WHEN JESUS COMES

KEY TEXT
John 6:16-21 (RSV)

V16- When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,

V17- got into the boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.

V18- The sea rose because a strong wind was blowing.

V19- When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened,

V20-but he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

V21- Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

Our human life can be likened to a boat struggling in the sea of difficulty, trying its utmost to reach the other side of the shore safely.

The background of our key text is: Jesus had gone up to a mountainside to be alone. The disciples went down from the hillside near Bethsaida to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. Their safe harbor or destination is Capernaum, the other side of the shore. Though it was late in the day, many of the disciples were experienced boatmen who would have felt comfortable sailing at night as well as in daylight.

This lake, the Sea of Galilee (or Sea of Tiberias) is very large. It is 650 feet below sea level, 150 feet deep, and surrounded by hills. These physical features make it subject to sudden windstorms that cause extremely high waves. Sailor expected such storms on this lake, but the storms could still be very frightening. Such a sudden storm arose as the disciples were on their way to Capernaum: the sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea towards them. They were frightened when they saw Jesus but they were willing to take Jesus into their boat, they immediately reached their destination.

This morning, I would like to share a sermon entitled, ‘WHEN JESUS COMES’ in order to end the May Harvest Month, carrying the theme ‘Jesus Come’.

What can we learn from John 6:16-21?

1. IT IS DURING THE EVENING OF OUR LIVES THAT WE GO DOWN TO THE SEA OF LIFE
V16- When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,

The word “evening” here symbolizes the DARK SEASON of our lives where God will allow us to go down to the sea of life.

Notice the words –“go down” which describe a downward experience; a low point in our life.

“The sea” implies the unpredictability of life or the voyage of life- a voyage filled with dangers, unpredictability and testing.

Application: Whether you like it or not, evening will definitely come upon our lives. No one can evade the “evening” time of our life – when darkness comes and we are going down and down in our lives to this sea of danger, unpredictability and testing.

2. AS LONG AS JESUS HAS NOT COME TO US, THERE IS GREAT DARKNESS
V17- got into the boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.

Please remember that the disciples got into the boat and headed down to the sea without Jesus. We must not think that the disciples were forgetful or discourteous in leaving Jesus behind, for as Mark tells the story, it was Jesus who sent them on ahead (Mark 6:45). Doubtless it was Jesus’ intention to go to the mountain top to pray while they rowed across by themselves and to rejoin them later in Capernaum.

Application: It is the Lord who sends us to go to the other side of the shore. God doesn’t like us to stay in one place for too long. Jesus and the disciples had just finished feeding the 5000 on a hillside near the Sea of Galilee at Bethsaida and now he sent them ahead to the other side of the shore known as Capernaum.

We must always progress in our labor for the Lord and not stagnate in one ministry or location. Remember the gospel is meant to go global and not just on one Barangay or one country.

While the disciples got into the boat without Jesus and started to row the boat, it became dark and Jesus had not yet come to them.

Application: There will be times in our lives even though sent by Jesus on a mission that we will go through spiritual darkness where it seems Jesus is not with us.

There will come a time when it seems Jesus “leaves” us alone and it is during this time that there is darkness.

Yes- as long as Jesus has yet to come to us, there is apparent “darkness” in our lives.

3. THE WAVES OF THE SEA WILL RISE GREATLY AGAINST US
V18- The sea rose because a strong wind was blowing.

While the disciples were rowing the boat in the dark evening, without Jesus in the boat, suddenly one of the gust of the wind which are frequently found upon mountain lakes, especially towards nightfall, rose and soon became a gale with which the disciples could not battle.

This gale or storm represents “trouble, unrest, antagonism and rebellious power that will hit our life as we journey in this sea of life.”

So the disciples were going through a three-fold challenge – absence of God’s presence; darkness and merciless storms.

Application: Just like many of us – God will allow us to go through this three-fold challenge at one point or another in our lives where there seems to be the absence of God’s presence (Jesus has not yet come to us), darkness (evening) and the storms (strong winds).

4. WE WILL HAVE TO ROW OUR OWN BOATS FOR A WHILE IN THE MIDST OF THE STORMS

V19A- When they had rowed about three or four miles…..

Every time when we are in the darkness and struggling in the stormy sea of life, we expect Jesus to come to us immediately.

But our Bible shows us here that the disciples had to row their boats for three to four more miles on their own first in the stormy sea before Jesus came them.

Application: The solemn law under which we live demands persistent effort and imposes continual antagonism upon us. We should not think that Jesus is cruel as to delay coming to our rescue.

Remember, God does not want to make us fair-weather sailors. The end of life is to make men; the meaning of all storms and events of life is to mold CHARACTER. Anything that makes us stronger is a blessing; anything that develops our morale is the highest good that can come to us. If therefore antagonism molds in us ‘the wrestling thews (muscles/physical strength) that throw the world,’ and give us good, strong muscles and put tan and color into our cheeks, we need not mind the cold and the wet, nor worry for the whistling of the wind in our faces, nor the dash of the spray over the bows. Summer sailing in fair weather, amidst land-locked bays in blue seas and under calm skies, may be all very well for TRIFLERS, but ‘blown seas and storming showers’ are better if the purpose of the voyage be to brace us and call out our powers.

And so be thankful if, when the boat is crossing the mouth of some glen (narrow valley) that opens upon the lake, a sudden gust smites the sheets and sends you to the helm, and takes all your effort to keep you from sinking. Do not murmur or think that God’s Providence is strange because many and many a time when “it is dark, and Jesus is not yet come to us,’ the storm of wind comes upon the lake and threaten to drive us from our course. Let us recognize Jesus as the Lord, who, in love and kindness, sends all the different kinds of weather which, according to the old proverb, make up the full-summed year.

5. AFTER WE HAVE ROWED ON OUR OWN FOR A WHILE, JESUS COMES TO US
V19- When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat………

The disciples had gone three or four miles into the storms. Mark 6:45 tells us it had taken the disciples ALL EVENING (from 6pm to 3am) to row this short distance –evidently because the head wind was so strong.

SUDDENLY, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water. Not only was Jesus walking on the water, he had walked a great distant over the raging seas!

Jesus came to them in the storm. In Mark 6:48, it says Jesus came to them in the fourth watch of the night – between 3am to 6am.

Application: And that is also a time when He comes to His own today. He makes Himself more real to us in a time of trouble and sorrow. I don’t know why Jesus waits till 3am to 6am, until the waves are rolling but perhaps that is the only time we will listen to Him. When the storms of life are beating upon our little bark, our hearts are ready for His presence.

There is no quick fix from God upon those whom God has marked for great things in this life. We are expected “to suffer for a little while before the God of all grace will come to us to restore, establish and strengthen us” (1 Peter 5:10).We have to go through the whole course of evening, till the fourth watch before Jesus comes to us!

6. OUR INITIAL REACTION WHEN JESUS COMES TO US IS FEAR
V19- When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened,

When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the raging waters towards them, they became terrified.

Sadly most of us forget in the darkness what seemed so clear in the light. As the disciples continually learned, we depend on the tangible evidence more than we ought. Our senses, though valuable gifts, have limitations. As soon as Jesus left his disciples, they forgot the amazing powers he had shown them so recently through the miraculous feeding of the 5000. But before we chide their lack of faith, we need to examine our own. How much of our spiritual life is a series of peak experiences of God’s nearness followed by declines? When we can’t feel God’s presence, do we assume that He is not there and that He cannot help us? God’s presence and help should come as a welcomed expectation, NOT A FRIGHTENING SURPIRSE!

Application: Faith is a mind-set that expects God to act. When we act on this expectation, we can overcome our fears. Even after watching Jesus miraculously feed over 5000 people, the disciples still could not take the final step of faith and believe he was God’s Son. If they had, they would not have been amazed that he could walk on water. They did not transfer the truth they already knew about Him to their own lives. We read that Jesus walked on the water, and yet we often marvel that He is able to work in our lives. We must not only believe these miracles really occurred; we must also transfer the faith to our own life situations.

7. JESUS CALMS OUR FEAR AND COMES INTO OUR BOAT
V20-but he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

V21- Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

The disciples terrified, thought they were seeing a ghost (Mark 6:49). They were frightened because they didn’t expect Jesus to come and they weren’t prepared for his help. But Jesus called over the wailing wind, “It is I; do not be afraid!”

The literal reading for “It is I” is “I am” (Greek, ego eimi); it is the same as saying, “the I AM is here” or “I, Yahweh, am here.”

Once calmed, the disciples were glad to take Jesus into their boat.

Application: It is after we have the calm assurance of the abiding and protecting presence of God that we will allow Jesus into our boat (our heart). As long as there is the raging doubt and fear about Jesus, we will never allow Him room in our heart.

