Toiling in the Rowing

Read the following passages in which our narrative is found:
    Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-51 and John 6:15-21.

Jesus has given His disciples simple instructions. They are to row across the lake to Capernaum, while He prays on the mountain. They are in His will, for He has told them to row….but He does not tell them there will be a storm. The Lord simply expects us to obey.

Symbolically, the boat could represent the Church, the toiling at the oars the Christian life, the storm the “contrary winds” of opposition from the world, and the fourth watch of the night the current age in which we live.

The fourth watch of the night is the period of time between 3 a.m and 6 a.m. It is very dark and stormy – a situation no sailor wants to be in. The lake measures seven miles by thirteen miles. The disciples are about half-way across – the worst possible spot to be in during a storm. They have toiled all night to gain only 3.5 miles. The sudden tempests on the Sea of Galilee are so severe, chances of survival in a small boat are almost non-existant.

Jesus is on the mountain praying, but sees His men in danger. The fact that He told them to go – and that He has His eye on them – guarantees they will arrive safely. The Lord instructs us to row until we reach the other side: He already knows about our storms. God heart is moved when He sees His children in trying situations. He sees His people today fighting the contrary winds of false doctrine, persecution, and economic challenges. Jesus sees them afar off, toiling at the oars, and comes to rescue them. The disciples have no hope unless He comes….and He is pleased to arrive in our most desperate hour. 

The storm is a big problem, but Jesus comes to them walking on their problem. Jesus shows up when we need Him most – and often in a miraculous way. While it is not surprising Jesus could walk on water, it is surprising that “He would have passed by them” (Mk.6:48). They did the one thing necessary to receive His help: ask for it. The bones of these disciples might have been buried in the silt of the bottom of the lake today…except for their call for help. It was not a cry of faith, but of fear. People are afraid of what they don’t understand: therefore they fear the miraculous. They thought perhaps they are seeing a ghost, but Jesus assures them they are not (v.49-50).

When the storm was fiercely raging
  On the sea of Galilee,
And their helpless boat was tossing
  On that wild tempestuous sea,
Walking on the raging water
    In a robe of light arrayed
Jesus came – O hear Him calling;
  “It is I – be not afraid!”

When the storms of life are raging,
    And the night is long and drear;
When our strength is spent in toiling
    And our spirits sink with fear
Once again we see Him coming,
    Swiftly coming to our aid;
Often still we hear Him calling;
    “It is I – be not afraid!”

When the night of death shall lower,
    And the Jordan’s surges roll;
When the powers of hell are threatening
    To overwhelm your sinking soul;
Then above the mighty billows
    And night’s deepest, darkest shade,
You will hear the Master calling,
    “It is I – be not afraid!”
           
                            – A.B. Simpson

Peter takes the initiative. “If it’s really you, ask me to come to you” (Mt.14:28). Not everyone in the boat will walk on the water; only those who dare to. We should never step into deep water unless God tells us to. Jesus says one word: “Come” (v.29). Peter is not reluctant to get his feet wet for God. Althought Peter doubts and begins to sink, the Lord reaches out his hand to save him…and they both walk back to the boat together.

When they arrive, four things happen:

1. They willingly receive Him into the boat (Matt. 14:32)
2. The storm instantly stops (Matt.14:32)
3. They worship Him (Matt.14:33)
4. Immediately the ship is at land (Jn.6:21)

Jesus has His loving eye on His people – always. He sees us witnessing, praying and studying His Word. His eye of compassion sees every cloudburst, thunderstorm, hurricane, typhoon and tsunami we may face. He is interceeing for us in heaven, just as He was interceeding for His disciples that night on the mountain. He sees us in our darkest hour – in our “fourth watch of the night”. He sees us in these last days and is ready to reveal Himself in dynamic ways. As we row through the storm, we will look up to see him walking on our problems to rescue us. Storms are bad, but they don’t last when you take hold of the Master’s hand. Rowing against contrary winds is hard work…but with it comes the opportunity to witness miracles. Only one man out of twelve walked on the water. The quota today is similar, for few dare to test the miraculous. Jesus knows your situation and will come to you amid your storm.

Water-walking is only available to those who step out for God, but the ones who do will never be the same.

Maxim of the Moment

The height of your accomplishment will equal the depth of your convictions. - William Scolavi