An Empty Ship & the Fellowship of the Storm

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, which was written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters eight through ten of this New Testament book. ”In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat” (Mark 8:1). “Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far” (Mark 8:2-3). THERE WOULD COME A FIRST STORM, THEN A SECOND! THERE WOULD COME A FIRST HUNGRY MULTITUDE, THEN A SECOND! As I begin this particular writing I find it absolutely astonishing and worth considering that if you read and study the four gospel narratives which were written by Jesus the Christ you will find that there would be two distinct encounters and two distinct experiences that would take place within the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as His disciples walked with and followed Him. There would be an initial storm which both Jesus and the disciples would face together, as the disciples and Jesus would be in the midst of the sea in a ship while a  great temptest rose up against them upon the sea. There would be an initial storm that would rise up against the disciples as they were in the midst of the sea, and one they would not face alone, but would most certainly wrestle and struggle with as Jesus was sound asleep in the midst of the ship. The disciples were toiling and struggling in the midst of the storm upon the sea, and their fear would lay hold of their hearts as they would come unto Jesus crying out that they perished. Jesus would awaken from His sleep and would arise from His place of slumber—first to settle and calm the hearts, the minds, the fear and the faith of the disciples, and secondly to stand in the midst of the storm as if to confront it head on. It would be as Jesus stood in the midst of the storm that He would speak directly to the storm and would rebuke both the wind and the waves. Jesus would speak directly unto the storm—directly unto the wind and the waves—and would rebuke it all that it might become completely calm and completely still. The disciples were absolutely and incredibly amazed at what they would witness, for they could not understand who this man was that even the wind and the waves obeyed His voice and His command.

            The more you read the four gospel narratives surrounding the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ—specifically the gospel narratives which were written by the apostle Matthew, the beloved physician Luke, and even John Mark—the more you will find that this wasn’t the only storm the disciples would face. The Synoptic Gospels contain two distinct narratives concerning storms which the disciples would face, as the first storm they would face with Jesus in the midst of the ship with them, but the second storm would be faced alone and without Jesus present with them. The first storm the disciples would face they would face with Jesus in the midst of the ship with them—despite the fact He would initially and originally be sleeping in the ship. In that first storm—not only would Jesus be with the disciples, but Jesus would also rise up in the midst of the storm, calm the fears and faith of the disciples, and would speak unto the storm itself, thus bringing it to a complete calm. The second storm, however, was entirely and altogether different, for it would be in the second storm we find Jesus sending the disciples out into the midst of the sea alone and without Him in the ship with them. The disciples perhaps had no clue, nor did they have any idea that they were about to face another storm, and yet there they were in the midst of the sea within the ship as the wind and the waves were contrary to them. There in the midst of the sea the disciples would face the storm alone and by themselves without Jesus being present with them, for we know that Jesus sent the crowds and the multitudes away, while He went up to a mountain and prayed. It would be there atop the mountain Jesus would pray before and unto His Father, and would watch and observe the disciples in the midst of the sea as they struggled to row because the wind and waves were contrary to them. We know from the narrative of the first storm that the disciples were fearful and cried out to Jesus, however, when it comes to this second storm there is no indication of the fear or faith of the disciples and what they were thinking and feeling. The only thing we know from this narrative is that when they saw Jesus walking upon the water and coming toward them in the midst of the storm they perceived it to be a spirit.

            What I so absolutely love about the narrative of this second storm is that it’s almost as if since the disciples had faced the first storm with Jesus in the midst of the ship with them, they were now going to face a second storm without Him being present in the ship or the storm. The underlying question we must ask is what do we do when Jesus is not only not in the ship with us, but is also not with us in the midst of the storm? What do you do when Jesus is not in the midst of the ship with you, and when Jesus is not in the midst of the storm? How do you react and how do you respond when in the first storm you faced Jesus was with you, would settle your fear and your faith, and would speak to and rebuke the storm? How do you react when you find yourself in the midst of the storm and Jesus is not in the ship with you? We know that the disciples were there in the midst of the sea with the wind and the waves being contrary to them, and yet we know absolutely nothing about what they were thinking or what they were feeling. Scripture is altogether silent on the thoughts that would go through the minds of the disciples, as well as the emotions the disciples might have felt and experienced as they would again face another storm. Were the disciples fearful and affrighted in the midst of this storm as they were in the first one? Were the disciples anxious and worried in the midst of the storm knowing the wind and the waves were contrary to them? Was the faith of the disciples strengthened having gone through the previous storm with Jesus in the midst of the ship with them, and as they heard Jesus speak unto them concerning their fear and faith? We have absolutely no clue, nor do we have any idea what the disciples were thinking, nor what the disciples were feeling in the midst of the storm. The only thing we know was that they labored and toiled in rowing because the wind and the waves were contrary to them. What’s worth noting and pointing out is that although the disciples might have been in the midst of the storm alone they were never away from, nor were they outside of the careful and watchful eye of Jesus the Christ. Scripture makes it perfectly clear that after Jesus sent the multitude away He Himself would go up into a mountain where He would pray before and unto His Father which was in heaven. It would be there atop the mountain Jesus would not only pray unto His Father in heaven—perhaps for the faith and fear of the disciples that their faith would not fail, and that their fear would not prevail—but would also watch and observe them in the midst of the storm. It’s important for us to realize and recognize this, for in the first storm we find Jesus speaking to the storm the disciples found themselves in, while in this storm it is very possible Jesus prayed for the disciples in that storm.

