The miracle of Christ walking on the sea "
"Apprehending that for which we were apprehended" (See Phil 3: 12)
"Grasping THE PURPOSE for which Christ grasped me" (J.B. Phillips)
The miracle of Christ walking on the sea to rescue His troubled and toiling disciples is the fifth of the eight
"sign-miracles" described in John's Gospel. It is interesting to note that John never used the word "dunamis" (act of
power) in his record; -it is consistently "semeion" (i.e. "sign"), something that signifies, or illustrates, something else.
It has its own hidden meaning, and is intended, not only as factual history, but also for interpretation, as also are the
parables. It is good to go through John's eight miracles with that in mind, and seeking to find the corresponding
"significance" in each case.
The miracle we now have in mind is a beautiful example of that. Christ and His disciples had-had a demanding day,
-including "feeding the five thousand", and, at its close, Christ Himself "went up into a mountain to pray" (John 6: 15;
Mark 6:46); -and wanting to be alone with God during the night hours. He briefly told His disciples to make their own
way home by ship, -i.e. "toward Capernaum" (John 6:17). They started off, but soon came the terrible and violent
storm, -and the great anguish and torment of the distressed disciples. But, high on the mountain, Christ had
evidently been watching the storm, -so came down and WALKED OVER THE WAVES to show Himself to them,
and to rescue them. It was then they "willingly received him into the ship: -and immediately the ship was at the land
whither they went" (John 6:21). They had "apprehended that for which they had been apprehended"; -they had
reached the goal!
We suggest that that phrase "apprehending that for which we are apprehended" (Phil.3: 12) provides us with the
key to the inner significance of the miracle, -and we shall try now to trace it through. We believe it can show us how
we can "reach the goal", -how we can GRASP the purpose for which Christ GRASPED us. This was something that
Paul greatly wanted, and for which he was prepared to "count all things but loss" (Phil.3:8).
Perhaps we can now suggest a succession of stages in the miracle itself, and seeking to note the spiritual
counterpart in each case.
First, then, we note that when the disciples got into the boat they KNEW WHERE THEY WERE GOING. The Lord
had said, "Capernaum", -and Capernaum it would be. They knew the planned destination, and they were actively
committed to it The Lord's plan was to be their plan.
The same, we believe, must be true of us. We, too, must know, and accept at least the rudiments of the Lord's plan
for His people, and for His Church, -and we must be committed to it. We must "set sail" in that direction. It is so
important to ask ourselves, "Do we know what the Lord has in mind for His blood-bought people?" We obviously
cannot know all, but we do need to have at least the broad outline, and to be committed to it, -actively. We must
"set sail" in that direction.
How we thank God that He has revealed these plans and purposes in His own precious Word, -as much as it is
good for us to know of them -at present. The question is, have we "searched the Scriptures" to find out those
purposes! Perhaps we could give a few examples of what the Scripture say. Here they are. God has plans to:-
Make His people accurate reflections of His Son (Rom.8: 29).
Make us sharers of Christ's authority, -even now (Matt.16: 19; 18:18).
Make Christians His own "place of rest" (2 Cor.6: 16; Isa.66: 1,2).
Have us LOVE CHRIST as He does (John 17:26; Rom.5: 5).
These are only a few examples, but sufficient, perhaps, to make us "get into the boat and set out for Capernaum",
-whatever it may cost.
We can, of course, thank God that all these things are also the inheritance of Christians from the moment of New
Birth, -they already HAVE ALL in Christ. What we are thinking of here, however, is the EXPERIENTIAL
ENJOYMENT OF THEM, -RIGHT NOW, -to the extent to which that is possible, -and intended. All that, of course,
will be progressive, and it is that "progression" which we are now considering. And we are saying that the first step
in that progression is to be aware of the intended destination- (Capernaum), -and to be committed to it. Thank God,
the disciples straightway "entered into the ship and went over the sea toward Capernaum" (John 6:17).
