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Faced with the great fear of the disciples sailing on the raging sea, Jesus reacts by showing the disciples again who He was and the power within Him. In the same way, the storms of our lives are the perfect opportunities to see God's purposeful, protective, progressive, and patient work in our lives.
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Got a Problem? Get a Plan.
Everything the Lord did when he was here in the person of Jesus Christ was for a purpose. One of those purposes was to reveal more of who the character of God was. He wanted you to know him. We'll take a little side road here before we focus on that a bit more. One of the things we try hard to do is give you a chance to get to know one another.
Especially when you come forward and come to our Discover Watermark class, we always take a moment to give folks in there a chance to interact over a meal we serve them in the midst of finding out about some of our passions as a body. I want to update you on who has now taken the next step about getting connected here with us.
These are some of the folks who are sitting in your midst, the 80 some-odd people who were with us yesterday from 9:00 to 2:00 talking about God's passion for his purposes and how we can participate with that. Here are some people who there. Someone who was arrested in Chicago. Somebody who believes John Wade (0:00:56) would have thrown up if he had heard anything from Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC. Somebody who was attacked by a big flock of buzzards.
Somebody who broke their husband's hand on their honeymoon. (I know more fiancés who need to have their hand broken by their fiancée, but honeymoon, you know, let him go.) Somebody whose mom is an opera singer. Somebody who is from Peru. Somebody who has webbed toes. Somebody born in Tripoli, Libya, where they were neighbors with Colonel Gaddafi.
Somebody who watches TV for a living. (Now I know a lot of you guys are out there going, "Big deal." No, what she meant was she got paid for it. All right?) Somebody whose house has been struck by lightning three times. Somebody who has been on Jerry Springer. (Actually, it was an episode called "Wives Who Have Broken Their Husband's Hand on Their Honeymoon.")
Somebody who had their eighth birthday ruined because all their aunts and cousins left crying when the radio flashed the news that Elvis had died. (Still carrying a little bit of bitterness about that one, apparently.) Somebody who, when they were a kid, wanted to be a turtle when they grew up. Pyroman: "I once started a forest fire, burned a hole in our carpet, burned the bedspread, and started the front lawn on fire, all before the age of 8."
Somebody who's been paragliding in the Swiss Alps. Somebody whose relative was the first woman to drive in the Indianapolis 500. Somebody who has family ties to the Mafia in Italy. Somebody who was a counselor at Pine Cove in Tyler, got arrested, and spent several hours in jail because of an outstanding ticket.
"Recently," one person wrote, "I was selling my boat. The prospective family wanted to test drive the boat, so I took them to Lake Lewisville. When we got out to the middle of the lake, the boat caught on fire, burned to the waterline, and sunk." They were probably thinking, "Where was the Lord then?" Right? That was a combination of water and fire right there. They said, "Everyone survived, but no sale." Surprise.
"I have two different size feet. Size 10 on the left, size 12 on the right. Only four toes on each foot touch the ground."
"I have the entire movie of Steel Magnolias memorized." My!
"Unfortunately, I've been on an episode of the television show Cops." Wide are the gates. Come on in.
This is what they say, in their own words now. "Due mainly to stupidity and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I was in high school, and I was retarded." That's what they said right here.
"I had a size 15 shoe when I was 15 years old."
"I am related to Alan Greenspan." Good news, this person is now serving on our finance committee.
"I was a White House intern."
"My mom told me that since the age of 3, I've been able to pick out clothes to wear that match." My wife tells me that even though I'm 37, I still can't, personally.
"I've dislocated my knee four times."
"I had braces for three days only."
"I juggle and eat an apple at the same time."
"I married my best friend's uncle."
"I was shot in the leg when I was 16."
"I have a rod, nine screws, and bone cement holding my upper right arm together."
"I helped organize a protest march against the Gulf War and overslept, missing the whole event." I love that passion. I love that passion.
Somebody who has not watched television for 11 years. Man! Somebody whose favorite restaurant is Denny's. Somebody who has only lived in Texas for three weeks. Somebody who was electrocuted three times before the age of 3. Somebody who has appeared on Geraldo. Somebody who played "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Wrigley Field.
Somebody who voted in Florida this last November. (You know what was ironic is we couldn't find their card. They said, "I turned it in." We eventually got it and put it in here.) Somebody who woke in the middle of the night 30 feet from a mountain lion, caught a wild quail with their bare hands, stepped on a rattlesnake, and was attacked by a wild cow.
