Levi Lusko - A Dry Run On A Stormy Sea
Well, welcome to week number 5 of our series. The Last Supper On The Moon. We welcome you at every location, church online, every church joining in. In this seven-part series, we're discussing this book, which is all really our attempt to figure out what God has given us to bridge the gap from where we are to where we're meant to be. You cannot, I cannot get to the moon, try as we might. It is forever out of reach. Even though it seems like sometimes you could just reach out and grab it, you can't. And similarly, at times I think a sense of happiness, a sense of blessing, a sense of what we really long for deep down, it can feel similarly out of reach. And that is to say that the only way we could ever have stepped foot on that surface was a rocket. And God has given us, in the death and the burial, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the sending of the Holy Spirit, everything we need to get to where God wants us to be. We only have to take advantage of it.
And so what we have here in John's Gospel that we're studying in these weeks is essentially Jesus, seven different times, performing miracles that John says, and John would know better than anybody, if we look at them and consider them and apply to our lives, basically faith in the midst of our various circumstances, that we can believe in Jesus and then have life in His name. And so that's our objective in all of these weeks. And so we do invite you back. We have two more installments. And next week specifically, we're going to be talking about what to do with pain that we face, and how do we make sense of pain. Is it God? Is it we did something wrong? What are we to do? And it would be a great week in the series and the journey, as it always is, to bring someone with you, especially anybody in your life who's going through any hard time as we talk about that thorny subject.
But this week, John chapter 6, the title of my message is A Dry Run On A Stormy Sea. And in John's Gospel, the sixth chapter, we find this. It says, "After these things, Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias, then a great multitude followed him because they saw the signs which he performed on those who were diseased". So that's the context. We've already read that. We understand what Jesus has been up to. All these people are following him. What happened? Well they got hungry, and then they got hangry, and then Jesus fed them, and they got really excited about him. In fact, they said this is a fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15. This Jesus must be the long-awaited promised Messiah. And so they all threw their lot in with him.
And so you'll notice in verse 15, if you jump down there, it says, "Therefore, when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take him by force to make him their King, he departed again to the mountain by himself alone. Now when evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat, and they were afraid. But he said to them, 'It is I. Do not be afraid.' Then they willingly received him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going".
A dry run on a stormy sea. If you take notes, subtitled today, my aim today is to show you the bittersweet truth about being famous, the bittersweet truth about being famous. But to really get our bearings here, we have to remember the fact that Jesus has just fed the 5,000, and we know it was much more than just 5,000. It was more like 20,000. It was like a whole city that was here on this hillside that he had just fed. And immediately after that, we see them stirring with this idea of taking Jesus by force and making him their King. And his response, and all that follows, flows out of that moment.
And so, Father, we pray as we consider your word, as we listen to what you might be saying to us today in our reality, in our situations, based on this passage. We don't exactly know what we need. We, at times, say I got so much out of that message, or that really encouraged me. That really spoke to me. But I pray, Father, that for all of us, there would be a spirit of humility, that we wouldn't be so arrogant as to actually even know what we need from your word. At times, God, we feel like maybe that was the Eureka moment, a question we have been asking, a situation we have been mulling over or praying about. You put your finger on it, and you specifically do confirm a word. And so we welcome that. But we also, today, Father, humbly recognized that we don't know what our lives are going to look like tomorrow or a year from now. And should you be willing or see fit to speak a word to us out of season, we also welcome that. And so ultimately, we just say in this time of Bible study and considering your word and your presence here in our midst, we say that we want your will to be done and not ours. And above all things, if anyone is without God, without hope in this world, listening to this message in this moment, we pray that your spirit would draw them to yourself. And we ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.
From the very beginning of the history of manned space flight, there has been an adversarial back and forth relationship between NASA astronauts and NASA doctors. You see, the astronauts, these brave individuals who are going to go boldly where no one had gone before, were putting their lives on the line, but the doctors were there at every step and turn to make things difficult and to postulate that what they were doing was going to kill them. And so it had gone too far. In fact, by the doctors it was proposed that if a man ever flew, just even the forces of takeoff, the forces sustained blasting off of this planet, might very well kill him. It might stun them. It might be so bad to the body that they could completely black out and not be able to handle it at all. And so they put astronauts in centrifuges and spun them around to simulate the feeling of being blasted off the Earth. And they were able to handle it.
