Let’s take a quick look at the end of chapter 6. Jesus sent His disciples across the sea of Galilee, while he wanted some time to himself to go up a mountain to pray. Here in California, we would probably call the mountain a hill. By the way. I had never looked this up until now, but the Sea of Galilee is about 13 miles long and about 7 miles wide. It’s the largest lake in Israel. At its deepest point, it’s about 150 feet deep.
Notice, he sent them. And a storm came up when they were about halfway across, with the wind coming directly from the direction they were going. Don’t believe me? Our text says, “Jesus saw that they were in a lot of trouble as they rowed, because they were going against the wind.” And they must have been rowing most of the night, so all the light they might have had was the stars and the moon, if the moon was even out. Have you ever been on the water, away from any lights, in the middle of the night? It can be pitch black. The disciples were understandably frightened. Even the seasoned fishermen were probably afraid.
Ok. Now I know that Jesus was man as well as God. Do you suppose He knew that the storm was going to come? As God, He certainly would have. But as man? I’m not entirely sure. We do know that He knew some things in advance, but all? I just don’t know. I have a hunch He did. Here’s why.
Even though they were following His directions, or put another way…they were in His will, the storm came up against them. They had to struggle with all of their might to stay in His will. They could’ve said, “The wind is coming from the direction we are supposed to go. It’s too hard. Let’s turn around. Or let’s tack. We can make headway if we tack.” (Tacking is taking a zig-zag course that allows you to make headway against the wind.) But they stayed the course Jesus told them to go.
Sometime between 3 and 6 in the morning, Jesus walked out to them. Have you ever thought of this? He was walking on the storm tossed sea! Have you ever seen the surface of a large body of water when the wind is ripping? It’s chaos! But somehow, Jesus was able to walk on it, and He made His way to their boat in the middle of the largest lake in Israel…at least four miles out, evidently with no problem!
Now here’s the part that makes me think that He knew the storm would come against the disciples. When He got to the boat, He said, “Calm down! It’s just me. Don’t be afraid. (He said that because when they saw Him walking on the water they thought He was a ghost.) And then He climbed into the boat and the wind stopped.
I think Jesus knew the storm was coming, and He wanted to use this as a way to grow their faith in Him. As a matter of fact, in Matthew’s account of this incident, we are told that the disciples said, “You are truly the Son of God.”
Why is this reported in three of the Gospels? Certainly to show us that Jesus is who He says He is, but it can also be a lesson to us that even when we are doing exactly what we are supposed to do, even when we are exactly in God’s will, we might have to struggle against seemingly insurmountable problems. Following God’s will does not mean that we will not have problems. Obstacles don’t mean that it is time to quit. Struggles don’t mean that we didn’t understand God’s will. Headwinds don’t mean that it’s time to turn around.
Keep going. Don’t give up. Stay the course. Calm down. Don’t be afraid. Jesus calmed the sea, and there is nothing happening to you that He cannot help you through. He is as real today as He was on that stormy night. He delivered the disciples and He will deliver you.