ROWING NOWHERE!

MARK 6:45-56

Please turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 6, and we are going to begin reading in verse 45 this evening.

MARK 6

VERSES 45-46

1. The events that transpired in this portion of Scripture occurred on the same day of the feeding of the 5,000 men, plus women and children. It was getting dark by now and it says that Jesus immediately "made" his men get into the boat. The word "made" sometimes means to "threaten" and it always carries with it the idea to drive away. Now doesn’t that seem strange for Jesus to do? Why would He drive his men away?

In John chapter 6, we are given some more details related to the action that Jesus took. Beginning in verse 14 we read "Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone." John 6:14-15.

The crowds wanted to make Jesus king, they saw Him as the Prophet that was spoken of in Deuteronomy chapter 18. And in Luke 9:11 we are told what Jesus was doing as the crowds of people gathered around Him, prior to Jesus feeding them with physical food. We read "But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing."

You see, Jesus told them the things of God, He healed those who were sick, and the conclusion they came to after hearing and seeing all these things was "This must be the Prophet!" They were looking for someone to come and free them from the Roman bondage and persecution they were in. Thus, Jesus was the one to set up His kingdom and free them from Rome.

The problem was that Jesus did not come to set up a literal kingdom at this time, but a internal one in the hearts of the people, and an eternal one. In fact, in John 18:36 Jesus said to Pilate, "...‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."

Jesus came to led men to repentance, to bring them the Good News. But they were not interested in that. And because of that, Jesus wanted to get His men out of there. They were already arguing about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom! And it is possible that maybe they were getting caught up in this. Maybe the crowds were chanting "Jesus! Jesus!" And some of the disciples may have been joining in. And so Jesus steps in to protect His men from this carnal vision that these crowds had adopted. God was going to stretch their faith, to challenge them, to see if they could apply to their lives these lessons of faith that God was showing them. And so Jesus places them in this boat and has them sail over to Bethsaida.

2. It doesn’t say how, but Jesus was able to get the crowds to go away so He could depart to a mountain, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, to pray. And I’m sure Jesus was not only praying for His men, but for this zealous crowd of people. Some from this crowd, in just a few days, would depart from Him. You see, they were not interested in the spiritual, but the political, and once they recognized His agenda they left Him. Jesus came to redeem unsaved man not to exalt him. But they were not interested in that aspect of Jesus’ ministry. And that is true of people today. They come to Jesus so He can lift them up, get them out of trouble, exalt them, but Jesus came to redeem them!

VERSES 47-48

1. As Jesus goes up on this mountain to pray, He see’s His men down below, and they are struggling, trying to cross over to Bethsaida, but there was a strong wind fighting against them. If it was night, which it was, how did Jesus see them? Remember, it was around the time of Passover, which took place on a full moon, so the light off the moon would be bright enough for Jesus to see them.

2. Now this must have been a long night for these guys on the boat. We are told the time frame now was around the fourth watch, which ran from 3 AM to 6 AM. And they were not afraid of the wind, it was just a lot of hard work on their part, and to their credit, they did not give up!

3. What was the problem here? Weren’t they being obedient to the Lord? Yes they were, the problem was they were trying to do this in their own strength, their own might, and they were getting nowhere! They had just seen Jesus feed some 10 to 20 thousand people, and yet, all 12 didn’t even think of praying, bringing this difficulty to Jesus. They decided to do it on their own, and it wasn’t working. And think about this for a minute, in the boat with them were 12 baskets of leftovers from the feeding of all those people. Thus, as they fought against this wind, they were missing the power of God that was displayed right before their eyes.

4. As you serve the Lord, you will encounter trials, difficult times. But they are there to teach us lessons of faith, to help us grow in the Lord. Think of it this way, if you don’t play baseball, you will never strike out, but you also won’t know the joy of hitting a home run! If you don’t serve Jesus you may escape some trials, but you will never experience eternal life with Him! It is your choice. These guys needed to look to Jesus as they were going through this storm, and the lesson for us is we must do the same, otherwise we will be rowing and going nowhere.

