Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Skip Heitzig: We had this week a board meeting, a board of directors meeting here, and I asked one of our members to stay and to do our Wednesday night service. And he is someone who used to be on staff here, and he pastors his own church up in the Denver, Colorado, area. Now when I was a boy, which was a long time ago, when I was in junior high school, they call it mid-high around here, I met Gino. We ran track together. And I ran, like, the 880. And I think, Gino, you ran the 50- or the 100-yard dash. And I actually won the California state championship in those---in that scholastic era. But it was all downhill after that. We got into a lot of trouble together until the Lord God a hold of our life.
And I've told you my testimony before, how I came to know the Lord by watching Dr. Billy Graham on television, but what is important in this is that the first one to really share the gospel with me was Gino. He came to Christ on a Saturday night. That Saturday we had done drugs together in his house, and then the very next day on Sunday he told me that I needed to repent of my sins because I was going to hell. And I just did not compute. And I thought, "Nobody can change that quickly. You have no right," and I was---I wasn't kind to him that day. And but, anyway, the Lord got a hold of our lives. But when I met Gino and we grew up and we went to high school together, so I've known him since junior high, but he was actually his class president in high school.
That's Gino in high school when he graduated and his picture is still up on the wall. But then he became a part of my staff, and this is how big my staff was at that time. There's Gino there in the corner. And that was our staff of this church, and I think I actually had other stand-ins as well just to make the staff look bigger for this staff picture. But that was a long time ago, and Gino was on this staff for about seven years. And he---because he was in town, he's back to give us the Word of God. So please give a warm welcome to Gino Geraci. Gino, come on up. [applause]
Pastor Gino Geraci: Hi there. I was looking at that picture and I looked at the mustache. It was the eighties and we all wanted to look like Tom Selleck. [laughter] Do you know why so many Italian men love mustaches? It's so they can look like their mom. [laughter] My mom's in heaven now. [laughter] She's not going to hear this tape. Lord, please don't whisper it in her ear. [laughter] It's so great to be here. I remember the very first time Skip and I walked into this building. The carpet didn't look like alien crop circles, it was full-on Astroturf. The ceiling that you see was a kind of canvas that had been filled with holes, because this was an indoor tennis court.
But when Skip looked at this, he had a vision of this stage and these chairs and an unfolding work that God was going to do. You know, we often use the word "vision" euphemistically. We think of it in terms of---how are we going to do what we want to get done? But Skip knew that "vision" was way more than that. It was the ability to see God in the circumstances and trust him. And you know, you've had a faithful pastor, and I've had a faithful friend, and you are most fortunate. So congratulations, church. [applause] Turn in your Bibles to Mark, chapter 6. Tonight we're going to look at verses 45 through 52 in a message I'm entitling "The Servant's Assurance in the Storm," "The Servant's Assurance in the Storm." Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, again, what a privilege it is to be able to come here, to love you, and to sing songs of how gracious you are and how wonderful you are. And, heavenly Father, how you've given us that opportunity to repent and you've given us the opportunity to demonstrate care and compassion. And, Lord, you've given us the opportunity in humility and dependence to trust you. And, heavenly Father, again, I pray for that man who's here tonight, and the woman who's here tonight, that young person who's here tonight, and there's a fierce storm raging. The wind is howling. The waves are high. There's a bitter chill against their soul. Heavenly Father, I pray that by your Holy Spirit, Lord, you would give them comfort and hope and that, Lord, you really would be that refuge in time of need, in Jesus' name, amen.
Mark, chapter 6, beginning in verse 45 it says:
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he sent the multitude away. And when he had sent them away, he departed to the mountain to pray. Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and he was alone on the land. Then he saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. And when they saw him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and they cried out; for they all saw him and were troubled. But immediately he talked with them and said to them, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." Then he went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.
For those of you who have gone through this gospel of Mark, you know that in verses 1 through 6 you get an opportunity to know the Servant and who is Jesus and to share the Servant's message in verses 7 through 13. There's an opportunity to repent in verses 14 through 29. There's an opportunity to demonstrate care and compassion in verses 30 through 44. But now Mark is presenting this opportunity for everyone to grow in faith and to grow in dependence and humility to Jesus the servant. In John's gospel we're told that the feeding of the five thousand, the people at that point had sought to make Jesus king in John chapter 6 verse 15. And it could very well be that the twelve were thinking, "Well, this is great that we're going to make Jesus king."
But Jesus refuses to simply be a temporal king who will meet temporal needs, and Jesus refuses to be a temporal king in your life, meeting temporal needs in your life. You may be thinking, "I need Jesus to help me today." But I'm here to tell you Jesus wants to help you forever. It isn't just about today, it's about next month and next year. Jesus will send the disciples away and he will go to a remote mountain to pray. And the howling winds and the gathering clouds indicated that the storm was on the way. And Jesus was about to test the apostles' faith. And for some of you, that might alarm you. It might concern you. It might even discourage you. "You mean Jesus will test my faith?" Yeah.
"You mean Jesus will examine my heart and my thinking and my life and my ministry? You mean Jesus will test my faith to see that it's real?" Yes. Do you think he tests your faith because he doesn't know the truth about your life or your heart? That's not the reason why he tests your faith. He tests it for your benefit. You see, the truth is some of you wonder what's really going on in your life, and what's really going on in your heart, and what's really going on in your relationship with the Lord. You'll remember that Jonah encountered a storm because he was running from God in disobedience. But the disciples will head straight into a storm, not out of disobedience, but out of obedience.
And Mark's gospel, as told to Mark by Peter, leaves out that kind of embarrassing episode of Peter walking on the water and then sinking in the water. And I don't blame him. The story Peter chooses to tell Mark records the failure of all the disciples to understand the meaning of the storm, and the power of Jesus to deliver in the storm, and how to learn the lessons that would prepare the disciples for a lifetime of ministry. We seldom welcome hardship or depravation. Normally, we don't choose trials and storms. And some of us live under the illusion that there is no storm, there is no problem, there is no trial that will get the best of us, that our fathers survived a Civil War and two world wars and a major Depression.
And some of you have survived broken promises and broken hearts and broken dreams. And it's been a long time since I've been here, and some of you have grown up and gotten married and divorced. Some of you have experienced terrible trials and deep difficulties. Some of us started off life and started off ministry in the hopes that we would be able to help people in need, and people who were hurting, and people who were broken. And then we discovered that we were the one who was hurt and we were the one who was broken. And it never seemed like that was how it was going to turn out.
Some of us believe that the power and resources available to us---apart from Jesus, apart from his grace, apart from his mercy, apart from the gospel---are sufficient to carry us, to meet any challenge, to bear any burden, defy any ill will that may blow against us, and it's not true. We need Christ. We need his love. We need his grace. We need his presence. There once was a king, a Danish conqueror named Canute, and he felt his powers and his resources and his will were invincible. And one day a group of inner-circle admirers were flattering the pompous king. And to demonstrate his power, he ordered that his throne and the entourage be taken to the seashore. And the tide was rolling in and it was threatening to drown the group.
And in the most regal voice he could muster, he said, "Cease!" And you probably realize it, any of you who have been the Atlantic or the Pacific, the wave crashed right on top of him. Because guess what? The waves don't obey you. And then he told his flatters, "Behold how small is the might of kings!" And whether we like it or not, there are certain things, there are certain things, there are certain things that will not yield to your control. About five weeks ago my mother died. Last week, about one week and two days, my brother died here who lived in Moriarty. And so, you can imagine, it's been a time of great pain and great sorrow for our family. It's been a storm. But, yet, there's an invitation that's given to us in this text, and it's. Are we willing to meet the Lord in the storm?
Are you willing to trust the Lord in the storm? If anything good can be said about a storm, if there's anything noble that can be said about a storm, it's that storms change us, and humble us, and cause us to depend on the Lord. And it shatters the illusion that we're in control. And for some of us it's finances, and some of us it's health, and some of it's our business, and some of it's our children, and for some of us it's our country, and for some of us it's ourselves. And if we seek assurance from anyone or everyone, that everything will be fine, and we discover that the promises and the resources can be exhausted, and that they can't be resisted or repelled. And so in this passage there's five insights that will help us navigate the storm.
And the first insight that he gives, Mark gives, in this story is he reminds us that it is Jesus who sometimes sets us in the storm. He set you there (in verses 45 through 47). But he doesn't just simply set you there, he sees you there (in verse 48). He will come to you in the storm (at the end of verse 48). He will speak to you in the storm if you're willing to listen. And then he'll safely deliver you in the storm. Look again at verse 45. "Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he sent the multitude away." The "immediately" comes in light of everything that's already been spoken of in this chapter. And the verb translated "made" is an interesting word in the original language. It's anagkazó. It basically means to compel by force.
And the urgency seems to come from John 6:15, the people's attempt to make Jesus the king by force. And Jesus didn't want his disciples involved with believing this false political movement which attempts to make Jesus a king on their terms, according to their plans. And you know what? Sometimes Jesus will place you in a storm because you're making him something that he's not. He doesn't want to be a superficial friend. He doesn't want to be just a guy who shows up in time of great distress or great problems. He wants to walk with you and be with you. There seems to be two kinds of storms: there are correcting storms and there are perfecting storms. And both are intended to bring us from a place of immaturity to maturity, to bring us from a place of insecurity to security.
The head grows by taking in knowledge, but the heart grows by giving out grace and mercy and love. In Mark 6:46 it says, "And when he had sent them away, he departed to the mountains to pray." And so you'll begin by understanding that it was Jesus who placed them there. You know, sometimes we run from the storm. But sometimes Jesus will make you get into a particular boat and go in a particular direction. And you'll note, even in verse 46, Jesus will pray. And as Jesus prays both for himself and the disciples---remember earlier the---he had fed the multitudes with five loaves and two tiny fish. And the people thought Jesus might make the perfect king---no taxes, unlimited food. Jesus fed a vast crowd with small resources. Jesus would have been the perfect leader.
Can you imagine having unlimited food provided by Jesus, unlimited health care provided by Jesus? [laughter] He can outfit an army. He can empty a hospital. The people want to make Jesus king, a royal king, but they don't want Jesus to go to cross. They don't want him to suffer. They don't want him to die for sins. In John's gospel, chapter 6, verse 15, it says, "Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he departed again into the mountain by himself alone." Did you know that Jesus intercedes for you right at this very moment? According to the book of Hebrews the Bible says that when Jesus rose from the dead and he hung out for those forty short days, he ascended into heaven.
And it says he's seated at the right hand of the Father where he ever lives to make intercession for you. At this very moment when we were singing and praising the Lord, and even as your speaking or as you're hearing me speak right at this very moment, a real Jesus is in a real heaven praying for you. He's interceding for you. He's speaking to the Father about your circumstances and your heart and your life. Prayer defeats the Devil, and prayer restores the backslider, and prayer strengthens the saint, and prayer imparts wisdom, and prayer brings peace, and prayer keeps you from sin, and prayer reveals the will of God. And the fact that Jesus sometimes sends us into difficult circumstances doesn't mean that he's abandoned us or forsaken us.
And sometimes you feel that way, but the Bible says exactly the opposite. It says, "He's near to the brokenhearted." He is near to those who are crushed in spirit. He cares. C. Neil Strait wrote, quote, "Prayer lifts the hearts above the battles of life and gives it a glimpse of God's resources which spell victory and hope." Why is this important to you? Because if Jesus set you there, and Jesus is interceding for you, it becomes a type and a picture, an encouragement for us to pray in the storm. And you might be praying for a change in circumstances: "Lord, get me out of here." "Lord, get me out of this horrible marriage." "Get me out of this horrible job." "Get me out of this . . . get me out of this . . . get me out of this . . . ." But all the while the Lord is wanting to change your character.
It isn't just about changing the circumstance---he wants to change us. And in verse 47 it says, "Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and he was alone on the land." If Jesus set you there, doesn't it make sense that he's able to keep you there? And I've often wondered, I've often wondered. Why didn't the disciples simply turn around? Why didn't they just give up? They're in the storm, the wind is howling, why didn't they just say, "I'm going to quit and I'm going to go back where I came from"? But, you know, something incredible happens when a group of believers come together who have been placed there by Jesus. And this is why it's important for you to be here at church. And this is why it's so important for you to be in the Connection Groups.
This is why it's so important for you to be together. Because guess what? When you're in the storm, and there are three people and four people, and you are here in this church, and you look at the person to the left of you and to the right of you and in back of you, and you're in the storm, and you're thinking that you want to give up and you want to turn back, there are people who can tell you, "Jesus has placed you here, and I'll pray with you as we go through this difficult circumstance." Why row contrary to the storm? Why row against the wind? Because they have their instructions. Jesus placed them in the boat and Jesus gave them instructions. And the instructions were: "Go to the other side."
And remember when you became a Christian? Some of you may have sang that song "I have decided to follow Jesus, the world behind me, the cross before me." And then you said those words, "No turning back, no turning back." And in one sense Jesus has already gone before us to the other side of the shore. If you're heart belongs to Jesus, if you and God are on Father-and-son or Father-and-daughter terms, your circumstances are known by God. They're established by God. They're governed by God. God governs our life and he orders our circumstances. He set you there, but he also sees you there. Look what it says in verse 38. [v. 48] "Then he saw them . . . ."
I gotta tell you, in the middle of the night if you have ever been on the Galilee on one of Skip's trips to the Galilee, if it is pitch black and Jesus is on a nearby mountain and you are in the middle of the lake, the very fact that Jesus can see them is a miracle. He sees them because it's supernatural. "Then he saw them straining at the rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by." When it says that that "He saw them straining at the rowing, for the wind was against them," or we might translate this, "He saw that they were distressed," or that "They were straining at the oars." Now think about it---they are against the wind, they're straining at the oars collectively.
And some of you have cried out to God and say, "Don't you see where I am, and don't you see my circumstances? How could you not know I'm in trouble? How could you not know about the health issue, or the financial issue, or the brokenhearted issue?" And you've prayed to God and you go, "Well, wait a minute, Lord, this is isn't about me being in rebellion or disobedience, you placed me in this marriage. You placed me in this job. I'm not here out of rebellion and disobedience, I'm exactly where you asked me to be, and I'm trying to obey you, and go in the direction that you've called me to. Why is this so difficult?" Know that he set you there and that he sees you there. He sees everything. He knows everything. This is called omniscience and omnipresence.
God has all power. That's called omnipotence. And because God knows all things, and because God has all power, and because he loves you, you can work in the storm, but you can also rest in the storm. By the way, are you resting in Jesus in the midst of the storm? Are you trusting Christ in that deep difficulty? Sometimes obedience will bring straining, distress, suffering, persecution. Dietrich Bonhoeffer obeyed God and wound up in the Nazi prison camp. Corrie ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place and Dutch patriot, lost many of her family and was herself imprisoned at Ravensbruck concentration camp because of---not of her disobedience---because of her obedience to Jesus. Jim Elliot and Nate Saint were young missionaries in South America and brought the gospel to the Auca Indians.
One great friend of both of those people was a man named George Sanchez who finished much of his---the last chapter of his life right here in Albuquerque. And Skip and I had the great privilege of being mentored by him and listening to him and being encouraged by him and the stories that he told. And his heartbreaking story that when Jim Elliot and Nate Saint died that horrible death, he wept and he cried, "Why would you take this most precious saint?" His obedience bought him a spear in the back and he died faced down in the water and the mud.
And it's amazing to me how someone can read the New Testament or read church history and see the storms that have blown into the lives in the apostles and the saints, and neglect or ignore or pretend that there is no such thing as hardship and difficulty. But in the New Testament suffering and sacrifice was the rule, not the exception. In John 8:17 [Romans 8:17] it says, "And if children, then heirs---and if heirs of God, then heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together." In Romans 8:18 it says, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." In First Peter chapter 2 verse 21, Peter writes, "For to this were you called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow in his steps."
And sometimes you're going to get the unwelcome news about the unwelcome illness or the unwelcome setback, but the Lord knows you. The Lord sees you. He is not blind, and he's not impotent, and he's not uncaring. He loves you and he watches you. And watch as he comes to the disciples in the storm. Look at the end of verse 48. He comes to you in the storm. Look what it says: "Now about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by." The fourth watch, by the way, took place between three o'clock in the morning and six o'clock in the morning. Remember how our passage started. He placed them, he forced them into the boat when the sun went down.
They have been rowing, they have been rowing, they have struggling, they have been struggling. And remember, it's now---it's the darkest time of the night. And Jesus will often come, not at the brightest time, but at the darkest moment. Often when it seems helpless, God will show up in the most remarkable way, like Daniel in the lions' den, or the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. It's often when you see the lions' teeth or you feel the searing heat, that's when the Lord shows up. And the disciples are tired and they're afraid. And I also want you to understand something---because they're tired and afraid, does that mean that Jesus doesn't love them? Does it take away the fact that he set them there, or that he sees them, or that he cares about them?
They are tired and they are afraid. And guess what? Their strength is gone. And you probably know someone who said to you not too long ago: "I don't know that I can go on. I don't know that I can do this even one more hour or one more day. I don't know that I can do it." They've exhausted their resources. The wind and the water continue to bite their face. How like Jesus to come when all hope seems gone, all light seems gone, and you simply don't even have the strength to lift the oars out of the water and put them back into the water. And look what it says in verse 49 and 50. He speaks to them in the storm. Look what it says: "And when they saw him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and they cried out."
This last time when I was in Israel and we had---like Skip, we were able to take a bunch of people---and we had a bunch of people on the Sea of Galilee. We had three boats tied together. And I said, "There's a thing, it's called 'Jerusalem Syndrome,' that for whatever reason when people sometimes take Holy Land trips, all of a sudden, yes, the Bible comes alive, but sometimes people think odd and weird thoughts." They go, "Jesus wants me to step out the boat and walk on the water." [laughter] And so I remind them that, yes, Jesus walked on the water, but most of the time he took a boat. And in this impossible situation, Jesus does the impossible---he walks on the water. And, by the way, the ancient Egyptians wrote in a script with symbols. And some of you know it's called hieroglyphics.
And two symbols included waves, which represented water, and two tiny feet walking on that water. In the Egyptian language that spells the word "impossible." Jesus is going to do the impossible. Jesus does the impossible---he walks on the very object of what the disciples fear the most. Remember, what's going on? It's a storm. Where are they at? They're in the middle of a big lake. What's going on, on that lake if they go over? They could drown. And you see, you sometimes think that the thing that is causing me the most harm, the most difficulty, the thing that can hurt me, maybe even the thing that could kill me, Jesus takes control of it. Jesus will often come to us and speak to us on the very thing that we fear the most.
"I could lose my job. I could get sick. Something horrible could happen." But let me ask you a question: Have you ever had Jesus come to you in an illness? In financial distress? In loneliness? In failure? What you fear most may become what God will use to come to you, and comfort you, and remind you that you can love him and depend upon him. Jesus comes at the darkest hour. And he comes when the strength and the hope are gone. And he comes and then he does what is impossible. And he comes on the very object that we are the most terrified. There was a Christian captain of an oceangoing vessel. He was in the midst of this terrific storm. And, terrified, one of the passengers cried out and said, "What are we going to do if the ship sinks?"
And the captain said, "I don't know about you, but I'm going to be embraced into the everlasting arms of Captain Jesus." [laughter] And that's exactly right. In verse 50 look what it says: "For they all saw him and they were troubled. But immediately he talked with them and said to them, 'Be of good cheer! It is I; don't be afraid.' "Isn't this interesting, he sets them in the storm, he sees them in the storm, and now he speaks to them? He speaks to them. In verse 50 where it says, "For they saw him and they were troubled," the word is the Greek word tarassó. It can mean "terrified." Why didn't they recognize Jesus? Because you don't expect to see your friend walking on the water. You don't expect that. You don't expect to see Jesus show up.
Many years ago there was a movie based on Rod Serling's hit TV series The Twilight Zone, which featured this episode with a guy named John Lithgow. And he plays this nauseated and terrified passenger, where his worst fears are realized when he peers out of the porthole of the airplane and there's this figure screaming at the top of his lungs, his eyes bulging. And by the way, when you are in a terrifying situation, the last thing in the world you want to hear is terrifying laughter and screaming. But Jesus brings words of comfort and hope: "Be of good cheer! It is I: Don't be afraid." There was a gigantic storm that hit in 2005, Hurricane Katrina. Maybe some of you are familiar with it. It pounded the Gulf Coast and it landed in New Orleans where my father and some of my relatives live.
And my father, he's that Italian guy. My father's from Sicily. And my father is like a skeptic. He doesn't believe that no matter how bad the storm---you can imagine people getting on TV: "This is biggest storm of the century." [speaking in strong Italian accent] "Ah, forget about that. Forget about it. I've been through storms." [laughter] "Dad, this is going to be, like, a big storm." "Fo---man, I've been through---I can't even tell you. I've been through the worst storms ever." "Dad, you need to listen to what they're saying." And then it got closer and closer and closer, and my father realized this is something really unlike anything that he had ever seen. And he got into his car and he began to drive, and he began to think, "I'm going to run away from the storm."
