“Immediately after this, Jesus made his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake while he sent the people home . . . . Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land” – Matthew 14:22-27
This is a passage that many people have trouble with, because it tells us that God sometimes instigates hard times in our lives. It is important for us to be reconciled with this concept, because if we do not, we may find ourselves forever kicking against the goads (Acts 26:14).
Just after Jesus feeds the five thousand, the gospels of Matthew, Mark and John tell us that Jesus “made” the disciples get into the boat and go to the western shore of Galilee. This word “made” may also be translated “compel,” “necessitate” or even “force.” It is a very strong word that leaves little doubt the disciples did not have a choice in the matter.
What we see in these passages is Jesus forcing the disciples into a boat He knew would take them into a storm, find them “straining at the oars” (Mark 6:48) and ultimately blown off their intended course. The disciples, intending to take a short boat ride across the northern tip of a lake that is merely four miles wide, soon find they were still in the middle of the lake (Mark 6:47) after rowing three or three and a half miles. They were in a storm and going nowhere fast. Fortunately, Jesus rescues them by walking across the lake.
At first, this sounds like a heartless thing for Jesus to do. Why would God send them (or us) to a place where He knows they will fight, strain and struggle, only to wind up further from their destination than when they started? I believe that Jesus needed the disciples to learn a number of lessons, and the first lesson was that He was sovereign over all His creation. Continue Reading