Sermon Notes and Audio
Scripture Focus- John 6:16-21
This miraculous event is recorded also in Matthew 14:22-33 and Mark 6:45-52. I want to draw in those accounts in this message as well. I think the synoptic accounts give us further insight into the message God wants us to take hold of and learn from in this passage.
I have heard countless sermons from this text over the years that basically come down to a focus on people- be courageous, get out of the boat, keep your eyes on Jesus. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, but I think it ultimately misses the main point of the story, which goes much deeper. The ultimate focus is on Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus is worthy. This account is told in the context of the unbelieving Jews, and the miracle seeking crowds.
John in particular, is magnifying who Jesus is, so that we may believe. Remember this is John’s purpose for writing.
John 20:30-31 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.
A miracle is defined as “A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of divine agency.”
There were three primary periods in the Bible when God worked miracles to accomplish His purposes. The first was that of Moses and Joshua. The second was during the ministry of Elijah and Elisha. The third was during the time of Jesus and the Apostles.
The miracles of the Bible are to be taken literally, because they are real events that took place in real time. Each miracle recorded in the Bible has a purpose. All of the miracles Jesus performed were to demonstrate that He is indeed the Son of God. Jesus is like no other. He came as God in the flesh and He has complete control over creation because He is its source. We are to trust in Jesus!
I want to show you three ways Jesus is worthy from this miracle recorded for us in the Word of God:
Jesus is worthy of our obedience.
Jesus had just fed the overwhelming crowd of people. He took five loaves and two fishes from a little boy. He looked up to heaven and blessed them and gave thanks, and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone had as much as they wanted and were full. Jesus told the disciples to collect what was left over.
When the people saw what Jesus had done, they said, John 6:14-15 This really is the Prophet who was to come into the world! Therefore when Jesus knew that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king. He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.
John begins His account in v16 by simply saying- When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the Sea to Capernaum.
There is an interesting note in both Matthew and Mark’s account- Matthew 14:22 Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side.
Why does the Scripture indicate that Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him?
Apparently they were reluctant to leave, and may have even argued with Jesus about it. The crowd wanted Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom at that time. They wanted to coronate Jesus so He could overthrow the Herods and Rome, and establish Israel. It may have seemed like an opportune time to the disciples as well. Perhaps they were considering the positions they would have in the kingdom and the power that would come with them.
They also probably felt vulnerable when Jesus was not with them and did not want to be separated from Him.
Maybe they saw the signs of the weather, and the wind blowing, and were reluctant to make the trip in the dark with potentially bad weather.
John identifies the place they were to go as Capernaum, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was a trip the disciples had probably made many times.
Regardless of why they were reluctant, they obeyed. They were under the authority of Jesus, and His firm word of direction was enough for them to obey. Jesus made them get into the boat to cross over ahead of Him to the other side, and that is what they did.
Our rebellious hearts, cause us to resist obedience. Obedience is defined as “dutiful or submissive compliance to the commands of one in authority.” We have an obligation to obey God, and to submit to Him because He is one who has all authority.
We are to obey Jesus, because we love Him.
John 14:23-25 If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep my words.
John 15:14 If you love Me, keep My commandments.
If you obey Jesus, it is evidence that you love Jesus. If you disobey Jesus, it is evidence that you do not love Jesus.
We have to be careful here, because obedience is not the ultimate focus; love for God is the ultimate focus. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day pursued acts of obedience to the Law, but they were self-righteous. They thought God owed them something. The Bible says the best we have to offer is nothing more than “filthy rags” Isaiah 64:6 unless it comes from God.
Your external obedience must come from a heart that loves God. Jesus said to the Pharisees- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness. Even so you also appear righteous to men outwardly, but inside you’re are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Matthew 23:27-28
We are to obey the law of Christ which is the law of love. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. If you love Him, you will obey Him.
Jesus is worthy of our obedience.
Jesus is worthy of our faith.
John tells us in v17 darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. V18 Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. V19 they rowed about three or four miles.
Matthew 14:24 the boat was already over a mile from land, battered by the waves because the wind was against them.
Mark 6:47 the boat was in the middle of the sea. . .v48 as they rowed, the wind was against them.
A trip across the northern end of the Sea of Galilee would not have required going more than 1 to 2 miles at the most, from the shore. The storm had apparently carried them several miles to the south, out into the middle of the lake. Their boat was being pushed further and further away from where they were headed and closer to sinking.
The disciples were rowing with all they had, straining at the oars. They were already tired. They had gone to where the crowd found them to begin with to get away. Then the crowd pressed in and they were called into service to feed thousands of people and after Jesus sent them away.
