John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 6:16-21

Let’s pray before we get started…

Father,

Thank You for this time again in Your Word. As we look at this story of this sudden storm that comes upon the disciples, may it bring comfort and some type of explanation to those of us that may be suffering hardship.  Lord we know that You and You alone are in control and that we know that everything works out according to Your purpose. Bless this time in Your Word, make it fruitful by opening up our hearts to what You want to reveal to us through it. Father, we put aside all distractions and our hearts and minds are open to hear what You have to say to us. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In the saving name of Jesus Christ we pray…Amen!

When I was a kid, I was terrified of storms, thunderstorms mainly. This fear carried into my teen years. We had moved into a three story house and my room was on, you guessed it, the third floor! LOL! We didn’t exactly live in a tornado prone area but one could hit, they can hit anywhere given the right kind of conditions, but thunderstorms during tornado watches made my hair stand on end…especially late at night when I was in my third floor bedroom! LOL! I pictured myself being carried away to the land of Oz like Dorothy! LOL! It didn’t help any that my mom was absolutely terrified of storms and I think she helped solidify that fear in all of us kids in a way. I decided to begin studying storms and tornadoes, what causes them, and to make a long story short, overcame my fear.

The “storms” in our lives are the same way. They are frightening and we can’t wait for them to end but when you come to learn who is in ultimate control of them, Jesus, it helps us get through those hard times in life. No matter how hot the fire that we are thrown into, Jesus has His hand on the thermostat. I believe this to be true for not only believers but also for unbelievers as well. As the famous saying goes…this too shall pass.

What we have here in Chapter 6 is an actual storm that the disciples have to deal with but there is also some life application and a truth that might make some of you a little uncomfortable. Besides this passage in John, we will also be looking at a similar passage in Chapter 6 in Mark and also looking briefly at the Book of Job so put bookmarks there. Unlike the last couple of posts where we looked at large passages, this passage is short only 6 verses but there is a wealth of information in them so let’s get started. As always, the text link and the audio for the entire chapter are included so you can follow along.

John 6

Let’s look at the passage that we will be studying for this post…

(16) Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,  (17)  got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.  (18)  Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.  (19)  So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.  (20)  But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”  (21)  Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. … John 6:16-21 NKJV

This story is told in all four of the Gospels. What John doesn’t talk about in his version, is covered in the other versions. The only other one that we will be looking at in detail is found in Mark 6 so we will be flipping back and forth between the two and we will also be looking at a small part of Matthew’s version along with parts of the Book of Job. Let’s look at the passage more closely now…

vv 16-17 – (16) Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,  (17)  got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.

This takes place right after Jesus feeds the thousands of people on the mountain. We know this because of what Mark writes about in his version…

(45) Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. … Mark 6:45 NKJV

The people were following Jesus but for the wrong reasons. They wanted to make Him a king to free them from the Romans going back to John and verse 15…

(15) Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. … John 6:15 NKJV

Before you say, “Aha there’s a contradiction here!”, there is no contradiction. It’s just a different interpretation or perception of the facts. By what Mark writes, he is trying to make a point which I’ll get to in a minute. When the disciples get into the boat and sail off, it is dark and Jesus had not come to them. Where was He? He was up on the mountain praying. We know this from what Mark writes in verse 46…

(46) And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. … Mark 6:46 NKJV

This passage in John that we are looking at is the picture of the Christian life and in a way, life in general for us all not just believers but unbelievers as well. The darkness represents what it is like on the stormy sea of life. The darkness in a believers life is the turmoil that we go through when we experience trouble in our lives and we think that Jesus is not with us. However, I believe that the darkness can also represent the absence of Christ in an unbeliever’s life. Either way, I believe that Jesus prays for us all not just believers but also unbelievers as well. Jesus may not be physically on the scene but He knows what is going on in our lives and He is praying for us or interceding for us. In Luke, Jesus tells Peter…

(31) And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. (32) But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” … Luke 22:31-32 NKJV

In Hebrews it says…

(25) Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. … Hebrews 7:25 NKJV

So no matter what we are faced with in life, Jesus is praying for us moving on now…

vv 18-19 – (18) Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. (19) So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.