And so what did the doctors do? They said well sure. In fact, we always secretly suspected it would be fine. But if they did this, if they felt the forces of gravity all of a sudden gone, because of course if you leave the planet, you're not being held down to it like we all are, and so if an astronaut leaves gravity, gravity might be more important than we know. In fact, gravity might have a binding agent. And they said, here's a direct quote, "Even a few seconds of weightlessness could actually cause the body to be unable to swallow, and so fluids and nutrients won't be able to reach the stomach and be assimilated, and the heart and lungs could become confused at best, or incapacitated completely at worst". And so they said how can we... OK, they figured out if you take a plane, and you take it a really high, and then drop it down really low, and then go really high, you do what's called a parabola. And that parabola, in the middle of it will have about 25 seconds of weightlessness.
And so we can figure out exactly what zero-g feels like, exactly what 1/6 gravity feels like, which is what it's like on the moon. And so these planes, they had a nickname for them. They called them vomit comets because you can imagine, it's a padded plane, and you're just there waiting, and all of a sudden, it starts this parabola. And they would tell you here it is. And so they would do it suited up in space suits, all the different things they would try and do every piece of the mission over and over and over and over and over again during these different parabolas. And they got weightless. And they said... you know what they did? They flew over to grab some food and tried to swallow it. Turns out you could swallow food in space. And turns out your heart and lungs didn't get confused. And the doctor said, well sure.
In fact, most of us actually believed it was going to be fine. We were just being careful for your sake. But here, listen, if you experience sustained weightless, you see where this is going. The new theory became if you were to be subjected to even 10 minutes of weightlessness, the eye, which was being held together by gravity, would just rupture. It would just turn into a puddle in your eye socket. So Alan Shepard, he gets launched in the very first 15-minute rocket ride. And they're waiting. How do your eyes feel, Alan? He's like, I can see. I can see. I can see. Did they turn to puddles in your eye? No, I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine. OK. And the doctor said, well sure, sure, sure, sure. But sustained exposure to radiation, even inside the ship, even inside your suit, even doing what was called the barbecue mode where the spaceship would spin like a rotisserie chicken all the way to the moon so it would be evenly getting sun and not sun and all the rest.
And they said, if you do that, let me tell you. It's going to sterilize a man. It's going to mutate the DNA. They could turn into some sort of an X-man. It could burn the retinas. They said that it could confuse the autonomic nervous system and your whole body would just basically control-alt-delete and shut down. And vital functions would shut off. And so they did a really long Gemini flight. They kept people in space for almost 14 days, which was the longest it could possibly ever take under any circumstance to get to the moon and back. And it smelled real bad when they got back. They had been in a cabin the size of a Volkswagen Bug for 14 days with no ability to shower. In fact, the Navy frogman who opened the door to greet them in the ocean retched right there on the spot when he smelled the odor coming out of the cabin. But no one had turned into Cyclops, or the beast, or Wolverine, or anything.
And Michael Collins, one of the crew members of Apollo 11, had this to say about the doctors. He said, "Living and working with these people was like having an aunt who lives in a haunted house, or a close friend who sincerely believes in astrology and can't stop talking about it, especially delighting in reading you your horoscope on bad days. None of it is to be believed, but it's pretty difficult to ignore".
Now interestingly enough, in all of the pages upon pages of things that were written, cautions about what spaceflight could do, and of course the doctors were doing their best. They're trying to keep the astronauts safe. We know there are 1,000 ways to die when you're in space. It's an unforgiving environment, to say the least. But what's funny is all the theories about what they thought would be harmful, and what they thought could hurt the astronauts, and what they thought would be dangerous to the astronauts that had them always raising their hand up, and hold on a second, and all the rest, there was very little and almost no communication at all about what it would be like for an astronaut if the mission was successful and they got back to life on Earth because as many astronauts put it, by far the most dangerous aspect of the mission was dealing with the unexpected consequences of all of a sudden being thrust into the limelight as celebrities back home on planet Earth.