This is my favorite. Somebody who says, "Whenever I meet somebody, the first thing I say is, 'Do you know what happened to me?' Then I begin to tell them my story. When I am finished, they say, 'Wow! What church do you go to?'" Isn't that great? What an interesting group of folks! This is just the last one.
We have a list of these things going that we're going to write a book, and no one is going to believe us about who makes up… What an interesting crowd! It's so fun to get to know one another and the interesting things that are true about all of us. Obviously, we are under the deep conviction here that even more important than knowing interesting things about each other is knowing the truth about the Lord.
We spend some serious time every week trying to go a little deeper in understanding who this great God is who has revealed himself in the Scriptures. Who, at the first light of that new day when the Son of God was born, you never would have identified him as the Creator of heaven and earth, this child in swaddling clothes. That child grew.
He grew to call some men to follow him, to be with him, and to preach truth and offer reconciliation and a restored relationship with a very lost, hurting, and hopeless world. In the process of spending time with these men, he was desperate for them to understand who he was because to understand who he was, was to know who God the Father was. Everything he did, he did with a purpose. Everything he did was to show more of the character and nature of God.
The Scripture says Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. If you're here today and you don't know what God looks like, I want to tell you to get to know Jesus, that holy and Anointed One, that one who has now the name above all names. "…who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself…"
He identified himself with you and me. He walked as you and I do, as people who relate to God the Father by faith. He never, ever, ever stopped himself being God, but he did not hold onto his deity for his own self-benefit and will. He walked with God as a model for how you and I can walk with God, and he did it perfectly. He did what no man has ever done, and that is live without sin, so he could do what no man could ever do, which is to draw back a lost world to a loving Lord.
The Scripture says all the fullness of deity dwells in Jesus. The Scripture says no one has ever seen God at any time, but then it says Jesus, the Son of God, has explained him. You want to know what God is like? You get to know Jesus. We're folks here who want to be fully-devoted followers of Christ. We want to be fully engaged with God, so we spend some time looking at his Word and getting to know this Jesus, because in getting to know him, we get to know our God.
He had a group of men he was passionately pouring into. It was his plan to affect the world by calling men to walk with him and then for those men to walk and abide with God as he did, to trust in the Father, to trust in the power of the Spirit as Jesus, fully God, subjected himself to humanity, that he might be an example to you and me.
I want to just take a moment and read you some Scriptures that talk about God…the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…as he's revealed himself. They're from the Old Testament, and if you don't have your Bible, they'll be up here. If you do, turn with me first to Psalm 89. I want you to read how God has revealed himself to the worshippers in the nation of Israel. Let's just take a glimpse here at some of the Scripture that talks about this great God who… Boy, he wants to know you.
We've already looked at Isaiah 43 in song this morning which says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you." The idea of God being capable in the midst of a tempest, in the midst of a violent storm, meant a whole lot to some people who lived near some bodies of water that often would take them to extreme places of fear and self-doubt.
I rented the movie The Perfect Storm this weekend. I was going to use it and decided not to. I watched it to see if there were some parallels I could draw and bring into that. You know that's a true story about a group of men who were on the Andrea Gail that went out off the East Coast in 1991 and lost their lives in the midst of what meteorologists call the perfect storm, a convergence of a bunch of different weather patterns that several people lost their lives in.
The waves, they think, were sometimes up to 40 to 80 feet tall. That violence, when you're out there, that complete inability of even a skilled skipper and the strong crew who were experienced seamen… It just brought them to their knees and eventually to their deaths. Listen to how God reveals himself. Psalm 89:
"The heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies is comparable to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the LORD, a God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all those who are around him? O LORD God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty LORD? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. You rule the swelling of the sea; when its waves rise, You still them."
That's what God alone can do. Anybody who had even the most basic knowledge of God's revelation of himself in the Old Testament knew that. Look at Psalm 107, starting in verse 17. This is what it says.
"Fools, because of their rebellious way, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted. Their soul abhorred all kinds of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing."
You know what he's saying? When God does something miraculous in your life, when you come to understand his saving grace, you ought to tell folks when you meet them. "Let me tell you what happened to me." When you get done, people ought to say, "Wow. Who is your God? Who is your God?" Listen. Verse 23:
"Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; they have seen the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; their soul melted away in their misery."
