Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses eleven through thirty of the eighth chapter. WHEN RELIGION DEMANDS A SIGN! RELIGION NEVER PARTAKES OF THE BREAD! RELIGION MISSED OUT ON THE MIRACLE OF THE LOAVES NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE! When you come to this particular passage of scripture you I’ll find the events found therein taking the place on a particular miracle which took place a second time within and during the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. The more I read and the more I study the life and ministry of Jesus Christ the more I can’t help but notice there were certain and specific miracles which He performed seemingly on a regular and consistent basis. As you study the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that Ge healed the sick, cast our demons and unclean spirits, caused the lame to walk, restores sight to the blind, caused the dead to hear, and caused the mute to receive their voice again. What you will find within the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, however, is the fact that there were certain and specific miracles which He only performed twice. When you read the four gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry you will find that one of the miracles He only performed twice was the calming of the raging storm that threatened the lives of His disciples. The interesting fact and reality that concerns this particular miracle is that it was performed under different circumstances both times it took place. The first account of the miracle takes place when Jesus and His disciples were on their way to the region of the Gadarenes in order that Jesus might drive out the legion which tormented, oppressed and possessed the man who swept in the tombs and lived in the mountains. Prior to arriving into the region of the Gadarenes where this man possessed with the legion was there was a storm which came upon the sea while Jesus was in the ship with His disciples asleep on a pillow. The disc holes—four of whose were fishermen and were used to weathering storms upon the seas in Judaea—were undoubtedly at the helm of trying to weather and navigate this storm which rose up upon the sea. At one point the disciples grew anxious and fearful and cried out to Jesus asking Him if He cared and was at all concerned with the fact that they could all perish in the midst of the storm. Immediately Jesus awoke from His sleep, stood in the midst of the storm, rebuked the wind and the waves and the storm ceased and all became calm.
As you continue reading the four gospels of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that there was a second storm which arose upon the sea—a storm which arose after Jesus had just finished feeding five thousand men plus women and children with five loaves of bread and two fishes. While He sent up to the mountain to prey, Jesus sent Gus disciples ahead of Him upon the sea, yet while there were upon the sea a second storm and tempest arose and threatened their lives once more. This time in the storm, however, Jesus was not in the ship with them. This time the situation and circumstances were different, for not only was Jesus not in the ship with them, but He also seemed to be away from and separated from the storm. What happens next is actually quite interesting, for Jesus comes down from the mountain and comes unto them in the midst of the storm walking on the water. There was Jesus walking in the midst of the storm—walking upon the waves and walking in the midst of the wind and the rain. What tremendous authority and what incredible power Jesus had to be able to walk upon the waters of the sea and to do so in the middle of a storm. It would have been one thing for Jesus to walk on the water when the sea was calm and when all was still, but that isn’t the story that we find in the gospels. When we read of Jesus walking on the water we find Him walking on the waters in the midst of a storm and not in the midst of peace. How absolutely wonderful and incredible this truly is to think about and consider the fact that when Jesus demonstrated His authority over the storm, and over the wind and the waves, He did so first by walking on the water in the midst of the storm. There were the disciples in the ship in the midst of the storm tossed to and fro by the wind and the waves, and yet Jesus comes unto them walking on the water in the midst of the storm. Jesus didn’t demonstrate His authority over the storm this second time by rebuking the wind and the waves from the top of the mountain, but by actually walking in the midst of the storm with them. Consider the fact that Jesus actually entered into the storm with them and deliberately chose to walk in and walk through the storm with the disciples. I find it absolutely incredible and absolutely extraordinary that in the case of the first storm which the disciples faced Jesus was actually in the ship with them, and actually stood up in the middle of the storm from within the boat and rebuked the wind and the waves causing all to become calm and all to become still. What we find and what we read in this particular passage of Scripture, however, is the fact that Jesus wasn’t even the boat with the disciples when the storm came upon them, and when they found themselves tossed to and fro by the wind and the waves. Instead of being in the midst of the storm with them the second time, Jesus was initially up atop a mountain where He was praying after He had dismissed the crowds.
In all reality, I am convinced that what we find in the New Testament gospel of Matthew concerning Jesus feeding the five thousand, which was immediately followed by Jesus the Christ is intrinsically linked and intrinsically connected to that which we find in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark, for John Mark writes and records both miracles of the breaking of the bread and feeding the multitudes, as well as both miracles of Jesus and the storm which His disciples faced. Consider if you will the account of the breaking of the bread and the feeding of the multitude, as well as the storm which the disciples encountered while out in the midst of the sea while Jesus was atop the mountain praying unto and praying before His Father. Beginning to read with and from the thirteenth verse of the fourteenth chapter we find the following two scenes taking place within and during the life and ministry of Jesus Christ—the first being Jesus breaking the bread and feeding five thousand men plus women and children, as well as Jesus entering into the storm which the disciples were facing while walking on the water. Consider if you will the words and language which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew beginning to read with and from the thirteenth verse:
“When Jesus Gerard of it, He departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed Him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick. And when it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them< They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto Him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He staid, Bring them hither to me. And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children…”
“And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone. But the ship was not in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered Him and said, Lord if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, He cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying Of a truth thou art the Son of God” (Matthew 14:13-33).
Now before I make one final comment about this particular encounter Jesus had with His disciples and the storm which threatened them in the midst of the sea, I find it absolutely necessary to draw your attention to words which are found in the Old Testament book of the Psalms. If you turn and direct your attention to the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms you will find a psalm written by David. What is so interesting and unique about this particular Psalm is that it was written by David after the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. This particular psalm was written from a place of divine victory and a place of divine deliverance after the Lord had completely delivered David out of the hand of all his enemies and all his adversaries. This particular psalm was one of tremendous strength, one of tremendous confidence, one of tremendous trust, and one of tremendous praise and worship before the living God. I absolutely love this particular Psalm for it highlights the tremendous authority the living God and His Christ have over and have upon the storm—have upon the wind, have upon the waves, and have upon the rain which comes down in torrents. Beginning with the first verse of the chapter we find the following words written and recorded by David in the book of the Psalms:
“I will love thee, O Lord my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God my strength in whom I will trust. My buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. The sorrows of death compasses me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compasses me about: the snares of death prevented me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: He heard my voice of His temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and tree bled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the daises. At the brightened that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire. Yea, He sent out His arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. Then the channels of the waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:1-19).
As you read the words which are found within this particular psalm written by David from a place of victory and triumph you will find him emphatically declaring the authority the living God and the most High God has over the storm and even over the flood. I can’t think of any passage in Scripture that more aptly and more succinctly demonstrates and reveals the tremendous truth that the living God has authority, power and dominion over and in the midst of the storm. I find it absolutely incredible and wonderful when reading the words contained within this passage of Scripture that David spoke of the living God and declared of Him His great authority over and in the midst of the storm, and how the Lord even uses the storm to conceal Himself when He comes to the rescue of His saints and to the rescue of the godly. I mention this particular passage of Scripture because when I read the words which are found and recorded in the New Testament gospel of Matthew—and even that which is found in the New Testament gospel of John Mark—I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated by the fact that when the disciples found themselves in the midst of this second storm—not only did Jesus choose to enter into the storm with them, but Jesus chose to walk with them in the storm. The disciples faced the storm alone and by themselves in the midst of the ship, and yet here comes Jesus entering into the storm with them, and walking in the midst of the storm with the disciples. I find it absolutely amazing and wonderful that not only would Jesus choose to enter into the same storm the disciples faced which threatened their existence and survival, but Jesus also chose to walk with them in the midst of the storm. It was true that Jesus wasn’t in the ship with the disciples when the storm came upon them in the midst of the sea, but what I think we fail to miss is the fact that not only did Jesus choose to enter into the storm with them, but Jesus also chose to walk in and walk through the storm with them. WHEN JESUS ENTERS INTO YOUR STORM! WHEN JESUS WALKS WITH YOU IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! It would be very easy to read this passage of Scripture and to think that we can find fault with Jesus for not being in the midst of the ship with the disciples as He was the first storm, however, what we fail to understand, and what we often miss is the fact that Jesus didn’t remain on the mountaintop, but chose to come down unto His disciples. Instead of remaining atop the mountain and rebuking the storm with its wind and waves from a place of prayer, He chose to come down from the mountain, enter into their storm, and walk in the midst of the storm with them. Jesus could have very easily rebuked the storm from atop the mountain when He saw the disciples in the midst of the sea, and yet instead of being removed from them He chose instead to enter into their storm and to walk with them in the midst of that storm. This should in all reality provide us with great comfort and confidence as we recognize and understand that Jesus may not immediately be in the storm with us, but that doesn’t stop Him from entering into our storm(s) and from walking with us in the midst of the storm. I am absolutely and wonderfully convinced that this second account of the disciples entering into a storm is a wonderful and powerful account and testimony that not only does Jesus choose to enter into our storms, but He actually chooses to walk with us in the midst of the storms we face. What’s more, is that Jesus doesn’t necessarily rebuke the storm from the vantage point of the mountain, or even from the vantage point of the mountaintop, but by actually entering into the storm, and by walking with us in the midst of the storm.
Oh that we would find comfort and refuge in the fact that there are times when Jesus will already be in the throws of the storm with us and stands up and rebukes the wind and the waves, but there are other times when Jesus isn’t immediately with us in the midst of the storm, and instead chooses to enter into our storm(s) and walk with us in the midst of the storm. We tend to think that Jesus rebukes the storms which we face within our lives while remaining seated at the right hand of the Father, and yet I am convinced that this simply isn’t the case. When I read the accounts of the disciples in the midst of the storm this second time, and when I read how Jesus was atop the mountain top praying before and praying unto His Father, I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that He didn’t rebuke the wind and the waves from atop the mountain. Matthew writes and records something that is actually incredible and actually wonderful concerning this particular account and event within the account of the disciples and the storm, for Matthew writes how “in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them.” Please don’t miss and lose sight of this incredible reality, for it wonderfully and powerfully demonstrates the principle that Jesus doesn’t merely remain atop the mountaintop and rebuke the wind and the waves from the vantage point of being away from and apart from the storm, but He actually enters into the storm with the disciples. I absolutely love what is written and recorded in this passage of Scripture, for it doesn’t state that Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves from atop the mountain, but that Jesus came and Jesus went unto them. Undoubtedly Jesus saw the storm, and instead of remaining atop the mountain with His Father in prayer, he chose to enter into the storm, and chose to walk with the disciples in the midst of the storm. While the disciples were found in the midst of the ship in the midst of the storm, Jesus entered into the storm and walked with them in the storm. Jesus chose to enter into the storm and to walk with them in the storm. Although Jesus wasn’t initially in the storm with them, that didn’t mean that Jesus wasn’t concerned about them, for Scripture records in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark that Jesus saw them toiling and rowing, for the wind was contrary. Both Matthew and Mark write and record that Jesus came and went unto the disciples in the midst of the storm, but Mark writes and records how Jesus saw them rowing and toiling in the midst of the storm. Please find great comfort, strength and solace in this passage of Scripture, for not only does Jesus enter into the storm with us, but Jesus sees us toiling and struggling in the midst of the storm. Please don’t miss the great significance of this particular reality, for it brings us face to face with the incredible reality that although Jesus might not immediately be with us in the midst of the storm, that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t see us in the midst of the storm—that doesn’t mean that He is not aware of of that which we face and that which we are going through. Scripture makes it very clear that Jesus saw the disciples in the storm, that Jesus went unto the disciples, that Jesus entered into the storm, and that Jesus walked with them in the midst of the storm. Though the disciples were initially in the storm alone while Jesus was atop the mountain, Jesus enter into the storm and came unto them walking with them through that very same storm. What’s more, is that there is even a place of walking with Jesus in the midst of the storm which was demonstrated by the apostle Peter when he stepped out of the boat and began walking on the water in the midst of the wind with the waves crashing all around him. Hallelujah for a Jesus who not only sees us toiling and struggling in the midst of the storm, not only comes unto us in the midst of the storm, but also enters into our storm and walks with us in the midst of the storm.
I wrote and mentioned how there were certain miracles which Jesus only performed twice within and throughout His life and ministry, and one of those miracles is found in the eighth chapter of this New Testament gospel of Mark. If you begin reading the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark you will find that there was a second time when Jesus fed the multitude with loaves of bread and with fish, for in the first ten verses of the eighth chapter we find that there was a specific day when the multitude was very great, and had nothing to eat. Jesus recognizing and understanding their need called the disciples unto Himself and declared unto them that he had compassion on the multitude, because they had now been with him for three days, and have nothing to eat. Jesus would go on to express the fact that if He sent the crowds away fasting to their houses, they would faint by the way, for many of them came from very far away. It’s interesting to note that the disciples responded to Jesus by asking how a man could satisfy all these men with bread there in the wilderness. This question is actually quite astounding and quite remarkable when you take the time to think about it, for it flies directly in the face of the children of Israel who entered into the wilderness and only a few short chapters after they had been delivered from the slavery, bondage and oppression of Egypt, they found themselves complaining before Moses against God because they were hungry and had no food to eat. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that nearly three million men exited and departed Egypt under the leadership of Moses—this not including women and children who made the journey with them. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that the living God was able to feed three million men from among the children of Israel there in the wilderness with manna from heaven, and did so each and every day for forty years until they entered into the Promised Land and first ate of the fruit of the land. From the moment the Lord first began feeding the children of Israel with manna from heaven until the children of Israel entered into the land of Canaan and partook of the fruit of the land, the Lord fed them six days a week with manna, and gave them enough manna on the sixth day to satisfy them on the seventh day since they couldn’t gather any on the seventh day. The question which the disciples asked Jesus concerning being able to feed such a great multitude with bread in the wilderness flies directly in the face of the reality that the living God was able to feed three million men—not including women and children—in the wilderness after coming out of the land of Egypt. For forty years the living God fed three million plus men, women and children with manna from heaven until they entered into the land of Canaan and partook of the fruit of the land. If the living God could feed three million men—not including women and children—in the wilderness for forty years, Jesus could feed four thousand plus men, women and children. The question which the disciples asked did not account for the fact that centuries earlier the living God would feed three million plus men, women and children with bread from heaven. What’s more, is that the same God who fed the children of Israel with manna and bread from heaven would and could be the same God who would feed four thousand men plus women and children.
The miracle of feeding the multitudes was one of two miracles which I find taking place only twice within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, for the ministry and miracle in the midst of the storm was only seen twice, and the miracle of feeding the multitude was only seen twice within the life and ministry of Jesus. ON the first occasion Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish, and not only ended up feeding five thousand men plus women and children and having twelve baskets of fragments remaining after all had been fed, and on the second occasion Jesus fed the multitude with seven loaves of bread and a few small fishes. When the miracle of feeding the four thousand took place, the entire multitude did eat and were satisfied, and when all was said and done there were seven baskets of fragments left over. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that not only did Jesus feed two different multitudes with loaves of bread and fishes, but in each case the multitude ate and was satisfied, and there were even fragments of the miracle and fragments of the encounter left over. The eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark records how Jesus fed four thousand men not including women and children with seven loaves of bread and a few small fishes. As the chapter continues you will find the Pharisees coming forth and began to question with Jesus seeking from Him a sign from heaven, and tempting Him. What Mark writes and records is actually quite interesting and quite astounding, for Mark records how Jesus asked why that generation sought after a sign. What’s more, is Mark writes and records how Jesus sighed deeply in His spirit and then asked the question why that generation sought after a sign. It’s interesting and worth noting that it wasn’t the people themselves who asked for and demanded a sign from heaven, but it was the religious leaders and the religious system which asked for a sign from heaven. I began this writing with the statement concerning religion demanding a sign, and I would like to expound upon that a little right here, for when you read and study the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will not find the people asking for and demanding a sign from heaven, thus tempting Jesus, but you will find the religious leaders and the religious system asking for and demanding a sign from heaven. I am convinced it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand this, for there is something that warrants strong consideration when thinking about how the religious system asked for and demanded of Jesus a sign from heaven. If you read the New Testament gospels which were written by the apostle Matthew, by John Mark, by the beloved physician, and by the apostle John, you will find that it was always religion which demanded a sign from heaven—not only in order that it might tempt Jesus, but in order that it might somehow gain some infallible and undeniable proof concerning Jesus the Christ.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think to myself that immediately following the miracle of the feeding of the four thousand with seven loaves of bread and a few small fishes we find the Pharisees coming unto Jesus asking and demanding of Him a sign from heaven. This is actually quite unique and astounding when you think about it, for in both the case of the feeding of the five thousand, as well as the case of the feeding of the four thousand, there is not a doubt in my mind that the Pharisees, the scribes, the elders of Israel, and the chief priests were not among those who partook of the bread, nor did they partake of the fishes which were present on these occasions. I am convinced that one of the greatest reasons why religion asks for and demands a sign is because it has never and would never partake of the bread which is blessed and broken by Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that none of the Pharisees, nor any of the Sadducees, nor any of the chief priests, nor any of the elders of Israel partook of the loaves of bread and of the fishes and were satisfied. What’s more, is that I am convinced that until and unless you are completely and totally satisfied with and satisfied by Jesus the Christ you will always ask for and demand a sign. I am convinced that the only reason the Pharisees asked for and demanded a sign from heaven is because they would never and could never be satisfied with and satisfied by Jesus the Christ. This reality is true even in our generation today, for there are countless men and women who flock to meetings, and gatherings, and awakenings, and revivals, and outpourings seeking a sign, and they do so because they have not been and they are not satisfied by Jesus the Christ. Only those who have never been, and only those who are not and cannot be satisfied with and by Jesus will ask for and demand a sign. I am convinced that those among us within this generation who ask for and demand a sign from heaven because they have not been satisfied with and satisfied by Jesus Christ. Oh, if you are one who repeatedly and continually asks for a sign from heaven, I would dare say that you are one who has not been and is not satisfied by Jesus Christ. The five thousand men plus women and children in the first case, and the four thousand men plus women and children in the second case would not ask for a sign from heaven because they all ate and were satisfied. On both occasions Mark and Matthew write and record how the multitudes did eat and were satisfied and were filled from that which was blessed and broken by Jesus the Christ. On the one hand we find multitudes eating and being filled and satisfied, and on the other hand we find the Pharisees asking for and demanding a sign from heaven. We must recognize and understand that signs from heaven have always been demanded, and will always be demanded by and from those who are not satisfied with and satisfied by Jesus the Christ. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves when reading this passage of Scripture is whether or not we are those who are completely satisfied by the living God, and whether or not we are satisfied by Jesus the Christ. Are we those who have been, and are we those that are satisfied with and satisfied by Jesus the Christ, or are we those who have not partaken of the bread from heaven and have not eaten until we are full and content? The Pharisees and the religious leaders never ate and were satisfied, and as a direct result, they continually asked for and demanded a sign from heaven. If you are one who asks for and demands a sign from heaven I would strong caution you against such a reality within your life, for you yourself might be one who has not been and is not truly satisfied by Jesus the Christ. Oh that we would be a people who are and who have been satisfied by Jesus the Christ, and that we would not need signs from heaven to cause us to believe in Jesus, or even to cause us to trust and put our confidence in Him. Oh that we would be a people who are and have been satisfied with and by Jesus so we wouldn’t have to ask for and demand a sign from heaven in order to see the authority of Jesus the Christ, and to be moved by His power, his dominion, His authority and His might. Oh that there would be a people in this generation who would be raised up completely and totally satisfied by Jesus the Christ, and would not need all these extra signs from heaven in order that they might find themselves in a place of trust, confidence and belief in the living God and in His Christ.