- Sermon Notes
Strengthened by the Storm
1.There are two types of people in this world. Those who are going through a storm and those who will be going through a storm!
2.Jesus warned in John 16:33, “In the world you have tribulation”.
3.“Tribulation” or storms can take many forms. There are literal storms, but there are also storms that come in relationships or financial difficulties, legal problems or health issues, the expected or unexpected death of someone near to you. There are troubles in the lives of our children, getting laid off at work, or even storms related to following Jesus and serving His people.
4.Fortunately, there is more to John 16:33, for Jesus concluded by promising, “…but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
5.Tonight, as we study Matthew 14, we will discover how we can be strengthened, by the storms of this life.
1.The reactions to Jesus’ ministry are a story of extreme extremes.
2.We noted last week, that while Jesus was rejected by the religious and political establishments, His popularity among the common people was booming. In fact, Jesus and the apostles were so busy that Mark wrote “they did not even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:31)
3.So, Jesus invited the disciples to get away for a retreat, to be refreshed so that He might prepare them for His departure; His death, burial, and resurrection.
4. But as they were sailing on the Sea of Galilee, the crowds were watching from the shoreline so that they might meet Jesus when He came to shore.
5.Once Jesus and the apostles landed, a huge crowd greeted them in that remote location. The disciples asked Jesus to send the crowd, over 15,000, away to find food since they did not have the means to feed so many.
6.To their surprise, Jesus commanded them to give the people something to eat! Then He took the five barley loaves and two fish, the lunch a poor boy volunteered, and after giving thanks to the Father, began filling the apostles’ baskets full of bread and fish so that they could feed the crowd. All ate, all were satisfied, and there were twelve baskets of leftovers, one for each apostle.
Transition – That brings us to a new scene in Matthew 14, where the apostles were alone in a boat and Jesus was in prayer on a mountain, when a storm hits. When storms hit, remember that…
I. You are not Alone
- In verse 22, we’re told that Jesus made the apostles get into the boat. Literally, “He compelled them to get into the boat.”
- I’m sure the apostles did not want to leave Him, they were supposed to have a retreat, to be alone, and get refreshed.
- But from the Gospel of John we discover there was another issue in the mix. We read that Jesus also sent the crowd away because they were intending to take Him by force and make Him king. (John 6:15).
- The Jews were looking for someone to lead a revolt against Rome, and who better to lead them than this man who filled their bellies with bread and fish and clearly moved in God’s power.
Warren Wiersbe, “Men will follow anyone who promises them the material things of life, but Jesus will not have ‘bread and butter’ disciples.”
- Jesus also knew that His apostles wanted positions of power and might have agreed with the crowd in making Jesus king. So, He was protecting them from
- Jesus had something much more important to accomplish than overthrowing Rome; the overthrowing of sin and death and the establishing of an eternal
kingdom with redeemed people serving as its citizens.
- So, Jesus compelled the crowd to go away and also compelled His apostles to get into the boat.
- Did Jesus know that He was sending His disciples into the eye of a storm? Of course! He knows all. But there are things that you can learn from a storm that you cannot learn anywhere else.
A. Jesus is praying for you
1.In verse 23, Jesus went up to the mountain by Himself to pray; it was evening.
2.If you ever wondered why prayer is important all you have to do is look at Jesus’ example.
3.The disciples saw the relationship Jesus had with the Father, the intimacy that came through prayer. In fact, at one point they said, “Teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1)
4.In addition to enjoying the presence of His Father, Jesus also prayed for His disciples.
APPL – Jesus prays for us too!
Hebrews 7:25, Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
5.From Mark’s Gospel, we read that Jesus saw them “straining at the oars, for the wind was against them”. (Mark 6:48)
APPL – I am convinced that as Jesus saw them straining at the oars, He would have been praying for them. What an encouragement to know that Jesus is praying for you when you are going through a storm.
ILLUS – I am truly blessed to know that my wife is a woman of prayer!
ILLUS – Before Jesus was arrested, He warned Peter that he was about to go through a terrible personal storm, but then He sought to reassure Peter…
Luke 22:31-32, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
B.God has a purpose in life’s storms
1.There is a teaching which says that if you have enough faith everything will go well in your life. You will always prosper. You will never get sick!
2.Some even go so far as to say that if you go through a storm it is because you don’t have enough faith.
3.But did Jesus send them into the storm because they lacked the faith to avoid it? No! They were sent into the storm because some lessons can only be learned in storms.
APPL – So, what is God’s purpose in the storms of life?
The Bible reveals there are three kinds of storms.
- Correcting Storms: Some storms people bring on themselves. God uses correcting storms to “correct” the course of our lives. Jonah ran from God’s purpose and calling so God sent a storm along with a big fish!
Protecting Storms: God uses protecting storms to keep us from stumbling into something that could be detrimental to our faith and witness in Christ. The Apostle Paul is an example of this. In 2 Corinthians 12, we’re told that Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him from exalting himself because of the revelations he had received.