Most of us have never spent time as a merchant marine, have never been on a swordfish vessel in the Atlantic Ocean, but there has been every single one of us who metaphorically have experienced that, who have felt tossed and dropped and overpowered by the waves of life. Every single one of us wants to know what those fishermen want to know in that place: "Is there anybody who can save me from this turbulence and from these waters which cover me and which overwhelm me and which will surely take my life?" You need to know this God.
Verse 27: "They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits' end. Then [finally, in their desperation] they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet [the waves] , so He guided them to their desired haven." Man, would you like to know that God?
"Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him at the seat of the elders." You see, if you've met that God you have a tremendous responsibility, having been plucked out of that great distress.
If you know the one who can speak peace to the waters, if you know the one who cares more for your hearts than he does the waves he speaks peace to, then he wants you to tell folks about him. He wants you to declare and offer sacrifices of thanksgiving. He wants you to let other people know about his love in the person of his Son Jesus Christ this Christmas season, but he wants you to know him first.
He only wants you to be a witness out of personal experience, when you have been delivered from those waves of life. Maybe it's just the wave of the knowledge of your sin, his holiness, and your separation as a result, but when you get there and you meet him and you see his caring provision for you, tell others about him. Praise his name. That's why we worship when we gather here.
You need to know, folks, if you're a guest, that we're a group of folks who have been delivered out of the waves of hopelessness, guilt, coming death, and judgment that we deserve. We have found a God who can speak peace to those waters. We gladly sing of him and want you to know him. With that as a background, let me take you to Mark 6. Turn with me there. In Mark 6, verses 45-56, we reset the table here.
Jesus had just got through feeding thousands of people who had come to him. In his compassion, as he had sought to go away…he couldn't get away because the masses followed him…he cared for them. The people, we'll find out, were overwhelmed at what Jesus had done. "Who is this then who can provide for us in this way?" You'll find that Jesus sent his disciples away. You're going to read it here in just a minute, and we'll talk about why he did that. Let's read through this little passage here in Mark 6, verse 45-56.
"And immediately [after the feeding of the 5,000] He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of ** Him **** to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away.**** And after bidding them farewell[the multitude], ***He departed to the mountain to pray.*
And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land. And seeing them [his disciples whom he had sent into the storm] straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night [three to six in the morning] , He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.
But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were frightened. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, 'Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.' And He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were greatly astonished, for they had not gained…" Note. "…any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened."
It says when they got to the other side, verses 53 down through verse 56, they came to a land, and they anchored at the shore. "And when they had come out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him…" This Jesus, the one whom his disciples could not get their arms around and figure out who he was, others knew who he was.
"...and ran about that whole country and began to carry about on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was. Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and entreating Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured."
Let me make this clear right here. The reason that last little section is there is because the multitudes, though they didn't fully understand who Jesus was, at least had their arms around this one reality: that this Jesus can do what they could not. This fellow who they weren't completely sure who he was… Some of them might have just known him as a miracle maker.
They didn't know he was God in the flesh who had come to do something far greater than make lame walk and blind see. He came to redeem the hearts of sinful men. They knew they needed to go to this Jesus to get what they could not do for themselves. The disciples, who were near Jesus, were still trying to get their arms around that fact, and so do a lot of us.
We still need to learn from the incident of the loaves. We need to learn from the incident we're going to look at today and be reminded that this Jesus is the one alone whom we need to constantly go to find refreshment for our souls, to him alone to get sweetness on our lips that nothing else can give, who alone can provide a lamp to our steps.
A guy named A.W. Tozer said when you think about God, what you think about is the most important thing about you. When you think about God, what it is you think about is the single most important thing about you because, depending on your view of God, it's going to determine how you live, how you worship, if you worship, how you treat others.
Jesus was here, in part, to let folks know who this God was. "He is the visible image of the invisible God. No one has ever seen God at any time. The only Son of God, this Jesus Christ, has explained him." Knowing the most important thing about any human being is what they think of God, God sent his Son to clearly explain him and to be somebody you could look at and get your arms around.
I want to tell you something about God this morning that you can get from this passage, four things you don't want to forget, and four things you want to be encouraged by. This is how God deals with his people. God, in relationship with his people, is purposeful with his plan. God, in relationship with his people, is progressive in the way he reveals himself. You can't handle too much at once, so there's a first light. Then it grows and grows and grows and grows. God is protective with his process. He's patient beyond our understanding.
