Sermon delivered June 6, 1998

by Pastor Donald Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quotations from the Bible are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Two Rocks on the Water

(Matthew 14:22-33) 20,000 hungry people had just eaten supper. The disciples rounded up 12 baskets of leftovers. What a miracle that day! Jesus was better than a vast grocery warehouse. Everybody was fed. Jesus was better than the mayo clinic....every ailment had been healed.... These were the healthiest and happiest people in Palestine. What a leader they found in Jesus! This Zealous crowd set out to force Jesus to be their king. They would have a revolution.

I imagine this was one of the biggest temptations Jesus ever had. Here He could avoid the cross. Why not be the Savior of the world and let them just crown Him. He was God. He could sit on the throne in Jerusalem. The Romans would be no challenge for this Super Man. He could Christianize the whole world. That is what He came to do anyway.

But Jesus ever lived to please His Heavenly Father and so He immediately broke up the crowd.

If temptation is ever to be conquered, we must act immediately. If the party crowd urges you to sin, send them home or leave yourself. Jesus knew that if the Leader-Disciples left, the crowd would also leave. It is hard to imagine Jesus sending anyone away isn't it? But He did.

Matthew 14:22 - -"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side", while he sent the crowd back to Bethsaida and ordered the Disciples to the other side of the sea of Galilee by boat.

Omniscient Weatherman Jesus knew a terrible thunderstorm would strike the lake in a few hours. Killer waves would come up. The lake was notorious for that. But the trip His disciples would make was only 3 miles and the twelve would have plenty of time to arrive while the lake was safe. Jesus never sends us into danger.

Quickly they loaded up the 12 baskets of angel food bread into their boat. It was a fine evening in April, 30 AD. How do we know it was spring? Because Jesus fed the crowds by making them sit down on the GREEN grass. The moon would be full that night because this was the passover season. If the disciples had immediately obeyed Jesus, both they and their oars could have rested while the wind and sail carried them to the other shore.

Matthew 14:23 "After he had dismissed (the crowd), he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone," He had a lot to pray about. His cousin John had just been beheaded. He would die next.

Verse 24 "but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it." KJV says many Stadia= 1/8 mile. Many would be 25-30, or 3+ miles. John 6:19. Obviously the great storm had carried them several miles South. - - Right in the middle of the sea where the waves were the worst.

The 12 followers did not launch out immediately. (See Desire of Ages, p.379- EG White) Unhesitating obedience would have avoided the storm. The $64,000 question is... Why did they delay??? The winds were contrary and so were their hearts. They were headed East and the winds were going West. Bucking both wind and wave. They should have left earlier. Instead they stood and quarreled. Arguing won't move boats across lakes. Perhaps they should have argued and sailed at the same time. Now it was too late.

They argued over Jesus unwise judgement and their possible loss of some high positions in His kingdom. "Why does He do what He does?" Eventually the procrastinators set out as Jesus wanted. Do you go where Jesus wants you to go? Let's be people of quick obedience. If today you feel the tugging on your heart, move out and follow Him.

The one hour trip took over 8 toiling hours. Had they promptly followed Jesus' command they could have spent the night in prayer like He did. Instead of praying, they spent their night fighting for their lives. Life is hard when we don't put Jesus first. Both Jesus and His disciples stayed up all night long, but what a difference! Jesus was strengthened, the disciples were exhausted.

They had taken time to gather food fragments but now had no time to gather spiritual fragments. Millions of tons of water were crashing all around them. Just one four foot wave hitting a one mile stretch of beach produces 35,000 horsepower! The person who figures out how to harness that will be rich.

Verse 25 "During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake." It was the darkness just before dawn. Their little bobbing boat was like a lost cork- out there on that vast dark 60 square mile sea . But Jesus always knows where His lost sheep are. David said: "If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Thy hand will lead me and thy right hand will lay hold of me." Psalm 139:8-10.

Jesus came to demonstrate that God will go to any length to rescue His lost children. You will never be where Jesus cannot find you. No blast is too brutal for Jesus to save us from it.

No storm of life is so awful and no boat so frail and no night so dark and no problem is so deep that we go beyond the loving reach of our Heavenly Father.

Why did Jesus wait so long before coming? It is when we are at the tail end of the rope, just barely handing on, that we become willing to trust in Him. Why do we have to suffer so long before the answer comes? If we could only trust quicker.

Jesus did come! He always does. Despite their disobedience in leaving late, Jesus came. Sin does not drive Jesus away. He comes near. He knows our struggles. Jesus walked along as if He will pass by. He never forces Himself upon us.

Do you feel that you are in a desperate struggle with the waves of debt, or temptations, sorrows, or pain? If the storms of life overwhelm you, call on Jesus.

Suddenly here came Jesus walking on the waves! They were seeing a live first hand miracle. Have you ever seen one? Do miracles make you uneasy? We live in a world of relative physical predictability. If I drop a heavy ball bearing, I expect it to hit the floor. I expect the sun to rise. The disciples did not expect God to suspend the laws of physics on their account. You would think they would rejoice to see Jesus coming to save them. But.....

Verse 26 "When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It's a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear." How often we fail to recognize our Deliverer. We think of Jesus as the problem and not the answer. What they thought was death coming to get them was actually their redeemer.