How interesting that it wasn't the radiation, it wasn't the lack of gravity, it wasn't the G-forces sustained on riding the Saturn V rocket. It was all of a sudden now being back on Earth and having the disorienting reality of fame, and everyone knowing who you are, and everyone wanting a piece of you. I mean if you take Elvis Presley at his highest, you take the Beatles at the apex of Beatlemania, and roll up Justin Bieber fever all up in the midst of it, you have some sense of what it would have been like to be these astronauts coming back, John Glenn coming back, after orbiting the Earth, Alan Shepard after his 15 minutes of space flight, and then of course Neil and Buzz and Michael Collins.
President Nixon loaned them Air Force Two to do around the world tour, all these countries, where every head of state, and the Pope, and every crowned prince and king wanted to meet them, where the records were set in New York City of the largest crowd in history wanting to cheer them on as they went down Broadway in an open-top convertible. Just the absolute insanity of the world's attention. Half-a-billion people had watched or listened to Neil's words spoken from the surface of the moon. That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Yes, it was crazy and wild going out to space for sure. But there was no handbook for what to do when you're trying to return to life as normal when the dream had been accomplished. And it's ironic, as Buzz put it, that there was a simulator for every aspect of the mission, but no preparation whatsoever to help them deal with their now new normal on this planet where they were household names. And the anecdotal reality of how hard of a toll it took on marriages, on those who turned to alcohol and other substance abuse, and how difficult it was to deal with what they had never been trained or prepared for.
And all of that is a perfect illustration for what we're seeing before us here in John chapter 6, where Jesus and his disciples are giving for us a template on how to deal with the complexity of success. That's the first movement. There is a bittersweet truth about being famous. And it's a complex relationship. And what is that tension that we need to manage, to steward? Here's what I really think you need to understand, that it is a part of God's plan for your life to some extent, hear what I'm saying, for there to be some level of notoriety or fame in your story. That is a part of God's plan for your life. Let me define my terms here. What does famous mean? We're living in a time when fame and what it's going to do, and what it's going to mean, and what people are willing to get it is so misunderstood, but the actual simple definition of the word famous is known about by many people. That's what that adjective means, known about by many people.
Now I believe, hear me that as you follow God, there will be an increasing amount of that that you are meant to use for good and not for evil. If you're going to approach your life, your calling, if you're going to approach going to school, if you're going to approach sports, if you're going to approach the business you're meant to start, the ministry you're a part of, where you say I want to honor and glorify God with everything I say and with everything I do, then what's going to happen? Well, you're not going to cut corners. You're going to under-promise and over-deliver. You're going to esteem other people better than yourself. And you're going to always have this mentality of excellence mixed with generosity. And I'm telling you, where there is that servant heart, but that high-quality standard, and that spirit that's not just in it for me, me, me, you will separate yourself from the majority of people out there. And I believe that is God's call for all of us.
In fact, we see that over the pages of scripture. One of my favorite verses of this is Proverbs chapter 22 verse 29. I referenced this this week when I was speaking to our residents and our college students here at the church. It says, "Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings. He will not stand before unknown men". There are so many places I could point you to in scripture to see this principle exemplified, but let's pick King Saul when he was having moods, bad moods. In the Bible, he had chronic bad moods, and we don't know exactly what it looked, like a headache or whatever. But the only thing that would help him in his bad mood was doing what you and I can do, turn to Spotify and put on some worship music. It helped him to listen to some sweet, soothing, harp music. And he wanted someone who would honor God. And the Bible says that he asked for the best harpist in the land. And so they went out looking for the best harpist.
You know who they found? They found David, the sweet psalmist of Israel who would use all of his alone time when he was taking care of his dad's sheep working on his harp playing, worship leading, song leading. He was writing these songs. He never thought anybody was going to hear Psalm 23. He just wrote that between him and God. He never thought anybody was going to ever need these songs, but he was the best. He practiced till his fingers bled. No one played better than him. So when the King's men went out looking for a harp player, do you know who they looked for? Do you see a man who excels in his harp playing? He shall stand before kings. He will not stand before... David fulfilled prophecy when he's this little kid there playing his harp before the King.
