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Now when evening came, His
disciples went down to the sea,  and after getting into a boat, they
started to cross the sea to Capernaum. And it had already become dark,
and Jesus had not yet come to them.  And the sea began to be stirred
up because a strong wind was blowing.  When therefore they had rowed
about three or four miles, they beheld Jesus walking on the sea and drawing
near to the boat; and they were frightened.  But He said to them, "It
is I; do not be afraid."  They were willing therefore to receive Him
into the boat; and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were
This miracle also appears
in the gospel of Mark (6:47-52) and in the gospel of Matthew (14:24-33).
Both gospels contribute to a better understanding of what took place. Mark's
gospel explains why they were afraid when they saw Jesus walking on the
water-they thought he was a ghost. Matthew, on the other hand gives a much
fuller picture of the event.
In Mark's as in John's version,
Jesus identified himself by saying, "It is I; do not be afraid," and the
disciples calmed down and welcomed Jesus in the boat. Matthew gives additional
information. "And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command
me to come to You on the water." (Matthew 14:28 NASB)
Peter's fear of the voice
on the water was so deep that he would rather go to the voice, even if
it meant leaving the safety of the boat, than to let the person in the
boat with them. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to take my chances
letting someone in the boat with me than to step out of the boat on a stormy
But not Peter. Why?
Well, the text already answers
that question-he was afraid. It doesn't say he was rational, it says he
was afraid. Is fear ever rational?
Well, yes. It is rational
to be afraid to jump off a bridge with nothing but a bungee cord tied to
your feet. It is irrational, not to be afraid.
As Matthew's version of the
miracle goes, Peter stepped out onto the water and began to walk toward
Jesus, but when he became aware of his fears again, his faith flickered
and he began to sink into the water. In a moment of sheer desperation,
he cried out, "Lord save me." (Matt. 14:30) Though his faith flickered,
it didn't fail him, and neither did Jesus. Jesus reached out His hand and
John gives a much shorter
version of the miracle. Peter, the star of Matthew's version, isn't even
mentioned by John. Why? I believe it is because the drama of Peter's encounter
with Jesus would muddle his point rather than illustrate it.
The story of Peter walking
on the water is powerful. It dramatically illustrates the Yo-Yo syndrome.
You know, the struggle every Christian faces between fear and faith and
between following Christ and forsaking Him. In one moment, we shudder with
fear, the next we stand tall in faith. One moment we are willing to do
whatever it takes to serve the Lord, the next we count the personal costs
and say they are too high. Maybe John didn't include this part of the story
because he didn't want his message to get lost in the illustration.
What was his message?
Good question. To understand
his point, read what precedes the text that caused Jesus to take such an
unusual form of transportation. But before we read John 6:15, though, I
want you to notice something else.
When you read John 6:16-21,
do you sense a sort of matter-of-fact tone to the text. Though this was
one of the miracles, or signs as John calls them, in his gospel, he doesn't
refer to it as a sign. It is almost as if he only included it to explain
how Jesus got from one side of the sea, a body of water that was 6 miles
wide and 16 miles long, (Calvin, V. XVII, p. 236) to the other. The miraculous
aspect of what took place was almost assumed. It certainly wasn't trumpeted.
Why? John's focus at this point of His gospel was to underscore the mission
of Jesus, not to recount the details of one of the miracles of Jesus. Remember,
John weaves miracles in his text to serve as a signpost that points the
reader to Jesus as the Savior.
Chapter 6, verse 15 explains
why Jesus separated Himself from the disciples and walked on the water
: "Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take
Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself
alone." (John 6:15 )
Jesus had no political ambitions.
His only desire was to complete the mission the Father sent Him on. He
did not come to be popular or to make people's lives easier, He came to
be the Savior of the world.
The next time Jesus saw the
crowd, he scolded them for focusing on the loaves he fed 5000 of them with
and encouraged them to feed their faith, not their bellies. He made it
crystal clear that he would not vary from his mission.
It was his mission that was
important. Not the approval of men, or the power of leadership or the prestige
of popularity. He had a mission and he was determined to complete it.
Today we ordain two of our
men to the ministry of the deacon. We are proud to give you your start
in this ministry. Our church has a rich heritage of selecting, ordaining
and training men for this unique ministry. Because both of you are military
men, we know our time with you will be short and that other churches will
reap most of the benefit of the training we give you. What we do today,
we do not do out of selfishness, we do it to prepare you to help change
the world and make a difference in churches where you will serve.
One thing we do ask of you,
however, as the church that gives you your start in this ministry, and
that is, never forget your mission. You are a servant that comes along
side your pastor to serve Christ by ministering to your church and your
You are not a ruler, a supervisor
or a politician. Your office is higher than that. You are called by God
to be a servant. Don't ever let a church or your own ego derail you from
that mission. Like Jesus, do whatever you have to do to stay on mission.