The journey across the sea
John 6: 15-24
“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. 22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.”
The Jewish people were not known for being great sea-travellers. They viewed the sea as supernaturally dark, fearful, sinful and chaotic.
Here is a story of the sea. The sea of Galilee is today 14 miles long and 8 miles wide. Matthew and Mark also tell the same story and all 3 gospel writers place this story after the feeding of the 5,000 which was the story linking to the marvellous provision of heavenly manna to God’s people on their journey in the wilderness. The link with Moses having been made we then move to a miraculous story of the sea. Can you remember a miraculous sea story of Moses?!
This is an incredible story.
I remember a Bible College student who wanted to be like Jesus and who tried this very same miracle of walking on the water of the swimming pool at the college. Unable to swim thankfully there were lifeguards on duty who managed to dive in and rescue him. He hadn’t at that stage mastered this miracle but I admire his attempt!
This story is not only a supernatural event, it is a teaching event.
- There is a journey of obedience.
Our lives are journeys. There are times when our obedience to the Lord doesn’t feel like He is with us.
Jesus was on the mountain and they were 3-4 miles into the lake. They had expected that Jesus would have joined them by now, rowing alongside in his own little boat, but it had now fallen dark and there is no sight of him. Maybe they began to question each other over whether Jesus did say he would join them.
Obedience doesn’t mean you are going to be blessed by His presence. Obedience can be lonely. You may wake up to go to work today because you are being obedient to the place God has put you. You may wonder why you are doing it, you may think the feeling of absence of the presence of God is an indicator He doesn’t want you to do this, but nothing could be further than the truth. Simply, the journey of obedience is a lonely road at times.
- The journey of invitation
In that obedience road it can get worse than lonely. You can have very bad days when your life is knocked about by the wind and waves. In the chaos of the day or the sleepless night when your head is raging with noise it may be that you can experience His presence. You may attribute it to an enemy at first that things are getting worse but if you listen you will hear Him speak comforting words, ‘I am here, I am with you.’ Then your journey has moved from obedience to invitation welcoming the presence of Christ into your journey and life. When that happens it is amazing how quick things can move and you may well have moved to a new chapter of your life before you know it and the storms of life become the past stories.
- The journey of pursuit
The crowd are puzzled. They had head-counted the disciples into the boat the previous day and they definitely knew Jesus was not on that boat. But there was only one boat. They were searching for the miracle-worker, their Moses. They knew if they found the disciples they would find Jesus. Even if their motive was wrong they show us their desire, their pursuit of the Messiah. There are people today who need the Lord. They need a Saviour and they know it. They need a miracle worker and they know it. Do they think if I find the Church I find what I am looking for?
Only John puts a small but wonderful detail which answered the problem of getting the crowd across the lake. Boats arrived! What we know is that when people seek the Lord then help will come to aid that desire. Pursue him today and provision will come to help you get near him.