1._ God is purposeful._ The Lord with you and with me is purposeful. He is about something. It says he came to seek and to save the lost. That's part of why Jesus was here. It's all of why he was here, to seek the lost and to save the lost. If you're around the Bible very much, you'll learn that to save the lost always means three things.
It means he wants to save you first from the penalty of sin. Theologians call that justification, where you're declared righteous. You are freed from judgment and passed out of death into life. When he comes to seek and save the lost, he doesn't want to just deliver you from the penalty of sin, but he is actively…
After delivering you from the penalty of sin, having justified you, he wants to deliver you from the power of sin in your life that it might not any longer be sovereign over you. That is what theologians call sanctification. We all know when you think of something being sanctified, you think of it roughly in terms of being cleaned up.
When you hear this verse of the Scripture, "…for all [of us] have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…" all that means is when God made us, he wanted us to live in a way that reflected the one who made us. We should walk like him, love like him, think like him, lead like him, rule like him, as agents of God on this earth, as a revelation of who he was to the heavens.
We rejected that role, and so all of us have, in some form or fashion, become less than the man or woman God wanted us to be. There are some people who we immediately think of…the Jeffrey Dahmers, the Charles Mansons of the world…that the glory and image of God is way tainted. We go, "Well, that guy looks nothing like God," but the point of the Scriptures is that all of us in some form or fashion, to different extremes at different times at different variances, are off mark.
All of us fall short of the glory God intended for us, and Jesus is about bringing us back. When you offend an eternally perfect being, there's an eternally significant judgment for that. There's no way you can ever go back and make perfect that which is already made imperfect, unless that same God who created you wants, in his grace, to speak grace to you one more time and makes you again whole in his sight.
Jesus came to do that, to deliver you from the penalty of sin, but then having been delivered from that penalty of sin, to deliver you from the power of sin and make you more like his Son. That is called sanctification. He is in a process, with you and with me who know Christ, and he's in a process, for those of you here today as guests who are far from God, of drawing you to that realization.
That image of God that is tainted in your life is a severe problem, and if you don't deal with it, there's going to be an eternally significant consequence. He wants you to know that in his grace and love, he wants to make you new again and speak grace and hope into your life. He did it through his Son.
Those of you who know his Son, he wants to say, "Walk with that Son. Abide with that Son. Trust in that Son. Trust in the provision of the Spirit whom that Son promised, to become more like him." He is about that purpose. It's not just about us being saved. We have been saved by grace, which means we don't do it on our own. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship…"
You are God's workmanship, those of you who have been saved by grace through faith, not as a result of works so that no one should boast." You are God's workmanship. I am God's workmanship. "…created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." The Scripture says, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…" So that you might be as Jesus was, if you will. "…that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
He is purposeful about saving us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and there will be a day when God will accomplish his purposes ultimately to make us like him, free from the presence of sin. Never God, but in fellowship again with God who created us. You need to know he's about that. I'm going to show you how he takes this event…
This is not just some story. Jesus never went through some silly exercise just to impress his disciples. Like, "Hey, you guys think that was neat? Watch this," and then ran across the water. "Man, that was a good one. The food was good, but that's awesome." All right? That's my view of what, if I had those powers, I'd do now and then. "Oh, really? Watch this." Up and down, walk around. There's a clear reason why guys like me wouldn't be given that privilege.
Jesus just didn't play with his deity. He used it, the leading of the Spirit of God in his life, to reveal something about God. When he's walking on the water in this incident, there's a reason for it. We have to figure out what it does. I can assure you it's a part of his purpose. To do what? I think it's to teach these guys more about who he is so they might be justified by faith and freed from the penalty of sin, so they would ultimately become free from the power of sin, that they'd learn to trust in this God through the person of Jesus Christ.
2._ God is progressive._ He is progressive in the way he reveals himself to these men. This has been a slow process. Since he called them to be with him in Mark 3, he has been teaching them more about who he is. They can't handle the whole bowl of soup right out of the chute, so he gives them a little at a time, but he wants them to get the big picture. We are at a place now where they're learning yet again just who this Jesus is.
Do you realize that because he is so purposeful, because he is about his purposes progressively, and he does it with great care and concern and with great patience…? Is this the first time the disciples have been in a crisis on a lake? No. If you've been here with us very long, you were with us when we were there in Mark 4 where they were in a very serious storm. That time, where was Jesus? Think for a second. He was in the boat.