And whether you're a furniture maker, or home builder, or an architect, or a plumber, or a schoolteacher, if you have the spirit that says if God's in me, excellence is going to come out of me. If God's in me, integrity is going to flow through me. If God's in me, I'm not going to rip people off when I can. I'm not going to use people. I'm going to always honor God in what I do. I'm telling you, whatever industry you're in, there will be a sense in where people know about you. Who should I use for this? Who should I use for this? And that is going to get out there, and God's going to be able to bless you. And if with that blessing, you choose to say out of that blessing, there's going to be more generosity. Because I now have more, I can now do more. If you have that spirit, like the Book of Proverbs puts it, I love this verse, 11:24, "The world of the generous gets larger and larger. The world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller".
And so now with that bigger life that comes from that blessing, that comes from, hey, I'm just going to honor God with what I do, and more people are going to want to listen to you, and want to listen to what you have to say. And regardless of what industry you're in, there's a sense in which when you set yourself apart in that way, that people are just going to want what's on your life. They're going to want to be around you. They're going to want to do things with you. And as that happens, if with your bigger life that you now have the opportunity to steward, you say I'm not just going to do more for me, I'm going to do more for the Kingdom. I'm going to do more for the world. Because I have more, I can now do more. I can be positioned to be leveraged. I just love this way of thinking because it says the prosperity is for a purpose. The blessing God wants to entrust to me is so that more things can flow through me. And so the cycle just continues.
If you want one just little glimpse of what this looks like lived out in a life, look at Daniel. Daniel was not a pastor. Daniel ended up being a prophet, but he was a secular government employee. But he conducted himself in such a way where it was said of him a different spirit was found in Daniel. And he distinguished himself from every other person who is in the King's cabinet. And so what did the King want? To give Daniel more opportunity, to give Daniel greater responsibility within his administration. It came to a place where he's like, bro, let me give you a purple robe. Let me give you a gold chain. And Daniel was like, bro gold's not my thing. And purple is not my color, but I'm here to serve you because I honor God. And no matter what the King entrusted to Daniel's care, he always, always, always pointed back to God. He shows us someone stewarding well the complexity of success. So that's the good side of it.
The good side of it is that there's a call on your life, that you, Matthew 5, verse 16, "Would let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good work," and what? "Glorify your Father in heaven". That sounds to me like celebrity. That sounds to me like there's people celebrating you because they see what's in you, and it makes them glorify your Father in heaven because when people are saying, man, I want something to do with you. You're the greatest thing since sliced bread in this regard. Please tell me your secret. You're like I don't think you're going to like it. But here's the deal. I just want to honor God. I just want to love people. That's why I don't cut corners. That's why I lead with integrity. That's why I take care of people. That's why at times I do things I don't have to do, and even wouldn't make good worldly sense.
So every time I get paid, every time I get blessed, my mentality is how do I bless the Kingdom? That's why I tithe. That's why I give. And they're going to go, you're right. I didn't want to know about that. I'm telling you, those principles, they work. And when applied, it's going to cause there to be more notoriety in your life than there was before. This is just simple mechanics. Philippians 2:15, "As you serve God that you may become blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation," see it again, "Among whom you shine as lights in the world". What's the definition of famous? More people know. If you're shining brightly in a dark world, newsflash, people are going to see you and going to notice. But I said there's a bittersweet truth about being famous, and that's the sweet side. I hope you have more. I hope you're entrusted with more. I hope you have more influence to leverage for the good. But the bitter side is that's really hard to do because we're human.
And the easier thing, and the common thing, and the tempting thing will be to let it to go to your head, to let it make you feel like you're special, you're superior, that even though you were just doing what God told you to do to get blessed, once you get the blessings you're like, peace out, A-town. It's like it's easy to think God's so lucky to have me, and to forget that he was the one who gave you the capacity to create wealth. He was the one who gave you that talent. Did you make yourself? He was the one who let you be born in the home you were born in, raised in the country you were raised in, that you have the functioning use of all of your limbs.
