not ending, they’ve not slept, but man did they have a lesson.  I’m sure at this point they’re not tired anymore.  Man, they’re worshipping God, man, they’re on a spiritual high.  Let’s stand together…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on Matthew 14:22-36, given somewhere in New England]


So in essence, since the day of the feeding of the 5,000 to the end of this day, they’ll all have ended up serving for 48 hours---long day, what service is all about (see previous sermon).


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