5. Trials or storms of life do serve several purposes in our life. They help to keep us on track. They help to keep us from worldliness. They get us to look to Jesus to be the strength of our life, to trust in Him more and more. In Isaiah 43:1-2 we read "But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you." In other words, the storms of life should not get the better of us if we look to Jesus, the one who will see us through these times and bring us to the other side.

6. Notice, these guys have been straining against the wind, working hard all night long and getting nowhere. Jesus came and He walks over their trials. I’m sure at this point these guys were beat, worn out, they were ready to give up, and here comes Jesus walking on the water as if it was nothing to Him. And it was nothing to Him! What is overwhelming to us, Jesus walks right over. It is as Job said in Job 9:8-11, "He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea; He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south; He does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without number. If He goes by me, I do not see Him; if He moves past, I do not perceive Him."

7. Now that phrase "would have passed them by" does not mean He was going to ignore their situation but He was going to pass beside them so they could see Him, and as we shall see, they are going to see Him and it will catch them by surprise!

VERSES 49:50a

1. Think about this picture that is being painted here. These guys are exhausted, going nowhere, but still trying to row, and here comes Jesus walking out to them on the water. The response of these big, strong men, was "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!" They screamed like girls, terrified because they thought they saw a ghost! Why weren’t they expecting Jesus? Because they were not praying, seeking God in the midst of this storm. So when He shows up it catches them by surprise!

2. In Isaiah 30:18 we read "Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him." These guys were wearing themselves out and God wanted to give them rest, grace, to meet their needs. All He wants us to do is to look to Him and wait for Him to come to our side in the midst of the storms of life.

3. Matthew gives us 4 more verses regarding this story that Mark doesn’t. And so lets pick up in Matthew chapter 4, beginning in verse 28, as Jesus walks out to these men on the Sea of Galilee. We read "And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:28-31.

It is easy to pick on Peter for his lack of faith, but he was the only one who took a step of faith out of that boat to come to Jesus. The other guys were watching, probably getting ready to throw in the life preserver to save Peter. And as Peter steps out of the boat, he begins to walk on the water, as his eyes were focused on Jesus. But, when the waves started to crash over his head, he realized he couldn’t walk on water, and he began to sink. Any time we take our eyes off of Jesus and place them upon the situation or circumstances we are in, we too will sink. For Peter, at least he was wise enough to call to the Lord of help, many today refuse to do that. And the Lord picked Peter up, and God will do the same to us if we call out to Him!

VERSES 50b-52

1. These guys must have been as white as ghosts because as soon as Jesus steps into the boat He tells them to "stop fearing." You see, fear is the opposite of faith! The problem was they didn’t learn the faith lessons Jesus was showing them as He fed all those people. Thus, if they recognized Jesus as God, if they looked to Him during these storms, they wouldn’t be afraid of Him walking on the water. And once they realized it was the Lord, they received Him gladly and gave Him the glory that is due His name. We see this in Matthew 14:33, which says "Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God."

2. In John 6:21 we are told, "Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going." The implication here is that as soon as Jesus got into the boat, the wind stopped and they were at their destination. If we allow the Lord to get on board in our life, the storm is over, no matter how strong the wind is blowing!

VERSE 53

1. Jesus brings them to the area of Gennesaret, not Bethsaida. Why? The next few verses will tell us.

VERSES 54-56

1. As soon as Jesus stepped out of the boat, the crowds recognized Him and came to Him to be healed, to touch Him. Now understand this, the healing was not effected by a touch but by the gracious action of Jesus who honored this means of expressing their faith in Him.

2. Also, Jesus is pouring Himself into these men who will carry on the work after He is gone. They needed to learn these lessons of faith, to look to Jesus to be the strength of their life and to ask Jesus to empower them for the work that was before them.

3. Let me leave you with these thoughts of what this story represents to us. "Jesus on the mountain represents Christ in His present ministry in heaven, interceding for His people. The disciples represents His servants, buffeted by the storms and trials of life. Soon the Savior will return to His own, deliver them from danger and distress and guide them safe to the heavenly shore." As I John 5:4 tells us, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith."