Picture of Pastor David Cook

Sermon delivered July 12, 2008 by Pastor David Cook

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New Inductive Study Bible NISB unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Facing the Storm Alone

Mark 6:50-52

(RealAudio Version available)

Are you facing the storm alone?  I'd like you to turn to Mark, chapter 6.  If you look at the subtitles, you can find the story of Jesus walking on the water.  If you don't have those it’s verse 45 is where it begins.  I’d like to look at another miracle of Jesus.  We’re doing a series on the miracles of Jesus right now, and the miracle I'm covering, of course, today, is the story of Jesus walking on the water. 

The disciples were terrified.  The wind was blowing.  The waves crashing all around.  The boat about to sink.  But they're completely, they’ve completely forgotten the storm.  Their iron muscles are frozen with the oars and they’re staring out across the water.  They half want to lean forward to see better, and yet they also want to just hide behind the sides of the boat.  They see a pale light shining on the top of the waves and it’s growing larger and larger, and it seems to be riding up and down with the waves.  And as it moves closer it takes on an almost human shape.  At this point they're yelling and screaming in despair.  That can't believe this.  They’ve been rowing 3 or 4 miles already and they’re basically back where they began.  They’ve been fighting the wind.  They were certain they were going to die in the water, they were going to drown.  But now they're wondering if they're going to die at the hands of some weird creature, some sea monster or spirit.  Mark, chapter 6, verse 50.  “But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, ‘Take courage.  It is I.  Do not be afraid.’” 

It's the Master.  Now their terror turns to joy.  “Master!”  You can almost hear their shouts of relief.  “Master, Master.  Is it really You?  We thought we were going to drown.”  This is the point of the story, and some of the other gospels where Peter asked to walk on the water, we’re not going to talk about that today.  It's not in this book, Mark, so we'll take it as the story tells it in Mark.  “Then He got into the boat with them and the wind stopped.  And they were utterly astonished.”  

Stop.  Utterly astonished?  Now, I confess, if I saw somebody walking on the water, I would be amazed.  Even if I saw Jesus, I'm sure I would've been amazed.  You have to understand some of the things the disciples had seen up to this point.  It wasn't that long before that Jesus had calmed the waves just by His word.  They'd watched Jesus heal people.  They'd seen Him raise people from the dead.  How on earth could they be amazed that He could walk on the water?  What was so amazing about that?  I mean, obviously Jesus, you know, it was an amazing thing, but it was Jesus.  They’d watched Him feed 5 thousand people.  And that's actually the men with all their families, with five loaves and two fish.  Just that very day.  How could they be astonished?  Don't they get it?  No.  Their hearts were hardened.  But why?  How could their hearts be hardened to the real Jesus?  How could He do anything that would amaze them?  Didn't they know Him by now? 

This is the question we’re going to be focusing on today.  How could the disciples miss what Jesus was all about?  How could they be astonished when the powerful Jesus walked on water?  How could their hearts be hardened to the real Jesus?  How could the disciples miss what Jesus was all about?  Look closer again, verse 51.  “They were utterly astonished for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened,” and here we find the key to understanding why they were amazed.  Why they didn't know Jesus for who He was.  It says they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves.  Jesus had just fed 5 thousand plus; men, women, children.  And they didn't get it.  They didn't understand the lesson He had in it for them.  So to understand how they could misunderstand Jesus, we need to understand this lesson of the loaves.  What is the lesson that Jesus had, and we’ll look in two places for the answer.  First, the actual story of Jesus feeding the 5 thousand, and then we’ll look where Jesus talks about it and explains it.  Let's first look at the story of the loaves.  The feeding of the 5 thousand.