Do you see what I'm saying? That God gave you those talents, gave you that ability, and as you follow Him, you can... he said this to the children of Israel. He said you're going to go in. You're going to find I'm going to give you fields you didn't plant. I'm going to give you houses you didn't build. I'm going to give you things that you can't take any credit for them. In fact, I tore down Jericho. I got you across the Red Sea. I fed you with manna in the wilderness. I brought you out of Egypt with my right hand. So don't you get into the land and then think like you just... it's easy though to get born on third and think you hit a triple, and have God give you everything, but then to walk around like the mighty King who said, look at the mighty city that I have built. Look at what I have done with my... and that causes madness. That causes madness. When you have success in your hand, great, you can use it for the Kingdom.
When you let it into your heart, and you begin to think you're something special, that's where the bitter side of it comes in. Jesus knew the disciples were in just such a danger, which is why as 20,000 people are chanting Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, like we need to get out of here. Get out of here. He snuck them out of there and got them in a boat. He said, we're leaving. And if you're the disciples, you are super confused because they got on team Jesus to start... do you want a revolution? They're like we do. We're ready for it. They were fired up on it. And so now, the chanting mob is saying Jesus for King, Jesus for Pres. us some sweet victory. And they're like we bet on the right horse, didn't we boys? They're high-fiving each other. They're practicing their regal look for when they're sitting at Jesus's right hand and his left hand. He's like, get in the boat.
They're like get in the what? Get in the what? We're out of here. Jesus perceived that they were going to take him by force and to make him King. How did he perceive such thing? He was finely tuned to the Holy Spirit of God. And you need to be too. To Stay grounded and to handle all that God wants to trust you, you're going to need a relationship with the Holy Spirit, which is why Jesus put them in a boat and got them out of there because man, they were so weak. They would be at the front of this mob, kill the beast, with their pitchfork and their lanterns. Get them in the boat. He's going to spend time alone with his father in prayer. This should give you pause. They're about to get terrified by the waves of a storm, but he was more afraid of the attention of the people and the storm of attention that was on him, taking that more seriously.
One commentary put it this way. And I quote, "He knew there was more danger in the favor of the crowd than in the fury of the storm". We tend to be freaked out the most by waves of trials. We should perhaps be more sober, more cautious by the wave of popularity because if you live by it, how many you know you're going to die by it too. So Jesus got them away, and he extricated himself all sneaky Jesus like from the 20,000 people and got by himself. Why? Because he knew they wanted to make him King, but he wanted to spend time with the King, with his Heavenly Father, just like you need to. If you're not going to be fooled by success, if you're going to, like Rudyard Kipling put it, "Meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same". In his beloved poem, "If". "If you can do that," he says at the end of the poem, "Yours is the Earth and everything in it".
So Jesus wasn't fooled by this crown because he knew it wasn't real. He knew these people didn't have a crown to give him. Their favor, their attention, they didn't mean anything to him. All he cared about was what his father wanted for him. And he knew he could please the people but fail his mission at the exact same time. Why? They were offering him what the devil offered him in the wilderness, a crown without a cross. And he knew there could be no crown for any of us if he wasn't willing to face the cross. And so he said to the devil, get thee behind me Satan. I'm not going on this ride. This is a temptation. And the bigger your life gets, the more you have to stay on your knees to spot the temptations that are going to open up for you. Not every opportunity is from God. You need to be listening to the Holy Spirit to know the difference. That's the complexity of success. Secondly, there's a problem with obedience.
This is the part of the sermon where you're supposed to go say what? Levi, there's a problem with disobedience. Yeah, there's plenty of those. But the way I read the text, there's a problem with obedience. And that is these disciples are now in a storm that Jesus sent them into. What does that mean? That means we serve a God who is willing to send his children into storms. It would be tempting to think every storm you face is the devil, every storm you face the devil, or every storm you're facing is because you did something stupid. Now to be clear, the devil does do stuff, and you and I are stupid. So we are more than capable of facing storms because we did something dumb. Thanks be to God that he helps us with both of those storms. But this is a different category. This is not a storm that was brought by the devil, and it's not a storm that the disciples faced because they did something wrong. In fact, as I read it, this is a storm they went into because they did something right, obeying Jesus, taking him at his word. Hey, launch out in the boat, he said. It'll be great, he said. Go to the other side, he said. It'll be a wonderful cruise, he said.
