STRAINING AT THE OARS MARK 6:45-52 “And having seen that they were troubled and tormented in [their] rowing, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night [between 3:00-6:00 a.m.] He came to them, walking [directly] on the sea. And He acted as if He meant to pass by them,” (v48)

Oar often acts as rudder, which is a device used for steering and manoeuvring a vessel. They are located normally at the stern behind propellers to produce a transverse force and steering moment about the ship centre of gravity by deflecting the water flow to the direction of the foil plane and when the oar struck against something very hard, it broke with a snap- straining at the oars. Last week we said that almost everyone longs for their lives to be full of joy and satisfaction. When our Creator created us His intention was that we would be content. And the contentment Lord Jesus makes available is unlike every other kind of contentment that we may experience in this life. However, it’s important to be aware that true contentment is not something you manufacture, but something you receive. In reality you cannot generate contentment in your soul any more than you can generate love. Despite the wide use of the phrase ‘make love’ or ‘making love’, strictly speaking this is not possible. You can express love, you can even make pretence of love, but you cannot create or make love. It is the same with contentment since you cannot create or make contentment. Contentment, literally defined is a state of happiness and satisfaction and contentment is flirtatious: being flirtatious, that is having the tendency of being attracted to someone else, if you follow or chase after contentment without having the potentials that leads to contentment which is being hardworking, zealousness, consistency and focus, contentment eludes you: but once you turn from contentment and interest yourself in something or someone else with those potentials and you may win or attain contentment. There is no escaping the above phenomenon in life if you want to get or attain contentment: it is a law of our very being as far as contentment is concern. Scripture and our modern-day psychologists are one here, and the experience of millions in contentment confirms this findings or law of our being. Some of the most miserable people in the world are those who are bent most on finding contentment. So because contentment is not obtained by chasing or going after her directly, the individual ends up losing it! In the passage before us today we see that the disciples were ‘straining at the oars’, rowing in the dark and getting nowhere. Whenever you find yourself “straining at the oars”, God calls out to you – into the midst of your storm – into the midst of your fears – into the midst of your weakness – into the midst of your pain – “It Is a journey of faith”. The account in John’s Gospel tells us that when the disciples took Lord Jesus into the boat, ‘immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading as seen in John 6:21 which reads “21 Then they were quite willing and glad for Him to come into the boat. And now the boat went at once to the land they had steered toward. [And immediately they reached the shore toward which they had been slowly making their way.]”. This is how it is with contentment. When we strive to achieve it we ‘strain at the oars’. But when we let Lord Jesus in, we are at the place where we were heading.

  Here we want to consider, When the Going Gets Tough Mark 6:45-52:

There is a great variety of observable passages we have, in this chapter, concerning our Lord Jesus, the substance of all which we had before in Matthew, but diverse circumstances we have, which we did not there meet with. Here is, 1. Christ contemned by His countrymen, because He was one of them, and they knew, or thought they knew, His original as seen in Mark 6:1-6, contemn means to treat with contempt. 2. The just power He gave His apostles over unclean spirits, and an account given of their negotiation as seen in Mark 6:7-13. 3. A strange notion which Herod and others had of Christ, upon which occasion we have the story of the martyrdom of John Baptist as seen in Mark 6:14-29 4. Christ’s retirement into a desert place with His disciples the crowds that followed Him thither to receive instruction from Him and His feeding five thousand of them with only five loaves and two fishes as seen in Mark 6:30-44. 5. Christ’s walking upon the sea to His disciples, and the abundance of cures He wrought on the other side of the water as seen in Mark 6:45-56. From verses 45-56 here we have, a. The dispersing of the assembly Christ constrained His disciples to go before by ship to Bethsaida, intending to follow them, as supposed, by land. The people were loath, reluctant or unwilling to scatter, so that it cost Him some time and pains to send them away. For now that they had got a good supper, they were in no haste to leave Him. But as long as we are here in this world, we have no continuing city, no not in communion with Christ. The everlasting feast is reserved for the future state. b. Christ departed into a mountain, to pray. Observe, 1. He prayed though He had so much preaching-work upon His hands, yet He was much in prayer He prayed often, and prayed long, which is an encouragement to us to depend upon the intercession. 2. He went alone, to pray though He needed not to retire for the avoiding either of distraction or of ostentation, yet, to set us an example, and to encourage us in our secret addresses to God, He prayed alone, and, for want of a closet, went up into a mountain, to pray. A good man is never alone than when alone with God. c. The disciples were in distress at sea. The wind was contrary as seen in Mark 6:48 “48 And having seen that they were troubled and tormented in [their] rowing, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night [between 3:00-6:00 a.m.] He came to them, walking [directly] on the sea. And He acted as if He meant to pass by them”, this issue describes how we encounter with difficulty in our life as we live life that the Creator has ordained for us to live on earth so here we see that the disciples being sent forth by the Lord Jesus were distressed and toiled in rowing, and could not get forward because the wind was against them just like/as life obstacles hindering us. This was a specimen of the hardships they were to expect, when hereafter He should send them abroad to preach the gospel