            We know from reading the gospel narratives concerning the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ that Satan desired to have Simon that he might sift him as wheat, but that Jesus prayed for him that his faith would not fail. With this knowledge concerning Jesus’ praying for Peter that his faith would not fail I can’t help but wonder and get the strong sense that Jesus would be there atop the mountain praying for His disciples that their faith would not fail, and that they would be able to bear up in the midst of the storm. Scripture makes it perfectly clear that Jesus was atop the mountain praying, and I can’t help but get the strong sense that Jesus was there atop the mountain praying for the disciples as He would pray that their faith would not fail, and that their fear would not prevail. In the first storm Jesus would stand up in the midst of the storm and would speak to the wind and the waves as He commanded them to be still. This time, however—not only would Jesus not be in the midst of the ship with the disciples, and not only would Jesus not be in the midst of the storm with the disciples, but Jesus would also not stand up in the midst of the storm and speak to it, thus commanding it to cease its raging. What we find within this passage of Scripture is Jesus atop the mountain as He prayed before and unto His Father in heaven. Oh, I would dare say that while Jesus was praying atop that mountain He was praying before and unto His Father in heaven, and would pray for His disciples who would once more find themselves in the midst of a storm, and would once more find themselves threatened by the wind and the waves. What Scripture reveals about this particular storm is that while it is true Jesus prayed for the disciples, it is also true that He watched and observed them laboring, toiling and struggling in rowing. What makes this all the more interesting and remarkable is when you think about and consider the fact that Jesus would transition Himself from praying atop the mountain to walking in the midst of the storm. Jesus would come down from the top of the mountain and would Himself walk upon the water of the sea in the midst of the storm that He might make His way unto His disciples there upon the waters. The question I can’t help but ask is whether or not Jesus would send the crowds away, for He knew what He was going to do in the lives of His twelve disciples, and He knew the storm was going to come upon the sea. Is it possible that Jesus knew the storm the disciples were going to face, and He sent the crowds away so He could be alone with the Father to pray—and not only be alone with the Father to pray, but also to ultimately come unto the disciples walking on the water in the midst of the sea?

            The words which we find in this particular narrative is absolutely astounding when you take the time to consider what is presented before and unto us, for here we have Jesus sending the disciples out into the midst of the sea while He Himself remained on the shore dismissing the crowds until He was all alone. Jesus was all alone upon the land as the crowds had been dismissed, and as the disciples would themselves be in the midst of the sea. It would be in this moment Jesus would go up into a mountain and would pray before and unto His Father who was in heaven. It would be there atop the mountain Jesus would pray before and unto His Father, and there is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus would pray for His disciples that their faith would not fail and that their fear would not prevail. We know that Jesus would come unto the disciples during the fourth watch of the night, but what Scripture isn’t clear about is how long the disciples were there in the midst of the sea laboring, toiling and struggling in rowing with the wind and the waves contrary to them. Scripture is altogether unclear how long the disciples were there in the midst of the sea, and how long the disciples labored, toiled and struggled against the wind and the waves, but we do know that in the fourth watch of the night Jesus came unto them walking upon the water, and walking in the midst of the storm. We do know that when it came to this storm the disciples faced the storm alone as Jesus was alone on the shore, and as Jesus was atop a mountain praying. Although Jesus would not be with the disciples in the midst of the storm, He would pray for them as they faced the storm, He would come unto them walking upon the water, and would even bid Simon to step out of the boat and come unto Him upon the water. When it came to this second storm Jesus would actually pray for the disciples there in the midst of the storm, and would even come unto the disciples walking on the water and in the midst of the waves and the wind. How incredibly powerful it is to think about the fact that although Jesus would not be in the midst of the ship with the disciples, and although Jesus would not be in the midst of the storm with them, He would not leave them without prayer and intercession, and He would not leave them without His presence as He would come unto them walking upon the water. What a truly wonderful and powerful truth it is to think how Jesus would initially allow the disciples to face and brave the storm alone, but that Jesus would come unto the disciples walking upon the water, thus not only demonstrating the ability to stand in the midst of the storm, but also to walk in the midst of the storm.

