“Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.” Matthew 14: 22-23 NLT
Have you ever felt like there was something in your life that Jesus was insisting you do? Have you ever felt like there was just this one thing that you couldn’t really get off of your mind, this one task, this one person, this one investment or trip or change? That’s what insistence feels like.
In this chunk of scripture, we find the disciples coming off of the high of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes. They had just witnessed Him do yet another impossible miracle and I’m sure they’re faith had been built up substantially. Following this miracle, Jesus insists they do something and, after what they had just seen, they were probably eager to obey; get on a boat. He gave them an assignment. It didn’t seem like they were signing on for a whole lot. They were taking a simple trip across the lake to Capernaum while he hung back behind to pray. No big deal.
The problem was that it kind of was a big deal. You see, when they had been out on the water for a while, trouble struck.
“Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” Matthew 14: 24 NLT
A storm stuck right in the middle of their peaceful assignment! They had probably obeyed with calm waters in mind, with a straight shot to their destination, but other things happened. The waters rose up against them and tossed them to and fro. Storm winds blew and they were met with resistance and difficulty. They were stuck there, in the middle of the lake, in the middle of the storm, in the middle of their incomplete assignment and they were scared.
Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever felt like you set out on the road that Jesus insisted you take, the one where you knew your purpose and calling and effectiveness lay only to be met with a giant storm? Maybe you thought that it would be straightforward, easy even, that you would reach the place that Jesus had sent you to, whether it’s physical or emotional or spiritual, quickly and without struggle, but boy were you ever wrong!
There, in the middle of your there-and-back-again assignment that you were sure Jesus insisted you take, you are being pelted with rain and blown back and forth by the wind and you are scared.
That’s where the disciples were at.
Mark’s account of this story reads like this,
“He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard against the wind and waves.” Mark 6: 48a NLT
So Jesus, the one who sent them, saw them in their trouble and, in a response that is so completely in Jesus’ character, he does this,
“Jesus came toward them walking on the water.” Mark 6: 48b NLT
And He says this,
“’Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage! I am here!’” Mark 6: 50b NLT
Jesus defied the laws of nature and logic and every other thing that the disciples thought was immovable to come to them in their distress. He saw them there, rowing hard in their obedience, rowing hard and fighting to do what he sent them to do, fighting against fear and rain and his immediate response was to go to them. Not just to be there with them, though.
No, he walked on water, on the very thing that they were sent to cross, the very thing that was keeping them from the place that He wanted them to be, to tell them not to be afraid. To tell them that He was there.
He got on the boat with them then and rode the rest of the way to Capernaum. They arrived at the end goal together, the disciples and Jesus, but only after they had witnessed the miraculous.
Jesus had insisted that they go, and despite storms and fear and stalling out, He made sure that they got there.
He will do the same for you.
If He walked on water to make sure that His disciples did not despair and give up in a wet, wind-blown, fearful mess, He will do the same for you. If you feel like you are in a storm in the middle of your obedience and you feel like Jesus doesn’t see, I have to tell you that He does. If you are facing opposition to the assignment that He sent you on and you’re worried that He isn’t near, I have to tell you that He is.
This is the One who walked on water and calmed storms to make sure that His friends got to where they were going. This is the One who did it all just to tell them not to fear because He was near! What makes you think he won’t do the same for you?
So today, picture Jesus, standing on that water, perfectly balanced atop the waves. Picture him saying, “Don’t be afraid.” And see the insistence in his eyes that you keep on going with the thing that He asked you to do.
Take courage! He is near! He hasn’t abandoned you and He will get you to the place that He insisted you go.