it would be like sending them to sea at this time with the wind in their teeth: they must expect to toil in rowing, they must work hard to strive against so strong a stream they must likewise expect to be tossed with waves, to be persecuted by their enemies and by exposing them now He intended to train them up for such difficulties, that they might learn to endure hardship. The church is often like a ship at sea, tossed with tempests, and not comforted we may have Christ for us, and yet wind and tide against us but it is a comfort to Christ’s disciples in a storm, which is a figure that their Master is in the heavenly mount, interceding for them. d. Christ made them a kind visit upon the water to meet with His disciples in the time of their trouble and save them. He could have checked the winds, where He was, or have sent an angel to their relief but He chose to help them in the most endearing manner possible, and therefore came to them Himself. i. Notice that He did not come till the fourth watch of the night, not till after three O’clock in the morning but then He came. Note, if Christ’s visits to His people be deferred long, yet at length He will surely come and their extremity or when their hope was about to be lost is His opportunity to appear for them so much the more seasonably. Though the salvation tarries, yet we must wait for it at the end it shall speak, in the fourth watch of the night, and not lie. ii. He came, walking upon the water which is a supernatural phenomenon that symbolizes that His coming depicts some element of miracle or supernaturalness. The sea was now tossed with waves, and yet Christ came, walking upon it for though the floods lift up their voice, the Lord on high is mightier as seen in Psalms 93:3, 4 “3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up the roaring of their waves. 4 The Lord on high is mightier and more glorious than the noise of many waters, yes, than the mighty breakers and waves of the sea”. No difficulties can obstruct Christ’s gracious appearances for His people, when the set time is come. He will either find, or force, a way through the most tempestuous sea, for their deliverance as seen in Psalms 42:7, 8 “7 [Roaring] deep calls to [roaring] deep at the thunder of Your waterspouts; all Your breakers and Your rolling waves have gone over me. 8 Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” Can you see how King David used his psalms to prophetically give a revelation of the things that the Messiah Lord Jesus will do when He comes for an individual to save him or her? iii. He would have passed by them, that is, He set His face and steered His course, as if He would have gone further, and took no notice of them this He did, to awaken them to call to Him. Note, Providence, when it is acting designedly and directly for the succour of God’s people, yet sometimes seems as if it were giving them the go-by, and regarded not their case. They thought that He would, but we may be sure that He would not, have passed by them. So you see that it is very important that we implicitly understand whatever the Lord Jesus is doing and whatever He does knowing that He will always act on our behalf. iv. They were frightened at the sight of Him, supposing Him to have been an apparition as seen in Mark 6:50 “50 For they all saw Him and were agitated (troubled and filled with fear and dread). But immediately He talked with them and said, Take heart! I Am! Stop being alarmed and afraid”, thinking it had been some demon or evil genius, which haunted them, and raised this storm. We often get perplex and frighten ourselves with phantasms, the creatures of our own fancy and imagination. v. He encouraged them, and silenced their fears, by making Himself known to them He talked familiarly with them, saying, “Be of good cheer, it is I be not afraid”. Note that from this display, a. We know not Christ till He is pleased to reveal Himself to us. “It is I your Master, I your friend, I your Redeemer and Saviour. It is I, that came to a troublesome earth, and now to a tempestuous sea, to look after you.” b. The knowledge of Christ, as He is in Himself, and near to us, is enough to make the Disciples of Christ cheerful even in a storm, and no longer fearful. If it be so, why am I thus fearful? If it is Christ that is with thee, be of good cheer, be not afraid. Our fears are soon satisfied, if our mistakes be but rectified, especially our mistakes concerning Christ. See Genesis 21:19 “19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the [empty] bottle with water and caused the youth to drink”, 2 Kings 6:15-17 “15 When the servant of the man of God rose early and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was around the city. Elisha’s servant said to him, Alas, my master! What shall we do? 16 [Elisha] answered, Fear not; for those with us are more than those with them. 17 Then Elisha prayed, Lord, I pray You, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha”. Christ’s presence with us in a stormy day, is enough to make us be of good cheer, though clouds and darkness be round about us. He said, it is I. He doth not tell them who He was (there was no occasion), they knew His voice, as the sheep know the voice of their own shepherd as seen in John 10:4 “4 When he has brought his own sheep outside, he walks on before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice”. How readily doth the spouse say, once and again, it is the voice of my beloved! Song of Song of Solomon 2:8 “8 [Vividly she pictured it] The voice of my beloved [shepherd]! Behold, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. John 10:27 “27The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me”, Songs of Solomon 5:2 “2 I went to sleep, but my heart stayed awake. [I dreamed that I heard] the voice of my beloved as he knocked [at the door of my mother's cottage]. Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my spotless one [he said], for I am wet with the [heavy] night dew; my hair is covered with it. Job 11:13-15 “13If you set your heart aright and stretch out your hand to [God] 14 If you put sin out of your hand and far away from you and let not evil dwell in your tent; 15 Then can you lift up your face to Him without stain [of sin, and unashamed]; yes, you shall be steadfast and secure; you shall not fear.]”. He said ego eimi –I am He or I am it is God’s name, when He comes to deliver Israel as seen in Exodus 3:14 we read “14 And God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am and What I Am, and I Will Be What I Will Be; and He said, You shall say this to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you!”. So it is Christ’s, now that He come to deliver His disciples. When Christ said to those that came to apprehend Him by force, I am He, they were struck down by it as seen in John 18:6 “6 When Jesus said to them, I am He, they went backwards (drew back, lurched backward) and fell to the ground”. When He said to those that come to apprehend Him by faith, I am He, they are raised up by it, and comforted. vi. He went up to them into the ship, embarked in the same bottom with them, and so made them perfectly easy. Let them but have their Master with them, and all is well. And as soon as He was come into the ship, the wind ceased. In the former storm that they were in, it is said, He arose, and rebuked the winds, and said to the sea, Peace, be still as seen in Mark 4:39 “39 And He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Hush now! Be still (muzzled)! And the wind ceased ([a]sank to rest as if exhausted by its beating) and there was [immediately] a great calm ([b]a perfect peacefulness)” but here we read of no such formal command given, only the wind ceased all of a sudden. Note, Our Lord Jesus will be sure to do His own work always effectually, though not always alike solemnly, and with observation. Though we hear not the command given, yet, if thus the wind cease, and we have the comfort of a calm, say, it is because Christ is in the ship, and His decree is gone forth or ever we are aware, Song of Song of Solomon 6:12 “12 Before I was aware [of what was happening], my desire [to roam about] had brought me into the area of the princes of my people [the king’s retinue]”. When we come with Christ to heaven, the wind ceaseth presently there are no storms in the upper region. vii. They were more surprised and astonished at this miracle than did become them, and there was that as the bottom of their astonishment, which was really culpable. They were sore amazed in themselves, were in a perfect ecstasy as if it were a new and unaccountable thing, as if Christ had never done the like before, and they had no reason to expect He should do it now they ought to admire the power of Christ, and to be confirmed hereby in their belief of His being the Son of God: but why all this confusion about it? It was because they considered not the miracle of the loaves had they given that its due weight, they would not had been so much surprised at this for His multiplying the bread was as great an instance of His power as His walking on the water. They were strangely stupid and unthinking, and their heart was hardened, or else they would not have thought it a thing incredible that Christ should command calm. It is for want of a right understanding of Christ’s former works, that we are transported at the thought of His present works, as if there never were the like before. Did you get that? The reason we don’t get use to the fact that the Lord Jesus is able and capable to do anything for us is because we do not seem to rightly understand the past things He has done for us. The past things He did for us are suppose to serve as guarantee for the new ones He will do and make us not lack or lose faith in Him. e. When they came to the land of Gennesaret, which lay between Bethsaida and Capernaum, the people bid them very welcome. The men of that place presently knew Lord Jesus as seen in Mark 6:54 “54 As soon as they got out of the boat, [the people] recognized Him”, and knew what mighty works He did wherever He came, what a universal Healer He was they knew likewise that He used to stay but a little while at a place, and therefore they were concerned to improve the opportunity of this kind visit which He made them. They ran through that whole region round about, with all possible expedition, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, and not able to go themselves there was no danger of their getting cold when they hoped to get a cure, as seen in Mark 6:55 “55 And they ran about the whole countryside, and began to carry around sick people on their sleeping pads or mats to any place where they heard that He was”. Let Him go where He would, He was crowded with patients –in towns, in the cities, in the villages about the cities they laid the sick in the streets, to be in His way, and begged leave for them to touch if it were but the border of His garment, as the woman with the bloody issue did, by whom, it should seem, this method of application was first brought in and as many as touched it, were made whole. We do not find that they were desirous to be taught by Him, only to be healed. If ministers could not cure people’s bodily diseases, what multitudes would attend them! But it is sad to think how much more concerned the most of men are about their bodies than about their souls. Do you see how wise people think and do? Using the former things to get themselves prepared for the new, unlike us who want the Lord to teach us everything one by one and even when He does we want to do our own and when we land ourselves into trouble we cry and call at Him as if He is the one that caused our failure, we will no longer blame our self! Let us begin by reading Mark 6:45-52: 45 And at once He insisted that the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He was sending the throng away. 46 And after He had taken leave of them, He went off into the hills to pray. 47 Now when evening had come, the boat was out in the middle of the lake, and He was by Himself on the land. 48 And having seen that they were troubled and tormented in [their] rowing, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night [between 3:00-6:00 a.m.] He came to them, walking [directly] on the sea. And He acted as if He meant to pass by them, 49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and [u]raised a [deep, throaty] shriek of terror. 50 For they all saw Him and were agitated (troubled and filled with fear and dread). But immediately He talked with them and said, Take heart! I Am! Stop being alarmed and afraid. 51 And He went up into the boat with them, and the wind ceased ([v]sank to rest as if exhausted by its own beating). And they were astonished exceedingly [beyond measure], 52 For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had [w]grown callous [had become dull and had [x]lost the power of understanding].

  Introduction:

That is exactly what we do today that when the previous miraculous things He did for us have lasted long we tend to forget and develop a new unbelief. Have you ever thought about how often in the Scriptures we encounter stories with the basic elements of (1) Lord Jesus, (2) the disciples, (3) a boat, and (4) a stormy sea? If you are a regular reader of the Bible, you're pretty familiar with that basic "plot" in the stories of the New Testament. I think the reason those stories connect with us so well is because we really can't find anything that would better illustrate the feel of "circumstances that are out of our control" than the picture of a boat being helplessly tossed around at sea. And we who find ourselves in such circumstances will never find greater words of encouragement than those of Lord Jesus to His disciples in those stormy times. I wish I could tell you that when you truly and sincerely come to Lord Jesus, all your problems will be over. I wish I could tell you that when you give your life to God, it will all be clear sailing. I wish I could tell you that following Lord Jesus means an easy life and an easy road. But I can’t tell you any of those things, because I would be lying. Life is tough for everyone, Christians included. In fact, in some ways life for the Christian can be even tougher, because God tells you to do hard things. Let me tell you right now, if you are a follower of Lord Jesus, you are going to face some tough times in life. Lord Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” As seen in John 16: 33 “33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” And so as we look at this miracle of Lord Jesus walking on the water today, I would like to give you three things to remember when you are going through a tough time. Three things to remember when the going gets tough: 1) You are never out of God’s sight, 2) You are never out of God’s reach, 3) You are never out of God’s care. Everyone goes through tough times in life. But when you are a Christian, you have these three promises from God to help you when the going gets tough.

  I. You are never out of God’s sight (verses 45-48a):

First of all, you are never out of God’s sight. The disciples were in a tough spot. They were out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee at night fighting a strong headwind and not making any headway. But how did they get into this spot? Verse 45 says that Jesus sent them there. Did you hear that? Where ever the Lord God wants you to go and wants you to be just be ready to know that there will be troubles to contend with but He will surely be with you! Immediately Lord Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida, while He dismissed the crowd as seen in Mark 6:45 which reads, “45 And at once He insisted that the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He was sending the throng away.” Lord Jesus “made” His disciples get into the boat. This is a very strong word in the Greek meaning “to force or compel.” I don’t know how many of you still remember how the Lord forced His daughter to take up an employment in Anambra State which otherwise she was not ready to take because she wants to stay in Enugu. Now I don’t think Lord Jesus threatened the disciples or used actual force, but He certainly commanded them to get into the boat and go on ahead of Him. And so the disciples were in a tight spot just as I know His daughter was because they were following Lord Jesus’ commands. How many of us like to follow Lord Jesus command? So much for the idea that following Lord Jesus will never get you into trouble. But the important thing to remember here is that just because you are in a tough spot does not mean that you are not right where God wants you. Sometimes following Christ means going through trials. Lord Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him because He had a purpose for the trial they would face. So Lord Jesus sends the disciples across the sea in the boat, He dismisses the crowd, and then He goes up on the mountain to pray. Look at verses 46-48: After leaving them, He went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and He was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them as seen in Mark 6:46-48 which reads, “46 And after He had taken leave of them, He went off into the hills to pray. 47 Now when evening had come, the boat was out in the middle of the lake, and He was by Himself on the land. 48 And having seen that they were troubled and tormented in [their] rowing, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night [between 3:00-6:00 a.m.] He came to them, walking [directly] on the sea. And He acted as if He meant to pass by them,” So the disciples are stuck in the middle of the lake fighting the winds, and Lord Jesus is up on the mountainside praying. Was He praying for the disciples? We don’t know. But as He looked down on the Sea of Galilee, He saw the disciples in their predicament. I believe this is actually the first of three miracles we find in this passage. The Sea of Galilee is about four miles across, and so the disciples were at least two miles away at this time. Now maybe on a clear day from an elevated position you might just possibly make out a small boat on the lake from two miles away. I doubt you could identify the boat or its occupants, but you might be able to spot it. But at night time with the wind whipping up the water and the waves? There’s not a chance. And so I believe a miracle of seeing took place here or call it that He saw them through the power of seeing vision. Lord Jesus somehow was able to look out over the lake and saw the disciples straining at the oars. But whether this was a miracle of seeing or not, the principle for us is the same. You are never out of God’s sight. You might feel that you are stuck out in the middle of nowhere far away from God’s watchful eye, but it’s not true. God sees it all. He knows your situation. He knows what you’re going through. Whenever you are in a tough spot, remember this. You are never out of God’s sight. II. You are never out of God’s reach (verses 48b-50): Secondly, you are never out of God’s reach. Look at verse 48: About the fourth watch of the night He went out to them, walking on the lake as seen in Mark 6:48b which reads, “for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night [between 3:00-6:00 a.m.] He came to them, walking [directly] on the sea. And He acted as if He meant to pass by them” Lord Jesus was on land, and the disciples were out in the middle of the lake. It would seem they were out of Lord Jesus’ reach, but then Lord Jesus comes walking right out to them. Now this is the big miracle of the story – Lord Jesus walking on the surface of water, a phenomenon that is absolutely humanly impossible because no human can walk on water. Once again, skeptics have tried to come up with all sorts of explanations for what happened here but the reality remains the reality. One known fact is that the disciples saw Lord Jesus walking around the shore of the lake in the shallows. Of course it doesn’t explain how Lord Jesus spoke to them or climbed into their boat from two miles away. No, this was a true miracle, Lord Jesus walking on top of the water, demonstrating His power over nature and His own true nature as God. In the Old Testament only God walked on the water and had power over the sea as seen in Job 9:8 which says, “Who alone stretches out the heavens and treads upon the waves and high places of the sea.” And so by this miracle Lord Jesus was showing that He is truly God by doing a thing which only Him have the power to do which He has always done according to the book of Job above. So you can see how the Lord Jesus tried to often let the people of the world to know that He is God but their scepticism (doubt as to the truth of something) didn’t allow them to believe in Him. Today we are faced with similar situation, in spite of the numerous facts about Lord Jesus yet many of us are still hypocritical in our belief of Him. Mark continues in verse 48: He was about to pass by the disciples, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Lord Jesus and were terrified as seen in Mark 6:48-50 which reads, “48 And having seen that they were troubled and tormented in [their] rowing, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night [between 3:00-6:00 a.m.] He came to them, walking [directly] on the sea. And He acted as if He meant to pass by them, 49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and [u]raised a [deep, throaty] shriek of terror. 50 For they all saw Him and were agitated (troubled and filled with fear and dread). But immediately He talked with them and said, Take heart! I Am! Stop being alarmed and afraid.” Here the disciples were stuck out in the middle of the lake, and Lord Jesus comes to them to help them, but they didn’t recognize Him. They can’t comprehend a human being walking on the water, so they assume He must be a ghost. Lord Jesus was about to pass right by them, and they almost missed Him. You are never out of God’s reach, but sometimes you don’t recognize it when God comes to rescue you. Sometimes God’s rescue seems frightening, because you don’t understand it all. God can be right there ready to help you, but you need to be ready to accept His help and respond the way He wants you to respond. You need to realize that wherever you go, God is there. Psalm 139 makes it clear in verses 7 to 10 when it says: 7 Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” You might feel like you are stuck out in the middle of the sea going nowhere in life, far away from any help or rescue, but remember, God is always there. You are never out of God’s reach or presence. III. You are never out of God’s care (verses 51-56): You are never out of God’s sight. You are never out of God’s reach. And finally, you are never out of God’s care. Look at verse 51. The disciples were terrified when they saw Lord Jesus, but immediately He spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down and stopped. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the miracle of the loaves and fishes; their hearts were hardened as seen in Mark 6:51-52 which reads, “51 And He went up into the boat with them, and the wind ceased ([v]sank to rest as if exhausted by its own beating). And they were astonished exceedingly [beyond measure], 52 For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had [w]grown callous [had become dull and had [x]lost the power of understanding].” You are never out of God’s care. When you are in a tough spot or in difficult situation, it is easy to believe that God has forgotten you, or that God has abandoned you, or that God just doesn’t care. Nothing could be farther from the truth for this is how all of us feel. It is very important for us to know that God does care for you in the midst of the storm, and we need to trust His purposes even when we don’t understand them. I don’t know and I don’t think anybody know why Lord Jesus let the disciples battle the wind all night long before He went out to them on the water. I mean, Mark tells us Lord Jesus saw them struggling early in the evening, but Lord Jesus didn’t actually go out to rescue them immediately not until the fourth watch of the night. The Romans divided the night up into four watches with the fourth watch lasting from 3-6am. So the disciples had been at pretty problem of a near ship wreck much all night when Lord Jesus came out to them about three in the morning. I don’t know why God sometimes allows us to go through such difficult times, but I do know that God uses our times of trial to teach us, to train us, to develop our faith and our character. But do we learn anything about our weakness and wrong attitude from the things we pass through? Unfortunately, we have this terrible tendency and arrogance to push God away when we need Him the most, to push aside His helps and do our own even when experience has shown us that our own fails. What if the disciples had pushed Lord Jesus away after He identified Himself to them and ignore Him and continue with their efforts to save themselves from the ship wreck? Can you imagine Lord Jesus just standing there on the water while the disciples rail their arrogance against Him saying: “Why are we out here in the middle of the lake going nowhere? Why did You send us out here to begin with? Why did it take You so long to get here? What, do You think that we’re going to let You get into the boat with us now?” But that is exactly the kind of statement that we often make either in our heart or even openly when we are in trouble or is it not? Trusting God’s purposes even when you don’t understand them is our greatest problem or is it not? Believing that God cares for you even when life hurts so much is our headache or is it not? Don’t let Lord Jesus pass you by in your stubbornness, foolishness and crazy arrogance, but welcome Him into the boat with you. Don’t push the Lord God away when you need Him the most. Lord Jesus climbed into the boat with the disciples, and that’s when the third miracle in this passage occurred – the winds died down and everything was calm again. So from this knowledge know that your problems, failures and difficulties in life don’t come to an end because you have not welcome Lord Jesus into your life boat. Truly and sincerely let Lord Jesus come in and all your troubles will disappear and calm and peace will come into your life. Mark tells us that the disciples “were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the miracle of the loaves; their hearts were