            If there is one thing we must recognize and understand when reading the narrative of this second storm, it’s that Jesus’ initial encounter with the disciples in the midst of the storm would demonstrate His ability to stand up in the midst of the storm and speak directly unto the wind and the waves, thus bringing them to a complete calm. This second storm, however, would be entirely and altogether different as Jesus would not only demonstrate the ability to walk in the midst of the storm, but also to stand in the midst of the storm. Jesus would demonstrate the ability to walk in the midst of the storm as during the fourth watch of the night He would make His way unto the disciples there in the midst of the sea. Scripture records and reveals how Jesus would come unto the disciples walking upon the water, and walking in the midst of the wind and the waves, and yet when Simon Peter and the other disciples realized and understood that it was Jesus who was out upon the water, Simon would ask Jesus to bid him to come unto him upon the water in the midst of the storm. What we find and read concerning Simon stepping out of the boat is not only the invitation to walk upon the water, but also Jesus’ ability to now stand in the midst of the storm. In the first storm the disciples faced with Jesus in the midst of the ship Jesus would stand up in the midst of the storm—almost as if confronting the storm head on before speaking to it and rebuking the wind and the waves. In that first storm Jesus would stand up and would stand in the midst of the storm while still in the ship with the disciples. It would be in that first storm Jesus would stand up within the ship, and would stand in the midst of the storm—almost as if to stand up to the storm itself—and would rebuke the wind and the waves, thus bringing them to a complete calm and peace. In this second scenario, however, we find something different, for while we do indeed find Jesus walking upon the water in the midst of the storm as He would make His way unto the disciples, He would stand in the midst of the waters and would stand in the midst of the storm while Simon would come unto Him. Please do not miss the awesome and incredible power that surrounds the narrative of this storm, for what we find in the midst of this storm is Jesus walking in the midst of it, and finding Jesus standing in the midst of the storm—and not only standing in the midst of the storm as He had previously done while in the ship, but standing in the midst of the storm upon the waters of the sea. STANDING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM UPON THE WATERS OF THE SEA! STANDING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM AS THE WIND RAGES AROUND YOU, AND AS THE WAVES CRASH BEFORE YOU! It is one thing to stand up in the midst of the storm while in the ship, however, it is something altogether and entirely different to stand in the midst of the storm outside the relative shelter and safety of the boat.

            When previously writing concerning this second storm I referenced and alluded to Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, and how they were cast into the fiery furnace bound hand and foot as a means of punishment for now bowing down and worshipping the image of gold Nebuchadnezzar had set up in the plain of Dura. We know from the prophetic book of Daniel that although these three Hebrews were cast alive into the fiery furnace—not only were they loosed from that which bound them, but they also walked freely in the midst of the fiery furnace, and there was one in the midst of the furnace with them whose appearance was like the Son of man. This is something worth thinking about and considering, for I am convinced that the same Son of man who stood with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in the midst of the fire was the same Son of man who not only came unto the disciples walking in the midst of the storm, but also stood there in the midst of the storm while beckoning Simon to step out of the boat and come unto Him. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that the same Son of man who would stand in the midst of the fire with those three Hebrews would now stand in the midst of the sea and in the midst of the storm, and would even beckon one of His own disciples to come unto Him there on the waters. I have to admit that I am truly and completely amazed at this interaction between Jesus and the disciples—not only because Jesus would walk on the water in the midst of the storm, but I would dare say that when He beckoned and invited Simon to step out of the boat and to come unto Him on the water He stood still upon the water in the midst of the storm. Picture the scene if you will as Jesus would stand still upon the water in the midst of the wind and in the midst of the waves as Simon would step out of the boat and would come unto Him there in the storm. Imagine what it would have been like to see Jesus—this same Jesus who would stand up in the midst of the previous storm—stand in the midst of the storm, and to do so standing upon the waters. In this storm Jesus wouldn’t stand within the relative shelter and safety of the ship—as if He even needed it—for Jesus would stand in the midst o the storm, and would stand there in the midst of the sea upon the water, thus not only demonstrating His authority over the storm, but also demonstrating that He didn’t even need the ship to stand in the midst of the storm.

            YOU DON’T NEED THE SHIP TO STAND IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! In the first storm Jesus would stand up in the midst of it within the ship He and the disciples were in, and during this storm Jesus would walk upon the waters of the sea unto the disciples, and would ultimately stand in the midst of the sea. There was Jesus out of the boat standing upon the water and standing in the midst of the storm, and He stood there—not so much as a testament of His ability to stand in the midst of the storm, but also as an invitation unto the disciples to stand in the midst of the storm. I am absolutely and completely convinced that if it was not Jesus’ intention, nor perhaps His desire to invite the disciples to step out of the boat and stand with Him in the midst of the storm, He would not have beckoned and invited Simon to step out of the boat and to step on to the waters of the sea. I firmly believe that Jesus stood there in the midst of the sea upon the waters as a powerful invitation unto all the disciples to come and join Him upon the sea in the midst of the storm. Imagine what this scene would and could have looked liked had not only Simon, but all twelve of the disciples stepped out of the boat, walked on the water to Jesus, and stood there in the midst of the storm. Imagine what this scene would have looked like as the same Jesus who stood in the midst of the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego would and could have stood in the midst of the storm with His twelve disciples all around them. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Jesus stood in the midst of the storm He did so to demonstrate the ability to stand in the storm without needing the shelter, the safety, and the protection we think and feel the ship might offer. The other eleven disciples might very well have remained in the boat while Simon stepped out of it and on to the waters, and they undoubtedly chose to relative safety and shelter they believed the ship would provide. What I can’t help but think about and consider is when you think about the fact that so long as Jesus was in the midst of the storm, so long as Jesus was standing upon the water, and so long as Jesus would stand in the midst of the storm, the disciples could do so as well. So long as the disciples walked by faith knowing Jesus was in the midst of the storm, and so long as they did not walk by sight seeing the wind and the waves, they would not only walk upon the water and walk in the midst of the storm, but they would also stand in the midst of the storm. Jesus stood there in the midst of the storm thus demonstrating before and unto the disciples the awesome reality that just as He could stand in the midst of the storm without needing the relative shelter and safety of the ship, so too could the disciples stand in the midst of the storm without the relative shelter and safety of the ship. Just as Jesus could walk upon the water, just as Jesus could walk and stand in the midst of the storm, so also would, and so also could the disciples themselves stand in the midst of the storm together with Him.