The next thing we notice in our story is what we can call, "THE ARISING OF A GREAT STORM", or "THE
EMERGING OF GREAT ANTAGONISM". We read, "And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew" (v.18).
It is interesting that both Matthew and Mark tell us that "the wind was contrary"; -it was in sharp opposition to them, -
something quite significant. We also read that the ship itself was positively "tossed with the waves" (Matt. 14:24);
-certainly a most frightening situation!
Turning immediately to the spiritual parallel, we are reminded of such verses as Ephesians 6:12, -"We wrestle not
against flesh and blood, but AGAINST PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS, AGAINST 'WICKED SPIRITS' (marg.) IN
HIGH PLACES". As for the "great wind", Ephesians 2:2 also tells us that Satan is "the prince of the power of the
air"; -hence, no doubt, the storm, and the awful opposition to the disciples.
The lesson for us here, then, must be very obvious. Anyone, or any group, that sets its heart on spiritual fullness
WILL INEVITABLY ENCOUNTER SATANIC RESISTANCE AND HELLISH RAGE. If we are quite content with
mere "beginnings", we shall know little of this adversity, but, if our hearts are truly set on the divine purpose, the
GREAT WIND will surely ARISE AGAINST US! And a "contrary" wind it surely will be; -it will have NOTHING of the
Divine plan. Our ship, too, will be "TOSSED with the wind" and we may even regret that we ever started such a
voyage. How good, then, to have this pictorial warning from the Scriptures! And, in God's own love and wisdom, the
deliverance may NOT be immediate! The Lord may have a few more lessons to teach us IN THE STORM! He
knows the way we take
MY JOY MIGHT REMAIN IN YOU —2
In 1 Peter 1: 8, Peter calls that joy "unspeakable and full of glory". That joy cannot be explained. You may be a very
good speaker and a preacher. But this joy unspeakable cannot be explained. We need a heavenly vision to see that
joy which is "full of glory". It lifts us from the earth to heaven itself.
Then, that joy does not depend upon eating and drinking. "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but
righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom.14: 17). Most of our joy depends upon eating and
drinking. That is how we find many wives making mistakes. They think, they will be loved by their husbands for
good food and drinks. In the beginning of their married lives, they spend many hours thinking and planning what to
cook for their husbands. They know what they like and yet they are not satisfied. You find that they are
disappointed. This joy, which the Lord gives, is of a different nature. The joy that comes by eating and drinking is of
a different nature. You may try one day with a good intention, but that joy will not last long. Some people are not
particular about eating and drinking, but they are after property and possessions. They go on saving money with the
intention of purchasing land, building and property; others amass wealth or cattle or sheep or diamonds or: jewels.
None of these things can give you true joy, even though you may possess whatever you long for.
If you go to Denmark, you will not find any poor man there; everyone is prosperous. No one is unemployed. Every
one has a good job. They have a wonderful sanatorium, but no patients. Yet, in Denmark with all their knowledge,
skillfulness and prosperity, they have a larger number of suicides than anywhere else in the world. Every day, you
find young people and old committing suicide. That happens everywhere, because they depend upon their
possessions for their happiness, so they are disappointed. But in Habakkuk 3:17, 18 the prophet says, " Although
the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall
yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the
LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation".
Even though we lose everything, which we possess, yet we can rejoice in the Lord. That is true joy. There is a joy, which does not depend upon land or buildings or prosperity, or any kind
of wealth or possessions. Have you found that joy? It is to give us such a joy; the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world. So lovingly He is offering that joy to all people in any part of the world. See Phil.4: 4! 'Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice". "Rejoice ever more" (1Thess.5: 16). Whether you have good health or bad health, whether you have many friends or enemies, whether you are in your own home or away from home, that joy will not
leave you. There are many people who become homesick. They shed tears when they think of their homes. They lose their appetite, sleep and everything. They are very miserable.
They go on sighing day and night. They think
that their joy depends only upon their home. This joy is not like that. In home or away from home, in the midst of
enemies or friends, job or no job, children or no children, this joy is there.