Be Not Afraid
February 2, 2021
And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid" (Matthew 14:26-27).
Mark tells us Jesus saw the disciples straining at rowing the boat (6:48). Remember, Jesus was on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples in the boat were somewhere near the middle of the Sea - 5 to 7 miles away. It’s the 4th watch of the night - between 3:00 and 6:00 am - so it was dark. Yet Jesus saw them and came walking to them on the water. Another demonstration of His deity.
The panic of the disciples struggling in the boat against the storm was heightened when they saw what appeared to be a phantasma - a phantom or a ghost. All three accounts tell us all the disciples saw the apparition. For the unlearned and superstitious, this would have been an omen of certain death. Panic now turned to sheer horror. Jesus approached the boat calming the sea and the terror of the disciples.
What was the point of this episode? Some say it was a demonstration of our Lord’s compassion to rescue the disciples from death. But that can’t be the case since Jesus was in control of the entire situation from the beginning. With all of the miraculous powers Jesus had thus far demonstrated, it would be hard to believe He didn’t foresee the coming storm and prevent the disciples from getting get caught up in it. A rescue mission it was not.
The point of the event was to test the disciple’s faith in Jesus and to train them to trust Him to protect them from harm. Jesus didn’t have to walk on the water to save the disciples. He could have calmed the storm from the shore. He could have cleared a path in the water for the boat to sail directly to shore. By walking to the boat on the storm tossed sea and calming the sea in their presence, Jesus demonstrated the power of His presence to protect them from harm so that His plan and purpose for them would be accomplished. This act was comparable to His presence with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.
What does it teach us? To trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). If we believe God is the Sovereign Lord of creation, that Jesus Christ will be with us to the end of the age, that the Holy Spirit leads us, teaches us, protects us and accomplishes God’s will in and through us, then we have nothing to fear in life - no matter the situation or circumstance.
“Thank You, Lord Jesus, for teaching us through Your disciples the practical side of trusting in You. Increase my faith to the extent that fear will never be a factor in pursuing Your will daily. To Your honor and glory I pray, Amen.”