Matthew 14:22 - 36
ESV - 22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
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I believe we can easily over spiritualize the events in the gospels and miss the lessons that are intended for us. Much of Jesus's engagement with his disciples represents "training exercises" so they would learn how to follow him. But what does it mean to follow Jesus? I believe Jesus was seeking to hammer home 4 points to learn what it means to follow his example: 1. He had all authority on heaven and earth because he was the Son of God 2. He had all power on heaven and earth because he was filled with the Holy Spirit 3. He only did the things he saw his Father doing 4. He only spoke the words his Father gave him to say Now consider what Jesus gave his disciples: 1. He gave them his authority to minister in his name and they went out to the surrounding villages 2. He gave them the Holy Spirit to empower them and even the demons obeyed them 3. He showed them the Father's heart and will, by every encounter he had with people during his ministry 4. He spoke the truth from the Father that he wanted them to hear, understand, apply to their daily lives and tell other people But what was Jesus great challenge - and our challenge today? He was dealing with sinful people! The disciples wanted to be independent; rely on their own skills and resources; do things their own way and take the glory for themselves - just like we do! So what did Jesus have to do? He had to break their pride and independence - just like he has to do with us all the time. Therefore, many of the stories we encounter in the gospels take place so the disciples will have to surrender their will to his will and lay aside their pride and humbly follow and learn from him. Before the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus had sent his disciples out 2x2 to minister in his name. They came back filled with pride and mojo - "even the demons obey us" they said. Jesus saw the effect that this power and authority had on them so he wanted to get them away where he could warn them of these effects. But the crowds wanted to hear Jesus and wouldn't leave them alone. When the crowds grew hungry the disciples told Jesus he needed to disband the meeting so people could go home and eat - telling Jesus how to run his ministry because they wanted to be in charge. So what does Jesus do? He says in effect, so you think you have figured my ministry out - then YOU FEED THEM! - Then they complain about having to spend 8 months of a persons wages to feed everyone. I think that when Jesus performed this miracle, each disciple had a basket with a small loaf of bread and part of a small fish. I think each disciple thought the food would be gone after the first person. But when each person reached into the basket and came out with food they were "COMPLETELY ASTONISHED". Later they would understand the lesson - Jesus is the bread of life. After the feeding, Jesus sends them out on the boat to go across the lake. A strange request for early in the evening. He tells them he needs some time alone to pray and will join them later. But how will he join them. I think Jesus wrestled in prayer with his Father until the fourth watch of the night asking for wisdom to help the disciples overcome their sinful desires. I personally believe that Jesus created this storm to teach his disciples about dependence on him. The fishermen were in their element, confident in what they were doing, but they encountered a fierce storm and thought they were going to die. Their own resources were completely useless to save them and they never thought to PRAY for help. Mark`s gospel says that Jesus came walking on the water and was about to pass by them. Why would he do that unless he wanted to show them how superior his skills and resources were compared with their own. Once they recognise Jesus, he joins them, calms the storm and they immediately get to the other side. The disciples don`t understand much of Jesus teaching and many of his practical training lessons until later, when they had received the Holy Spirit.
I think it was to teach us that: 1) Sometimes we feel battered by the storms. Mt 14:24 2) Sometimes we feel the darkness has won. Mt 14:25 3) Sometimes we feel our best efforts are to no avail. Mt 14:29-30-31 4) Sometimes we think the end is near. Mt 14:30 5) But, there is always the rescuing hand of Jesus! Mt 14:30
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