hardened” as seen in Mark 6:52 “52 For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had [w]grown callous [had become dull and had [x]lost the power of understanding].” The disciples still needed to grow in their faith just as it is with us today. Lord Jesus had just fed a crowd of five thousand with a few loaves of bread. God’s miraculous provision of the loaves in the past should have taught them that God would take care of them in the present. Lord Jesus had already calmed an earlier storm. Now He walked across the water to them, got into the boat, and did the calming of the storm and winds again. But in spite of all these the disciples just like us still did not fully understand who Lord Jesus was yet and even what He is capable of doing, and so these things continued to astonish them. Anyone who wants to follow the Lord God must be ready to know that all the circumstances and events He leads you into and make you pass through in life are all meant to teach, train and shape your weakness, bad character, your scepticism and wrong attitudes which otherwise will marred your efforts in life and result to life failures. Mark finishes off this section with a summary passage of Lord Jesus’ healing ministry. Look at verses 53-56: When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Lord Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard He was. And wherever He went — into villages, towns or countryside — they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged Him to let them touch even the edge of His cloak, and all who touched Him were healed. As seen in Mark 6:53-56 “53 And when they had crossed over, they reached the land of Gennesaret and [y]came to [anchor at] the shore. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, [the people] recognized Him, 55 And they ran about the whole countryside, and began to carry around sick people on their sleeping pads or mats to any place where they heard that He was. 56 And wherever He came into villages or cities or the country, they would lay the sick in the marketplaces and beg Him that they might touch even the fringe of His outer garment, and as many as touched Him were restored to health.” Notice the contrast here between the disciples and the people. The disciples thought Lord Jesus was a ghost and almost let Him pass them by. The people recognized Lord Jesus as soon as He comes ashore. The disciples were amazed at Lord Jesus’ power because they still did not understand in spite of the fact that they are always with Him hearing His teaching and seeing all His miracles. The people believe that Lord Jesus can help them. They go running all over the place bringing the sick to Christ. They believe they can be healed even just by touching the edge of His cloak, and all who touched Him were healed. Is this not the same with what is happening to us today, consider during our annual thanksgiving, you see the people who come from afar struggling to get the ‘’Lord’s drugs’’ and ‘’all purpose oil’’ you hear some of them sleeping on our yearly calendar when they are sick and are healed but those of us here in the headquarters, do we really believe as they do? The answer is No! Why because of our stubbornness, hardness of heart and lack of understanding in the things of Christ. Once again Lord Jesus’ love and compassion shine through as He goes about healing the common people and ministering to their needs. The message is clear. God loves you. He wants the best for you. You are never out of God’s care.

  Conclusion:

Stop and think with me for a moment about what a tremendous illustration this is of the kind of thing we often experience. You and I may not find ourselves tossed around in a small boat in the midst of a storm (although for some of us, that might have happened). But we do occasionally find ourselves overwhelmed - tossed and thrown around at the mercy of circumstances, situations and events outside our control. It may be because of the loss of a job that you feel yourself thrown in a financial circumstance that is outside your control. It may be a report from the doctor that suddenly throws your life in a whirlwind. It may be that someone in your family, or a relative, or a work associate, is creating a situation that is distressing and intolerable; and there doesn't seem to be anything you can do about it. It may be an issue of the Lord God wanting you to be in a place that is not necessarily where you want to be and there is this big soul war in your inner self between a choice of what God want for you and what you want for yourself. But whatever form the details may take, it has a lot of parallels to being in a storm out on the sea. It's a situation or circumstance that is tossing you around and throwing your life into a blender; and there doesn't seem to be anything you can do to avoid it or put a stop to it. As you can see, a boat being helplessly tossed upon the waves on a stormy sea is an apt picture of life at such times. Perhaps you feel that way right now. Now we can be rest assured that God is in perfect control of the lives of those who have trusted Him. We can take comfort in the fact that, when such times come upon us, it's never because He has forgotten us, or because He is ignoring us, or because He has ceased to love us. In His sovereign wisdom, power and love, He occasionally allows such things to fall upon us; but they never come to us apart from His loving permission and sovereign control. He permits such times to fall upon us because they test us, and train us, and make us grow into the image of His Son Jesus. And so, it is never His will that we despair at such times; as if we were the helpless victims of stormy circumstances. It's His intention that we discover, in some new way, the sufficiency of Jesus in such times. In another context, Paul wrote; "that we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of our deceitful plotting and manoeuvres, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ" as seen in Eph. 4:14-15 “14 So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of [a]unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead. 15 Rather, let our lives lovingly [b]express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)”. Do you see how a true child of should be behaving in the things of the Lord God? He told Timothy that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" as seen in 2 Tim. 1:7 “7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control”. Now, on your own, you ARE helpless at such times. You have no power, in and of yourself, to survive against the stormy circumstances of life. You will most certainly be mercilessly tossed up and down and thrown around by them; and if you rely only on your own resources and strength, you are absolutely right to be terrified by threatening circumstances of life. You can never transcend or overcome them on your own. But you were never MEANT to meet those circumstances on your own; it is not how the Creator designed it. He knows that these circumstances are bound to overwhelm and terrify you and so He wants us to follow, rely on His guidance and allow Him to help us. "In the world you have tribulation," Jesus says; "but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" as seen in John 16:33. You and I, dear brothers or sisters in Christ, CAN meet the storms of life with confidence, peace and a sense of victory - IF we welcome the help, guidance and assistance that Lord Jesus Himself offers us at such times. But I do not know why we like to stubbornly want to do things according to our own will and desire that fails us? I love the beautiful simplicity of those final words: "Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased." The word Mark uses indicates that the wind "grew weary". It began to abate, and the waves grew calm. And what's more, as the apostle John tells the story, "Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going" as seen in John 6:21. How quickly the situation changed, once Lord Jesus got into the boat! It's wonderful enough that Lord Jesus condescends to enter into our times of trial with us. He certainly could have caused the storm to cease by just commanding it to cease while sitting on the safe mountainside. But He walked through the storm and came to them personally. And that's what Lord Jesus does for us too. As it says in Isaiah 41:10; "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." He steps into our situation and does this for us personally! But do we allow Him? We always want to show God that we are wiser than Him, that we know what we are doing, that we can pilot our affairs without Him. Please do not have this type of approach to life circumstances by thinking that you can do it all alone because it leads to disaster and life disappointment because the divine design of life is that only God can see you through life’s needs, and circumstances! But we see even more in this wonderful story. The moment we invite Lord Jesus into the trial with us, the trial is basically over. The waves perhaps still rock and splash a little; and in fact, the word Mark uses suggests that the storm progressively grew quiet and abated. Did you notice that word, that the storm progressively calmed down and stopped but you know that we always want it to stop instantly and where it does not happen that way we begin to lose faith, which is wrong! But the point is that things immediately got better the moment Lord Jesus stepped into the boat with them. The simple principle we're meant to understand from this is that - whatever our trial, whatever our circumstance - things immediately begin to get better the moment we consciously, deliberately, decisively, and sincerely welcome Lord Jesus into the situation with us. Our great problem is that we wait far too long to do so; and tend to turn to Him as our last resort instead of our first trust. We just don't seem to learn this lesson very well; do we? We often want to try on our own and when we start having difficulties then we begin to think on bringing the Lord Jesus in, possibly when it is late! And that leads us to those closing words; and to the lesson that the disciples had failed to learn in all this. Mark writes, " and the wind ceased ([v]sank to rest as if exhausted by its own beating). And they were astonished exceedingly [beyond measure], 52 For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had [w]grown callous [had become dull and had [x]lost the power of understanding]” as seen in vv. 51b-52. It's as if Mark struggles to find the words to describe their amazement. They were astonished "greatly"; and some ancient manuscripts include the phrase "beyond measure". They were greatly amazed "in themselves". Frankly, they were going out of their heads with amazement! And of course, they should have been amazed! But it wasn't their amazement that was the problem. It was WHY they were amazed that was the problem. They were amazed because they hadn't learnt the lesson they should have learnt from the feeding of the 5,000 with few pieces of loaves and fishes- that Lord Jesus is the Son of God, and that He can do anything. A lack of resources is not a hindrance to Him. Trying circumstances do not affect Him in the least. He sees our trials perfectly, transcends our trials powerfully, and presents Himself to us in our trials graciously; and He begins to bring the trial to an end sometimes instantly and sometimes progressively the moment we turn to Him in trust, and invite Him to take control of our circumstances. The disciples didn't expect Lord Jesus to do anything in their "storm"; and when He did, they were amazed out of their minds. Do you see why they didn't expect anything from Lord Jesus in the midst of their trial? It was because "their heart was hardened". They had 'petrified or ossified hearts' that were unresponsive and unimpressionable to the lessons God had intended them to learn from the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Dear brothers or sisters; every trial that God allows to come our way is lovingly guided and directed by Him in a purposeful way. Each trial is so designed by Him that it requires us to go back and remember something that God has already taught us about Himself. And if our heart is impressionable and teachable, we'll be able to see that God has already proven Himself in a past trial in such a way as to give us what we need for a "stormy time" in the present. The disciples had hard hearts, and failed to learn the lessons of faith in their "storm"; but may God soften our hearts, and help us to learn the lessons of faith in ours. You know, when we talk about God, we often talk about how God is all-knowing, He is all-present, and He is all-powerful. Those are the three “omni” words you sometimes hear about God: God is omniscient, He is omnipresent, and He is omnipotent. The word “omni” means “all,” so omniscient means all-knowing, omnipresent means all-present, and omnipotent means all-powerful. And those line up perfectly with the three points of our message today. You are never out of God’s sight, because God is all-knowing. You are never out of God’s reach, because God is all-present. You are never out of God’s care, because God is all-powerful. Perhaps you are going through a difficult time right now. Perhaps you feel like you have been stuck out in the middle of the lake for a long time. Maybe you feel like God has forgotten you, or He has abandoned you, or He just doesn’t care. That’s when you need to remember these three things. You are never out of God’s sight, and so that means God has not forgotten you. You are never out of God’s reach, and so that means God has not abandoned you. You are never out of God’s care, because God loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you. He is the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, all-loving God who knows your troubles and will rescue you in His perfect timing. What if when God can do all these for you, He has never forgotten you, He has never abandoned you, He loves you so very much but you have jettisoned Him in words and deeds and become your own all knowing and leading yourself not following Him in words and deeds what happens? So from all these you can find out that what most of us claims as Christians and loving sons or daughters of God, lover of Christ, in reality is far from what we really are, we are hypocrites, lovers of ourselves, or people who are always wanting to do their own but claims that we like and love doing the will of God. It is this our high hypocritical attitude that is our greatest problem and this is why no matter how we claim that we know God, that we care for God yet we find out that the promises and things of God doesn’t happen to us the way we see and hear it in the Word of God the Bible because our stuff of being is very far from the realities of what the Word of God says but we keep deceiving ourselves thinking that we are. In its entirety, in everything you do in Christ, try to be true and real, try to find out exactly what God wants and make sure, you are doing it exactly how He wants it. Always ask yourself who am I, what am I, am I a lover of self, am I a hypocrite, do I love doing my own thing my own way, am I a stubborn child of God or am I humble to God, do I love doing things exactly the way God wants it or do I want things my own way? In all of these questions, there is no one that you can truly answer correctly theoretically except when you live it or come face to face with them, or be confronted with them in the circumstances and events of life will you be able to see and know yourself the way you really are and in most cases you might not even see it yet and this is the reason God permits several or many things to happen to a person or people repeatedly, you can see it in the disciples, things happening repeatedly yet they have not understood what the Saviour, the Messiah wants to teach them, they have not yet conformed to the transformation of character and attitude that He wants them to have and be as a people of His own, instead they are still displaying their old self, this is the same with us today, we must try to be truly transformed and progressively become Christ-like every day. In all of these, there is no one of those things above that you can do on your own if Christ does not assist you, all vicissitude, circumstances and events of life are designed by the Lord God who wants to demonstrate His saving Grace, His Mercifulness, His loving kindness and care, so just like being sin free, He knows that without Him the Lord God, mankind cannot deal with the vicissitude, circumstances and events of life as they unfold and bombard us like sea waves. Hence it is His will that we must believe in Him, live our lives in Him, do our day to day activities in Him because it is only in so doing will we have Peace and be in contentment in life. Most of these life principles are supposed to have become part and parcel of us, as we are supposed to have imbibed them from our childhood, as we are progressively growing but you see our society does not teach these divine principles to us, even in the part of the globe where it is taught, it’s taught as moral or call it good moral attitude which is not the same as the divine principles that is why you see or hear the Lord asking one of the young men saying, are you a member of this high and noble position and yet you do not know this? We grow up without learning and knowing all what we are supposed to learn and know divinely and these lack or deficiencies in divine spirit things as will of the Almighty God in His people are playing out on our ignorance, our idiocy, our foolishness and stubbornness all leading to our complete ruin which is too bad. Remember that everything in the universe is created in twos, good and bad, real and counterfeit, good-spirit and bad-spirit, Christ and Lucifer, although the Lord God Almighty has given man a free will but the Almighty’s Ultimate Will is for man to be In Him, In Christ and no other but the other spirit entities created by God out of rebellion are at war with Christ struggling to embody man with Christ as highlighted in the Adam and Eve story-the fall of man. This is why if man fails to be in Christ, he will be in Lucifer, being in Lucifer is regarded as a fallen state of man from the original standard of God for man and this is the state or condition that almost ninety nine percent of people on earth are in which is why the universe has lost its heavenliness; its Edenness and needs to be recreated for the New earth and heaven to be realized. This is the origin of the Great Controversy in the world today and the move to fake and contaminate God’s originality in man is ongoing in the universe playing out in diverse form first secretly and now openly; hence you are warned in the Bible of the mark of the beast and today through his human agencies like the Bill Gate vaccines saga and other means yet to be identified Lucifer wants to forcefully and openly embody himself in all men in the universe an attempt he has been carrying out secretly in the past and now openly to see if he can also ultimately fake and counterfeit all in all in man, be very careful of how you conduct yourself in the world for you are in the world but not of the world! Hence God’s plan to clear up the accumulated fake or contamination thus far in man in all the ages through the fall is called Salvation through a Saviour. It is time we begin to allow ourselves to believe in the Saviour Christ Jesus to be divinely changed and transformed by His divine Spirit of the Lord God-Christ, for Christ to be in us so that God will Ultimately Answer All in All in the universe He Created! For all glory, all adoration and thanksgiving be His forever and ever! Don’t push Lord Jesus Christ away when you need Him most. Trust Him; believe Him; invite Him into the boat with you. When the going gets tough, remember. You are never out of God’s sight. You are never out of God’s reach. You are never out of God’s care. Give Christ advantage to always be in you and you in Him for there lies your victory and salvation in life!
Father Lord, I see that to get contentment I must ‘for-get’ it. It is not an achievement but a by-product - a by -product of knowing You. I long to know You better, dear Father. Please help me and guide me progressively in knowing You. In Your name Lord Jesus I pray. Amen!