- Sermon Notes
These verses in John 6 are about a storm that God uses in the lives of the disciples. The Sea of Galilee is famous for the storms that come suddenly as the wind, coming off of the Mediterranean, sweeps across the plateau and then bears down against the steep cliffs of the Golan Heights forcing the wind down upon the sea, roiling the waves into a cauldron of wind and waves.
Here we are late in June and if you’re like me, you’ve been complaining about the weather we’ve been having lately. But then when we read in the news about the tornadoes in Oklahoma or the hurricanes forming off the coast of Florida, it makes us appreciate what we have in Oregon.
But you never know when storms will come. When I read about the tornadoes in Oklahoma I thought about how fortunate we are that we don’t get tornadoes here. But then I was shocked to hear that three tornadoes touched down in McMinnville and that a funnel cloud passed over Hillsboro.
There are many ways that storms can come into our lives. There are literal storms, but there are also storms that come in relationships, or financial difficulties, or legal troubles, or challenges with health, or the unexpected death of someone near to you, or troubles in the lives of our children, or getting laid off from work or conflicts with people around you.
There are two types of people in this world. Those who are going through a storm; and those who will be going to a storm.
An extremely important lesson we see in the scriptures is that God uses storms to increase our faith and transform our lives. We could call them “perfecting storms.”
There are things you can learn from a storm that you can learn from nowhere else.
I. God will send us into Storms
- In Matthew’s gospel we read that He made the disciples get into the boat. It might be more accurate to say, “He compelled them to get into the boat.” That is a much stronger word
- Knowing the background to the story is helpful to understand what’s happening here. Jesus has just done the greatest miracle of His ministry by feeding the 5,000, but then the situation changed dramatically. Jesus perceived they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king.
- The Jews were looking for someone to lead a revolt against Rome, and who better to lead them than this man who clearly moved in the power of God.
- He also knew that the disciples wanted positions of power and might well have been in agreement in wanting to make Him king. It would not have been good for them to stay and so Jesus compelled them to get into the boat.
- It’s also important to know that Jesus knew He was sending them into the teeth of a storm. But there are things you can learn from the storm that you can learn from nowhere else.
A. You have an advocate with the Father
- From verse 15 we know that after Jesus sent the disciples into the boat, He then withdrew to the mountain by Himself alone. From Matthew we know that he spent that time in prayer with His Father.
- If you ever wondered why prayer is important all you have to do is to look at the example of Jesus.
- The disciples saw the relationship Jesus had with His Father and could see that prayer was an intimate aspect of that relationship. In fact, at one point they said, “Teach us to pray.”
- What did He pray? I’m convinced that one aspect of His prayer was to enjoy the intimacy of His relationship with His Father.
- But we also know that another aspect of the prayers of Jesus is to intercede for us; in our behalf.
Romans 8:34, Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
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.
- From the gospel of Mark we read that Jesus saw them toiling, straining at the oars, for the wind was against them.
- I’m 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’re going through a storm.
Illus- Our kids know that we pray for all of them regularly. It’s a great encouragement for them to know that their parents are praying and interceding. How much more encouraging is it to know that Jesus Himself is praying and interceding in your behalf? Which reminds me; our son is being deployed to Afghanistan. Please remember him in your prayers.
Illus - Before Jesus was arrested, He warned Peter that Peter was about to go through a terrible personal storm, but then told him that He had prayed for him.
Luke 22:31, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to see if 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.”
- There is a doctrine which says that if you have enough faith everything will go well in your life. You always prosper. You’ll never be sick, etc.
- Some even go so far as to accuse others who are going through a storm by saying, “The reason you’re suffering is because you lack faith.”
- But did Jesus send them into the storm because they lacked the faith to avoid it? Impossible. They were sent into the storm because some lessons can only be learned in storms. One key lesson of faith is that He is Lord in the midst of the storm.
John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
- Someone might say, “It’s difficult being in the will of God if it means we may go through a storm.” But you know what’s more difficult than being in the will of God? It’s being out of the will of God.
- God gives us truths and principles for life in the Word of God, but when we actually live them, we learn them in a completely different way.
- At the end of this storm, the disciples looked at Jesus and said, “You are certainly God’s Son!” That’s the first time they make such a declaration; they were growing in faith and learning that He was greater than any storm.
C. God uses storms for good
- There are some storms people bring on themselves. These are storms that come out of disobedience.
Illus - Probably the best biblical example of that would be Jonah. God told him to go to Nineveh to call them to repentance. Jonah didn’t like the Assyrian people and knew that God would forgive them, so he went to the port of Joppa instead and booked passage on a ship that was going in the opposite direction. But they sailed into a fierce storm that threatened to destroy them. Jonah brought this storm on himself.
- There are plenty of examples people can relate to. Someone lies or cheats or is unfaithful to their spouse and gets caught. They will then face a storm which they brought on themselves.
- There are other storms that come because of obedience. Daniel would be an example. Joseph would certainly be another example.
- God’s intent is not to make us comfortable, but to transform us into the image of His Son.
Illus - When I was going through Bible school I was asked by my former partner to take a year off to help open a restaurant. It seemed like an opportunity to make extra money and have life be easier. But a friend’s counsel opened my eyes. “Maybe God doesn’t want your life to be easier.”
II. Lessons for Going through a Storm
- This storm was a significant part of their growing in faith and trusting in Him. What they learned here would help them through every other storm in their lives.
- We also need to learn how to go through storms ourselves. These things were written for our example and instruction to increase our faith as well.
A. Be faithful to what God asked you to do
- The disciples were headed west, but the storm had blown in off the Mediterranean so they were heading straight into the storm.
- Matthew tells us that Jesus came to them in the fourth watch of the night, walking on the sea. That means they were pulling on those oars for 9 to 12 hours.
- Logic would say, “Give in to the storm; cut and run. Turn around and let the storm take you wherever it will.”
- But Jesus had instructed them to go to the other side. You have to give them credit for being faithful to what Jesus told them to do.
- When it comes to storms, the most important thing we’ll ever learn is that God blesses faithfulness.
Illus - When Job had gone through one storm after another, his wife finally said to him, no doubt in exasperation...
Job 2:9-10, Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “… Shall we indeed accept good from God and not adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
B. Give fear an answer
- When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.
- We can all understand fear. The New Testament had not yet been written, so they didn’t know how this was going to turn out. But Jesus gave their fear an answer, “I am; do not be afraid.”
- Fear comes out of the question, “what if.” What if I lose my job, my house or my health? What if my spouse leaves me? What if I can’t pay my bills?
- The answer to fear is this, “I am; do not be afraid.” “I am” is the name of God. It literally means, all that I am I will be to you. What a great answer to fear.
Hebrews 13:5-6, He Himself has said, “I will never leave 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?”
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.
C. God can also use failure
- From Matthew’s gospel we know that Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said, “Come!”
- Seeing the wind, Peter became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord save me!” Jesus reached out and took hold of Peter, saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” If Peter had little faith, what did the other disciples have?
- The failure here is that Peter took his eyes off of the Lord, saw the storm, and began to sink. But this is what we might call a “great failure.” He ventured out, he did it, he trusted with some faith.
- Failure is not always bad. Einstein failed at math. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team. Lincoln failed at almost everything.
- Have you taken your eyes off of Him? Have you begun to sink? It’s not too late. Call out to Him.
Psalm 138:7, Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me, and Your right hand will save me.
John 6:15-21 NASB