Jesus had just finished feeding the five thousand. In accomplishing this in a most miraculous manner, he had ordered his disciples: “Give ye them to eat.” Of course this was impossible…and they knew it. But then, He commanded that the multitude sit down, and He prayed. Then the miracle began. He gave bread and fish to the disciples who in turn gave to the multitude. “And they did all eat and were filled.” (Mk. 6:32-44) Now, we might say that this was a very nice and good story. Indeed, if we had been among the multitude, I am sure that we would have been awed by what transpired. But, did the disciples truly understand what Jesus was doing? He never did anything haphazardly…all was designed for a purpose. And He was determined to accomplish that purpose in the disciples….Hence…He will send them into a storm on the sea.
After feeding the five thousand, Jesus constrained the disciples to get into a boat, and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, while He sent the multitude back to their homes. He would afterward seek solitude in order to pray. In the evening, while the disciples were traveling to the far shore, a storm arose. Scripture tells us that Jesus saw them toiling at the oars, as the wind was contrary to them. But He chose NOT to go at that moment to help them. He would wait until the “fourth watch,” between 3 and 6 am. Certainly, the disciples were exhausted when, at that time, Jesus came walking upon the water. In Mark’s gospel, he writes that Jesus, “…would have passed by them.” (6:48) But it was because of their fear and cries, that He would approach and speak to them, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” (v.50) Now, if Jesus does nothing without an objective, why did He instruct the disciples to go into a storm…spend themselves trying to get to the far shore, and then be overwhelmed when they thought that they saw a “spirit” walking on the water? And why would He have intended tocontinue to pass by them in their plight if they had not called out for fear?
It is essential that we understand that God’s objective is always, by one means or another, to bring us to faith, to make men and women of faith of us. For it is by faith that all of Christ’s blessings, all that is IN Christ, become ours. The disciples had seen with the multitude that if they obeyed the Lord (“…Give ye them to eat…”), even though they did not have in and of themselves the means to do so, that the Eternal Son would provide. So, the disciples see the miracle. Then the Lord Jesus puts them into a storm to reveal to themselves if they have truly grasped what it means to “have faith in God.” Fear replaced faith in the hearts of the disciples, as they had forgotten the miracle of the loaves…God’s provision when doing the will of God.
It is one thing to take a position of faith. It is another to keep that position of faith, even when the “wild winds blow.” In Owen’s hymn, “Will Your Anchor Hold,” he writes: “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, when the clouds unfold their wings of strife? When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain, will your anchor drift or firm remain?” Jesus’ anchor never drifted, for He knew the Word of God perfectly, wholly depended upon the Spirit of God for everything, and was committed to DO the will of His Father in heaven. God is determined to make men and women of faith of us. This is His way to blessing, and the fulfillment of His purposes on this earth, in and through us. May we ever remember the reality of what Owen wrote further: “…And the cables pass’d from His heart to mine; Can defy the blast, through strength Divine.”