I’ve never been out on the water in a storm but I’ve seen enough films and footage of boats caught in storms to know that it can’t be pleasant. It’s been said that when you get caught in a storm on a boat, you can become very disoriented. The text says that the sea arose. Notice the word arose. The Greek word for it is diegeirō. The word means to suddenly arouse like waking someone up who has been sleeping. In other words, the sea went from from a dead calm to a raging sea with huge waves at the snap of a finger. Apparently, the Sea of Galilee gets these sudden storms where the winds will sweep down from the mountains and whip up the waves. The disciples had rowed about three or four miles from shore and, from a human standpoint, were in grave danger. Looking at verse 47 of Mark Chapter 6…

(47) Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. … Mark 6:47 NKJV

Here’s an interesting question…did Jesus know there would be a storm? The answer is yes He did! He not only knew that there would be a storm but, going back to verse 45 of Mark 6, the text says…

(45) Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. … Mark 6:45 NKJV

See that? Jesus made them get into the boat! The King Jimmie version uses the word constrained. It is the Greek word anagkazō. It means to compel or to force. He commanded them to get into the boat knowing full well what was in store for them. When Jesus goes back up the mountain and begins praying, He is praying for the disciples safety and He is also praying for the strengthening of their faith. The disciples were facing a literal storm but there is life application here as well. When we come to Christ, there is an overwhelming belief that there are no more troubles and that our lives become smooth sailing. In fact, there is a belief that if you do have any kind of adversity whatsoever, it is because your faith is not strong enough or you lack it completely. News flash…that is a bunch of bologna! A life that is full of nothing but blessings and good times is not much of a life at all! Hard times in our lives build character and the Lord knows this too. Like it or not, sometimes the Lord will throw adversity our way to do just that…build character. Job is a good example. Remember him? Job was the richest man. In one day, he lost all of his livestock, his help, his house, and even his offspring and eventually, his health. Who caused all of this? It was actually God. Turn to Chapter 1 in the Book of Job and down to verse 6…

(6) Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.  (7)  And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”  (8)  Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”  (9)  So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?  (10)  Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  (11)  But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”  (12)  And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. … Job 1:6-12 NKJV

Over to Chapter 2 and we see the same thing again…

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. (2) And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” (3) Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (4) So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. (5) But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (6) And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.” … Job 2:1-6 NKJV

I covered this in the study of Job. Satan may have caused these misfortunes but God allows it and notice that God has full control over the situation at all times. In both of these instances, Satan was on a leash and not allowed to go any further than God allowed him to. Why did God allow this to happen to Job? Because a faith that is not tested is not worth anything. Adversity not only tests faith but it also builds perseverance and character. After Job quits complaining to his friends, and his friends insult him by saying it’s all his fault that he has this misfortune (great friends huh?!), Job comes to realize this…

(23) But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. … Job 23:10 NKJV

So here’s the takeaway before we move on…be careful of the attitude you have when faced with hardship. This is when you become the most vulnerable to walk away from Christ. I know this firsthand having did the same myself when I was younger. In Hebrews, it says…

(5) And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “MY SON, DO NOT DESPISE THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD, NOR BE DISCOURAGED WHEN YOU ARE REBUKED BY HIM; (6) FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” … Hebrews 12:5-6 NKJV

Any parent that does not discipline their child is not a good parent and we see the results of the lack of discipline of children in our nation today. We have nothing but a bunch of whining. spoiled adults who think they should have anything they want! God is a loving parent and He disciplines us and tests us. He loves us too much to leave us the way we are! It’s hard to have this attitude when we are going through hardship but we must have faith and ask ourselves what we can learn from the adversity and not so much looking for a way out of it and always remember that the Lord has His hand on that thermostat and comes to us in His timing. Going back to verse 19 of John Chapter 6, it says that the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat. Jesus did not come to them immediately when the storm hit. He waited. In Mark 6, Mark says….

