Jesus in My Boat
By Wayne Nelson
Have you ever wondered what it must have been like for the disciples of Jesus as they followed their Master? There they were, in the presence of the Son of God, receiving such glorious teaching concerning the Kingdom of God on a daily basis. Surely, they must have been soaking up mega truth concerning the Kingdom of God! Why, if you had been there with them, there is no telling the heights of spiritual maturity you would have soared to in the presence of the Master Himself.
So, let’s follow along on a day in the life of the disciples and just see how much spiritual maturity they possessed from being constantly in the presence of the Master.
This typical day is recorded in Mark, chapters 4 and 5, and it shows the disciples as they learn from their Master and as they struggle with life itself.
The scene opens up on a great multitude of people who have come to hear Jesus teach them about God. The disciples are right by the side of Jesus as He begins to teach.
But wait, the crowd is so large, that Jesus is not able to stand on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and teach them. So He tells His disciples to get into a boat because He is going out a little distance from the shore to teach the multitude. (Mark 4:1). All day Jesus teaches the multitude from the boat out on the edge of the sea.
It is now evening and the disciples have been in the boat with Jesus from early morning. The crowd has now dispersed and the disciples must be thinking about going back on shore for a well-deserved break from the routine of the day.
However, Jesus has other plans. He knows that He has to go over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee because there is a man there – a crazy man –who desperately needs His help. So He tells the disciples, "Let us pass over to the other side" (Mark 4:35).
Now, several of the disciples are seasoned men of the sea and they see absolutely no reason, weather-wise, to stay put. So they launch out on the Sea, with the only means of moving the boat to the other side being by sail or by rowing. Since the weather is good and they are tired from the day’s activities, they set sail for the opposite side.
While they are crossing over, one of those fierce storms that suddenly appear on the Sea of Galilee, comes upon them. The storm is quite fierce, to the extent that their ability to reach the other side is now in serious jeopardy. Not only are they rowing but they also are bailing water (Mark 4:37), praying that they can outlast the storm.
Every hand is helping out with either the rowing or the bailing, for the boat seems to be in imminent danger of sinking. First they were up all day as Jesus taught; now they will be up all night rowing and bailing just to stay afloat. Life sure isn't fair!
Where is Jesus at this time? Why, He’s asleep on a pillow in the back of the boat (Mark 4:38)!
Jesus knows that His Father is sending Him to the opposite shore to do His will. But this fact is lost on the disciples during the storm. All they see is a shirking Master asleep when they need Him the most. So they waken Him and ask Him directly if He doesn't care that they all perish (Mark 4:38).
Because Jesus knows that His Father wants Him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, He is not a bit concerned about perishing. He knows that no matter how rough the storm might be, His Father will get Him to where He is needed. Many times He has taught this principle and shown that His Father will always provide the way for His work to be done – but the disciples have never grasped the reality of that teaching. They are convinced that all will drown.
Jesus gets up and rebukes the wind and the waves and all becomes quiet in an instant. The disciples wonder among themselves just what manner of a man Jesus is that He can command the wind and waves. They lost sight of the fact that Jesus was in the same boat as them, and if that boat sank, Jesus could not do what His Father had told Him to do – which was to minister to that crazy man on the other shore.
So they continue on to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
What a night it has been! First they spent all day with Jesus as He taught from the boat. Then, at His request, they launched out for the other side of the sea, running headfirst into one of those freakish storms that plague the Sea of Galilee. They had come within an inch of their lives as they had rowed and bailed in an effort to ride out the storm.
Boy, are they tired now. It sure will be great to actually get on the other side where they can rest their weary bodies!
Finally they land on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, in the land of the Gadarenes (Mark 5:1). Relief at last! Now they can have a time to rest.
But no sooner had Jesus stepped out of the boat than a crazy, naked, man comes running towards Him. Oh boy, here they go again! Will the disciples ever get some rest?
Just look at this guy who is running towards Jesus! Fetters and chains hang limply from his body and he is making weird noises. Not only that, he is living in a graveyard (Mark 5:4-5)! Now what’s Jesus going to do?
The disciples don't have to wait long to find out, for the crazy, naked man approaches Jesus who, at the request of the demons living inside the man (Mark 5:12), allows the demons to enter a herd of some 2,000 swine close by. (This is, by the way, the first mention of deviled ham in the Scriptures.)
Now here are the disciples of Jesus, totally worn out from a long day that included listening to Jesus teach, a fight for their lives on the Sea of Galilee and, to round it all off, being charged at by a crazy, screaming man with jangling fetters and chains!
So, do you still wish you were a disciple of Jesus in His day?
It isn’t always easy being a disciple of the Lord, even today. But when the storms of life suddenly hit you, dear Christian, do you remember that Jesus is in the boat with you? Or are you too concerned with rowing and bailing so that you won't sink in the storm?
Truly, if Jesus is with us, who indeed can be against us?
Dr. Nelson is the author of one book, "Walk Where Jesus Walked" and is taking yet another step in the journey his Lord has called him to – namely helping the babes in Christ mature, as well as helping other more mature Christians go deeper into God's word. He brings this love for God’s Word and His people to his role as Editor of A Word in Season.
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