When someone gives you a “heads up”, what are they doing?
- Last night the National Weather Service gave us a “heads up” about the weather.
- You start to go on a trip and someone says, “I will give you a “heads up”, highway 183 is blocked.”
- Public health officials sometimes give us a “heads up” about a virus that is making its rounds.
- So, we know what a “heads up” is; it’s an advanced warning.
- And that is what we have here in this passage that was read.
When we were baptized, according to Acts 2:38, our sins were forgiven.
- But, when were baptized, according to Matthew 28:18-20 we also became disciples or followers of Christ.
- And as a disciple of Christ we have been commissioned “to go and make disciples of other nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
- And just reading that it doesn’t sound all that difficult.
But, in John 6 and Mark 6 and Matthew 14 Jesus gives us a “heads up” when it comes to being a disciple which may cause some to think twice before following Christ.
- And this may be why some just want to be baptized for the forgiveness of sin and not be a disciple!
- Let’s look starting in vs. 15.
If you remember from last week Jesus has just performed a massive miracle when He fed a huge crowd from 5 loaves and 2 fish.
- And afterwards, in vs. 15, the people wanted to take Jesus by force and make Him king.
- They wanted Jesus to be what they wanted; they wanted to manipulate Him for their own selfish ends; much like most people want to do today.
- People want Jesus to permit what they want and justify what they want.
- They want a Jesus who will permit them to live an immoral lifestyle; permit then to be involved in an adulterous or perverted sexual relationship; who will allow them to cheat, lie, steal, be a drunkard.
- People often force Jesus to be what they want Him to be.
But the reality is Jesus comes to no man on man’s terms.
- He doesn’t give in to ever changing whims and fancies; He will not be a quick fix for felt needs.
- He calls on sinners to mourn for their sins, to be penitent, and to acknowledge Him as sovereign Lord and to be obedient to Him.
- And like He does here in vs. 15, He will always withdraw from the superficial crowd.
So, Jesus withdrew to the mountain away from this crowd that wants to force Him to be king.
- And now look at vs. 16. It says, when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, and after getting into a boat they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. 17 And it had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
Now, in Matthew’s and Mark’s account of this they both say that Jesus “made” His disciples get in the boat!
- The KJ Version says that Jesus “constrained” His disciples to get in the boat.
- Why would Jesus “make” His disciples get in the boat?
Apparently there were some things that Jesus wanted His disciples to learn about being a disciple.
- So, what is it He wanted them to learn?
Listen, up to this point Jesus’ disciples have not personally experienced much in the way of difficulties; they have experienced some hardships while traveling with Jesus; some sore feet from walking; and in Matthew 10 when Jesus sent them out “to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand” He warned them that they would be rejected, and be hated, and perhaps even be persecuted.
But, telling is much different than showing.
- So, Jesus is going to show them what it is like to be a disciple.
- But up to this point in John 6 things have been relatively “smooth sailing” for them.
- So, to prepare them, to teach them, to train them and to test them, Jesus “constrains” them to get in the boat.
And they do. They get in the boat! And that is what Jesus wants us to learn: disciples obey even when they don’t fully understand.
Jesus “makes His disciples” get in the boat, it is dark, and “the sea began to be stirred because a strong wind was blowing.”
- The “smooth sailing” is over.
- And those of us today who are His disciples, if we have it in mind that following Jesus, obeying Jesus (He made them get in this boat and they did); if we have it in mind that obeying Jesus is always going to be “smooth sailing” for us we need to think again.
Look at vs. 19: When therefore they had rowed about 3 or 4 miles…
- Matthew says that their boat was being “battered by the waves for the wind was contrary.”
- So the disciples are battling the waves and the wind; and now look at what Mark says in Mark 6:47:
47 And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and He (Jesus) was alone on the land. 48 And seeing them straining (tormenting; painfully struggling) at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night, He came to them,
- These disciples “strained at the oars” until the “fourth watch of the night”; that would put this somewhere between 3 and 6 o’clock in the morning.
- They have been battling these dangerous high winds and battering waves basically all night.
- And remember, Jesus made them get in this boat.
- And that is what we need to learn
Being a disciple of Christ, obeying Christ can lead us into some pretty scary circumstances; seemingly overwhelming circumstances, some discouraging circumstances all because you are doing what the Lord told you to do.
- There will always be strong winds against us; darkness does not like the light so some people will hate us; some will reject us; some will accuse us of things we would never do just like they did Jesus (a blasphemer; of the devil); and we will be criticized for things they think we should do but don’t.