(48) Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. … Mark 6:48 NKJV

The night was divided into four watches. Watch number one was from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Watch number two, 9:00 pm to midnight. Watch number three is from midnight to 3:00 am and finally watch number four is from 3:00 am until 6:00 am. So Jesus probably put the disciples into the boat around sunset and they got hit by the storm probably around 9:00 pm when they were three or four miles away from shore and too late and too far to turn back so the disciples were stuck out there for hours before Jesus comes to them. The text says He (Jesus) saw them straining at rowing. It is humanly impossible for anyone to see anything or anyone three or four miles away even if you are standing on top of a mountain without some type of magnifying device such as binoculars or a telescope. Let’s not forget, there is a raging storm going on as well which cuts down the visibility even more. Ever been driving during a heavy windblown downpour of rain? You can’t even see the car in front of you let alone three or four miles away. You can see quite clearly that far away though if you are God and this proves again that Jesus was and is indeed God! Further proof that Jesus is God, He came to the disciples walking on the sea. All four of the Gospel accounts of this record this fact. Jesus comes to the disciples at the last possible moment when they are exhausted and can’t row anymore. This is much like it is when we are faced with some kind of trial or tribulation. When we think that we are at the end of our rope and can’t take anymore, Jesus comes and “rescues” us but His aid is conditional. Let’s look at the rest of this passage in John. …

vv 20-21 – (20)  But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”  (21)  Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

Notice what the disciples do when they know that it is Jesus…they willingly received Him into the boat. It was like “Thank you Jesus! Welcome aboard!”. The best thing that you can do when faced with storms in life is to welcome Jesus into your life and keep your eyes focused on Him! There’s a little detail that John omits from his account of this event which involves Peter. Turn to Matthew 8 and down to verse 25…

(25) Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. (26) And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (28) And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (29) So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. (30) But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (31) And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (32) And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. (33) Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” … Matthew 14:25-33 NKJV

I found it rather odd that John omits this considering throughout his Gospel, when you read it, you get the idea there was a friendly rivalry between John and Peter and John takes “jabs” at Peter throughout it but for some reason, he left this out. The point is that Peter was fine as long as he kept his eyes on the Lord. When he took his eyes off of Him and paid more attention to the storm, that’s when he began sinking into the water. When we begin to focus more on the situation that we are in rather than fixing our focus on Jesus, we too will “sink”! Notice that Jesus immediately solves the problem when He shows up. John says at the end of verse immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. Not only was the storm gone but it would seem like Jesus whisked them away and onto dry land. 

So in closing, here’s the takeaways from this passage. Life is full of adversity whether we cause it or not, whether we are believers or not. Life is unpredictable. We can make plans in life and it’s good to make plans but just remember that God has editing rights. There’s this bumper sticker that many people have. I’m sure you have heard of this saying before. The sticker says…”God is my co-pilot”. With all due respect if you have one, you might want to get rid of it. God is not your co-pilot…He is the pilot! Honestly, you are not even in the cockpit! You are back in coach! LOL! The disciples went on a boat ride that they weren’t expecting put there by Jesus who knew exactly what would be happening. As the disciples were sailing along, a sudden storm arose. As we are sailing along in life, sudden “storms” are going to come our way too. The important thing is when those “storms” do arise, that we do the most important thing…get Jesus into the boat! Is He in yours? Let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You for all the blessings that you bestow on us and our families. We thank You even for the trials and tribulations, those sudden “storms”, that make us better and stronger individuals. Father, we pray not for lesser storms but for stronger sails to weather the storms that come our way. Give us wisdom to learn from adversity and Father we pray for those who haven’t welcomed Your Son Jesus Christ into the boat, that they would welcome Him into the boat today! For it’s in His name we pray…Amen!

Please note that I will be taking a brief hiatus from this study during the Christmas season and will be posting the next post for this study around the end of January.

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