Put yourself in that situation- you are tired, you are out in the middle of the sea and a violent storm comes up, the situation seems hopeless. The worst part is Jesus was not physically with them. In a similar situation recorded in the Gospels, Jesus was in the boat with them and when He spoke, the wind and the waves obeyed and the sea became calm. Now, He was miles away.
Matthew and Mark tells us that around three in the morning, Jesus came toward them. The night was divided into four watches or shifts. Six to nine, nine to twelve, twelve to three, and three to six, which included the time just before dawn. The disciples had been at sea for at least nine hours, much of the time battling the storm that had come up.
Where was Jesus during this time? He had gone up on the mountain by Himself to pray and He was there alone, communing with the Father. He waited a long time to come to them. He could have come sooner and He could have miraculously rescued them without even being there, just as He had done when He healed the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8).
Jesus sovereignly sent them out, knowing that a storm was coming. Nothing in our lives happens by accident, either God directly brings it to pass, or at a minimum permits it to happen. This is a hard truth to take hold of, and one that we are resistant to, but it is true.
Furthermore, nothing happens without a purpose. Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose.
All things are not good. Yet God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. In the midst of the storms of life, Jesus is praying for us. We are not told here the content of Jesus’ prayers on the mountain, but I am certain He was praying for His disciples.
Mark 6:48 He saw them being battered as they rowed. He was conceivably miles from them, yet He omnisciently saw their situation.
There is not a situation in life where Jesus does not see what we are facing.
Romans 8:34 Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.
V19. . .they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid.
Matthew 14:25 He came walking toward them walking on the sea. V26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. It’s a ghost they said, and cried out in fear!
Mark 6:49-50 When they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw Him and were terrified.
Let’s just state the obvious- it’s not normal for someone to be walking on the water, much less in the middle of a bad storm!
They saw Him- meaning they intently fixed their eyes on Him not believing what they were seeing. They were afraid, and maybe thought their eyes were playing tricks on them, but they all saw the same thing. They cried out in fear.
Jesus says to them, v20 It is I. Don’t be afraid! Immediately they recognized the Master’s voice. Matthew and Mark add that Jesus said- Have courage!
The purpose of Jesus walking on the water was to save them, and give an unforgettable lesson of His power to demonstrate who He is.
Only Matthew gives the account of Peter’s response to Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, Matthew 14:28 Lord, if it’s You, command me to come to You on the water. V29 Come! Jesus said. And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. V30 But when He saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, Lord, save me!
V31 Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him and said, You of little faith, why did you doubt?
Jesus highlights the issue of faith in His exchange with Peter. Why? Because He wants us to trust in Him.
Peter’s love for and faith in Jesus was real, even though it was weak. Although Peter was sincere he took his eyes off of Jesus, saw the storm, and began to sink. His faith was enough to get him out of the boat, but not to carry him across the water.
Faith is required in following Jesus because we often find ourselves in situations of life for which we have no answer. Life is often stormy and difficult, and from a human perspective it is frightening.
Jesus cares about us in every situation of life. You will never find yourself in a place where Jesus cannot find you. No situation is too stormy for Jesus to prevail and rescue you. There is no reason to be afraid.
Jesus is worthy of our faith.
Jesus is worthy of our worship.
V21 Then they were willing to take Him on board, and at once the boat was at the shore where they were headed.
Matthew 14:32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Mark 6:51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased.
We are not told that Jesus said even a word. When Jesus sent the disciples across the sea and they obediently followed, and He walked on the water to rescued them in the midst of the storm, and the miracle was accomplished, the wind stopped, another miracle.
Not only did the wind stop, but they were instantly on land. They had been three or four miles out in the sea with the storm raging, and in an instant it stopped and they were at their destination.
Matthew 14:33 Then those in the boat worshipped him and said, Truly You are the Son of God!
Mark 6:51 They were completely astounded!
To worship is to give reverence and honor. From the beginning of Jesus’ life we find examples of Him being worshiped. When the Magi saw the baby Jesus “they bowed down and worshiped Him” Matthew 2:11.
We offer Jesus worship today by offering up ourselves as living sacrifices- to do with as He sees fit (Romans 12:1-2).
When I read what took place at the end of this story I cannot help but think of Heaven.
At once the boat was at the shore where they were headed.
There will come a day when each of us will leave the dark skies, the windblown storms, and the choppy seas of this life, and we will in an instant, be in Heaven with God on the golden shore.
Revelation 22:1-5 Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing down from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the broad street of the city. The tree of life was on both sides of the river, bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His slaves will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.
Jesus is worthy of our worship.
Jesus is worthy!
He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Anointed One, the Author of Life, the Bright and Morning Star, the Good Shepherd, the I AM, Immanuel, King of Kings, the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, The Son of God and the Son of Man, the True Vine, the Wonderful Counselor, the Word of God, the Savior of the World!