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Pearls of the Kingdom 6/5/24

Consider this portion of scripture with me today.

Matt 14:22-36 “Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So, Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed. After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.”

I have been asking Jesus, what does He want us to see today as there is so much that we could focus on. Here is what I believe Jesus has for us today.

If we were to look at John’s Gospel we see that the people were ready for Jesus to be established as their king (Jn 6:15 “When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.”) Jesus disperses the crowds, sending them back home and sends the disciples on a boat trip. He is very firm in sending them on their journey. We see in some versions the words, insisted, compelled, constrained, made them get in the boat and travel to the other side without him. 

Being obedient, the disciples get into the boat and head out for the other side without Jesus. Different from an earlier boat trip, when Jesus was with them. When pressed by the storm here, crying out, they find Jesus asleep on a cushion (Matt 8).

I’m thinking that they are thinking this scenario looks all too familiar as they find themselves in trouble again on the water. Good to note that the storm comes against them not because they were disobedient. Storms just happen on the sea. They were unaware that Jesus was coming and yet Jesus was fully aware of their circumstances. Mark 6 tells that Jesus saw them straining at the oars.

Night has fallen and being far from land, a strong wind had risen and they were fighting heavy waves. We are not told what watch the storm appeared. Was it the first, second or third? They stay the course and do their best to complete their journey to the other side. They were close to their destination so turning back, returning where they had come from was not an option. 

We are told that it is now 3:00 in the morning. Some versions say it was the fourth watch (3:00 – 6:00 am), just before dawn when Jesus comes toward them walking on the water. Not knowing that this was Jesus, they are now terrified and fearful. It was enough to struggle with the storm but now seeing someone, a spirit, a ghost walking towards them on the water raised their anxiety level. 

Terrified and fearful that they are seeing a “ghost”, Jesus calls out to them. What a good shepherd. We are not told how close Jesus is, as they did not recognize him until he calls out to them. My sheep know my voice (Jn 10). Jesus speaks words of encouragement to silence their fear, “But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

We do not know why Jesus waited, delayed in coming to the disciples until the fourth watch. Perhaps Mary and Martha wondered why Jesus waited also. His ways are not our ways and even when Jesus delays, He does not disappoint.” Even though Jesus was not “physically” in the boat, He was with them, praying for them and keeping a watchful eye over them. Knowing the right time to come to them. Their fiercest storm could not hold Him back or stop Him from coming to them. 

The sense I had is that some are in a life storm. For some it seems the storm has just started, like during the “first watch” of the night. For others you have endured your storm for a time now, into the “second watch”, for some you are patiently weathering your storm, now into the “third watch”, for others your feeling weary, as your storm has lasted longer into the night, “fourth watch.” 

Like the disciples you feel like you are in this storm alone. I sense at times we feel like, “what I have I done wrong now?” Understanding that sometimes storms happen and there is nothing you have done wrong. Like the disciples, they were being obedient in going to the other side when this storm arose. 

The key for today, “knowing that Jesus knows.” He knows what is happening in your life, in your storm. When you “feel” alone, know He is with you, praying for you (Jn 17:15). The one who never sleeps is faithful, He keeps a watchful eye over you. “He does not take His eyes off of the righteous.” 

My hope, my prayer is that you will find comfort, hope for today in these words of Jesus, “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”  

Keep this promise close, never let it go, “Jesus will never leave you, He will never forsake you!”

Pastor Jeff

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