But he wound up taking a route through Mississippi, through Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and unbeknownst to him he was driving right in front of the storm. And my father---I'm not saying he's in the Mafia or anything like that, but on his income tax return he basically puts "legitimate businessman." [laughter] And I go, "Dad, that's just wrong. That's like an invitation to have your taxes audited." "It's true, it's 100 percent legit." [laughter] He's the silk-suit, diamond-pinky-ring kind of a guy. And he's driving and he's driving and he's driving, and he finds himself in unknown territory. And he finds himself in a place where he thought he would never be---inside of a shelter. Think of Robert De Niro in a shelter. [laughter]
And my uncle went looking for my father, and he goes to the shelter, and there's a little Italian guy in an immaculate silk suit sitting on a cot. Jesus brings words of comfort and hope. Look at what he says in the storm: "It is I. Be of good cheer! Don't be afraid." By the way, when Jesus shows up in the storm, rarely will he say, "It's time to panic." [laughter] I can't imagine him doing that. The words of Jesus---by the way, it's the words of Jesus that make all the difference in the world when you are in the midst of the storm, the words of Jesus. When the storm is raging, it's not a ghost, it's not an angel who comes in the storm, the Servant comes. It's the Servant who speaks. And look what he speaks. He speaks God's Word and it's words of comfort and hope.
And if it's been a while since you've heard the Savior's voice, if it's been a while since you've heard the Savior speak in the storm, there are two Scriptures that have served me well in life's storms. In Romans chapter 15 verse 4, it says, "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and the comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." "Now may the God of hope," it says chapter 15 of Romans, "Now may the God of hope fill you with joy and peace and believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." It's God's Word that speaks to us in the storm.
And some of you---and I know it's already happened---some of you, you might be tempted, because you're in the storm, and you're thinking, "I can't go to church, I'm in the middle of a storm. I can't cry out to God, I'm in the middle of a storm." I gotta tell you, that's not the time to run away from the Lord, run away from fellowship, run away from mutual prayer, run away from encouragement. God's Word will speak to us in the storm and when times are difficult, the worst thing, the worst thing, the worst thing that you can do is cut yourself off from the resources that you need the most. It's when you get that phone call. It's when you get that diagnosis. It's okay for you to get on the phone. It's okay to talk to the people in your Connection Groups.
It's okay to talk to the people and say, "Could you put me on the prayer chain?" It's okay to reach out and receive hope. And look what it says---he safely delivers you in the storm. Look what it says in verses 51 and 52: "Then he went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. He went up into the boat, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled." In modern language we might say, like Raul does, [imitating Raul Ries] "Their minds were completely blown." [laughter] Actually, that's kind of an accurate translation: the mind that was frozen by fear and disconnected through fatigue. Not only did Jesus come to them walking on the water, but when he got into the boat, the wind ceased and the storm disappeared.
And John's gospel adds an additional comment at this point. In John 6:21 it says, "Then they willing received him into the boat, and immediately the boat was on land where they were going." There were two miracles that took place. Not only did Jesus walk on the water, but the storm ceased and somehow supernaturally the boat was transferred to the exact opposite shore where it needed to be. When Jesus delivers in the storm, when Jesus delivers in the storm, he delivers in the storm. Matthew chapter 14 verse 33 adds this additional fact, it says: "Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, and said, 'Truly you're the Son of God.' "In verse 52 it says, "For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened."
I want you to understand what's happened. Jesus has delivered them. They've grown in their faith. In the first storm episode they cried, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds obey him!" Now there's no mistake. They're starting to do the math. They're starting to add it all up---the loaves, the fish, the people who were healed, the people who were cleansed from leprosy, the people who were raised from the dead. All of a sudden it's all starting to add up---Jesus is something more than an ordinary rabbi from the Galilee. He's God. And perhaps the words written in Job came to their remembrance.
In Job chapter 9 verses 8 through 11 it says, "He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He's the Maker of the Bear and the Orion, and the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performed wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be numbered. When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him." But when you walk out of this building tonight and you look at the Sandias, it's Jesus who formed those mountains. When you look up into the sky, it's Jesus who placed the stars in the heavens. And as remarkable as all that is, there's something even far more remarkable---his ability not just to forgive your sin, but to destroy it, not to just simply deliver you from the penalty of sin, but to deliver you from the power of sin as it continues to lay waste to your life.
And then one day Jesus promises to deliver you from the very presence of sin. You're going to go to heaven. At my mother's funeral I said Jesus' favorite expression for heaven was "my Father's house." And the most important thing about heaven isn't that the gates are made of pearl or that the streets are made of gold, the most important thing about heaven is that Jesus is there. Heaven isn't just simply a place where you go when you die---it's a person that you meet when you get there. And people who rarely think about heaven or rarely talk about heaven probably aren't going to heaven. But it's not too late for you to begin the conversation. You see, this storm brought them a new understanding about their friend Jesus.
And sometimes that painful, painful situation that you found yourself in will bring you to a deeper commitment to the Servant. And what I'm going to suggest to you is that maybe you think carefully about allowing the storms of life to bring you into a closer more intimate relationship with the Lord. You know, we have limited assurances in this life alone, but we have multiple assurances from Jesus. What are the circumstances of your life right now? Well, again, tell Jesus about the pain. Tell him about the trial. Tell him about the suffering. He set you there. He sees you there. He will come to you there. He will defy hell and death and come to you in the storm. And if you listen, if you listen, if you listen, if you'll open up God's Word and you will read it, he will speak to you in the storm.
And your family and your friends may mock you, and your relatives may jeer you. And someone might say to you, "It's time to give up. It's time to give up. It's time to give up on your marriage. It's time to give up on church. It's time to give up on the Lord." Just remember Jesus in the most extreme pressure and the mocking of others will stay the course and he'll submit to his Father's will. Deliverance may not take the form that you desire, but the Servant will deliver you on his terms. Death for Christians is never---death for Christians is never a hopeless end, but rather it's the beginning of an endless hope. "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine . . . ," you know the song.
Kent Hughes made this remarkable observation, he said, quote: "If we're obedient to Christ, there's going to be plenty of storms. There's going to be danger. There's going to be difficulty. There's going to be weariness. There's going to be exposure. There's going to be anxiety. There's going to be dread. There's going to be sadness. We will be open to an index of sorrows and stresses which are unknown to the uncommitted heart. The unbeliever doesn't have to have their faith tested, because they don't have faith. But take cheer---Christ prays for us, even while we're in the storm. He comes to us in the midst of the gale, treading on the problems that afflict us," unquote. I want to leave you with this little prose:
Sometimes we must be hurt in order to grow,
We must fail in order to know,
We must lose in order to gain,
Some lessons are learned best only through pain.
Sometimes our vision clears,
Only after our eyes are washed with tears.
And sometimes we have to be broken,
So we can be tender;
Sick, so we can rest and think better
On things more important than work or fun;
Trip near death, so we can assess how far we've run.
Sometimes we have to suffer lack,
So we can know God's provisions.
Feel another's pain,
So we can have a sense of mission.
So take heart, my friend,
If you don't understand today,
Instead of grumbling, ask God what he means to say.
[Why pray? Because prayer is always better than complaining.]
In order to learn, you must endure
And learn to see the bigger picture.
In order to grow, you must stand
Look beyond the hurt, to God's loving hand.
That takes what is good
And gives what is best
And on this blessed thought: rest.
As your anxious heart, with questions: wait.
God's hand only gives, what his loving heart dictates.
He knows all about it. You know, my granny, before she died, the TV would come on. It was a Campbell's Soup commercial. They'd say, "Stir up the Campbell's, soup is good food." And my granny would go, [imitating Granny] "Soup ain't good food. Soup's what you eat when you ain't got good food." [laughter] Sometimes you just have to talk back to the voices that are telling you things, that you can't know him, you can't love him, and you can't trust him. You can know him. You can love him. You can trust him. Let me pray for you.
Heavenly Father, I pray for these men and women. Lord, if they're not in the storm, Lord, I anticipate that a storm is coming. And for some of them, the storm has already blown by. But in the end, Lord, we pray not just for a change of circumstances, but for a change of heart, change of heart. Lord, we pray that you would address those holes, those deficiencies, those character flaws that would cause us to run instead of embrace you, that would cause us to trust our fear instead of trust our Lord. And, Lord, I pray for each and every person here, that you would fill them with the knowledge of your goodness and love and grace and mercy, that's there's a wonderful plan and there's a wonderful destination.
And that if Jesus set us there, and gave us instructions to go to the other side, that he'll do exactly that, he'll accomplish whatever it takes to supernaturally deliver us to the destination where we belong, in Jesus' name, amen. God bless you guys.
Skip Heitzig: Amen.
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.