8. ONCE JESUS COMES INTO OUR BOAT, IMMEDIATELY WE WILL BE AT OUR DESTINATION
V21- Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going

Here John records a second miracle involved in this incident: IMMEDIATELY THE BOAT WAS AT THE LAND TO WHICH THEY WERE GOING.

Remember, the disciples were still far from the shore when Jesus met them in the boat. This miracle greatly strengthened the disciples’ faith.

Application: When Jesus came to the disciples during a storm, walking on the water (three and a half miles from shore), he told them not to be afraid. We often face spiritual and emotional storms and feel tossed about like a small boat on a big lake or sea. In spite of terrifying circumstances, if we trust our lives to Christ for His safekeeping, He will give us peace in any storm and He will bring us to our destination quickly.

THE WONDERS OF GOD
Did Jesus really abandon his disciples to struggle on their own? Did God abandon you to fight your own battle?

No! Behind the scenes………

1. JESUS WATCHES
Up on the hill Jesus had been watching them. He had not forgotten. He was not too busy with God the Father to think of them. John suddenly realized that all the time they had pulled at the oars, Jesus’ loving look was on them.

Application: When we are up against it, Jesus watches! He does not make things easy for us. He lets us fight our own battles. Like a parent watching his son put up a splendid effort in some athletic contest, He is proud of us or like a parent watching his son let the side down, he is sad. Life is lived with the loving eye of Jesus upon us.

2. JESUS COMES
Down from the hillside, Jesus came to enable His disciples make the last pull that would reach safety.

Application: He does not watch us with serene detachment; when strength is failing He comes with strength for the last effort which leads to victory.

E.g. God came and helped our church to make the last push in our labor pain and out came this baby – this new temple of God.

3. JESUS HELPS
He watches, He comes and He helps. It is the wonder of the Christian life that there is nothing that we are left to do alone.

Psalms 18:35 (RSV)- Thy help made me great.

Illustration: Margaret Avery tells how there was a teacher in a little country school who had told this story of Jesus walking on the water to her children and she must have told it well. Some short time afterwards there was a blizzard of wind and storm. When school finished, the teacher was helping the children home. Sometimes she had practically to drag them through the drifts. When they were all very nearly exhausted with the struggle, she overheard a little boy say, half to himself: “We could be doing with that chap Jesus here now.” We could always be doing with Jesus and we never need to do without Him.

4. JESUS BRINGS US TO THE HAVEN
It seemed to John, as he remembered it, that, as soon as Jesus came to them and entered their boat, their boat was immediately at the land to which they were going.

As the Psalmist had it: “Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven” (Psalm 107:30 RSV)

Message v30- HE QUIETED THE WIND DOWN TO A WHISPER, PUT A MUZZLE ON ALL THE BIG WAVES. AND YOU WERE SO GLAD WHEN THE STORM DIED DOWN, AND HE LED YOU SAFELY BACK TO HARBOR.

Somehow in the presence of Jesus the longest journey is shorter and the hardest battle easier.

CONCLUSION
Before Jesus comes, we are struggling in our own boat in this stormy sea of life in darkness. Our human effort seems so futile and limited.

But when He comes, He comes in the midst of our storms. He comes in miraculous power at the last lap of our darkness, the fourth watch. He walks on the raging sea of our lives. He stills the raging seas, gets into our boat and immediately we arrive at where we are supposed to be. What we fail to accomplish the whole evening, God accomplishes it in just a second.

That’s what happens when Jesus comes!

My testimony: Our church experienced the “evening” time of darkness when we went down to the sea of unpredictability, uncertainty, chaos, confusion, antagonism, and rebellious powers. Our goal was to lead this church across the river to possess this Tabuc Suba land with a new sanctuary for Jesus. You could say that last year was the lowest point in the history of Evangel since its inception in year 1986. For almost 10 months, the cruel storms kept beating on our faces. We struggled against the strong wind of opposition and antagonism. It seemed Jesus had not yet come to us then. It seemed God had left us and we were on our own. But little did we know, Jesus was watching us. His eyes never left this church. At the last lap of our journey, at the fourth watch, Jesus came to us. Suddenly on February 24, 2013, we found ourselves on the shore of our “Capernaum”- this new land and new church – our goal and destination. Jesus came to us in power and miraculously landed us literally on the other side of the River. Hallelujah!

END
PREACHED AT E-TAB ILOILO 2ND SERVICE ON 26 MAY 2013