The Storms of Life.
“Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough.” – John 6:18 NLT
John’s account of this event is short and sweet. He leaves out a lot of the details that Matthew and Mark provide. He simply tells us that the disciples, having waited for Jesus, went ahead and started to sail back across the Lake. According to Mark’s account, Jesus had insisted that the disciples go ahead and return to Bethsaida, on the other side of the lake. Jesus had intended to get away by Himself for some time in prayer. But it would appear that the disciples decided to wait for Jesus. When it became dark, they finally did what Jesus had told them to do. About halfway across the lake, a sudden storm blew in. They had been here before. But this time Jesus was not with them. While several of the disciples were seasoned fishermen, the majority of them were landlubbers. They were out of their element and way out of their comfort zone. They were at the mercy of the waves and the wind. There was little they could do about it but continue to row and try to make shore.
In the midst of all the chaos and confusion, there suddenly appeared a form moving across the surface of the water. With the blowing mist and the darkness, it was difficult to make out what it was. But it appeared to look like a man walking on the water. The very sight of it terrified them. Their fear of the storm was replaced by the fear of this apparition. Little did they know at the time that it was Jesus. According to Mark, Jesus had seen their predicament while standing on the shore. This in itself is a miracle, because they were three or four miles away and it was dark. But Jesus saw the clearly. And Mark says, “He saw that that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard, and struggling against the wind and the waves” (Mark 6:48 NLT). Jesus saw what was happening. So what did He do? “Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost” (Mark 6:48-49 NLT). This is an important point. Jesus intended to go past them or pass them by. But John says, “suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat” (John 6:19 NLT). It seems that Jesus had every intention of them seeing Him. He wanted them to see and sense His presence in the middle of the storm. He could have calmed the storm while standing on the shore. But instead, He literally walked out to them in the midst of the storm. He was in the storm with them. And He was in a seemingly worse spot than they were – He had no boat!
Jesus called out to the disciples over the wind and the crashing waves. He said, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” (John 6:20 NLT). I think it’s interesting that He didn’t say, “Waves be still! Wind be calm!” He didn’t speak to the storm. No, He spoke to the disciples. And He assured them of His presence. He was right there with them. He was in the middle of their storm. If He could walk on the waters of their storm, certainly they could row over them to safety. But that wasn’t enough for the disciples. John tells us that “they were eager to let him in the boat” (John 6:21 NLT). They wanted Jesus in the boat with them. And I think they also wanted Him to calm the storm around them. But we have to remember that Jesus had seen their situation from a distance. He knew what was happening. And He didn’t seem shocked or overly concerned. They were three to four miles away and Jesus decided to walk that distance to them. We don’t know how long it took. But it does not appear that He was in any rush. He didn’t suddenly appear to them. He didn’t just show up in the boat. He walked to them. He saw their circumstances and then calmly revealed Himself in the midst of them.
There is nothing that happens in our lives that Jesus is not fully aware of. As God, He can see everything. And there is never a point in time that He is caught off guard or shocked by the circumstances and storms of our lives. Not only does He see, but He shows up. At just the right time. And He tells us, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” There is no storm great enough to keep Him away. He simply walks into our situation and shows Himself to us. Smack dab in the middle of the storm. There were going to be other storms for the disciples. Their lives were going to be filled with dark and difficult days. Jesus had already told them, “But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with ships in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers” (Matthew 10:17-18 NLT). The storms were coming. But Jesus would be with them. He was not going to abandon them. And we have that same assurance today. We are not promised a storm-free life, but we are promised the presence and power of Christ. He will never leave us or forsake us. And He will always show up in the difficult times. He will reveal Himself to us. And we will see Him if we look for Him.
Father, thank You for the constant abiding presence of Jesus in my life. Forgive me for the many times I allow the storms of my life to convince me that He is nowhere to be found. But nothing could be farther from the truth. He is there. He is always there. And that constant presence should provide me with overwhelming peace – even in the middle of the storms of life. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men