Walking on Water
Lets pick up the story of Jesus (Jn 6:16-21). He has just finished the amazing miracle of feeding over 5000 people and needs some space to be alone. I love the fact that God himself needs some space. He goes walking in the hills. The disciples hang around the sea shore waiting for him to return, but it gets dark and blustery so they decide to head off to their next destination assuming that Jesus would meet them there, I’m sure Jesus’ phone was on silent or he didn’t have many bars!
The storm got pretty bad and even though they had some experienced sailors in the boat, they struggled against the elements to get the boat to shore. Jesus notices that they were really in trouble on the sea, probably because he could see them from the shore, and at about 3am he walks on the stormy sea towards them (Matt), and even tries to walk by them (Mark) not really intending to stop.
The disciples get the fright of their life when they see Jesus, the adrenalin must have been rushing anyway with the storm but to see Jesus walking or surfing towards them must have shocked them!
Matthew tells the story of Peter walking on the water and then sinking, but lets keep to John’s version for now.
Jesus sees they are in a bit of a state and calls out “dont be afraid.. I am here” .. there are those words I AM again! The guys all said get in here Jesus, they were ‘eager’, not surprised. He gets into the boat, the storm calms down (Mark) and they set sail for their next stop.
This story is in 3 of the 4 gospels Matt 14:22–33; Mark 6:45–51.
I think there is only really one main message to this story for our purpose today. Jesus comes to the disciples in trouble.
Jesus was making his own way to the next destination, he had such a grip on his heavenly identity that defying nature was really not a problem for him. He wasn’t being spectacular for the sake of it, rather he was naturally supernatural and very practical, he needed to get to the other side!
But his guys were in trouble, and there was also some lessons to be learn’t about trust along the way.
Not surprisingly they were frightened when they saw him, fear has two sides to it, it is a sign of little or no faith and it is a sign of awesome reverence. Fear betrays something of the heart, we can be in fearful wonder at the power of God or cowering in the shadows of the darkness of our hearts. We are not sure what the reason for the fear of the disciples but like most things there must have been some mixed motives, fearful at the storm, fearful at the ghost, fearful in the power of Jesus.
Fear : I AM
Then the wonderful words of Jesus comes which not only calms the storm but calms the hearts of his guys… “Don’t be afraid”… words that tumble through scripture, bringing comfort..
Lord appeared to Abraham “don’t be afraid” (Gen 26:24)
Moses to the people at the declaration of the commandments (Ex 20:20)
God to Joshua before entering the promised land (Josh 1:8)
Elijah to the widow 1 Kings 17:13
God through Isaiah Is 41:10
Gabriel to Mary (Lk 1:30)
John himself has an encounter with Jesus on Patmos and falls to his face (Rev 1:17)
Jesus says to you today, ‘don’t be afraid’…why?
Because I AM here, the creator God is with you right now. I AM who created the universe, spoke to prophets, made himself visible on earth is still saying the same thing to you,, right now.
I think we, like the guys in the boat, were eager to get him into the boat with them.
Lets turn to John 14:1-14
John 14:1-14 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.
What an amazing statement of confidence from Jesus. Trouble, crisis, difficulty, suffering are all things that will hit us at different stages in our lives, its in these moments that our Christian faith either means something or it does not.
Trouble and difficulty are the very testing ground for faith. It is at these moments that you understand what the nature of your faith is! Is your faith a “i wish” sort of faith? Are you building your life on a sort of vague hope that it will turn out ok in the end?
Or is your faith more like an insurance policy in case something goes wrong. An end of life policy that I get into heaven, but it doesn’t have to affect me in the way I live?
Faith should be like an iron girder running through the centre of you, it should be something that you learn to depend on. It comes entirely from hearing the word of God for your life, the word comes like a seed into your heart and it creates a rock solid response.
Like the house built on rock and sand, in the times of trouble you will survive if the faith in you is rock solid.
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
What a great descriptor of the sort of relationship with God that we are destined to have. Heaven is described as Father’s House, the family home. Going home at the end of the day is comforting, it is sanctuary, it is the place where you can just be!
The story of Jesus’ incarnation is a story of the coming of God, leaving the incredible atmosphere of heaven to rescue humanity by introducing them to an experience of his Father. He points to his ascension to heaven and his eventual return, alluding to preparations that need to be made for your arrival.
Heaven is not some cloud city with pretty boy angels playing harps, no thanks you, Heaven is the place of intimate relationship with God, the place you be the real you, the best society built on family.