Jesus had taken the disciples to a deserted place for a break, for a rest.  There were a number of reasons why He did this.  First, they were just plain worn out.  The Bible says that.  “And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile,’ for there were many people coming and going and they did not even have time to eat.”  So they were tired.  They'd been working hard for Jesus, extremely busy, but there were some other things that had taken place.  John the Baptist had been beheaded, and what do you think they might've thought about that?  I don't know, maybe “Well, what's going on here?  This is the fore-runner of Jesus.  What's happened to him?  What's happening?  What's going to happen to us?”  But there’s an interesting verse, Mark 6, verse 30, if you'll take a look there.  Mark 6:30.  “The apostles gathered together with Jesus, and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught.”  That’s the key word there.  They came to Jesus, and they told Him what they were doing.  They were starting to focus on their works and not on His works through them.  And Jesus, Desire of Ages kind of expands on this and she talks about how Jesus wanted to get them away, spend some time with them, teach them a few lessons.  They were starting to focus too much on themselves.  They were starting to take some of the credit for the miracles that they were performing.  He wanted them to learn to trust in the Father like He did. 

So they arrive there on the beach and the crowd is already there waiting for them.  5 thousand men plus their families, which, you know, could be as many as 20 thousand people.  That is a big crowd.  20 thousand.  If you’ve ever, some people here have been to Oshkosh, Pathfinders.  You will be going to Oshkosh soon.  Now there's a lot of people there.  And it's about 30 thousand, so this is a little smaller crowd, but it's huge, and no sound system, nothing.  

What is Jesus to do?  The Bible tells us that He spent some time, actually the Spirit of Prophecy also tells us, Jesus spent some time with the disciples and then He went up to the mountain and He met the crowd, the multitude.  So now Jesus has been speaking to the crowd all day.  They’re hot, they’re tired, they’ve been standing all day with their children.  Can you imagine, with 2 or 3 year olds.  No food for a day.  That sounds crazy for a parent, and the disciples are getting irritable and they come to Jesus and they said,  “Listen.  Just send them all away.  Send them to the villages.  Let them find food for themselves,” and Jesus, I think it sounds to me like He's kind of having a little bit of humor here, maybe ribbing them a bit, and He looks at them with a twinkle in His eye and He says, “You feed them,” kind of like, maybe, “Okay.  You cast out demons in My name. You've healed people.  You feed them.”  And they’re like “What?!!  What are you talking about?” 

And so Jesus has the people sit down, and we know the story, and Pastor Gettys is actually going to preach on this so I won't go in too much detail, but they pass around the loaves and the fish and pretty soon 20 some thousand people have been fed.  And there's 12 baskets of leftovers sitting around.  So what was the lesson of the loaves?  What was the lesson that Jesus had for the disciples?  We need to know if we’re going to understand why they totally missed what Jesus was about when He walked on the water.  Well whatever the lesson was, they certainly didn't get it.  Instead, they were focused on their own ideas.  They were focused on their own agenda, not Christ’s.  

The Gospel of John talks about how the people, the crowd, were ready to make Jesus King that day, and Desire of Ages again expands on it and says the disciples were right a part of that.  They said, “Yes!  Make Jesus King.”  And just imagine.  Now these were a lot of people coming in, they were all headed towards Jerusalem for the Passover, they could've taken Jesus, marched Him down to Jerusalem and set Him up as King, with 20 thousand people.  At least that's what they thought.  But Jesus stops everybody in their tracks.  He sends the disciples, and He says, “Go down, get in the boat and go across the lake.  I’ll meet you on the other side,” and He goes to the crowd, 20 thousand people, imagine that, and He says, “You’ve got to go home.  The show’s over. We’re done here.”  The disciples leave and they’re discouraged and they’re bitter and they're angry.  They wanted to crown Him King, and now their plans are ruined and what is He doing anyway?  And a few hours later, they're fighting for their lives on the raging sea. 

So, what lesson did the disciples miss?  What was Jesus trying to teach them when He fed the crowd?  Well, I can tell you this, it seems to me that it had something to do with the disciples reliance on themselves.  It has something to do with the disciples relying on themselves instead of on Jesus.  When Jesus says, “You feed them,”  it was like He was saying. “Hey, see if you can do it yourself,” and then He does it.  “I’m the source.” 

So we’re trying to understand why the disciples were so amazed when Jesus walked on the water and to understand this we need to understand what lesson they missed with the loaves.  What lesson did they miss?  Could it be the lesson of relying on Jesus?