Perfecting Storms: Matthew 14 is an example of a perfecting storm because the Lord allowed His disciples to go through a storm in order to increase their understanding of who Jesus is, which ultimately increased their faith and gave them peace.
APPL – Someone might say, “It’s difficult being in the will of God if it means I have to go through a storm.”
But you know what is more difficult than being in the will of God?
It’s being out of the will of God!
APPL – You see, God uses storms for good.
ILLUS – Joseph understood this to be so…
Genesis 45:7-8, God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. It was not you who sent me here, but God.
APPL – God’s goal is not to make us comfortable, but to transform us into the image of His Son.
Romans 8:28-29, We know that God causes all things to work together for good… For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.
Transition – Next, when you are in the middle of a storm, purpose in your heart to…
II. Be a Student in the Storm
- This storm was a significant part of their learning to trust in Jesus. What they learned would help them through future storms.
- We also need to learn how to go through storms. These things were written for our example and instruction to increase our faith.
- Therefore, we must be intentional when it comes to storms. To be students in the storms of life, so that we may learn all that God wants to do in us and through us.
A.Be faithful to do what God asks you to do
1.The apostles were headed west, but the storm had blown in from the Mediterranean Sea, so they were rowing straight into the storm.
2.Then we’re told that Jesus came to them during the fourth watch (3am – 6am), walking on the sea. This means they had been straining at the oars for nine to twelve hours!
3.It would have been easy for them to justify a “cut bait” response, to turn around and let the storm take them wherever it wanted.
4.But Jesus had commanded them to go ahead of Him to the other side. We must give them credit for being faithful to Jesus’ command.
APPL – When it comes to storms, one of the things that I have learned is that God blesses faithfulness.
- I cannot control what other people do.
- I cannot control what life will bring.
- But I can control what I do!
1 Corinthians 4:2, In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.
B. Look for Jesus in the storm
1.The apostles were off course and about 3 to 3.5 miles from where they had left Jesus.
2.When they saw Jesus walking on the water, they did not recognize Him, but thought He was a ghost.
3.Why didn’t they recognize Jesus? Because they weren’t looking for Him!
APPL – Storms can take our eyes off Jesus if we let them.
Where there is fear, there isn’t faith.
Where there is fear, there is blindness; meaning we can’t see what Jesus is doing or remain confident that He is with us, that He will meet us at the right time!
APPL - But if they had been looking for Jesus, their prayers would have been different.
APPL – If they had been looking for Jesus, they would not have cried out in fear but would have rejoiced and said, “We knew You would come!”
2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJV)
4.Jesus immediately and graciously answered their fear and said, ““Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (27)
5.In the Greek, Jesus literally said, “I am!”
a.This is the answer to our fears. “I am” for “I am” is the name of God (Exodus 3:14).
b.It literally means, “all that I am, I will be to you.” What a great answer to our fears!
Hebrews 13:5-6, He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
C. Keep your eyes on Jesus in the storm
1.Peter then answered the Lord and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (28)
a.Peter used a special Greek word, which literally means, “Bid me to come.”
b.This word was only used by those in the presence of a king, requesting permission.
c.Peter recognized Jesus as Lord and King!
2.It’s also important to note that the little word “if” can also mean “because” or “since”.
a.In other words, Peter was saying, “because it is You, bid me to come.”
b.Peter was not saying, “if it is really You, then prove it!”
3.Jesus invited Peter to “Come!”
APPL – This is also an important aspect of faith. We don’t command God to prove who He is. God is the One who gives the command. Yes, we have authority, but only under His authority!
4.The amazing thing is that Peter got out of the boat! Only two people in history have walked on water, Jesus and Peter!
APPL – Where were the other eleven? Why were they content to remain in the boat? Since it was Jesus, couldn’t He sustain all twelve on the water at the same time?
Don’t be content to watch others step out in faith!
Get out of the boat when Jesus calls you to do so!
5.Before Peter left the safety of the boat, he did not ask Jesus to make the water calm; the water was still churning with waves because of the wind!
6.Peter started out with “great” faith but ended with “little faith”.
7.Seeing the wind and the waves, Peter became afraid, and began to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me!”
8.Jesus quickly reached out His hand and took hold of Peter. Then He said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
9.Peter failed when he took his eyes off Jesus. He focused on the storm and began to sink.
APPL – The lesson for us all is to keep our eyes on Jesus in the storm.
Hebrews 10:23, Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
10.Jesus and Peter got into the boat and then two more miracles happened: the storm stopped, and their boat immediately went to the intended destination. (Mark 6:51, John 6:21)
APPL – Through the storm, the apostles learned and declared that Jesus is God’s Son. There was only one right response, to worship Jesus, and they did. (33)
APPL – Have you taken your eyes off Jesus?
Do you feel overwhelmed by life, like you are sinking under the weight of the storms of life?
It’s not too late. Call out to Jesus!
Psalm 138:7, Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me, and Your right hand will save me.
Matthew 14:22-36 NASB