This time he's not with them in the boat. This time he's up on the mountain praying. He wants to teach them: "Even when I'm not there with you physically, I'm always going to be concerned about you. I'm never going to lose you. I'm never going to let you out of my sight. Even if I'm there in the boat or whether I'm not there where I can be seen, you can be sure of God's care and concern for you." He's taking them to the next step.
He wants to show them: "You have to live by faith and not just by what you can see because you men are going to rock this world. You men are going to carry forth the message of love. You men need to know it's not going to be because I'm with you, but because my Father and I will send you the Helper, which is God in the form of the Spirit, third person of the Trinity. He will enable you to do everything I've asked you to do."
He's progressively letting them know who he is (it's going to come in a moment) and how they must live. "The righteous shall live by faith." Just like them, he's not in our boat with us right here, but you can be sure that his eyes are on us. He cares about us. There's an interesting part to this little passage where it says… If you'll look with me in verse 48.
"And seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass them by." Now, the Bible is way too easy to read and blow through and not stop and ask yourself, "Well, why is that?" Why would he see them there straining at the oars and then just walk on the water?
He was going to cruise right by them, blow by them. You want to ask yourself that, "Why?" I've said a number of times, until you're done asking yourself, "So what?" or "What's that mean?" you're not done reading your Bible. There's nothing magic about reading the Scripture, but there is power in the words as we sit there and meditate on it day and night and are careful to do according to all that is written in it.
Let me tell you what's going on right there. The idea is not just that Jesus was going to blow by them because he's trying to sneak to the other side before he has to deal with those 12 numbskulls. All right? The word used there is used in the Scriptures a couple of other times. If you have your Bible, turn with me to Exodus, chapter 33. It's a word which occurs in several key passages in the Old Testament.
It talks about times, in the Old Testament, that God would make an appearance. It's what's called an epiphany or a theophany, when God would come, and he would appear to men. It was always for the purpose… A temporary appearance on this realm to a select group or person for the purpose of communicating a message or revealing some truth about him as he was unfolding who he was, who we were, and how he longed to relate to us.
In Exodus 33, follow with me. It says this. This is Moses and God having a little bit of a conversation when Moses is up on Sinai. He says to Moses in verse 19, "I Myself will make all My goodness…" Watch this. "…pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion."
"But he said [God to Moses] 'You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!' Then the LORD said, 'Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.'" Now look at just a few verses later in chapter 34.
"The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth…'"
It wouldn't be a great stretch to say, "The Lord, purposeful about his love for his people. The Lord, progressive in revealing who he is. The Lord, patient in his love for those he calls to be with him, protective of those who he calls to himself." "The Lord…who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives…"
This idea of passing by carries with it the idea of revealing a bit of who he is. What you have in Mark 6, as Jesus was passing by them, is he was not just walking on the water to impress his disciples, to do some trick. He is in the middle of purposefully accomplishing his plan, which is to get a group of fully devoted followers who know him for who he is, who will walk in confidence and faith with him.
It's time for them to learn the next lesson because their hearts were hardened. They did not yet understand who it was who just did this incredible miracle and took five loaves and two fish. Who can do that and feed thousands of people? Only God can do that, but they didn't get it yet. So he says, "Out you go. Y'all go." He went up to pray, to spend time with the Father.
I'm sure, as the perfect man, he said, "Lord, how can I serve these guys? What can I do? What do we need to do to reveal to them the truth of who I am?" I'm sure… "By the power of the Spirit, what you're going to do right now is you're going to walk on that water. I want you to pass by them. I want you to give them a glimpse of who you are." No one can walk on water.
The guys' hearts were so hardened they didn't go, "Well, look at this. Somebody walking on the water. That could be nobody but Jesus catching up." That's not what they said. They go, "That has to be a ghost because we don't know anybody who could do that." Well, how about the guy who just fed thousands of people? How about the guy who healed the demoniac, who healed the lame person? How about the guy who calmed the wind and the waves the last time he was in the boat with you? Why not him?
Do you see what he's up to? That's why he's passing by. They are scared to their boots. They don't have a clue who that is. Then he says these great words. He says, "Take courage." Do you see the patience here, the protection? Even in the midst of their unbelief, God in his love, who shows compassion to who he wants to show compassion to, shows compassion to these 12 stooges.
He just says, "Guys, I know you don't have it yet, but I am so for you. I called you to be with me, to learn who I am, and to preach the gospel to people. We have some teaching to do, and that's why we're where we are right now." "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid." It says he got in the boat, and immediately at that point the waves were stilled.