They might have thought they were having a near-death experience. The Phantom of the lake came and spooked them. The disciples turned white as a sheet. Their hair stood on end. But when our hair stands on end in fear Jesus stands near!

Verse 27 "But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.'" Notice that Jesus first quelled the squall that raged in their hearts before stilling the cyclone that raged without.

They were in a panic. How could anybody walk on water? Do you believe things you can't understand?

A youth came home from college and said: "I don't believe anything I don't understand." His father said: "Tell me how a black cow can eat green grass and give white milk from which we get yellow butter!"

But Peter believed Jesus. Do you believe? Peter was the CEO of the Fishing business in which at least 4 disciples worked. Impulsive Peter spoke: Verse 28 "'Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water.'" Are we as eager as Peter to step out in faith? Peter could later advertise on his evangelistic handbill the fact that he and Jesus were the only two people to ever walk on unfrozen water.

I like Peter. Every time he fell he rose again. A saint is not someone who never falls, but one who comes to Jesus. Peter is ready to walk on the water. He is anxious to try anything. Good thing there were no drugs around in his day.

Now Jesus did not come to teach the disciples how to walk on water. It is amazing that Jesus said Come to Peter. Peter said "IF it is YOU." I don't think Peter thought... Now, umm, that just could be a ghost out there?!? Peter would never risk his life to join an unidentified spook on the heaving sea.

This life-long fisherman well knew the dangers of drowning in a Galilee tempest. To leave the still floating boat and step into the deep took faith. Peter risked walking on the waters of sure death because they were the only path to His Savior. He risked all for Jesus. Only when you surrender all, will you have all.

It was better to be with Jesus on the water than to be without Jesus in the boat!

Verse 29 "'Come,' he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus."

Do you think maybe he slowly placed his foot out toward the heaving swells of the storming sea. The lake was over 100 feet deep. His foot did not go under. He was standing on the moving water! Then walking on the water! One small step for mankind and one giant step toward God. Let's step out for God!

Knowing fast Peter, he probably jumped out of the boat and bounced off the water. He got up dusted himself off, got his sea legs and headed for Jesus!

Faith is grows by attempting the impossible. Paying the Tithe you know you can't afford. Giving the offering you don't think you can do. And then watching God as He keeps you floating high!

What a thrill! Like a boy showing off on a bicycle riding ... "Look mom! No hands! I'm on the water!

But Peter made a terrible mistake. "The instant Peter withdrew his eyes from Christ, that instant he began to sink." - Vol 2 - Selected Messages p. 235.

Like Lots wife, he looked back. Keep your eyes on Jesus! By beholding Jesus Peter was enabled. Beholding changed him. Beholding Jesus can change you! Don't focus on the waves. When we let the problems of life become the primary thing we begin to sink. So often the waves of vexation and strife eclipse our view of the Savior. Water in the Bible represents people! How often people come between us and Jesus and cause our loss.

Verse 30 "But when he saw the wind..... (Peter had pretty good eyesight to see the wind!!!) He was afraid."

It is true that what we look at determines our destiny. "Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw mud, one saw stars." Everything depends on our habitual outlook. What we see is what we get. Look at the waves and sink. Look at Jesus and live!

Ps 34:5 - "Those who look to Him are radiant!"

Matthew 14:30 "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" Our human helplessness is the most laudable element we can present to the Savior.

When you take your eyes off Jesus and look at people you begin to go down. Peter even chose good folk to look at... the disciples! You can't look to the deacon or even the Sabbath School Teacher. Rivet your eyes on Jesus.

Verse 31 "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him." Jesus did not wait even a split second. The water under Peters feet gave way. He started to sink like a rock. But before he went under, Jesus extended His powerful saving right hand and lifted Peter up. Instant Salvation! The buoyant Rock of Ages reached down to save Peter the Petros a sinking pebble!

Peter needed more faith didn't he? Faith is not something that we hold but something that holds us up.

Sometimes we are battered by terrible Storms. 
Sometimes we feel the darkness has won.  
Sometimes we feel helpless as a fish caught in a net.
Sometimes we feel our best efforts are not enough.
Sometimes we feel the end is near.

BUT when you are near the hand of Jesus, all you have to do is call on Him. He will hear your sincere voice above the howling of the mightiest storm. Jesus hand became Peters life preserver.

A Knowledgeable man noticed a farm girl draw water at the well. Before she lifted the brimming pail, the girl took a piece of wood out of her pocket and floated it on the water. He asked her why she did it. She said: "To keep the water from spilling!"

When your heart is agitated, put the Cross in it's center to keep it steady. In every storm the presence of Jesus will bring quietude.

If you are sinking today, turn your face to Jesus.

Verses 31 and 32 - "'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?' And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

Invite Jesus into your house and the hot winds of strife will cease.

Notice that the instant Jesus boarded the boat two things happened. The wind blew out and instantly they arrived at the land. (John 6:21)

They had been in the middle of the sea!

When Jesus boards the ship of your life, you reach your destiny. You are saved!

So many lessons in this amazing true story. Our walking can never take us all the way to Jesus. Our best efforts cannot make us float. But His power is more than enables us to walk on in the greatest storm. Notice that Peter was totally supported by the water of life. Jesus is the only way!

Opening Hymn # 83
Scripture: Matthew 14:28-31
Closing Hymn:   512   Just When I need Him most.


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