            STANDING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM TOGETHER WITH JESUS! The more I think about and the more I consider this reality and narrative of the disciples in the ship in the midst of the storm, and Jesus not only walking on the water of the sea to them, and His standing in the midst of the storm, the more I can’t help but think about the awesome and incredible reality of Jesus’ invitation to His disciples and those who walk with and follow Him to not only get out of the boat, but also to step on to the water, to make their way unto Him upon the water, and as they would stand together with Jesus in the midst of the storm. It would be very easy to fault Simon Peter and to point the finger at him for his lack of faith, and for allowing fear to lay hold of his heart and soul, and yet Simon was the only one of the twelve disciples who was willing to step out of the boat on to the water and walk toward Jesus. Simon Peter was willing to step out of the boat and would initially walk on water—the only human in history to every walk on water outside of and apart from Jesus Himself. It’s one thing for Jesus to walk upon the water and to walk upon the water in the midst of the storm, but it’s something else entirely to stand upon the water in the midst of the storm and to invite one of His disciples to join Him out on the water. Jesus stood in the midst of the storm upon the water—not necessarily as a demonstration of His authority over and in the midst of the storm, but also as an invitation unto the disciples to join Him out on the water in the midst of that storm. Jesus stood there in the midst of the storm as a wonderful and powerful invitation given unto the disciples that they not only step out of the boat, but also to stand in the midst of the storm. Jesus didn’t stand in the midst of the storm as an emphatic declaration that He alone could stand in the midst of it, but rather as a powerful demonstration and invitation that the disciples could themselves stand in the midst of the storm. I continue to wonder what it would have been like if in the gospels we not only read of Simon stepping out of the boat and on to the water, but also the other eleven disciples stepping out of the boat and on to the water. I wonder what the gospel narrative would have been like had all twelve disciples stepped out of the boat and stepped on to the water as they made their way unto Jesus. What would and what could it have been like had each of the twelve disciples made the decision to get out of the boat, to walk on the water to Jesus, and to stand there with Him in the midst of the storm. We sing the song “Praise you in the storm,” and yet I can’t help but get the strong sense that there is a great and tremendous need—not merely for people who are willing and able to praise in the midst of the storm, but for men and women to stand with Jesus in the midst of the storm.

            YOU SAY YOU WILL PRAISE ME IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM, BUT ARE YOU WILLING TO COME UNTO ME IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! YOU SAY YOU’RE WILLING TO PRAISE ME IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM, BUT ARE YOU WILLING TO GET OUT OF THE BOAT! ARE YOU WILLING TO MOVE BEYOND MERE PRAISE IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM AND ACTUALLY STAND WITH ME IN THE STORM AS SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABED-NEGO BOTH STOOD AND WALKED WITH ME IN THE MIDST OF THE FIRE! THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE FIRE, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE STORM! I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is a powerful invitation that is being given and offered unto the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ—not only to praise God in the midst of the storm, but to actually stand in the midst of the storm, and to stand with Him in the midst of the storm upon the water. There is a truly wonderful and powerful invitation that is being given unto the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ to stand with Jesus in the midst of the storm, and to stand with Him in fellowship there in the midst of the wind and the waves. We enjoy the lyrics of the song “Praise you in the storm,” and such a song tugs at the strings of our heart and soul, and yet when we read the narrative of the disciples in this storm we find Jesus walking in the midst of the storm, we find Jesus standing still in the midst of the waves and the wind there in the storm, and we find Him beckoning and inviting Simon Peter to come unto Him in the midst of the storm. I firmly believe that Jesus’ coming unto the disciples walking on the water in the midst of that storm—and even His invitation given unto Simon—was a powerful invitation to each of the twelve disciples to step out of the boat, to step on to the water, and to come unto Him in the midst of the storm as they all stood there together in the middle of that storm.