Now they are in a raging cauldron of fury with the wind blowing and the waves going. It is sketchy. They're in a little dinghy. And it should get your attention that the disciples are freaking out and scared to death. Why? Because several of them are professional fishermen. If Uncle Frank says you can't watch it, then this must be really bad. You know what I'm saying? Like if they're scared, this is no small squall. This is a furious storm. They legitimately thought that their lives were in danger. And historians, and even to this day, if you go to the... the one time I stood on a mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee, just out of nowhere, this windstorm raged through. You can have whitecaps. You can have five, six-foot waves on this six-mile-across lake.
And that's what these guys were in as they... three-mile, what does that mean? They rode three miles. It's six miles across. They are stuck in the middle of this thing. And it's a terrible feeling. And we're too far to turn back. What do we do? We're going to die. This is over. And where is Jesus in all of this? Where is he at? He is on the mountain, knowing and pleased that they are exactly where he wants them to be. Why? Because he needs them to be developed. He needs them to have greater strength. He needs them to have a better smallness of soul, smallness of soul that looks up and goes, look how big you are, look how vast you are. Who am I? The sun, the moon, the stars, who am I? What is man? But at the same time, you have a greater sense of weight and strength, that weight of glory that God's got a plan, the robust theology. God's in charge. He's good. He told me to get into this boat. We're going to be OK. He's got his eye on me.
That kind of a sense of smallness but bigness at the exact same time because he knows that they are going to be trusted with greater opportunities after he leaves this world. After the Ascension, he said, once I gave you my spirit, shoot, you can do greater stuff than I even did. And when I read the Bible, I'm like what? What are you even talking about here? Greater in scope, greater in bigness because as the church goes out, if we all realize we have the spirit, there is nowhere we can't go. There is nothing we can't do. I am telling you. And it would get crazy for the disciples. I mean, you think about Paul. Paul would come to a place where in his life, he would go to preach in a city, Acts chapter 19, verse 11. People would grab their handkerchiefs and aprons and they would touch him to his body, and then bring them back to the sick, and the diseases would leave them, and the spirits would go out of them. That's awesome. Acts chapter 5, same stuff would happen to Peter. "They would bring sick people into the streets and lay them on beds and couches that at least the shadow of Peter just passing by might fall on some of them".
This is called the Bill Murray anointing. It's the Groundhogs Day anointing. If his shadow even went by, then they would be healed. This is amazing. And this is why they're in the storm, you see. This kind of stuff that he knew he intended to do through them is why he needed to humble them first. God has to prepare us before he can do great things through us. In the book, I talk about how the road had to be developed that the spaceship was carried on to a depth of 30 feet. They knew if heavy things were going to go on it, it had to be carefully engineered and carefully prepared, or it would be destroyed. And Jesus sent them into this storm because he saw how big their eyes got when the people started chanting. He saw that started from the bottom now we're here starting in their heart a little bit. And he's like, all right, time for a storm, time for a lesson, time for you to be developed, time for another test, time for another trial.
That's the blessing of obedience is God knows that like Teddy Roosevelt said, "In pleasant peace and security, how quickly the soul of a man begins to die". And that for every person who's been crushed by adversity, there are 1,000 who have been destroyed by success. So before God can do great things through us, he must do great things inside of us. And so we go into storms. The third movement of this text is that there's a danger of forgetfulness because the moment the waves come, the moment the wind howls, the moment they're in danger, they all of a sudden completely forget who Jesus is and completely forget everything they have ever seen him do. And in that, they become a perfect person for us to look at because I do the exact same thing.
If you think about it, water has been a key ingredient in many of Jesus's miracles, and even specifically the ones we've been highlighting in John's Gospel. I mean, when there was no wine in Cana, what did he use? Water, power over water, to turn it into wine at his word if they would just obey him. Then you have a man in Bethesda who's just trying his hardest to get into water, angelic water. This is water from Fiji. And Jesus is like you don't need that water because I, y'all, have living water. And he did what that water couldn't do. He healed the man and forgave him on the spot. We didn't cover it, but in John 4, there was a woman thinking water from a certain well could help her. And Jesus showed her what she was truly after is what all of us are after, a relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ. And then he feeds the 5,000 people. Oh and by the way, we didn't cover this either, but Mark's Gospel tells us in the fourth chapter, prior to this moment, that the disciples had gotten into a storm once with Jesus in the boat, sleeping, and they freaked out.
