My Reader, do you enjoy boating and other water activities during the summer? With whom do you like to share these adventures? Although my husband and I do not spend much time on the water, I do enjoy a boat ride if given the opportunity. Today boat stories are floating around in my mind. More specifically, I am pondering upon Bible stories referring to boats involving Jesus and His disciples.
I discover that often the disciples are in a boat and Jesus is in the lives of the disciples. This sounds like John 15:4 that says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” Today I want to look at three Bible stories and consider the disciples as an example of believers who have invited Jesus into their hearts and lives. The disciples personally knew Jesus and daily lived with Him. Since I have a personal relationship with Jesus as my Savior and Lord, I want to learn from them how I can best live my daily life. Just as the disciples were in a boat, Jesus now lives in me. (see John 14:20) As I read about how the disciples related to Jesus when they encountered Him in their boat, I want to learn how I can embody Jesus in my life.
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
The first thing I notice is that the disciples are encountering a storm at the time of this story. It also stands out to me that Jesus did not plan to get into their boat until He was invited. The disciples had been rowing with their own strength and the water was still turbulent. The were afraid when they saw Jesus walking on the storm’s waves because they did not know who was coming towards them. Only when Jesus spoke to the men did they recognize Him. I can identify! There are times in my life when I encounter stormy seasons and no matter how hard I try, I do not seem to get anywhere. Jesus is there to help me but until I truly hear Him speak, I tend to ignore His presence. Isaiah 41:10 assures me, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Like the disciples, my first step toward a vital relationship with Jesus is asking Him into my boat of life.
Then he (Jesus) got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
In this account, Jesus was asleep in the boat and then was awakened by His disciples when the sea became stormy. Jesus could sleep through anything! I guess His peace certainly passed all understanding. Paul writes in Philippians 4:7, “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Jesus desires to share with me the peace He experienced in the boat amidst the storm. Since Jesus was sleeping, the disciples wondered if He was aware of the weather changes. I will give the disciples credit for turning to Jesus for help during the rough time. However, Jesus challenged the depth of their faith. I need to remember that the Lord challenges me to grow in my faith by allowing difficult situations to touch my life that will cause me to trust Him in deeper ways. The water may have been deep and the waves may have been high but Jesus still wanted His disciples to not be fearful. In order to meet their needs, Jesus calmly rebuked the waves of the sea and the sea became still. I can learn from this experience of the disciples. I must remember that Jesus is with me in my times upon turbulent seas. He is teaching me the depth and height of His love. (see Ephesians 3:18) Matthew ends this account by stating that the disciples wondered who Jesus really was. As a believer, I may know who Jesus is but He is constantly revealing more of His character and nature to me. I must not only know about Jesus in my head but allow Him to live and move and have His being in my heart. (see Acts 17:28)
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
Every time I reread this account of Jesus with his disciples, I discover something new. This account begins with several of Jesus’ followers going back to their former occupation of fishing after the resurrection of Jesus. They got into a boat but they were not productive in their fishing expedition. Could this have been because they did not have Jesus with them? From this, I become aware of the fact that even though I have a personal relationship with Jesus, I am still capable of reverting to former thoughts and actions. I take notice that these men were not successful when Jesus was not in their boat. Consequently, I understand that I must seek God before I embark on any new venture and be sure that He is in my boat, or in agreement with me.
After fishing all night, morning finally came. Then, the men heard Jesus calling to them from the shore. Hmmm. How long does it take me to realize I have left Jesus out of my life’s boat and that He is still calling me? Just because I do not “see” Jesus in my life, it does not mean that He is not aware of what I am doing. I would definitely be more successful in my endeavors, if I constantly relied upon the Lord.
I find it interesting that when Peter realized it was Jesus who was on the shore, he jumped out of the boat and splashed through the water going directly to Jesus. The other fishermen listened to Jesus’ instructions and did what He told them to do. When they followed Jesus’ suggestion, they caught so many fish they could barely pull the nets to shore. There are times I need to be like Peter and go directly to Jesus but there at other times I should follow the example of the other men who continued their work and brought 153 fish to Jesus. These men completed their task and then presented their catch to Jesus. I think of the analogy of how I am to be a fisherman to bring other people to Jesus. I must be diligent to complete the task at hand and bring to Jesus all those God has entrusted to my care. I must finish the fishing expedition with the Lord’s help.
In verse 12, Jesus invited His disciples to have breakfast with Him. The opportunity to share a meal with Jesus must have been especially meaningful to the disciples because just a few days earlier Jesus had told them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you that I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God” in Luke 22:15-16. Now I am reminded that Jesus still personally calls me to come and eat with Him. In Revelation 3:29 Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Whether it be Jesus inviting me to breakfast from the shore or Jesus knocking at the door of life, I do not want to refuse such an invitation! In fact, this also reminds me of how I can meet Jesus at the communion table to share bread as His body and wine (or grape juice) as His blood. (See Luke 22:17-22 and I Corinthians 11:23-26)
This scripture passage concludes by saying that the disciples did not need to ask who Jesus was because they already knew. By this time, I believe the disciples recognized Jesus because they had come to personally know Him through their experiences with Him during the past three years. Some of these experiences involved the boats that I have referred to in this blog. I think back to my original premise that Jesus in the boat with the disciples can be representative of Jesus’ place in the heart and life of a believer. I sincerely want Jesus in my boat of life whether I am encountering calm seas or turbulent waves. My Reader, how about you? Do you know who Jesus is? Is He in your life’s boat? It will be easier to stay afloat if you and Jesus are in the same boat.