Matthew 14:22-33 (NKJV) Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me! “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
In America we sing the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. Often the song is song, like being with an old familiar friend. One they have not seen in a while. There are smiles and some tears, but the fact that we sing it at all, reveals how we often forget, that Christ is with us amid the trials of life. The song is a reminder to Christians who are struggling through difficulties which cloud their faith in Christ.
O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and freer!
Perhaps if this hymn had been written, at the time of Matthew 14, Peter would not have sunk, although I believe he most likely would have still.
God’s word reveals repeatedly the human potential of even the most faithful, turning away from Jesus Christ our Lord, when trials come; even those who walked with Him for three and half years.
We need look no further than Revelation 2:2-5, to the Ephesian Church, only 50 years after Christ died and rose from the dead, to observe a good fellowship of saints, who had turned away from Jesus, without knowing it. The word of God declares.
Why do even the most passionate Christians, tend to look away from Jesus Christ, in critical moments of temptation and trial, to their own detriment?
In Matthew 14:22-33, we will discover why trials come and who is in control in the middle of them—we will discover the reason Peter sunk and why we do as well, when walking in faith is difficult—we will also discover what in us pulls our vision from Jesus Christ.
WHO IS BEHIND ALL OUR STORMS
History and geography reveal that Israel is a diverse geographical land, especially the region of Galilee, where our Lord Jesus grew up and lived until, He began His ministry. The sea of Galilee is especially unique. Because of how it is positioned, winds rush over a plain towards the sea of Galilee, until falling violently over high cliffs on one side of this body of water. The result is like the violent thrashing if you would punch your fist into a medium sized oval basin filled with water.
Peter, James, Andrew, and John would have understood this since they fished Galilee their entire lives. Even violent storms would not have brought them to fear, as they could read the sky and would have never ventured out in such conditions, that could produce death on the water. Yet there they were in peril beyond their sufficiency and expertise.
Only a short time after Jesus commanded them to get into the boat and go to the other side, we read in verse 24 “But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.”
The Holy Spirit uses two very descriptive words “tossed” and “contrary” to reveal the very present danger they were in. in the first place the boat was “tossed” by the waves or was being tortured and punished, by wave after wave pounding the vessel. This vexed the disciples, even the fearless fishermen among them, which means they despaired even for their lives.
When you add to this condition, which produced waves as large as 15 to 20 feet in height, that the wind was “contrary” amplifies an already dangerous situation. The word “contrary” means the wind blowing into their faces, opposing their commanded direction. Imagine being in a first century fishing boat no more than 15 to 18 feet in length, where waves were overwhelming their vessel in the front of the boat and it seemed the wind was taunting them.
These were dire circumstances indeed, so who was ultimately behind these conditions? God Himself.
Let us remember that Jesus Christ the Lord, is God. In his incarnation He obeyed the Father perfectly. He did only what the Holy Spirit commanded Him to say or do.
OUR LORD IS BEHIND THE STORMS
When reading verse 22 we understand that “immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side”. Interestingly the word “immediately” means he wanted them in the middle of Galilee for a purpose, which was time sensitive. So great was this purpose Jesus “made” them get into the boat. This means that He forcefully and authoritatively commanded them.
This excursion across Galilee was either allowed or ordered specifically by God to reveal something about His Christ. The purpose of this set up is revealed in verse 33.
Matthew 14:33 (NKJV) Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
As in almost every miracle of Christ, God was revealing Him as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy, to the disciples, so that they would believe Him to be the Son of God.
In addition, our passage, reveals Christ’s deity, and power over His creation and sovereignty over those who follow Him.
This was a lesson, the disciples forgot all to easily. In Matthew 8:23-27 and Mark 4:35-41, we find an earlier account of a “freak” Galilee storm, where the disciples were terrified, and our Lord was asleep in the boat. When they awoke Him, and “Don’t you care we are perishing” and “Lord, save us, we are perishing, Jesus calmly rebukes the wind and the waves with “Peace be still” and admonishes them for their lack of faith and abundance of unbelief.
The point is He still had control over the storms, whether caused by natural phenomenon, demonic personage or ordered by God himself. The disciples forgot this by the time Matthew 14:22-33 rolls around. And we forget easily, in our storms as well, if not careful.
Most Christians understand and agree, at least intellectually, that God is sovereign over His entire creation. Most would agree biblically that Christ is with us as our shepherd in our walk through the valley of the shadow of death, which is not only the time before our death, but from the moment we are born again and begin our walk on the narrow road.
The problem for us is that amid trials, where we wrestle not against flesh and blood, where what we are up against is far beyond our scope of control and ability to navigate or overcome; we tend to fall back into panic patterns, rather than walk in faith.
In the life of the believer, it does not matter if our trials are from the curse upon creation—or our Father allowing the free will choice of another opposed to our faith to come against us—or if God specifically ordains our uncomfortable circumstances for His purpose. What matters is that we remember His truth from Romans 8:28.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
When we are in the middle of storms against us, we must remember that Christ Jesus is with us in the middle of it, and the outcome will be for His glory and our benefit. Remember storms and trials are continual and consistent for those who follow Jesus Christ, because from the moment of salvation, we are in a world totally against the LORD and His Messiah; and our Father uses them for His glory and our sanctification.
Let us remember we walk daily in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). Be sober brethren more violent storms are coming upon His saints worldwide, we must learn from Peter’s faith to walk on the storm sea and his fall. This we will do in the next teaching. Until then Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus!