Mark 4:35-41; Mark 6:30-52.

1867 307 What a moment it must have been, when the Lord stilled the wind and the sea on the lake of Galilee! What an expression of ready obedience there was in those angry elements! It must have been wondrous and beautiful to have witnessed it, as it is in its measure, now to think of it. People may talk of the necessary force of principles, the laws of nature, or the course of things; but it is surely the law of nature to obey its Lord in the midst of even its wildest ways. As here, in the twinkling of an eye, the sea of Galilee felt the presence of One who transfigures at His pleasure the course of nature, or by a touch unhinges it all.

When the same Jesus (Psalm civ.) by and by roars over His prey like a lion, the thunder, though it was asleep the moment before, utters its voice. (Rev. x.) For all the forces of nature are equally, either still or alive, at His various pleasure. And so at the end, from his presence, when enthroned in white or for judgment, the heavens and the earth in like instinctive readiness will pass away. (Rev. xx.)

I observe a difference in the style of the action in Joshua, when the sun and the moon stood still in the midst of heaven. It was the Lord who listened to the voice of man there. Joshua prayed and got the power of God on his side, and the occasion was full of wonder, no day being like it. But Jesus acts at once and from Himself, and no wonder is expressed by the inspired evangelist. All the wonder which waits on the occasion comes from the unprepared hearts of [men or] the disciples.

Many a wind, I may say, has blown over the same water since the day of Mark iv., and the heart of many an alarmed disciple has again cried out: but there has been no answer. Many and many a trying and terrible storm of affliction still sweeps across the path of the people of God, and there is no command to it from Him who has right and power still. But this we may learn that, though there be "need of patience," and Jesus appears still to sleep, yet is He as truly with us now as He was for the disciples in the face of the danger then.

And this same mystic water was not always disturbed. Often it witnessed the successful fishing of the disciples of Jesus. At the command of the same power which now quieted the waters, they again and again yielded their treasures, and nets full, were given to them without any toil of theirs. As now, in the changeful scenery of life, it may be peace and abundance, and again danger, disturbance, and fear. But oh the comfort, could we but embrace it! It is the presence of the same Jesus which faith is entitled to know, whether in smooth waters, in allayed waters, or in waters which still rage and swell without a voice to command them. He may be active in the one case and asleep in the other; but He is equally in the ship, whether acting or sleeping.

And I have thought that the communion which the disciples had with their Lord after they had waked Him was not equal to that they would have had if their faith had left Him still asleep. They were, it is true, at the end of their fears from the wind and enjoyed the fruit of His power; but they had fears from Himself, and were not at ease in His presence, for He had rebuked them, and they could not but remember that they had disturbed Him. Had they let Him sleep on, they might have sat and gazed at Him on His pillow, and through that gaze have learnt the intimacy of His interests with theirs, and seen themselves as bound up into one bundle of life with Him. But all this was now lost to them: losers spiritually, gainers providentially. So with us oft-times. The Lord comes down to our level, to the place where our fears have brought Him, in the delivering operations of His hand, but it is with the loss of the light of that elevation where He was — the place up to which faith would have taken us. Has not my soul known something of this?

Fear or unbelief at times hinders communion with the Lord, and separates the soul from the enjoyment of what He is to us. It is a worse thing still, when selfishness is the hindrance.

We know these things ourselves, and we hear of them in the recorded experiences of others. In a previous scene on the sea of Galilee, the disciples, through fear, lost what their Lord would have been to them; here, on the same sea, they lost Him through selfishness.

They had returned to Him after a day's toil, and He had retired with them, that they might rest and be refreshed. But their privacy was soon disturbed by the multitude.

In the perfection of His ways, He at once turns from them to wait on the deeper need of the people. They were as sheep without a shepherd, and He begins to teach them.

This was perfect, and therefore the only path the Son of God could take. He turns from the less to the greater necessity, from the fatigue of the disciples to the spiritual wants of the multitude.

In taking this direction, the disciples suffer. But this is not the fault of their Master, but the result of the perfection of His way.

This is so continually with us. And we are offended. Our selfishness makes us intent on our own part in the great scene around us, and we are not, with Him, in wisdom and love, surveying and weighing it in all its relationships.

So was it here with the disciples. They are offended by the multitude being thus waited on, and they propose to their Master, after some little space, that He would send them away.

Hence there was a moral breach between Him and them. Their selfishness, their narrowness of heart, had wrought it. He cannot take the course they prescribe. He feeds, instead of dismissing, the multitude.

The discipline, then, comes in due season. After feeding the people, the Lord tells the disciples to go aboard and cross the sea of Galilee. As their selfishness would fain have separated Him from the people, His discipline must now separate them from the joy and strength of His presence. They launch on the sea, and He pursues His perfect path, taking leave of the poor shepherdless flock, retiring to the mountain for prayer, and then descending to walk on the sea, which all this time by reason of contrary winds had cost them toil in rowing.

This was separation indeed. They see, but they do not share, the triumph of their Lord. In principle, this carries with it all the difference between judgment and salvation. For a moment their souls have to taste somewhat of this. They do not discern Him. They cry out. They are sore amazed above measure and wonder. They see their Lord in the place of strength and victory, but they are not with Him there. This is real separation. They behold Him, and with fear, riding over all that mighty maze and tempest, which was giving them such toil and distress.

This carries all the difference between judgment and salvation. For what is salvation but a share in the victory of the Son of God? and what will judgment be, but a seeing of that victory in its glorious fruit, without a share in it, and rather driven from its presence with confusion and amazement?

Selfishness had wrought this in the experience of the disciples here. It puts their hearts for a moment in the place of judgment. His previous way, as we saw, was perfect, but their narrowness had quarreled with it; and at the end, when His glory is displayed, they are outside of it. They are made to experience judgment for a moment. They behold the glory and the triumph of the Son of God without sharing it.

The sea of Galilee may picture the Christian's life to us. The surface was smooth at times, rough at times, asking for toil in rowing at times, affording propitious sailing and successful fishing at times, and at times awakening fear. But change as it may, Jesus was there with His people. His way may vary, but He is always with them there or joins them there. He may at times be prospering their nets, directing their labours, asleep as though He heeded them not, the companion of their gentle passage across, or walking in strength over what was too much for them. But still He is with them: whether sailing, fishing, rowing, or buffeting the wind in fear, He is ever with them.