John tells us that immediately they got to their desired destination. What did Psalms say? "He takes them to their desired haven." What they could not do straining at the oars, these experienced seamen… I mentioned this last time in the story about the wind and the waves. Until God gets to us in our area of greatness competency…
These guys probably thought, "All right. We need the magician when we're short a few sack lunches. We need the magician when we're dealing with a physical problem." But on the sea, these guys were experts. Most of them were professional fishermen. They don't need Jesus there. That's when they can come in for him. Right? Wrong. Straining at the oars, getting nowhere. You always need God. You're never competent beyond your need for him.
What you need for them, you get from him. We as a group of folks are… I'm sure there's a lot of talent, not just a lot of interesting facts about us. Again, let me just tell you, if we try and love these Angel Tree families, if we try and love our neighbors, if we try and love each other and serve our kids, if we try and give in our flesh, we will not give and love and serve each other the way God wants us to give.
Even in your greatest area of core competency, until you learn the miracle of the loaves, until you learn the truth of John 15, "Apart from him, you can do nothing…" I need to learn that lesson again and again and again. I'm so grateful for his purpose in my life to save me, and how he progressively teaches me more and more.
Every time I'm on the sea and the waves of life are hitting me, it's another opportunity for me to go, "What do I need to do right now?" Not paddle harder. Not go back to my seamanship classes. I need to do everything I can, but all the while having my ultimate competence in him. Even though he's not here in a way I can feel, touch, see, and stir with my hands, I know even when he's not there, his eyes are on me from the mountain. I know he loves me.
Do you know Jesus like that? Some of you right now I know are in the midst of some major waves, but do you know he loves you? Do you know the promise that he'll protect you? Are you sure of that, that he'll get you to your desired haven? Sometimes the great miracle is that you keep straining at the oars but you do it with hope, and the world marvels at our faith. We say, "Even if we go under right here, we know a God who will bring us up."
The reason we're on these waves is not because God is disciplining us. In fact, here's what I want you to see. I made this little note to myself as I was reading through this this week. I put down in my little journal, "Notice how many times a loving friend, a sovereign Shepherd, a perfect leader, allowed his friends, his sheep, his followers, his faithful men, to be sent into a storm." Too many times we think storms come simply because of some form of God's judgment. I'll tell you, typically that's not the case. Most of the storms…
There are a few storms of judgment that are in the Scriptures, but storms (as it says) are more often a result of God's perfect plan than they are a result of his perfect judgment. He's trying to develop in us something which will not happen apart from trials or apart from storms, which teach us…again, maybe in our core competency, maybe in our absolute place of distress…that he is the loving one who brings peace to the waves and brings peace to our hearts.
Are you out there today this holiday season and lonely and far from God? Are you distressed? Are you wondering if there's any hope in your life? Are you confused about somebody who you can turn to? Well, you might say it's a storm of judgment if it's kind of the fruit of what you've sown. All right. I'm not one to say to you, "No, I think it's a part of God's gracious storm in your life to teach you that you can't make it across that sea."
Some of the folks who have the biggest shock for them are folks who have navigated the sea of this life fairly well, and when they come to the end of it, there's going to be a waterfall no one can get over. They're going to find out that maybe they had a particularly easy weather pattern in their life, but there is a God whom they have to deal with and a sea they cannot navigate. The sea of holiness. The sea of righteousness. The sea of purity. The sea of sinlessness.
They're going to need to meet this Jesus. I mentioned last time that the only thing more frightening than facing a powerful storm without knowing what to do is facing an all-powerful God without knowing who he is. We are so thrilled to have the privilege to say to you, "You need to know this Jesus who is so caring, so purposeful in what he brings into our lives, so committed to revealing himself to you." Look at what he does, how protective he is of these men.
3._ God is protective._ Let me make two quick observations about that. These guys… It says he sent them away. I think there are two reasons he sent them away. First, because they needed to learn some stuff, but also because he knew they couldn't handle what was about to happen. In John, chapter 6, there's a little telling of the story of the feeding of the 5,000. John gives us this information, which Mark doesn't.
"And so they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten. When therefore the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, 'This is of a truth the Prophet who is to come into the world.' Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone."
