In my recent reading of Matthew chapter 14, I was particularly struck by that wonderful miracle of feeding the 5,000 men, plus women and children, with only five loaves of bread and two fishes. That is quite an impressive, or even phenomenal, feat! Later, while the crowds were dispersing, Yeshua’s disciples went around, each with his own basket, and filled them up with the leftovers. (Although I can’t imagine having fish and bread mixed together in the same container...). What they did with those baskets is left untold. They may have had in mind to take them with, them so as to feed the poor in the area (who if need be, could be taken care of by Yeshua in an instant, as He has just proven). Yeshua, for His part, “Immediately made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away” (verse 22 emphasis added).
Thus, doing their Master’s bidding, the disciples were in “the boat [which] was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary” (verse 24). According to the record of this episode, they left the shore in the evening and it was now the fourth watch (i.e. 3 AM in the night). They were exhausted and struggled to manage the boat. The winds had actually driven them in the opposite direction, to a different destination. They were headed for Bethsaida on the eastern shore but ended up at Gennesaret (verse 34) on the western side. But let me not leave out the most exciting part of this narrative, when Yeshua showed up walking on the water. “And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Yeshua spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid…’ And when they [Yeshua and Peter] got into the boat, the wind stopped" (Matthew 14:26-27; 32). When they arrived at Gennesaret, many came to them and were healed.
In the last fifty years or so, incredible moves of the Spirit have taken place during which ministries, congregations, and churches were greatly blessed with success, material wealth, and spiritual abundance. But at the same time, our world has become darker and darker, to the point that we just may be in the fourth watch of the night, and find that the winds are pushing our ship in directions that are against our aimed-at goal. We may be exhausted trying to get to our destination or accomplish our vision, while the world around us is, literally, going to hell and can’t do anything about it. We fear that our children or grandchildren will be growing up in a world of iniquity and sin, the likes of which we have never seen before. We also know that the season of impending judgments is going to be full of distress, turmoil, and stress. But even though the winds and the seas will rage, we must keep in mind that there is One who can walk above those waves and even calm the seas.
There may even be times, during the tempest, when we will not recognize Yeshua’s appearance and will mistake Him for a phantom or for just a figment of our imagination. However, this is not so when it comes to His voice, when He whispers in our hearts, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid…” Even though we may find ourselves at a different destination, from the one that we set out to reach, we will be relieved knowing that He was faithful to bring us safely to a shore where many can be healed, and restored, including ourselves.
“Elohim is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah… YHVH of hosts is with us; the Elohim of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah” (Psalm 46:1-3; 7).