“And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them”

John 6:17

The Bible is such a wonderful book because the matters found on its pages are so apropos for our every-day lives. I never cease to be amazed by how relevant its contents are as I read through its pages.

This week I was reading in the Gospel of John, and the Lord gave me a wonderful truth which brought great joy and comfort to my heart.

The message comes from the account of the disciples and their journey across the Sea of Galilee. The disciples had set sail under the direction of the Lord and were, as we would say, “In the perfect will of God.” Nevertheless, things did not proceed according to their plans. How often that is the way of our Christian journey. We set out, seeking to walk in the perfect will of God, and things do not unfold according to our plans. Notice how it happened in the lives of the disciples.

First, the Situation was Shadowed“it was now dark.” O, how often it grows dark on the pathway of life. We are striving to proceed in God’s will, but the shadows roll in. Shadows of doubt and uncertainty or shadows of discouragement and disappointment seem to block the light of day. It was not that the sun had failed; but something had, for a time, obscured its light from being seen. Oft time on the journey of life the shadows will, for a moment, hide the light of the Son. He has not failed, but something has for a time hindered our ability to behold Him.

Next, the Sea was Stormy – “And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew” (v. 18). As if the darkness wasn’t enough trouble, a great storm arose. Isn’t that the way things go? As we always used to say, “When it rains, it pours!” In the darkness, far from the shore, the wind began to blow. Soon the waves began to rock the boat wherein they sat. What was once a peaceful trip was suddenly changed. How often we sail along on the sea of life over smooth, calm waters, and suddenly, with no warning, things suddenly change. The shadows roll in, the winds of adversity begin to blow, and the journey which was once so smooth now becomes a rollicking ride. We are tossed about, and our very survival seems at risk.

Then we see that the Servants were Struggling“so when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs…” (19). In Mark’s account of this event, he tells us that the disciples were “toiling in rowing” (Mark 6:48). Among these men were those who were familiar with this sea. They were fishermen who had earned their living by sailing upon these waters. This certainly was not their first storm, and yet they were struggling.

Does this not seem to mirror the situation in which we find ourselves today? We were sailing along on the journey of life on waters that were relatively calm, but, as the middle of March arrived, suddenly things changed. The shadows began to cover the sky, the winds of adversity began to blow, and our vessel began to be tossed on the sea of life. For pastors and laypeople alike, these past few months many have been “toiling in rowing,” struggling to figure out how to reconcile Romans 13 and Acts 5:29, trying to balance loving our neighbor with obeying our God, trying to live in faith without erring into fear on the one hand or foolishness on the other. For many a saint, this is certainly not their first storm, but somehow it seems like the most unusual one, and the uncertainty and darkness by which are surrounded has made the storm seem all the more severe.

But the story of the disciples had not yet been concluded; there was more to come, and can I remind us that this is not the end of the story. Here is the truth which encouraged my heart as I read it this week—

The Savior was Soon-Appearing“They see Jesus walking upon the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship” (v. 19). As George Whitcomb wrote:

Jesus may come today, Glad day! Glad day!
And I would see my Friend;
Dangers and troubles would end
If Jesus should come today.
Why should I anxious be? Glad day! Glad day!
Lights appear on the shore,
Storms will affright nevermore,
For He is ‘at hand’ today.

Jesus was not yet come, but He was on His way! Jesus has not yet come for us, but His appearing is drawing nigh; and the voice that called to Noah, “Come in,” and said to Lot, “Come out,” will say to the church, “Come up!” And we shall be caught away to be with the Lord! Don’t quit now! Don’t be discouraged, but “look up, for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

I’ll live for today, nor anxious be,
Jesus, my Lord, I soon shall see;
Glad day! Glad day!
Is it the crowning day?

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Craig Burcham, GSBC Faculty

Bro. Burcham served as the Chairman of the Bible Department at Golden State Baptist College before answering the call to pastor the Mountain Vista Baptist Church in Sierra Vista, AZ. Pastor Burcham travels each week to teach the next generation at GSBC. Before coming to GSBC, he served as a missionary with his family in Japan for several years and then pastored in Missouri.