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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : LXIII. First Withdrawal from Herod's Territory and Return.

The Four-fold Gospel by J. W. McGarvey

LXIII. First Withdrawal from Herod's Territory and Return.

(Spring, a.d.29.)

Subdivision C. The Twelve Try to Row Back. Jesus Walks Upon the Water.

^A Matt. XIV.22-36; ^B Mark VI.45-56; ^D John VI.15-21.

^d 15 Jesus therefore perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain himself alone. [Jesus had descended to the plain to feed the multitude, but, perceiving this mistaken desire of the people, he frustrated it by dismissing his disciples and retiring by himself into the mountain.] ^a 22 And straightway he constrained the { ^b his} ^a disciples to enter into the boat, and to go before him unto the other side, ^b to Bethsaida [the suburb of Capernaum] ^a till he should send the multitudes { ^b while he himself sendeth the multitude} away. [The obedience of the disciples in leaving him helped to persuade the multitude to do likewise.] 46 And when he had taken leave of them, ^a 23 And after he had sent the multitudes away, he went up { ^b departed} ^a into the mountain apart to pray: and when even was come, he was there alone. [The news of John's assassination was calculated to exasperate him in the highest degree, and also to deeply distress him. He needed the benefits of prayer to keep down resentment, and to prevent despondency. For this he started away as soon as he heard the news, but the people prevented him till night.] ^d 16 And when evening came, his disciples went down unto the sea; 17 and they entered into a boat, and were over the sea unto Capernaum. ^b 47 And when even was come, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. ^d and it was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. [They evidently expected that he would follow. Possibly they skirted the shore, hoping that he would hail them and come on board.] 18 And the sea was rising by reason of a great wind that blew. ^a 24 But the boat was now in the midst of the sea, distressed by the waves; for the wind was contrary. [That is, it blew from the west, the direction toward which the disciples were rowing.] ^b 48 And seeing them distressed in rowing, for the wind was contrary unto them, about { ^a in} ^b the fourth watch of the night [from 3 to 6 A. M.] he cometh { ^a came} ^b unto them, ^a walking upon the sea. [The disciples of Jesus can rest assured that the eyes of the Lord will behold their distresses, and that sooner or later the Lord himself will arise and draw near for their deliverance.] ^d 19 When therefore they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs [that is, about three and a half miles, or about half way across the sea], they behold Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the boat: ^b and would have passed by them: ^a 26 And { ^b 49 but} ^a when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, ^d and they were afraid. ^b they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; ^a saying, It is a ghost; and they cried out for fear. ^b 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. [Their fears would probably have been greater if Jesus had approached the boat, for they were severe enough to make them cry out, even when he was seen to be passing by them.] ^a 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto { ^b with} them, and saith unto them, { ^a saying,} Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. [There was no mistaking that voice. If Isaac knew the voice of Jacob (Gen. xxvii.22), Saul the voice of David (I. Sam. xxvi.17), and Rhoda the voice of Peter (Acts xii.13), much more did the apostles know the voice of the great Master.] ^d 21 They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat. [Superstitious fears are not always so soon allayed. His voice brought great assurance.] ^a 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee upon the waters.29 And he said, Come. And Peter went down from the boat, and walked upon the waters to come to Jesus. [This scene comports with the character of Peter, who had always a rash willingness to go into danger, and a lack of steadfastness to hold out through it.] 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. [So long as the attention of Peter was fixed upon the Lord's command he succeeded in his venture; but so soon as he let the power of the tempest distract his thoughts, his faith failed and he began to sink.] 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and took hold of him, and saith unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? [Fear is a source of doubt and an enemy of faith. Those who would achieve the victories of faith must overcome their fears.] ^b 51 And he went up unto them into the boat; ^a 32 And when they were gone up into the boat, the wind ceased. ^b and they were sore amazed in themselves; 52 for they understood not concerning the loaves, but their heart was hardened. ^d and straightway the boat was at the land whither they were going. ^a 33 And they that were in the boat worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. [The disciples showed the hardness of their hearts in that the working of one miracle did not prepare them either to expect or to comprehend any other miracle which followed. They ought to have worshipped Jesus as the Son of God when they saw the five thousand fed, but they did not. But when he had done that, and had walked upon the water, and quieted the wind, and transported the boat to the land, they were overcome by the iteration of his miraculous power, and confessed his divinity.] 34 And when they had crossed over, they came to the land, unto Gennesaret. ^b and moored to the shore. [The land of Gennesaret was a plain at the western end of the lake of Galilee. Josephus describes it as about thirty furlongs in length by twenty in average width, and bounded on the west by a semicircular line of hills.] 54 And when they were come out of the boat, straightway the people knew him, ^a 35 And when the men of that place knew him, they sent into ^b and ran round about that whole region, and began to carry about on their beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. ^a and brought unto him all that were sick; ^b 56 And wheresoever he entered, into villages, or into cities, or into the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, ^a 36 and they besought him that they might only touch ^b if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole. [Though the apostles had started their boat toward Capernaum, the storm appears to have deflected their course, and the language of the text suggests that they probably came to land at the south end of the plain, somewhere near Magdala, and made a circuit of the cities in the plain of Gennesaret on their way to Capernaum. As he did not stop in these cities, the sick were laid in the street that they might touch him in passing through. Moreover, as they knew the course that he was taking, by running ahead they could anticipate his arrivals and have the sick gathered to take advantage of his presence. The story of the woman who touched the hem of his garment had evidently spread far and wide, and deeply impressed the popular mind.]

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