There will always be “waves” to toss us; and batter us; and threaten us. (Doctrine; fads; opinions).
- And just like these disciples there will be times when it doesn’t seem like we are “getting anywhere.” We can teach and preach and we will have times when we wonder if we are doing any good. (Sabbath question). We will have times of discouragement.
- And we will always have to fight the forces of darkness; Satan is relentless; he will do anything he can to hinder and stop us.
- And there will always be times when we have to “strain at the oars” to make any headway.
For these disciples it was a struggle and it will be for us too.
- But notice, they didn’t quit; they didn’t give up; and they didn’t turn around and say, “Forget it. We will let the wind blow us where it wants us to go.”
- They continued with all of their might to do what Christ told them to do.
- That is what disciples of Christ do.
- Unfortunately, some disciples are “circumstance disciples” and quit as soon as things get a little difficult or don’t go the way they think they should.
So, the disciples are out on the sea, they are straining against the wind and the waves and in Mark 6:48 Mark tells us that “Jesus could see them straining at the oars.”
- Wait a minute. Vs. 19 here in John 6 tells us that they had rowed about “3 or 4 miles” and Mark tells us it was “the fourth watch of the night” how could Jesus see them?
Look at this in Psalm 33:18. The writer says the “Lord’s eyes are on those who fear Him and whose hope is in His unfailing love.”
- And here is Hebrews 4:13: And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
- Our Lord knew that these disciples were struggling and straining, and He knows when we are too.
And look at vs. 19 again in John 6. Jesus sees them struggling and look what He does.
When therefore they had rowed about three or four miles, they beheld Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.
- Jesus “constrained” these disciples to “get in this boat.”
- When they have done all they can do, did they think that Jesus was going to abandon them?
And the same is true for you and I.
- We as His disciples are obeying what He commands; and sometimes we find ourselves in a hard, difficult situation; perhaps even in a scary, dangerous situation; do we think that Jesus is going to abandon us?
Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. “
In Hebrews 13:5 the Lord said: “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
- Obeying His commands may cost us everything we have; perhaps even our lives; but He will never abandon us.
So Jesus sees them struggling; and He comes to them; and notice how He comes: Walking on the sea!
- The very thing that was threatening their lives is under His feet!
- It is under His dominion!
Do you remember what Jesus said in Matthew 28:18 right before He sent these same disciples out in what we call the “Great Commission?”
- “All authority has been given to Me.”
- That is His point here.
And the first thing you and I need to recognize as a disciple is when we find ourselves in a difficult situation because we are obeying what Christ has commanded is Who has dominion; Who is Sovereign over the circumstances that we are facing.
- Whatever is threatening you they are under His feet.
And then we must do what they did. Jesus walks on the sea; He draws near to the boat; they are frightened (Mark says they thought He was a ghost) and they cried out; and in vs. 20 He speaks to them and says, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
- And now vs. 21: They were willing therefore to receive Him into the boat;
I don’t know if it is pride or stubbornness or something else but far too often we face a difficult situation and we fail to let Jesus come into the boat. (Marriage; parenting; job; life)
- They won’t let Him do what really needs to be done.
And look at the end of vs. 21. They receive Jesus into the boat; and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
- Jesus made all the difference. It is amazing how when we get Jesus in the boat and problems disappear.
- Leave Him out and the struggle will continue on and on.
Now, John leaves out one of the most interesting parts of this story. In Matthew’s account found in chapter 14 starting in vs. 25 Matthew says:
25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
- Doubt can sink anyone! Doubt what Jesus says! Doubt what Jesus commands!
- Individuals and whole congregations have fallen apart because of doubt.
- Doubt can cause us to abandon our faith and our Lord.
The Hebrew writer says in Heb 10:35: Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
- Peter was so confident in the Lord that he got out of that boat and walked on the water.
- But then he saw the wind and he became afraid and began to sink.
- The wind; and it can come in many different forms; doctrine; personal preferences; emotions; false beliefs; deceitful men) can destroy our confidence.
- We must stay focused on Jesus.
So, these are all things we learn in disciple school.
- Disciples of Christ always do what Jesus commands.
- And, following Jesus is not always smooth sailing.
- His commands can take us places that are scary, even dangerous as well as discouraging.
- And there will always be wind, and waves, and darkness beating against us.
- But we must continue to row; we can’t quit.
- We need to keep in mind that Jesus sees.
- And He will never abandon us.
- And it is important to let Him in the boat.
- Never doubt; be confident.
- Stay focused on Christ.
- Jesus is the Son of God.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2024