            It is one thing to praise the living God in the midst of the storm, but it is something else entirely and altogether different to actually stand with Jesus in the middle of the storm. You will notice that even as Simon was walking unto Jesus on the water Jesus did not calm the wind, nor did He settle the waves for Him to do it. Jesus did not speak to the wind and the waves, thus making the journey Simon would make all the more easier for Him. When Jesus beckoned and invited Simon to step out of the boat, He did not first speak to the wind and the waves to die down and allow Simon to walk unto Him on peaceful and calm waters. In fact, Scripture records that it was only after Jesus and Simon entered into the boat that the wind and the waves would cease their raging, and all would become calm and still. I am absolutely and completely convinced there is a great truth that is found within this narrative, for we would like to think that our walking on the water, our stepping out of the boat, and even our making our way to Jesus would be on peaceful waters without the wind and waves raging. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jesus’ call and invitation unto us to join Him on the waters come—not in the midst of peace and rest, but in the midst of rage and chaos. Oh we would like to think that Jesus beckons us to come unto Him during times of peace and rest, and that when we walk on water those waters would be still and at rest. What we must recognize and understand is that Jesus beckons unto us to come unto Him in the midst of the storm with the wind and the waves continuing to rage. When Jesus beckoned Simon to come unto Him, He did not make a path for him in the midst of the waves as the LORD had done for the children of Israel when they came to the Red Sea. When the children of Israel came to the Red Sea—and after Moses stretched forth the rod which was in his hand—the LORD parted the waters to the left and to the right, and they were able to pass through those waters on dry ground. When Simon Peter stepped out of the boat Jesus did not part the waves on either side of him and allow him to come unto him on calm and still waters. When Simon Peter stepped out of the boat he did so with the storm still raging in the midst of and upon the sea, and with the wind and the waves still raging all around and before Him. Please keep in mind that this goes against everything we have been taught, and everything we think and expect, for we would like to think that Jesus would calm the storm rather than asking us to walk in it. We would like to think that Jesus would calm the wind and the waves before beckoning and inviting Simon to come unto Him, however, this truly was not the case as the wind and the waves would still be allowed to rage.

            We know for certain that the wind and the waves were still raging, and that chaos was still swirling all around Simon, for Scripture reveals how he would eventually look upon the wind and the waves all around him, and would immediately begin sinking. So long as Simon walked by faith with his eyes fixed on Jesus, and so long as he did not walk by sight and look upon the wind and the waves all around him he would be able to make the journey unto Jesus. The question I have to ask is how far from the boat and how close to Jesus did Simon actually get. We know that he stepped out of the boat and on to the water to make his way unto Jesus, and we know that he would initially and originally walk upon the water toward Jesus, however, Scripture is unclear how far Simon actually made it before he started taking his eyes off of Jesus and placing them on the wind and the waves. What we must recognize and understand is that with each step Simon would take he would move further and further from the boat, and would move closer and closer to the ship. Permit me to ask you an all important question—namely, if you are in the midst of the storm, are you safer out on the water with Jesus standing on the waters in the midst of the sea, or are you safer the closer you are to the ship. There is and there would be the tendency to think that you are safer the closer you are to the ship so you can reach your hand back toward the ship and perhaps grab hold of it in the event you find yourself sinking, however, one of the greatest truths found within this passage of Scripture is that the closer Simon moved toward Jesus the further away he would be from the ship—and not only from the ship, but perhaps also from the relative comfort, shelter, safety, and assurance he felt the ship would provide. When we speak about this particular event within the life of Simon we must recognize and understand that with Jesus beckoning and inviting him to step out of the boat, to step on to the waters, and to make his way unto Him, the further he would be from the ship. It is absolutely necessary that we understand this, for if we wish to truly come unto Jesus in the midst of the storm we must not only be willing to step out of the boat, but we must also be willing to move forth away from the boat. It wasn’t enough for Simon Peter to get out of the boat, for the closer Simon Peter moved toward Jesus the further away He would get from the ship and the other disciples.

            Perhaps one of the greatest truths and realities I so love and appreciate when reading these words is when you think about and consider the fact that Simon would step out of the boat, would step on to the water, and with each step he took on the water the closer he would get to Jesus, and the further he would get from the ship. Stop and think about the fact that at one point it could very well have been just Simon Peter and Jesus standing on the water in the midst of the storm with the wind and the waves raging all around them. We know the other eleven disciples would not join Simon on the water out of the boat, but I can’t help but wonder and imagine what would and could have happened had Simon and Jesus stood there in the midst the sea and in the midst of the storm with the wind and waves raging all around them as the two of them enjoyed fellowship in the midst of the storm. We know from the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel that when Nebuchadnezzar looked upon the fiery furnace—not only did he see four men loosed and walking in the midst of the fire, but he also saw one of those in the midst of the fire as having the appearance of the Son of man. We know that there is a such thing as “the fellowship of fire” and “the fellowship of the fire” as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego would walk in the midst of the fiery furnace with the Son of man, and they would do so completely unharmed and unhurt by the flames of fire in the midst of the furnace. The more I think about Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in the midst of the fiery furnace and this fellowship of fire there in Babylon, the more I can’t help but think about this fellowship of the storm that could have taken place in the midst of the sea with Jesus and His disciples. I can’t help but think about and wonder what could have happened had the other eleven disciples not only seen Simon walking on the water unto Jesus, but having made it to that place where Jesus was as he stood there with Him upon the waters of the sea in the midst of the wind and the waves. I find myself wondering if there could not have been a fellowship of the storm just as there was a fellowship of the fire which took place in the midst of Babylon. We know that there was indeed a fellowship in the fire there in Babylon as three men would walk unbound and unharmed in the midst of the flames, and I wonder what could have happened if each of the twelve disciples had made the decision to get out of the boat, step on to the water, and made their way unto Jesus there in the midst of the storm. There is not a doubt in my mind that there could have been a fellowship of the storm as all twelve disciples stood there with Jesus as the wind and the waves raged around them. We know the twelve disciples would sit around the table in the upper room on the night of the Passover, and how absolutely astounding it would have been if Scripture recorded a fellowship of the storm as these disciples would stand there with Jesus in the midst of the storm.

            Stop for a moment and imagine what it would and could have been like for the disciples to get out the boat and to step on to the water as they each made their way unto Jesus the Christ. I am trying to imagine within my heart and my mind’s eye what would and could have happened had the twelve disciples stepped out of the boat and onto the water as they made their way to Jesus. AN EMPTY SHIP AND A FELLOWSHIP ON THE WATER! This reality and concept of an empty ship and a fellowship on the water is actually something that is quite remarkable and captivating when you think about it, for it would have been a tremendous sight to see the ship which originally had the disciples in it completely empty there in the midst of the storm as each of the twelve disciples were standing with Jesus in the midst of the storm and upon the water. The reason I find this to be so incredibly alluring and appealing is when I think about the fact that while singing a song such as “Praise you in the storm” might seem like it is perhaps the best and greatest option in the midst of the storm, we find in Scripture that it was possible to stand up in the midst of the storm—and not only to stand up in the midst of the storm, but also to step out of the relative safety and shelter of the ship, step on to the water, and to begin walking unto Jesus there in the midst of the storm. It is one thing to praise in the midst of the storm, but it is something else entirely and altogether different to get out of the ship in the midst of the storm, to walk upon the water as we make our way unto Jesus, and even to stand with Jesus there in the midst of the storm. Oh it is true there might be those who would consider themselves a fellowship of those who are able to praise in the midst of the storm, however, I can’t help but wonder where the fellowship is of those who are willing to stand in the midst of the storm upon the waters. I can’t help but sit here today thinking about how absolutely powerful it would be for a people who are able to do more than simply praise the LORD in the midst of the storm, and who are actually able to get out of the boat, step on to the water, and to come unto Jesus there in the midst of the sea.

            I have to admit that I absolutely love how Jesus beckoned Simon to come unto Him upon the water in the midst of the storm, for in order for Simon to come unto Jesus—not only would he have had to step out of the boat, but in coming unto Jesus he would have had to move further and further away from the ship. What’s more, is that when Simon began to sinking after he took his eyes off of Jesus and began looking at the wind and the waves raging all around him, he would begin to sink. As Simon began to sink he was too far from the ship to be able to reach for the ship, which would leave the only option for him to call and cry out unto Jesus. We know that Simon was with the disciples when they cried out to Jesus in that first storm as they declared unto Jesus that they perished. Within this narrative we don’t find the disciples crying out to Jesus making the declaration that they perish, but we do find Simon crying out to the Lord as he began to sink in the midst of the waters when he took his eyes off of Jesus there in the storm. I happen to find this to be something truly worth considering, for not only would Simon step out of the boat and on to the water, but he would manage to make his way far enough away from the ship and close enough to Jesus where the only viable option in the midst of his distress was crying out to Jesus to save him. This actually brings me back to the overwhelming and powerful truth of what is safer in the midst of the storm—being in the ship with the other disciples, or standing on the waters with Jesus. It might be easy to think about and consider the ship as being the safest place for the disciples in the midst of the storm, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. There is not a doubt in my mind that the safest and greatest place for the disciples there in the midst of the storm would have been standing with Jesus in the midst of the storm. We know that the other eleven disciples did not step out of the boat and chose to instead remain in the relative shelter and safety of the ship, and yet there is not a doubt in my mind that the single greatest place in the midst of this storm was that of standing on the water in the midst of the wind and the waves with Jesus.

