Brave The Waves
BRAVE THE WAVES
Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd
Cortland Church of Christ / July 17, 2016
A word about Mike & Nancy Jacobs … the Ashtabula youth group way back in the 70’s … getting “veeled” or “gekked”.
Our Summer Youth Retreat (Camp 2:52) begins this afternoon at 3pm and concludes Friday evening.
The theme for this year’s retreat, chosen by our tenth-year directors, is BRAVE.
One of my aims, since becoming the camp gopher, is to stay connected, with our summer youth retreat.
Since some of you know that I have a tendency to micro-manage, perhaps even to a fault (this is a confession),
you have not hesitated to remind me from time to time (with a bit of delight, I might add) that I’m not in charge.
Over the several weeks preceding our retreat, I typically try to preach on the general theme of camp.
I do this, not with any intention of trying to steal anybody’s thunder, but because there is almost always
something to be gained by hearing The word of God addressed by different people and from different angles.
Some of you teens may ask, why are we studying about David & Goliath … and Shadrack, Meshach & Abed-nego
and Peter walking on the water before camp if we’re going to study the same thing during camp.
I have three brief responses to that question.
First - - in all honesty, in early June I did not know what direction Michael Donnell was going to go with his class.
Secondly, even if I would have known Michael’s specific teaching plan in advance, repetition is a key to learning.
It’s not that you young people are slow-learners, it’s that the well of Scripture is very deep and full of rich applications.
I am optimistic that our advance studies will have actually served to enhance your Biblical studies this coming week.
And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, you pre-teens and teens are about to enjoy a real spiritual feast this week,
but many (most) of our church family will not be at camp - - and so I am trying to allow them to vicariously
(from a distance) get a little taste of Camp 2:52 - - and tap in to the Biblical theme that will be expounded upon.
One of church shepherds, Vic Rossi, prays often that we not take things for granted.
What you young people are about to embark upon and soak up - - many have never tasted or experienced.
Very few churches have had the privilege of having such a central role in hosting 40 consecutive summer youth retreats.
This morning I want to speak from the text of? Mt.14:22:33.
Please follow along as we read this text from start to finish.
This story comes on the heels of the beheading of John the Baptizer (Mt.14:1-12).
When Jesus heard it, He withdrew from there in a boat, to a lonely place to be by Himself / Mt.14:13
A multitude of people followed from a distance along the shoreline and met Him when He came ashore.
We could assume (correctly so) that all day long Jesus was busy teaching and healing.
When the evening came the disciples urged Jesus to send everybody home so they could get some dinner.
Jesus said, They do not need to go away…give them something to eat / vs.16
The apostles replied by saying we only have five loaves of bread and two fish.
What follows is the feeding of the 5,000 - - i.e., 5,000 men plus women and children - - probably 15,000+.
And if that whopper of a miracle wasn’t enough, they gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers.
Jesus is exhausted. We may never know how much of a toll it took to perform such miracles and teach such crowds.
Jesus wants to head to mountain – not to take a nap, but TO PRAY – vs.46
But first He sends His disciples to the opposite shore of the Sea of Galilee (a.k.a., sea of Gennesaret).
The feeding of the multitude took place on the NE coast in Bethsaida Julius.
Jesus directs his apostles go by ship to the NW coast to another town simply called Bethsaida - - near Capernaum.
We need to note the language here - - Jesus “made” them go - - i.e., he constrained them!
This NE port was a flashpoint of trouble and it fell under the jurisdiction of an unsympathetic King Herod.
Jn.6:15 also notes that Jesus knew that the multitudes were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king.
Jesus knew that His time was not yet and He wanted to prevent His disciples from getting caught up in the excitement.
Jesus sent them away and He went to pray.
Vs.47 states: when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the Sea, and He was alone on the land. 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.
While Jesus was struggling in prayer His apostles were struggling to stay afloat.
Some translations render their predicament using phrases like,
battered … nearly swamped … plunged under the waves … hit by waves … grievously agitated.
Candor demands that we pause here and ask,
“If Jesus is God and God is all-knowing, didn’t Jesus know the storm was brewing?”
The answer is “Yes!” He knew - - - And this gets to the very heart of how this story applies to our daily lives.
As we saw in our study in the Psalms last Sunday, God does not always choose to be “The Great Preventer”.
THE STORMS OF LIFE ARE OFTEN HUMBLING BUT THEY CAN BE WONDERFUL INSTRUCTORS!