Jesus, they woke him up. Jesus, don't you care that we're perishing? Don't you care that we're dying? This is the words that intuitively come out of our souls in crisis. God, don't you care? God, don't you see me? God, why would you let this happen to me? OK so they had been through all of that, and then most recently, previously on 24 Jack Bauer did something crazy. What had just happened? 5,000 people got fed using nothing but a little kid's lunchbox. And how many baskets of fragments were left over? One for each disciple, 12. They all carried, the actual Greek word is more like what we would say, a backpack, their bag of provisions. That was their 12 baskets. So each of them got to bring with them a reminder of how good God is when life is hard. And if you're sitting in a boat, what happens? You put the basket at your feet, and you're rowing, and you're freaking out.
So the entire time, they're stressing and accusing Got not caring, and wondering where is Jesus. The answer's at their feet. That God always knows what we're facing, and he has a plan for every difficulty and every dark day we're going through. And if we would just look down at our feet, we would remember, hey, we've been in trials before, but God was good then. He got us through it then. And if he did that then, what must he be preparing right here, right now? The dangers of forgetfulness, yes, being blessed is a test. But let me tell you something. Bad things happen when we forget to remember what he did in the previous season. And so there's a danger in it. And if you're like, well, you're kind of stretching. I don't even know if that's really the case.
In fact, Mark's Gospel tells us this entire storm happened because chapter 6, verse 52 "The disciples had not understood about the loaves because their heart was hardened". They were not at a place to handle what was happening because they were being swept up in just this winning a popularity contest, and they forgot the bigger truth, so they were sent into a storm where they had at their feet the reminder of who Jesus is. And if you hear anything in this sermon, I want you to hear Jesus saying I'm going to take care of you, no matter what happens, or how impossible the situation seems. How is he able to do this? Fourth and final movement, because of the reality of his presence, the reality of his presence. He is always with you and he is God. He is always with you and he is God. Jesus felt far away when they were straining at the oars. Jesus felt far away and it didn't seem like he cared about them. But the text tells us in Matthew's Gospel that he could see them the whole time.
Mark says the exact same thing. He always could see them. So on the mountaintop, he could see them. He knew where they were. He knew where they were. He knew where they were. And he was praying for them. And today, I want you to understand something. Jesus is praying for you, too. He can see you, and he's praying for you, and he is God. He's always with you, and he is God. That is what he said to them. When he came to them, he said, "it is I, so you don't have to be afraid". By the way, that's the most repeated command in scripture. Do not be afraid. It is I, don't be afraid. In the Greek, that word It is I, that phrase, it is I, actually should be translated I am, so you don't have to be. I am, so don't be afraid. Using the exact phrase that God the Father used to speak to Moses in Exodus 3:14. Who do I tell them sent me? I am, meaning he never has not been, he never will not be, that everything that exists, exists because of who he is.
And if someone like that, if the one who created all things has his eye on you, is for you, allowed you to be sent into the storm to develop you, and promised to get you safely to the other side, in the between now and then moments, no matter how crazy they may be, we can trust in his presence. We can trust in his promise. We don't have to be afraid. That was a dry run. The stormy sea was coming much later. You see, they had already failed the test of being physically in the boat with Jesus and facing a hurdle. Don't you care that we're dying? OK well, now they got through it. He's like, how could you not believe? I was here, sleeping the whole time. It's OK. I rebuked the wind and the waves. You're fine. They probably thought, we'll be fine as long as Jesus is in the boat with us. But even with Jesus in the boat, they freaked out. So now they're at level two. There's the next level, which is he's on a mountain, they're in the boat, and they completely forget the lesson and stress out. But the whole time, he was trying to get them ready for when he was not on a mountain a few miles away, but in heaven, a different dimension away. Where he would still be interceding, for them still be praying for them.
