Matthew 14:22-24 – “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.” NKJV
I hope this does not become “scatter shooting” but let me toss out a few things for consideration in examining The Speaking God. Our text will serve as a catalyst for us to examine some real issues and hopefully us to see or understand something I believe is very important spiritually in today’s world.
If you noticed in verse 22 it said that Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go ahead of Him. I find the word “made” interesting and that caused several questions to arise in my mind. Did Jesus actually force the disciples to get in the boat? Was He in the boat? Regardless of the import of the word “made”, the disciples were so committed to the Lord that any direction He gave would have the same result as physically forcing them in the boat.
Their hearts made or caused them to obey Him. No, Jesus was not in the boat for He was sending them before Him. Therefore, could I suggest that we consider that this suggests something interesting, and I walk softly into the unwrapping of this idea. Before I present that thought fully I ask that we consider vv. 23-24.
That which the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart and mind is how often we associate the presence of Jesus with settling or solving our circumstances. In a very real sense, that is correct for His presence does bring Peace. However, if you will note, Jesus was not in the boat on this particular occasion and there was a storm.
I ask that you call to remembrance the situation where Jesus was asleep in the boat, there was a storm. So, when He was in the boat (present) there was a storm and when He was absent there was a storm. Could that make us realize that the coming of storms and adversity is not proportional to the presence of Jesus in the boat?
I believe it is much deeper than that. In our walk, there are times we have “heard the Lord” and we are taking actions consistent with what we heard. In those times, whether we realize His presence or not we must consistently apply what we have heard in life.
Now, read Mark 6:45-51 and I believe it will be beneficial in this consideration. The amazing thing, to me, is that Jesus was watching them struggle and resisted any temptation to become involved. How can I say that? That is what we see in verse 48, but then in the next verse, we find it was the 4th watch of the night that He came to them walking on the water.
It is clear that there was a period of time that elapsed between their departure, the storm’s development, their situation worsening, and His arrival. They were in the middle of the lake, in a dangerous storm, struggling at the oars trying to survive and getting nowhere. It was Hard! Have you ever been there? Jesus could see them struggling.
Some have challenged me and said, “Roy, their straining at the oars was unspiritual and a lack of faith.” Seriously? I believe there is a time when we must strain at the oars and exert all our energy in the work of the kingdom. In every sovereign move of God, there is a time for labor! I believe that unless we are so committed to His word and directive that we are willing to strain at the oars we will likely fail. They had the directive of Jesus, “Get in the boat and go to the other side.” That is not ambiguous and did not detail any possible struggles along the way. It was start, here and go there!
My question is, “Are we committed to the Word of the Lord to continue even if Jesus does not appear to be in the boat or hearing our cries for help?” Another way of asking would be, “Is there any condition or situation that would cause us to abandon that directive from Him?” We must be committed to His directive, “Get in the boat and go to the other side.” That is what faith is really all about!
Take a look at John 16:16-21 and then consider the plight of these disciples and us in life. Three or four miles is a very long distance if you are rowing against a strong wind in rough water. By the time they saw Jesus coming to them on the water they were already terrified. They were so sure of death they thought it was a ghost or apparition.
I suggest that there are times, in our struggles, that God will show up and we will respond as they. Here is an important point. They were willing to take Him into the boat. They did not give up. They did not disobey. They did not cease trying to obey His directive and once they let Him in the boat the Bible says in John 6:21, “…immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.” I Like That!
But why should they or we be placed in that position of struggling? Why should we be sent out as lambs in the midst of wolves? Why place us in a position where the heavens seem to be brass, and our prayers rise no higher than our heads? I offer to you the idea that their hard work was not for naught. If they were to “stop rowing” they would have capsized or gone backward.
Sometimes we think we are in a “holding pattern” and just “holding our own” but we fail to grasp the truth that if we “stop rowing” the wind will take control and shipwreck us. It was not for God’s information, but for their and our development. It is to help us learn that “Christ in us” enables us to do all things in all situations. Even when we do not feel His presence, He is with us! Anyone can run with the weather and pattern their lives and actions according to how the winds of life are blowing. Even when it would be easier to quit, we must continue. Even when we see no way out, we must continue. Even when all seems hopeless, we must continue. Remember His promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
God bless you as you embark on today’s journey in Him!