Do you see what happened? Jesus knew what was going to happen when he did this. When you meet the physical material needs of people in the way Jesus did, he knew the multitudes were going to go, "I don't know who I'm going to vote for in the next election, but I'm going to make this guy king right now. I'm going to go everywhere he goes. This brother can take care of us, because that was fresh bread and fresh fish, and we didn't do jack. All we did was sit there in circles, and guys who knew him came to us and gave us our every need. Let's make him king."
The disciples, who still had a limited view of who Jesus was… Some of them were radical zealots who wanted Jesus to go and take that throne. Jesus was not here to take a political kingship yet. He was here to deliver people from a spiritual oppression. There will be a day when he will show himself to be the lion of Judah, the King of all the nations. He will reign, but it wasn't time yet.
He took his boys, and he protected them from what surely would have been an overwhelming temptation. Which is, "Do you know Jesus?"
"We're going to make him king."
"Great. Let's go tell him. I bet you I can be a senator at least." Off they go.
"Hey, man, you're going to be king, and we're your best friends, right? We're going to be in your cabinet. This is going to be awesome. We're going to get to go into the War Room. I've always wanted to be in the War Room. This is awesome. You're going to be king!"
Jesus knew they couldn't handle it, and he protects them in this way. He protects them, I think, from a temptation they could not handle. He said, "You boys go. I'm going to deal with this popular Jesusmania that's about to hit." There's a great verse in Proverbs that says, "The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and a man is tested by the praise accorded him."
There's another storm that can hit you, and it's not just the storm that brings you to your knees. It's when people just swell you up and say, "You are the finest I've ever met." "The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and a man is tested by the praise accorded him." In other words, are you going to believe it?
Jesus was under no illusion about why he was great. He was a servant. Fully God, but fully man who, abiding with the Father, did things no man could do. It says he gave them a few words. I think the words he gave to the multitude were, "You guys don't understand. It's not about having your physical needs met. It's about me meeting your spiritual needs."
This became the context of a sermon in John, chapter 6, where Jesus says, "You want to know something? I am the bread you need, but I'm the Bread of Life. I'm not just a modern-day Moses who can fill up baskets in a desert. I'm the one who can do what Moses could never do, which is to atone for your sin, which is to bring you near God. Trust in me. Now go away, and I'm going to go be with the Father."
While he was away with the Father, he was protecting his disciples, not just from the temptation of praise they couldn't handle, but from a storm they couldn't see their way through. What a loving God.
4._ God is patient._ Lastly (and doesn't this encourage you?), how patient he is with these guys. Do you blow it? Have you enough revelation you think you have your arms around Jesus, you're really going to trust him, and you just all of a sudden start looking other directions for help? How patient. We have a Lord whose purposes are to save us from the penalty of sin, but he is about delivering us from the power of sin, in his lovingkindness and compassions which are new every morning.
Have you blown it this week, disciple, fully-devoted follower of Christ? Have you blown it? Have you spoken harsh words in anger? Have you just indulged the flesh? Well, he loves you. "Take courage. Do not be afraid. It is I. Let me speak peace to your hearts." What a God! What a God. Let's pray.
Father, I thank you that we can know you because you were so concerned with us that you sent your Son, the visible image of the invisible God, where all the fullness of deity dwelt in him. I thank you, Lord, that you are so patient with me. I thank you that your grace and your striving is consistent with me in my hardness of heart.
I've seen so many things. I've been blessed so many times, and yet I still look so many ways, look to indulge my flesh, look to indulge my pride, looking to indulge myself in things that are not befitting of the follower of Christ. I thank you for your grace that strives with me and says, "Take courage, as I pass by you yet again to reveal more of who I am. Don't be afraid. Get me in the boat, and I'll get you to your desired haven."
I pray there would be some folks in this room today who would get you in the boat, Lord, and would take advantage of your grace, who would celebrate the fact that you are merciful to fools and little children, and that you'll grow us up into strong abiding disciples who change the world.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek, the powerful if you will, who throttle and submit their energy and their passion and their strength to a King. A broken and contrite heart you will not despise. He knows when tears are true. Whether that means your tears are out there because you've never known a father who loves that way, you can come now.
Whether it's because this week or this month, you've just lost your way, come. Now is the time to worship. We didn't start worship at 10:30. We live in worship as followers of Christ. If you don't know what it means to be a follower of Christ, come. We'd love to visit with you. For those of you who do, let's go. By the power of that Jesus, let's love the world he died for. Let's go farther on together. Have a great week.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. This volume covers Mark 6:6 through Mark 8:38.