Let’s go to the second place, and we’re going to get our answer and this is an even more definite answer, I believe.  Go to Mark, chapter 8, on the other side of the story.  Jesus, after He walked on the water, He had opportunity to go north to the border of Syria, and up there He actually has another opportunity to feed 4 thousand men plus their families and afterwards Jesus gets into an argument with the Pharisees and they get into their boat.  They come back and they get into the boat once again, and the disciples have forgotten bread.  Jesus has just fed 4 thousand these loaves and they forgot bread, and they’re in the boat and Jesus says to them, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” and they say, “Oh, He's rebuking us because we forgot to bring bread with us,” and Jesus is like, “No!”  Verse 17.  He rebukes them.  “And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread?  Do you not see or understand?  Do you have a hardened heart?’”  Which is the same words that’s used with the story of Him walking on the water.  “Having eyes, do you not see?  Having ears, do you not hear, and do you not remember?”  And then He asked them,  “How many baskets were left over when I fed the 5 thousand?  12.  How many baskets were left over when I fed the 4 thousand?  7.”  And He was saying to them,  “Do you not yet understand?”  What was He telling them?  He was saying,  “Are you still relying on yourself?  You're so worried that you forgot a few loaves of bread.  Look at how many loaves of bread were left over after I fed the multitudes.  You have Me with you, why do you need to worry about it?  Why are you relying on yourselves?”

And this is the answer for why they totally missed what Jesus was about there on the water that night.  And this is my main point.  Self-trusters don't really know Jesus.  Those who take credit for their success don't really know Him.  Those who rely on themselves miss the real Jesus.  Self-trusters don't really know Jesus.  This is why the disciples missed Jesus there in the storm.  They missed the point of the loaves.  They’d been trusting in their own beliefs about Jesus.  They were becoming spiritually proud. 

The saddest truth from the Gospels is that the disciples never learned the lesson ‘til after it was basically all over.  Perhaps even after Jesus went up to heaven.  They never got it.  I think of Peter telling Jesus,  “No, You won't be killed.  Never, Lord.”  Jesus saying,  “Get behind me Satan.”  He doesn't understand.  He doesn't understand Jesus.  He has his own agenda.  The Messiah that he knows is the Messiah that’s going to come and overthrow the Romans, and relying on his own ideas, he can't really know Jesus.  Later we see Jesus, Peter exclaiming, “No, I will never deny you!  Never, Lord,” and we know what happened.  “I, I will never deny you,” trusting in himself.  Think of Jesus, going up to Gethsemane and praying.  Jesus, who knew how to rely on His father and the disciples sleeping.  How much different the story could've been if they had learned the lesson of the loaves. 

Even, even after His resurrection it says, “After He had appeared to the 11 themselves as they were reclining at the table, and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen.  Jesus appeared to everybody but the disciples and the disciples still did not believe because they were still trusting in their own ideas about Jesus.  They didn't know what He was all about.  Self-trusters don't really know Jesus.  And you know, what a contrast, too, between Jesus and the disciples.  Jesus, Master of the universe, Lord of creation, understands that He is weak and instead of relying on His own power, which it seems like He had a right to do, He goes to the Father and He spends hours, nights in prayer, pleading, “Father, help Me.  I can't do this without You.”  Jesus knows what it's like to rely on the Father.  No wonder He could say that He and the Father are one.  He knew the Father because He trusted in Him, and the disciples, while Jesus was rescuing the world, while He relied on His Father, the disciples failed their Lord because they trusted in themselves.  

Self-trusters don't really know Jesus, and yet the good news is, Jesus did not leave them to themselves.  ”When it was evening,” we’re back in Mark 6 now, “When it was evening and the boat was in the middle of the sea and He was alone on the land and seeing them straining at the oars for the wind was against them.”  He starts to walk out.  I just imagine Jesus standing there, and He can see out across the lake and He sees them out there trying so hard on their own.  You know, they had been there most of the night, it's early in the morning.  They’re rowing, they’re strong, they’re seamen, they know what they're doing and yet they're helpless.  He must  think to Himself, “Oh man, they’re still trusting in themselves,”  But He gives them an opportunity to rely on Him, and He starts walking out to them.  I love how creative Jesus is.  I guess that's an oxymoron or understatement of the year.  Who would have thought to go out, just, “I’ll go walk out and see them.”  “About the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and He intended to pass by them.”  I see Jesus walking and saying, “Okay, here I am.  I’m just walking on by.  You see me?”  He didn't force Himself on them.  He didn’t just say, “Here I am.  I'm here to rescue you.”  He wanted them to reach out and plead with Him.  “Rescue us!”  He wanted them to rely on Him.  Jesus saw them out there struggling.  He saw them facing the storm alone. 

Are you facing a storm alone?  Are you struggling with the troubles of life without Jesus?  Maybe you know Him.  You know, the disciples knew Jesus better than we do, I bet.  But they missed something.  Are we doing the same thing?  Are we trusting in ourselves?  Jesus longs to have you let Him into your boat.  Have you ever relied on Jesus?  Have you ever experienced it?  When you trusted in Jesus to rescue your marriage, did it draw you closer to him?  When you trusted Him to get you through financial troubles, didn't it bind your heart closer to Him?  People who rely on Jesus really get to know Him, but self-trusters don't really know Jesus.

Once again we see the disciples terrified.  Here they thought it was a ghost and they’re frozen with fear.  They’re not able to row and Jesus says something that's so beautiful.  “Take courge.  It is I.  Do not be afraid.”  Is Jesus saying that to you?  “It is I.  Don't be afraid.  Stop trusting in yourself.” 

Are you facing the storm alone?  Are you missing the real Jesus?  Are you tossed by the wave of a rough marriage?  Are you dropping down into a trough of depression?  Are you drowning with the burdens of job, family, school, bills?  Are the winds of chronic disease and pain blowing you farther and farther away from Jesus.  Are you struggling all alone?  You know it's bad enough that you're struggling alone because it could mean eternal ruin for you, and it certainly means unhappiness in this life, but the worst of all is that you're missing the real Jesus.  You don't know Him. 

You've heard of Corrie ten Boom?  Corrie ten Boom was a very famous lady, at least when I was growing up we watched a movie about her called The Hiding Place.  This lady, who was a Christian who tried to help the Jews during World War II, the Nazis came and took them away and she had to watch many of her family members die, especially her sister there in the concentration camp, and her whole story is about learning to trust in Jesus, to trust Him to help her to forgive the people who were treating her so bad. 

And there's a story that she tells about how many years later after the war, she's traveling through Europe, and she's telling her story about how God had helped her forgive.  And after one of the seminars, a man stands up, and she looks into the eyes of the man who killed her sister.  The very same guard, the concentration camp guard, and he looks at her, and he spreads out his arms and he says, can you forgive me?  She says it was the hardest thing she ever did to step forward and put her arms around him.  But then they embraced with tears.  She had learned to trust in Jesus.  To rely on Him to help her to forgive and when she did that she understood  the Jesus, who can look His enemy and the eyes and say,  “I forgive you and I love you.”  She understood the real Jesus because she trusted in Him.

In what ways are you relying on yourself?  What ways am I relying on myself?  Are we facing a life with hardly a prayer?  Are we making decisions without Jesus?  Are we working without Him by our side?  Are we ignoring Him and the needy people around us?  Are we refusing to take the time away to spend with Him that we need? Don't miss Jesus.  Don't let Him pass you by.  Throw yourself on His mercy and say, ”Jesus.  I want to trust in You.  I want to be like how You were with the Father.”  Ask your spouse for a day out with Jesus Sunday or some other day off.  Ask for help with others with your devotional life.  Jesus, I want to put my trust in You.  I want to know You.  Self-trusters don't really know Jesus.  But those who trust Him do know Him.

We're going to sing hymn number 223 and after we’re done singing, when I pray, I'm going to give you an opportunity just to pray to Jesus and tell Him, “Jesus, I want to trust in You, so I can know You better.”

Hymn of Praise: #483, I Need The Every Hour
Scripture: Mark 6:50-52
Hymn of Response: #223, Crown Him With Many Crowns

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 8/2/08.