Everyone loves a party! And no one wants the party to end. There was a big party described in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 14. Jesus was teaching a large group on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. At evening Jesus instructed his disciples to feed the people. There were about five thousand men! What followed was a miracle of astounding power and subtlety. Calmly and with no fanfare the disciples handed out fish and bread to the entire multitude of people. We can only imagine the party that must have developed as food was provided – good food! – to the hungry masses as they watched this incredible miracle unfold before their eyes.
The disciples were in the center of the activity. They had the spotlight. It was a great time to be a disciple! Everyone liked and appreciated them, looking up to them as they administered the miracle. What a great time to be a follower of Jesus! Food, favor with the people, respect, serving the Lord Jesus, Everything was going good!
Then Jesus MADE his disciples get in the boat! Matthew 14:22 says something interesting, “Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds.” He MADE them – because they did not want to go! They wanted to stay at the party where they were the center of attention! Can we blame them? They were forced to leave the greatest beach party ever – at the height of enjoyment.
In obedience, the disciples followed the instructions of Jesus – undoubtedly with much grumbling and resentment. As Jesus stayed back with the crowd the disciples sailed straight into a storm and their boat was beaten by the waves. The wind was against them as they strained against the oars to keep the boat upright. I am certain the grumbling against Jesus increased as this storm threatened their safety and they thought about Jesus back on shore with the crowd. They did not realize that they were EXACTLY where they needed to be! After all, Jesus put them there!
Jesus did not abandon His disciples. He showed up in the midst of the storm in a manner that none of the disciples could have imagined. They thought they saw a ghost, or an evil spirit because Jesus came to them walking on the water! When Jesus reached the boat He calmed the storm and proved that all power and authority belonged to Him, whether physical or spiritual, seen or unseen. Jesus showed dominion over ALL.
The Lord Jesus wanted to reveal His power to his disciples as well as teach them a valuable lesson in the school of discipleship. The miracles he planned to show them required a storm. The lesson He wanted to teach them answers the question, “Will you follow Me only when the party is going well, or will you also follow Me when the storm is raging?” In the boat after Jesus calmed the storm some of the disciples worshiped Him saying “Truly you are the Son of God.” However, some of the disciples missed the miracles and the entire lesson! In the Gospel of Mark 6:52, it describes the reaction of some other disciples in the boat. “…they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened!” They were still angry with Jesus for making them leave the party and allowing them to suffer in the storm!
It is easy to follow Jesus when everything is going well and the party is in full swing.
But what do we do when the party is over?
What do we do when it is not fun anymore?
How do we react when we get no respect, people yell at us, our finances evaporate, our health diminishes, our job is gone, and someone we love passes away?
When the storm rages around us, when we are exhausted and the wind is against us, when tears come to replace the laughter, and hope feels like a thing of the past, What will we do?
Will we kneel before Jesus and say “Truly You are the Son of God.”
Or will we be angry with Jesus for the pain and suffering? Will our hearts become hard?
Don’t miss the miracles! Jesus does His most amazing and powerful miracles in the middle of the storm. Watch for Him. He may show up in a manner you never imagined! Jesus may walk into your life in a way you are not prepared for so He can show you personally His power and authority over all things. He may bring healing, or He may bring a friend. Jesus may heal a relationship, or build a new one where there was none. He may bring you to a new level of faith. Our Lord Jesus may pour out his awesome peace and comfort as you deal with a terrible loss or heartbreaking trial.
Jesus does not abandon His disciples. If the storm is beating against you as it rages in full fury throughout the world, do not harden your heart. Watch for Jesus! He promised to never leave or forsake us. He may not show up in the way we ask Him to, but our God is faithful. The Lord Jesus already suffered and died on the cross for us, and then He rose from the dead in triumphant victory! He will not abandon us now!
God now has the attention of the entire world. How will we react?
“Jesus, Truly You are the Son of God!”
Pastor Paul Sandberg