The Postscript – 1/14/18
Yesterday at Baltimore Bible Church Pastor George preached on one of the most famous miracles in all the gospels, Jesus walking on the water:
Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick; and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.
The main focus of Matthew 14 and 15 are the miracles performed by Jesus. They give overwhelming evidence of the deity of Christ. There are three sections of this passage, each showing the deity of Christ in a different location: the mountain, the sea, and the shore.
God on the Mountain
Last week in the sermon on the feeding of the five thousand, we found that Jesus was seeking solitude to mourn the death of John the Baptist. The first thing Jesus does after he multiplies the loaves and fish is send the crowds away (before they can make him King, we learn from John), send the disciples out into the boat, and retreat up to the mountain where he can finally be alone. There, Jesus sets a remarkable example for us. Though he is God Himself, he spends time alone praying, as was his habit throughout his ministry. If Jesus needed time alone to pray, surely we must seek the Lord as well.
God on the Sea
While Jesus was praying the disciples were overtaken by a violent storm. They should have reached were they were going in about an hour, but it wasn’t until the fourth watch of the night (between 3 and 6 AM) that Jesus appeared. They had been toiling at the oars for hours through the dead of night, and as experienced fishermen they knew the danger of this situation. When we read of the disciples struggling in a storm we should be reminded, as the disciples ought to have been, of an earlier time they were caught in a storm. Matthew 8 tells of another storm, and the weak faith of the disciples. That time Jesus was in the boat sleeping. In this event, however, Jesus was on the shore. Is it reasonable then that the disciples were afraid? To answer this questions we need to remember why the disciples were in the boat. Verse 22 tells us that Jesus “made them get into the boat.” They were on the sea because of the direct command of Jesus. This teaches us an important lesson about faith. Faith is trusting God by keeping his commands (more on this in minute).
When Jesus walks to the boat on the water, he first establishes his identity to the disciples. It was common belief at the time that spirits lived in the waters, so one can only imagine the terror of the disciples, added to the fear of the storm, at the sight of Jesus. When he tells them “It is I,” he is not only telling them that it is him, Jesus, but that he is God. The I AM of the Old Testament.
He then encourages the disciples’ faith. Peter, seeing that Jesus is the Lord, asks for a command to walk to him. Notice that Peter doesn’t just jump out of the boat. We have no assurance that we can do anything we want and be blessed by God. It is in following his commandments that we exercise our faith. Only after Jesus calls Peter is it a step of faith to get out of the boat. Just like before, Jesus calms the storm, rebuking the disciples for their weak faith.
God on the Shore
Immediately after calming the storm, the boat was found to be exactly where they had been heading. After going ashore, word quickly spread that Jesus had come. He proved his true identity once again, healing as many as he touched.