- 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 storms that come suddenly as 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 upon the sea, roiling the waves into a storm cauldron of wind and waves.
If you’re like me, maybe you’ve been complaining about the weather we’ve had this winter. But then you read in the news about the serious storms in other parts of the country and it makes you appreciate what we have in Oregon.
You never know when storms will come. You read about tornadoes in Oklahoma and across the Midwest and then I think about how fortunate we are we don’t have tornadoes here. But I was shocked to hear about the tornadoes that touched down last year in Manzanita creating serious damage and several touching down just west of Hillsboro.
There are many ways storms can come into our lives. Of course, 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 sudden and unexpected death of someone you love, or troubles in the lives of your 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 through 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 learn from a storm that you can learn from nowhere else.
I. God will send us into Storms
- In Matthew’s account of the story, 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,” which is a much stronger word.
- It’s helpful to know the background of this story. Jesus had just completed the greatest miracle of His ministry by feeding a crowd of 5,000 with five small loaves of barley and two small fish.
- But after the meal, 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 than Jesus, a 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, so Jesus compelled them to get into the boat.
- It’s also important to see that Jesus knew He was sending them into the teeth of a storm.
- There are things you can learn from a 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 wonder why prayer is so 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 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 knew that we prayed for all of them. It was a great encouragement for them to know that their parents were praying and interceding. How much more encouraging is it to know that Jesus Himself is praying and interceding in your behalf?
Illus - Before Jesus was arrested, He warned Peter that Peter was about to go through a terrible personal storm, but He had prayed for him.
Luke 22:31, “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. Some lessons can only be learned in storms
- 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, saying, “The reason you’re suffering is because you lack faith.”
- 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, “Man, it’s difficult being in the will of God if it means you have to 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 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 certain 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 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 many 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 one example. Joseph would certainly be another...
- 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. What we learn in a storm will help us in every storm we face in the future.
A. Be faithful to what God asked you to do
- The disciples were headed west, but the storm had blown in from the Mediterranean so they were heading straight into the teeth of 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 - Job had gone through one storm after another, but finally, in exasperation...
Job 2:9-10, 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.” In other words, it’s a failure he can learn from. He ventured out, he did it, he trusted with some faith.
- Failure is not always bad. Einstein couldn’t even speak fluently until he was nine. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he started. Walt Disney was once fired for not being creative enough. Lincoln failed at almost everything, that is, until he was elected President of the United States.
- Have you taken your eyes off of Jesus? 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