The waves may sometimes appear ominous and deadly, but they have the power to refine us and mold us.
So here we see Jesus making His disciples brave the waves.
They did this on a previous occasion (Mt.8:23-27), but in that instance Jesus was on board with them.
This time they are in the midst of the sea (literally in the middle) sometime between 3AM-6AM.
The Sea of Galilee is about 10 miles wide at it widest point - - they were in a narrower section about 4 miles out).
On this night they were in the boat without Jesus.
I’m convinced that this was a training session to help prepare them for the soon-coming absence of Jesus.
We cannot escape this truth - - JESUS PUT THEM THERE!
Sometimes God sends storms of CORRECTION (such was the case with Jonah when He tried to flee from God).
But God also sends storms of PERFECTION (designed to help us grow and mature). In this case, it seems that
Jesus waited until the ship was as far from land as possible so that all human hope was gone…removing every human prop.
Remembering that Jesus put them in the boat (i.e., he constrained them to go) - - If we get nothing else out of this story,
surely we can rightly conclude that obedience to God does not always guarantee us smooth-sailing.
These ferocious waves and this terrifying storm were part of God’s plan to help them grow.
Jesus was neither sadistic nor unkind - - rather, He was showing them great love.
Every parent knows that it is sometimes very helpful to “push their children” to help them develop.
We might long to stay in our comfort zone, but real growth comes when we are s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d.
STORMS ARE SELDOM EASY, BUT THEY ARE NECESSARY.
One of the songs you’ll learn at camp this week (Every Giant Will Fall) has this line in the lyrics:
There’s pain within the plan … there is hope within the fight.
In the gospels, the apostles help feed the 5,000 and immediately afterwards they went through a storm.
In the books of Acts (Acts 4:4), 5,000 men are converted to Christ and shortly thereafter a storm of persecution erupts.
Let’s look at one more unanticipated twist in this story and then we will close in prayer.
Only Matthew’s gospel tells of this additional episode - - cf. Mt.14:28f
Jesus went to the apostles. In so doing we witness a trio of not-so-minor miracles.
1) He knew they were in distress.
2) He found them in the raging sea, in the dark, in the midst of a tumultuous storm.
3) Jesus walked on the water.
When they saw Him approaching they didn’t know it was HIM - - they thought it was an apparition (ghost).
Jesus spoke to them saying, Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid / vs.27
And then Peter bids the Lord to “command me to come to you on the water” (vs.28) and Jesus told him, “Come”.
Peter got out of the boat and began walking on the water.
Vs.30 states: seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’.
We might be too quick in criticizing Peter on this matter - - some accuse him of being a “showboat” (excuse the pun).
When you read the gospels you might observe sometimes Peter appears to act impulsively.
But maybe this is neither showing-off or impulsivity. Maybe it’s actually a desire on Peter’s part to test his own faith.
In the story of Shadrack, Meshach and Abed-nego, we postulated that they we likely familiar with
the words of Isaiah the prophet Isaiah (who wrote about 100 years before the time of Daniel):
Isa.43:2b states God’s promise - - when you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.
Surely the apostles knew the writings of Isaiah - - it is quite likely that they had them memorized.
In the same verse, Isa.43a we read God’s promise - - when you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
Peter’s problem was not that he ventured out of the boat. His problem was that his faith faltered in the process.
His immediate (and very frightening) danger turned his faith into doubt.
He took his eyes off of Jesus and began to focus on the elements (the wind and the waves).
I’ll close with one of my all-time favorite verses and one more brief comment.
This verse is found in the book of Hebrews, which was written to help encourage those who were being persecuted.
Paul exhorts those early Christians to reflect upon and remember the faith of those in Old Testament times.
(Esther … David … Daniel + Shadrack, Meshach and Abed-nego). Heb.12:1-2 states - -
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance,
and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, FIXING OUR EYES UPON JESUS, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…
Another song that you’ll learn at camp this week (You Make Me Brave by Amanda Cook) has these words:
Draw me out beyond the shore into Your GRACE … You call me out beyond the shore into the waves.
These words provide a key to helping us transform both our thinking and our acts of faith.
COULD IT BE THAT THE WAVES WE FACE ARE ACTUALLY EXPRESSIONS OF GOD’S LOVING GRACE?
If God’s grace is present in the waves as this Biblical account affirms clearly, then let us determine to brave the waves.