Way to Father
4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
I like Thomas, he says it as it is. Jesus tells them that the disciples should know where he is going, and Thomas states that he hasn’t got a clue! Jesus ministry years was to announce the arrival of the Kingdom of God, and then teach the people (particularly the 12) about access to the kingdom, showing them how to see with spiritual eyes. Later Thomas gets it, but only when he has got the evidence – he must have been a scientist!
Then we get this famous line. What a statement. It completely knocks on the head any idea that there are many roads that lead to God. Your personal philosophy doesn’t do it, meditation doesn’t do it, living well and good doesn’t do it. The bold and unwavering statement is a cornerstone of Christian faith, it makes it stick out, it is uncompromising.
I am the way – the name the early church called themselves, the pathway. I like the idea by the way of pilgrimage. The medieval church went on a journey to a shrine because they understood the journey to God. Jesus is the way, the journey, the path, the gate to the Father. He does not just show the way, but he IS the way.
He teaches us the way (Mk12:14; Lk 20:21), he guides us along the way (Lk 1:79) and he dedicates a new and living way for us (Heb 10:20). Its a way of love, joy, peace, patience etc, a way of kingdom living, a way of fruitfulness, a way of living differently with a different set of values. He is the way that the Father brings all the blessings of heaven to us (Mt 11:27-28) and the way that we bring our lives to God.
I am the truth – you want to make sense of life, you want to get how things work and hold together, then its got to be through Jesus. Truth isn’t a book of rules, it isn’t a list of do’s and don’ts. When people talk about truth we see it as a standard that we can measure ourselves against, rather truth is a relationship with a person. In Jesus is the truth.
We often loose the idea of truth being a person rather than an abstract concept. Truth should shape us, influence us, wash us, frees us. Truth is not a demanding judge or an onerous boss, truth is the manifestation of freedom, the place where we can live unencumbered by the shackles of sin. Truth is when the light comes on and we see things as they really are.
I am the life – whatever sort of life you think you have, its nothing compared to the life you
can have in Jesus. Life is not just an eternal future life, it is abundant life now. Eternal life begins when you confess Jesus, its not something to wait for. ‘Zoe’ life is the real definition of life, it is life in its purest form. The life we lead is found in the life of Jesus, the creator at work at the beginning is the sustainer of life in us today. The person of Jesus is not just a nice extra that gives your life purpose, it is the source of life in us.
Jesus the son of God is leading you to God the Father. We all have different relationships with our natural fathers, some good and some terrible. We are supposed to have wonderful loving fathers, who bring safety, security, affection and identity to us. Well Jesus had such a father and he is sharing his daddy with you! You can get tremendous healing from some of the stuff you experience in your life by being introduced to the Father.
Jesus reflects Father
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
9 Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.
Philip joins in the conversation realising that he wants this wonderful relationship with the heavenly father, he sees that he will be satisfied in his inner man. Jesus reminds him that he reflects in every way the love of the Father.
When we come to Christ, when we have a relationship with Jesus we get to access the Father of all. Jesus understood sonship so well, he got the fact that the son represents in every way the nature and being of Father so when we get to know Jesus we can get to understand and know the Father.
But there is a deeper truth here for you. The church of Jesus is described as the body of Christ we are supposed to be the very incarnate reflection of Jesus left on earth to prepare the world for the return of Christ. If Jesus reflects and demonstrates the love and nature of the Father, then what about us? We, the body of Jesus, together get to announce and show the very person of jesus to everyone we come across. As we respond to the word in our lives, as the spirit changes us, as we get healed of our hurts, as our faith gets challenged by the trouble we face – we show jesus – we show the father.
Even Greater works
12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
Not only will you the church do the same works (healings, miracles, visions, revelatory teaching) but you will do even greater stuff! Now there’s a statement, we are no longer talking about a Christian life of just getting by, of minding our own business, we are talking about a Christian life of astounding results, victorious. This for me is the very nature of the kingdom that Jesus announced, a kingdom that reaches into every sphere of society and every place. Kingdom penetrates the deepest places of our world with kingdom value and kingdom atmosphere.
So be bold and ask God for stuff! Ask God to do something for you, because he wants to do it. This is not a stingy father that wants you to suffer, this is a generous God that wants you to be fulfilled and partner in the bringing about of the heavenly mandate on earth. We need to ask confidently and expectantly.