The other day, I came to preach at a youth fire night and asked them a question. A question I also raised for a poll recently on Instagram—”Would you rather walk on water or stay in the boat?” And the answer is pretty obvious. Of course, people would rather walk on water with Jesus. Because that’s faith, they say. That’s defying gravity. That sounds more like a faith of a believer than staying inside the boat in the midst of a storm.
On Mark chapter 6, the specific passage where Jesus walked on water, He gave the disciples a very simple instruction. He did not tell them to pack hoodies, emergency light, whistle or anything. He did not even give them a warning about the storm that they would encounter. Just a simple instruction. I wonder then if God doesn’t tell us everything because He knows we could not handle the details.
After that, He dismissed the crowd. He didn’t tell them, “Hey, I’ll meet you on the other side. By the way, you’re almost gonna die on the way.” No cautionary advice. Nada.
46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost.
“They though He was a ghost…” Because isn’t it that God often looks like fear from a distance?
And they cried out…
50 because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
THIS IS SIGNIFICANT
See, if you’ve ever been around at all, you’ve heard this Bible story for sure. If you’ve ever been near a church, you’ve heard about this Bible story.
It is a significant story because it teaches us that Jesus Christ is Lord of all creation. Theologically He is sovereign. It is an epiphany story in that it gives us a revelation of Jesus that is consistent with the revelation of Jesus that was given in the Old Testament in a concealed form when a bush burned and a man named Moses was meeting with God. The disclosure at that point was “I AM.” Moses asked who are you, God said I am.
Now, it’s interesting how God would spend the next several centuries filling in that blank.
That they would need to know Him to be water in a dry place.
That they would need to know Him to be a warrior in their battles.
They would find all of this out that He is sustainer in their weariness.
Really, the rest of your life will be spent filling in that blank.
And just about the time you think you’ve got it all figured out who God is, life will so shift beneath your feet that you will realize you didn’t know Him at all.
The disciples have been with Jesus now for quite an extensive class.
They’ve seen Him touch lepers.
They’ve seen Him heal paralytics
They’ve even seen Him raise dead people in certain situations
And yet there was something that amazed them in this moment. Something that they had not seen about Him before. It was significant that Jesus told them to go forward and the wind was against them. Significant because a lot of times I assumed in my life that if God sent me to do something the wind would work with me. That’s pretty much the premise of early Christianity.
Turn your life over to God and He will take your burdens away.
Turn your life over to the Lord and what used to keep you up at night won’t keep you up at night anymore because it’ll be replaced by other stuff that will keep you up at night.
FILL IN THE BLANK
Fill in the blank you’ll realize that a lot of times our claims to faith are actually our efforts to manipulate God until we discover in the course of time that just because the wind is against you doesn’t mean that God is not for you. Many times the confirmation that God has spoken to you is the fact that the wind is against you.
In this passage, we are learning that resistance if often the greatest place for revelation. Resistance leads to revelation. The wind was against the disciples not because they disobeyed the words of Jesus but because they went in the direction of His command.
He sent them to Bethsaida, they went to Bethsaida. I got it when it was Jonah.
The wind was against Jonah because he wasn’t going to Nineveh, he was going to Tarshish when God said go to Nineveh. And when you go to Tarshish when you should go to Nineveh expect the wind to be against you because God didn’t send you to go there.
So I expect the wind to go against me when I go where God doesn’t want me to go. But when I go to Bethsaida when He told me to go to Bethsaida I expect the wind to work with me.
I expect God to bless when me when I go to church.
I expect a promotion because I read my Bible.
I expect He will give the the desires of my heart because I pray hard.
I expect a financial breakthrough when I tithe faithfully.
I expect healing (physically, emotionally, mentally) when I preach the Gospel.
And it makes me mad when somebody who didn’t come to church, they slept in and they get a raise and I get fired and I can’t understand how God could be with me and the wind could be against me. But often the confirmation of the Word of God is the resistance of the enemy to show you you’re on the right track.
Here’s why, you wanna turn around and go back home because the wind is against you. The wind is against you so that you will know that it is the Lord’s presence with you that makes you successful. If the wind was working with you would thank the wind when you got to your destination. If it were easy you would thank the wrong things. If the wind wasn’t against you you wouldn’t need the Lord to come and step into the wind and speak peace to the wind. So the wind has to be against you to prove that the Lord is with you.
“HE SAW YOU IN THE STORM”
I heard a story of a pastor who went to Israel recently and was able to sit on the mountain where Jesus prayed.
A tourist took him and his family up there and he said, “Here’s where Jesus was praying in Mark 6.”
And then he pointed to the lake that the Bible mentions where the storm was.
And from that mountain you can see the whole lake.