You see, that was a dry run for what we're facing today. We are on a stormy sea. We are going through challenges. We are dealing with the complexity of success. We're dealing with all of those difficulties, and at our feet are reminders of what he did in previous seasons. And he is saying, I am with you. I walk on what you're most afraid of. He came sauntering on the storm. There are different words in languages, of course, for different things. We could say walk, skip, run, trot, amble, saunter. In the Greek, this apparently is not the kind of word that you would use for delicately. Like I don't know how you picture Jesus dealing with this storm. Like oh no. Like you know when you break glass and you're wearing no shoes? You like there's broken glass on this floor, Lenox. And no one move until we get the Shop-Vac.
That's not how Jesus walked. The Greek word that's used is the kind of walking you would do sightseeing. It's a raging storm. It's a furious squall, and Jesus is just out for a cruise. And he's showing them, he's showing us the kind of confidence we can have, to not be fooled by our circumstances, to not panic, to keep trusting if he's with me, and he's in control, then we're good. What can the storm do to me? Amen. Amen. So what do we do? What do we do in our storms? What do we do in our success? What do we do in those things? We have to keep our relationship alive with the Holy Spirit to be able to perceive what the right course is in any given situation. We have to remember the last thing he told us and keep doing that. What was the last thing he told them? Matthew 14:22, "Cross to the other side".
So does it matter how crazy the storm gets, if he told me to go to the other side, I'm not going to die in the middle. He who called you is faithful. He will do it. What was the last thing he told you? Keep doing it. And then remember the previous test. What are you holding in your hands? That's evidence. What's at your feet? That's evidence of his control. Jesus walks on what you're most afraid of, and he paves the streets of his heaven with what on this Earth we most treasure. It's his asphalt, gold. So let's not be living and dying for the thing that when we get to heaven we're going to realize is meaningless outside of what can put other people on a path to go from here to there. When we get to heaven, the only thing we will have been able to bring there is ourselves and anyone we invested in helping get there also.
And so, Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you for what this means to each of us. And we thank you, most of all, that you are God. That's the power of this story. You have power over nature. You have power over creation. So I pray we would rest in that today.
If you're here today listening to this message, or joining us church online, or another partner church, and you would say some part of this message resonated with me, and I'm freaking out, but now I realize I don't need to and I just want to trust in Jesus's control, his prayers for me, his eye on me, could I just ask you would raise up a hand in the air? Maybe you're saying I want to trust God for the dream he's put inside of me. I don't have to feel bad about wanting to thrive, and to succeed, and to have a different spirit. I want God's blessing on my business. But, God, help me be tethered in the midst of my success, Help it not corrupt me. Help me keep my true north calibrated on your Kingdom, on your righteousness, your glory. If that's you I'm describing, just put that hand up, put the hand up.
Thank you, Jesus. Bless these responding to you for what you're speaking to them. Thank you for this download, this moment between Earth and heaven, where the two are coming together because of your Son.
You can put your hands down. I want to now give an invitation to anybody listening to this message who's never yet had an encounter with Jesus to save you, to heal you, to give you heaven, to forgive you. In this text, one detail that above all else should stick out to us is the fact that the disciples willingly received Jesus into their boat. One gospel says, for Jesus would have just kept walking. The only reason he got into that boat is because they welcomed him in. The question today is have you invited Jesus into your boat, invited him into your heart? He knocks, but he's a gentleman, and he will not violate your free will. He won't force you to believe. He won't force you to go to heaven. He won't force you to be saved. But if you come to him in faith, he will never cast you out.
So with heads bowed and eyes closed in this moment, considering where we stand before God, realizing we may never get another opportunity like this, for life is a vapor. It's a gift to sit in this moment under the preaching of the gospel, and for you to feel the sense of the conviction of the Holy Spirit. That's not something conjured up. That's not some emotional pressure. That's your God who loves you, who will do anything, short of violating your free will, to save you. Saying, come. Come, let me in. Let me in. Let me into your heart and save you. If that's you I'm describing, and you're ready to give your heart to Jesus, I'm going to pray a short, simple prayer. I want you to pray it out loud after me, meaning it in your heart, saying it to God, out loud with your voice. This is your confession. This is your turning point. Church, say it with us, no one praying alone.
Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for me, to rise from the dead. I invite him into my heart to be my Savior, to be my Lord because of his righteousness. Please forgive me. Thank you for new life. I give you mine in Jesus's name.