Capernaum (2)

John 6. 15-21 - a storm on the lake

As the background to this event, we should notice the omniscience of the Saviour - He ‘perceived that they would come and take him by force’, v. 15. The Lord knows all things!

In the words of the wise men from the east, the Lord was ‘born King of the Jews’, Matt. 2. 2. He was destined to be king. Was this the moment and the means? Clearly, we know it was not and the Lord certainly knew. We remind ourselves of Satan’s ploy in the temptation in the wilderness. Surveying the kingdoms of the world, the devil said, ‘All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them … If thou therefore wilt worship me’, Luke 4. 6, 7. Would it be right to be given the kingdom without the cross? We know the answer! The challenge for us is that we must be careful not to allow simple circumstances alone to steer us in a way that is what we want rather than what God wants.

What is the Lord’s answer for Himself and for us? ‘He departed again into a mountain himself alone’, v. 15. The other Gospel writers tells us that in the isolation He prayed! We must submit to the will of God through the encouragement of prayer.

As the disciples set sail for Capernaum, we note the combination of factors that existed. Verses 17 and 18 tell us, ‘it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew’. Alone, in the dark, and in the midst of a storm, the disciples rowed and, as other Gospel writers tell us, they rowed hard. They did what they could to rescue themselves from the situation.

Some readers may understand what it is to feel alone, isolated, with no one to turn to for support and guidance. Others may have felt themselves in a dark place, surrounded by dark, seemingly irresistible forces. Others have been in the eye of the storm, not necessarily on the sea but a storm of circumstances over which they had no control. Having tried all that they know, it has been to no avail. They have felt the extremity of their plight. In such situations, it is good to remind ourselves of Mark’s account, ‘he saw them toiling in rowing … and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them’, 6. 48. The Lord saw them, and the Lord came to them.

The Lord came ‘about the fourth watch of the night’. It was just before the break of day - being between three and six a.m. Put simply, it was at the last minute. It is often when we have exhausted all that we can do that He acts, in order that the glory might all be His. In all of our struggles, may we learn to trust Him and His timing!

He came unto them ‘walking on the sea’, John 6. 19. It was not what the disciples would have expected, which is why they were afraid! Sometimes, in the perplexities of life, we have clear ideas of what needs to be done and how. It is just that we don’t have the ability to do it. However, this event teaches us that if we need to leave the ‘when’ to the Lord, we also need to leave the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. Surely, His walking upon the sea is a demonstration of His absolute power over circumstances that are far beyond us to solve! May the Lord increase our confidence in Him!

Matt. 11. 23, 24 - upbraiding the cities

Space won’t allow us to say much about the Lord’s statements here but let us consider the significance of the Lord’s condemnation of Capernaum. Why? And why was the condemnation so strong?

The simple answer is that with greater light comes greater responsibility. We noted at the beginning of our consideration of this town, ‘The people which sat in darkness saw great light’, Matt. 4. 16. According to Matthew, this was the time of the commencement of the Lord’s public ministry and, as we have seen, some of that was conducted in Capernaum. Considering all that the town witnessed and heard of the Lord, His words, and miracles, why did they choose to continue sitting in darkness and ignoring the great light?

In the English-speaking world, we have a history of biblical exposition and teaching. We have had the scripture in our own language for over 400 years. We have libraries of biblical teaching, much of which can be accessed at the click of a button. We have many Bible teachers who live amongst us or visit and teach the word of God. We have no need to sit in spiritual darkness. The light of the word of God is easily available to us. However, with such blessing comes tremendous responsibility. What are we doing for God with the resources that we have?


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