And then the man dropped this on them right before he left them, he said, “So the whole time they were straining, Jesus could see them.”
He saw them in the storm.
He knows what you’re going through.
He knows what you deal with.
He knows what people have done to you.
He sees tears that you’ve cried on your pillow that nobody else knows about.
He sees what’s going on in your soul that you can cover up in front of people but you can’t hide from Him.
But then I got kinda angry. Because I thought that if He could see them, why didn’t He stop it?
All of a sudden it felt kinda cruel to me that He would send them into a storm and see them in the storm and not stop the storm. So I think it is significant that the Bible says that,
48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them,
He was about to pass them by?
I thought He would never leave me?
I thought He would never forsake me?
I thought He promised His presence to me?
One interesting thing about this particular record in Mark’s Gospel is that it was recounted by a man named Peter. He was a very outspoken disciple of Jesus. He’s the type who would say what everybody else thought. He was filter-free. When he was right, he was really right. But when he was wrong really wrong. I’ll prove it to you.
Peter was the disciple who said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Jesus said, “You are Petros, this Rock. You’re Peter not Simon. Upon this Rock I’ll build my Church.”
But then a few verses later, Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan.”
And He was pointing at Peter because Peter said you can’t go to the cross. So Peter opposed the very thing Jesus came to do. All in the same Bible chapter.
THIS IS PETER
Peter is the one telling Mark about this story so Mark can write it down. Peter is the one giving Mark the Gospel account. Mark wasn’t a disciple, Mark was an evangelist. He compiled the story.
We have four of these.
When we say the Gospel of Mark, it’s the Gospel according to Mark.
Now, John said that Jesus did so much if you wrote a whole book, tried to write down everything He did, the whole world could not contain it. If you wrote down all the works Jesus did, Wikipedia would break. So they had to decide what was significant enough to put in the Gospel account that would prove what they wanted to prove about who Jesus was. So when Mark got ready to write he said, Jesus walked to the disciples in a storm and when He got in the boat the winds died down. When Matthew got ready to write it, he included something that Mark left out. Why is that so?
In Matthew 14:22-33, it’s the same story but there’s one detail in this story that is omitted in Mark’s Gospel which is based on the recollection of Peter.
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Verses 28-30 were not part of Mark’s account. How can Peter walk on water and when the time comes to tell Mark what to write about this night on the sea, he left out this part?
Probably he left it out because of verse 30.
Now here’s the thing, the other disciple were operating on what Jesus told them before they left which is GO. Go to Bethsaida, I’ll meet you on the other side.
Peter was operating out of what he feels in the moment and he says to Jesus, if it’s you tell me to come.
MORE SIGNIFICANT FAITH
We have often preached about Peter getting out of the boat. But sometimes, the more significant faith is the willingness to stay in the storm not the impulse to escape it. I’m not saying Peter was wrong. I’m just saying it takes faith to keep rowing when you can’t see the shore. Sometimes, it takes even more faith to stay in the boat than it does to step out of it.
More so, the Bible says that Peter took several steps toward Jesus and for a moment he was walking on the water, and for a moment he was experiencing a miracle.
See, he heard the word but then he saw the wind. And we all can relate to this because sometimes, we pay more attention to what we see than what God said. And anytime we give more focus to what we see than what God spoke we start to sink.
Peter’s doing pretty good as long as he is going off what he heard because faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God. And all you need is one word from God. Peter wasn’t walking on water, he was walking on a word and when you have a word from God…
Your kids can be acting crazy.
Your money can be acting funny.
You can be in the darkest night of your life but you declare He is Lord.
And so when Peter was telling Mark what to write, I imagine Mark saying, “Shouldn’t I put that part in where you climbed out of the boat?” And Mark said I don’t think you wanna leave that out.
But Peter said, “No it’s been a while now.” Because this Gospel was written decades after it happened. And by this point Peter has discovered something.
In verse 51, it says there that the wind died down.
Peter said, “It’s not significant what happened when I climbed out of the boat. Don’t tell them when I climbed out. Tell them what happened when He climbed in.”
It’s not important what happened when Peter climbed out.
It’s not important when Peter stepped out.
It’s not important when they were straining all night.
All night long they were straining to get to Jesus but the wind didn’t stop while they were straining. The wind did not die down because Peter came to Jesus. The wind died down because Jesus came to Peter.
And that’s the Gospel.
Not that I came to God.
Not because I was so good.
Not because I was so glorious.
Not because I got my act together.
No, I’m not praising Him because I got out of the boat.
I’m praising Him because He got in.
And the wind died down.
Not because I got out but because He got in.
Not that I loved God but that He loved me.
And I’m in a storm right now but the storm is not significant because help is on the way.