            The more I think about this I can’t help but see the ship as a picture of many of our churches, as there is a larger portion of the members of our churches who are like the eleven disciples who remained in the ship. There are a number of men and women among us within our churches who would never dream of getting out of the boat and stepping on the water, and such individuals might choose to remain in the relative safety and shelter of the ship as they “praise the Lord in the midst of the storm.” I can see countless men and women among us within our churches who would choose to remain in the ship and remain in the boat as they praised the LORD in the midst of the storm, and there is a small remnant of those who are actually willing to get out of the boat, step on to the water, walk unto Jesus in the midst of the wind and the waves, and stand with Him there in the middle of the storm. Oh there are definitely those among us who are willing to praise the Lord in the midst of the storm, but there are very few among us who actually possess the courage, the faith, the confidence, the trust, and the boldness to step out of the boat, step on to the water and actually make their way to Jesus. Please note that what I am speaking about is not stepping out on to physical water and physical seas, but rather stepping out of that which we perceive as being relative shelter and safety in the midst of our hearts and lives. I am absolutely convinced that there are a number of men and women who will choose to remain in the midst of the ship and would even praise the Lord in the midst of the storm as He came unto us walking on the water, and yet there are very few among us who are actually willing to join the Lord in the midst of the storm and upon the waters of the sea. Oh how very few there are among us who are willing to forsake the shelter and safety of the ship—even singing before and unto the Lord “I will praise you in the storm”—and who are actually willing to make their way unto Jesus as they move further and further unto Jesus Christ there in the middle of the storm. How many men and women among us do not have the courage, nor do they have the boldness to step out of the boat in the middle of the storm—much less walk toward Jesus upon the waters of the sea? How many men and women among us would choose the safety and shelter of the ship thinking and believing that it is safer for them in the boat than it is out on the water in the midst of the sea?

            I sit here tonight thinking about and considering the tremendous reality and thought of Simon Peter being willing to step out of the boat, leave the disciples there in the midst of the ship, step on to the water of the sea, and make his way away from the ship and make his way unto Jesus. With each and every step he would take toward Jesus it would be a step further and further away from the ship, and away from the disciples. Pause and think about the fact that with each step Simon took to make his way to Jesus he would take a step further and further away from the ship, and further and further away from the disciples. It is possible that with each step we take toward Jesus—particularly and especially in the midst of the storm as Simon Peter did on this particular evening—we are taking steps further and further away from the ship we were in with the other disciples, and were even taking steps further from the disciples themselves. As Peter moved closer and closer to Jesus there in the midst of the storm he would take steps further and further away from the disciples who were his joint companions in their walking with and following Jesus. We must needs recognize and understand this, for there are times when our journey toward Jesus in the midst of the storm can and will take us further and further away from the disciples and followers of Jesus, and can take us further and further away from the ship which we thought would and could provide us with shelter and safety. With each step we take in the midst of the storm we are forced to move in the midst of the wind and the waves which rage before and all around us, and we step and move further and further from the disciples, and further and further away from the ship.

            Please do not miss the truth that surrounds our journey on the water toward Jesus the Christ, for as we make our way toward Jesus in the midst of the storm we are actually doing two distinct things—the first being moving further and further away from the ship, and the other moving further and further from the disciples. I wonder what the other disciples thought and felt when they not only saw Simon step on to the water and find solid ground, but also as Simon would proceed to walk upon the water. What would go through their hearts and minds as they saw one of their own fellow companions stepping out of the boat and on to the water there in the midst of the storm—and not only step out of the boat and on to the water, but also walk on the water as he would make his way toward Jesus. Oh I would absolutely love to know how far Jesus was from the ship, and how far Simon actually made it on the water in the midst of the storm before he finally took his eyes off of Jesus and began looking at the wind and the waves which raged all around him. Scripture is unclear how far Simon actually made it from the ship, but we do know that he was most certainly close enough for Jesus to stretch forth his hand and lay hold of him as he began to sink in the waters of the sea. Oh how much I absolutely love the fact that the storm would not cease until Jesus would enter into the ship together with Simon, for it suggests and speaks to the reality that not only would the storm continue to rage as Simon would make his way toward Jesus there on the sea, but so also would the disciples be forced to continue their experience in the midst of this second storm. As much as Simon would continue experiencing the storm while he made his way unto Jesus, so also would the other eleven disciples continue to experience the storm until both Jesus and Simon entered into the ship. I truly love and appreciate the fact that Jesus didn’t calm the wind and the waves before Simon made the decision to step out of the ship, nor did He cause the water of the sea to become as glass. I find it truly something worth noting and pointing out that when Simon stepped out of the ship and would find solid ground, he would do so in the midst of the storm as the wind and the waves raged before and all around him. If Simon wanted to step out of the ship and make his way unto Jesus he would have to do so in the midst of the wind and the waves as they would rage before and all around him. There would be absolutely no way to make his way unto Jesus there in the middle of the storm upon the water with the wind and the waves having died down, for Jesus would beckon him to come unto him within the current environment of the storm.

            With all of this being mentioned concerning the storms which the disciples would face—the first with Jesus in the midst of the ship with them, and the second with Jesus coming unto them as He walked upon the water of the sea—we must also recognize that there were two other distinct events which would take place during His public ministry. There were two other events which would be almost identical were it not for the source of the provision, as well as the number of those who were involved. If and as you read the gospel narratives you will find that there were two distinct times when Jesus would look upon the multitude and the crowd and would have compassion on them. There would be two times within the public ministry of Jesus when there would be a great multitude and crowd which would be gathered unto Him, and on both occasions the crowd and multitude would be with Him for a number of days. Within the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark we again find Jesus surrounded by a great multitude and crowd, and how Jesus would have compassion on the crowd—not only because they had been with Him for three days, but they have had nothing to eat. This crowd and multitude would be with Jesus for three days as they heard and listened to Him teach concerning the kingdom of heaven, and even heal their sick and diseased among them. This great multitude and crowd would tarry with Jesus for a period of three days, and would do so without eating, and it would be in this context we find Jesus being unwilling to send the crowds away for fear they might faint along the way. Please do not miss the awesome importance of this, for there is something to be said about Jesus being unwilling to send the crowd away from His presence hungry and in need knowing some of them would faint along the way. Jesus was unwilling to send the crowd away—regardless of whether or not they might have had their physical needs met in terms of healing—for He recognized and understood that they needed to be fed. Jesus recognized and understood that the crowd and multitude would need to eat—and not only eat, but eat until they were full—for they would need to have strength to return unto their homes.

            The words which we find in the eighth chapter are absolutely incredible when you take the time to truly think about and consider them, for the words we find in this passage of Scripture points to and reveals the awesome and wonderful reality that Jesus was unwilling to send the crowds away hungry. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for how many churches among us within this generation are willing to allow the crowds and multitudes to depart and return unto their homes fasting, and hungry, and without being satisfied? We know when reading the words of this passage that not only did Jesus feed the multitude, but Jesus also fed the multitude until they were all satisfied and were filled. Scripture seems to suggest and indicate that there was not a single person within and among this crowd and multitude that did not eat, and did not eat until they were satisfied. Oh, there is something to be said—not only regarding Jesus feeding the crowd and the multitude, but continuing to feed them until they were filled. How many men and women among us might be fed when they enter into our presence, and when they enter into our houses of worship, and yet they are unable to eat until they are filled and satisfied? One of the greatest truths and realities concerning this passage of Scripture is that Jesus would indeed feed the crowd and multitude, and He would continue feeding them until all were filled and all were satisfied. I can’t help but wonder if there had reached the point in the midst of this encounter, and in the midst of this interaction when Jesus realized and recognized that the entire crowd had not only eaten, but were also filled. Was there a point when Jesus looked out upon the crowd and upon the multitude and recognized that they had all eat, and had all eaten until they were filled and satisfied? This actually leads me to an all important question, for I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t those who are perhaps fed when they come among us in our midst, yet they are not fed until they are satisfied and filled. It is true that there are men and women who come among us within our churches and houses of worship, and yet those individuals leave hungry and wanting more than what they have been provided. It’s something worth noting and pointing out that Jesus’ compassion not only led Him to feed this multitude, but also to keep feeding the multitude until they were fed and filled.

FED AND FILLED! I sit here tonight and I can’t help but think about how many among us within our churches and houses of worship are not only fed, but are also filled. It’s one thing to be fed within the house of the LORD, but it’s something else entirely and altogether to be fed and be filled. This causes me to think about and wonder how many men and women may come into our houses of worship and might be able to partake of that which does indeed feed them, and yet they never leave full, filled and satisfied. Oh there are churches and houses of worship today which might very well make the boast that men and women can come among them in their midst and be fed, yet there are very few that actually leave fed, filled and satisfied. How many of our churches and houses of worship actually offer more than simply the opportunity to be fed, but the opportunity to be filled and satisfied? How many of our churches and houses of worship can do more than simply feed others, but actually feed them until they are filled and satisfied? What’s more, is how many men and women read and partake of the bread of life until they are not only fed, but are also filled and satisfied? I firmly believe that it is not solely up to the church and the leaders within the church to feed men and women, for men and women also have a responsibility to themselves before the living God to feed on the bread of Life—and feed of and feed on the bread of life until they are filled and satisfied. How many times have we left too early, and as a result have left fasting and fainting along the way? FED AND FILLED OR FASTING AND FAINTING? If you were to describe your walk and relationship with the LORD would you describe it as being continually fed and filled, or would you describe it as fasting and fainting? There is within this passage of Scripture a powerful contrast between being fed and filled and fasting and fainting as Jesus would not allow a single member of the crowd and multitude to leave fasting that they might faint along the way. Jesus would feed and would continue to feed the crowd until they were filled and satisfied, and only when they were filled and satisfied would they be able to leave and depart from the presence of Jesus. Jesus would feed and would continue feeding the crowd and the multitude until they had received and eaten their full and were completely satisfied. It was only as they were satisfied they would be able to leave and depart from the presence of the Christ. Oh how truly remarkable and astonishing it is to think about and consider the truly awesome need we have to not only feed ourselves until we are filled and satisfied, but also that men and women would be able to enter into our churches and houses of worship and would be fed until they were filled and satisfied. There should be absolutely no reason anyone should depart from the presence of Jesus fasting and fainting, and heaven help those churches, those shepherds and those leaders in our churches today who send the crowds away fasting and fainting without being able to be fed and filled in our midst.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s