Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
The whole essence of this passage is focused on faith. Not just faith during the good times, but faith during the bad times as well. Let us back up a bit before we dive right into this passage. The event before this shows us Jesus feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. That alone is nothing short of a miracle.
This reminds me of the verse Deuteronomy 8:3 which Jesus alludes to in Mark 4:4.
Deuteronomy 8:3 states: “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” This occasion was certainly an opportunity for Jesus to provide a sermon, but it also reflects who Jesus is.
John 1:14 states: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus was the Word and His miracle filled the crowd with Truth.
This brings us to the boat. The disciples went their own way on a boat while Jesus went to a silent area to pray. Jesus did this several times in the New Testament, probably to keep His focus on God and His Father’s plan for His life amidst the advances of the world He dwelt in.
The first issue present in this passage comes in verses 25-28. They state: “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
Jesus tells them that their fear of a ghost is not needed and confirms it is Him coming towards them. The response He receives is typical Peter. Peter says “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”
See where the problem is? Jesus, the same Jesus that just fed 5,000 people and had called on these men was still being questioned about who He is. How different are we, really?
We read these stories, we take in the Message, and then we forget all of it when the waves hit our boat in life. The fact that Jesus was walking through these winds clearly says a lot to us during the storms we have in life. Jesus is still with us, still present, and still comes for us even when we feel like the storm is going to overtake our lives. God shows us time and time again that He is faithful and has a plan for our lives.
We continue in the story with verses 29 and 30: “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
During our storms, Jesus is calling us. We get wrapped up in our little boat and plant ourselves in the middle of an ocean of fear and depression. Jesus calls Peter here and Peter responds the way we should when Jesus calls for us. But then Peter’s doubt strikes again. Peter was initially focused on Jesus, looked towards Jesus, and pursued Jesus despite the storm. It took one brief wind to knock him off his feet and Peter begins to sink. This time he calls for Jesus.
Sometimes the storms in our lives are so dark we cannot see the path in front of us. Jesus calls Peter and Peter cannot fully see Jesus at this point, yet his focus on Jesus calling Him allows him to conquer the waves, if only briefly.
We know that Jesus is the light in the darkness. Jesus says in John 8:12: ““I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
1 John 1:5-7 states: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
Mark 14: 31 states: “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
You see, first Jesus calls us during the storm. Then we answer initially. We expect everything to immediately get better. This is not the case often. Often, the storm persists as it did with the disciples and we focus on the storm instead of focusing on Jesus. That is when we start to sink under the waves of trial and then we have to call out for Jesus.
Understand, Jesus will always answer. Every. Single. Time. He catches us from sinking, but He knows our doubts about Him. Yet He helps us still. That is a reflection of mercy, grace, and love that is simply unfathomable. He does not hold our doubts against us, but he does want us to refine our faith. The storms in life certainly do that.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
Isaiah 48:10 says, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
Why does God allow us to suffer hardship in order to refine our faith? One reason is because He wants to test our faith and our dedication. As I get closer to the completion of my Bachelors Degree in Religion and work to serve as a Pastor or Bible teacher, I have noticed the trials certainly come more often and certainly have refined my faith. Though, I am not near where I need to be. None of us truly are.
I am often reminded of Job and the hurt and pain he suffered. One of the most popular verses from Job comes in Job 13:15 when he states: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” How many of us could be so loyal to God during a storm? Peter certainly wasn’t and he walked with Jesus. Job can teach us a lot about faith, patience, joy in pain, and worship in our suffering.
Another reason God refines our faith with trial is to deepen our relationship with Him. In this story, Jesus calls Peter during the storm just as He calls us during our own. Answering opens the door to comfort. Answering does not mean the trial will cease, it simply means that we acknowledge our need for Jesus to get us through. Usually we get focused on the negatives in our trials and we start to sink. He we call out for Jesus as if He ever left our side. Still, He catches us and helps us to battle to storm.
I am reminded of two things here. First is the popular “Footprints In The Sand” story. Here we get a beautiful illustration of how Jesus lifts us up during trial even when we are prideful enough to doubt He is there.
Second is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You see, in the storms of life, God is refining our hearts and minds to make them more pure and focused on Him. Paul certainly recognized this even as he was incarcerated.
The end of this story is certainly fitting. Jesus and Peter get back into the boat and the winds die down. The disciples bow and worship Jesus after seeing what Jesus had done and how Jesus stopped the storm and helped the boat to shore.
Your boat may not be as close to shore as theirs. Some of us may feel like we get stranded years away from ever seeing solid land. But we can all make a little room for Jesus in our boats. The storm may not stop as quickly as it did for the disciples, but the story says the winds died down, not that they stopped all together. The fact that Jesus instructs the disciples to get in the boat ahead of Him demonstrates He was about to test their faith during the storm.
Of course praise following the storm is appropriate. But praise during the storm reveals a maturity in faith and spiritual discipline. A Christian band I listen to is called My Epic and in their song “Garden” they have a line “Bless the storms for the rain” that embodies how we should handle the storms of our lives. The rain in the storm in the mercy of God. The hope that our faith will strengthen and endure. The promise that deliverance is on the way.
Lastly, we are put through trials to bear witness to God. How a believer acts and praises during the storm witnesses to unbelievers as well as fellow Christians. There is always someone that God intends to learn from our example during these hard situations. Certainly Job and Paul got that message.
Trials will come and go, but God stands forever. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Bear witness to the peace of mind God’s love can give us. Let God use you in a way that brings unbelievers and believers to Him even if that means suffering during a storm. This Christian walk is not about us, it is a walk of humility and service. Put the pride away of trying to do the walk on your own and let God take over. It seems appropriate to share another line from a My Epic song at this juncture. In the song “Lest We Die”, they state: “From Your hands do all good things derive. So if my heart should swell and of itself think well, then humble me till I am fully Thine .” If we want to bring the world to Christ, we must first humble ourselves to be obedient handlers of the Word.
The encouragement is this: God has a reason. The reason is often unknown which is good. If we knew the reason for every storm before getting through it, our minds would be focused on the goal instead of focusing on God. God will never leave us in the storm or abandon us.
I want to close with 2 Timothy 1:7 which says: “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Stand strong on your faith. If your faith is weak, let God restore it. God will put your worries at ease and bring you through the storm ready for His next chapter in your life.