Have you ever been in a really bad storm? Howling winds, driving rain, rough waves? How did you feel? Scary wasn’t it? We don’t forget storms easily do we? I’ve only been in one really bad storm at sea. Crossing the English Channel on a ferry to France. Everyone on board was sea sick. It can get really rough on the Sea of Galilee too, very quickly because it has hills on three sides. It did on the night we’ve read about in Matthew 14.
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side.” (Matthew 14:22)
Immediately after what? The amazing miracle of the feeding of 5000, it seems Jesus wanted his friends to learn a lesson. To trust him in the storms of life.
“When evening came, he was there alone, [on a mountainside overlooking the lake] but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” (Matthew 14:22-23)
Jesus sent them on ahead, maybe to think about how on earth he had been able to feed 5000 people with a few rolls and fish. By the middle of the night all their energy was going into staying afloat and not with the fish. Then they got the shock of their life.
“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.” (Matthew 14:25-27)
How did Jesus try and get them to trust him? First they saw him. Second they heard him.
“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
Jesus wanted them to trust Him. If he could feed 5000 and walk on water Jesus could look after them in any storm. Jesus must have smiled when Peter cried,
“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?” (Matthew 14:28-31)
Maybe Peter figured he was safer out of the boat with Jesus than in the boat without him. How did Jesus try and get Peter to trust him? As long as he listened to Jesus and kept his eyes on Jesus he was fine. But when he looked at the waves he was afraid and began to sink. He cried out and Jesus caught him.
“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:32-33)
They were beginning to realise that Jesus was the Son of God. Notice what Jesus said to Peter “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) Peter only had a “little faith”. By now Jesus expected Peter to have more faith. Why? Because of the evidence Jesus had provided. Now it is not about how much faith you have but who you place your faith in. “Faith” is simply another word for “Trust”. Jesus wanted them to trust him more and more, to grow in faith. How? Through what they saw (the miracles), what they heard (his amazing teaching) and what they touched (when he rescued them).
Then they would learn to trust him,
even when they could not see him, hear him, or touch him. Lets do a little experiment in faith building… [see, hear and touch]
Now we can’t see, or hear, or feel Jesus, so how can we trust Jesus in our storms of life?
1. We Hear Jesus through the Bible
God continues to speak to us about his wonderful plans and purposes for our lives through the living Bible.‘People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:4) That is why its important we read the Bible.
2. We See Jesus in the Church
When we first put our trust in Jesus, we are born into a new family of brothers and sisters. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27)
We grow to trust Jesus more and more as we see him at work in other another, as we help each other discover his purposes for our lives, just as his first disciples did.
3. We Experience Jesus by His Spirit
Jesus has not left us alone. He sent his Holy Spirit to be with us, to live in us and help us to trust him through the storms of life. Jesus has not left us alone.
“The Spirit of God testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:14-16)
That is why, no matter what storms we may face this week or any time in the future, we can trust Jesus to be with us. For…
“we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
So let me ask you. Like Peter have you ever cried out, “Lord, save me!” Sooner or later we all recognise we need a Saviour. And like the disciples, we need to realise who Jesus is, worship him, saying “Truly you are the Son of God.” If you haven’t yet, don’t wait for a storm. Jesus wants you to trust him to be your Saviour and friend today and everyday.
And if you have already trusted in Jesus, are you growing in your relationship with him? Are you trusting him a little more and more each day, so when the big storms come you will not be afraid? Get to know him better.
How? Hear Jesus speak to you through his Word. See Jesus at work in and through his Church. And trust Jesus to guide you moment by moment through his Holy Spirit. Lets ask him right now.
(talk given at the annual Virginia Water Cubs and Scouts service and annual Christ Church School Thanksgiving service)