Sabbath, August 27, 2011
“Day by day God instructs His children. By the circumstances of the daily life He is preparing them to act their part upon that wider stage to which His providence has appointed them. It is the issue of the daily test that determines their victory or defeat in life’s great crisis.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 382.
A solitary place of prayer
1. After Jesus miraculously fed the multitude, what did some people, including the disciples, want to do? What was the Master’s response to this?
John 6:14, 15 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
“All day the conviction has strengthened. That crowning act is assurance that the long-looked-for Deliverer is among them. The hopes of the people rise higher and higher. This is He who will make Judea an earthly paradise, a land flowing with milk and honey. He can satisfy every desire. He can break the power of the hated Romans. He can deliver Judah and Jerusalem. He can heal the soldiers who are wounded in battle. He can supply whole armies with food. He can conquer the nations, and give to Israel the long-sought dominion.
“In their enthusiasm the people are ready at once to crown Him king. They see that He makes no effort to attract attention or secure honor to Himself. In this He is essentially different from the priests and rulers, and they fear that He will never urge His claim to David’s throne. Consulting together, they agree to take Him by force, and proclaim Him the king of Israel. The disciples unite with the multitude in declaring the throne of David the rightful inheritance of their Master. It is the modesty of Christ, they say, that causes Him to refuse such honor. Let the people exalt their Deliverer. Let the arrogant priests and rulers be forced to honor Him who comes clothed with the authority of God.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 377, 378.
2. What else did He do? Why?
Matthew 14:22, 23 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
“They eagerly arrange to carry out their purpose; but Jesus sees what is on foot, and understands, as they cannot, what would be the result of such a movement…. Calling His disciples, Jesus bids them take the boat and return at once to Capernaum, leaving Him to dismiss the people.
“Never before had a command from Christ seemed so impossible of fulfillment. The disciples had long hoped for a popular movement to place Jesus on the throne; they could not endure the thought that all this enthusiasm should come to nothing. The multitudes that were assembling to keep the Passover were anxious to see the new prophet. To His followers this seemed the golden opportunity to establish their beloved Master on the throne of Israel. In the glow of this new ambition it was hard for them to go away by themselves, and leave Jesus alone upon that desolate shore….
“When left alone, Jesus ‘went up into a mountain apart to pray.’ For hours He continued pleading with God. Not for Himself but for men were those prayers. He prayed for power to reveal to men the divine character of His mission, that Satan might not blind their understanding and pervert their judgment.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 378, 379.
Battling the waves
3. As night fell, what happened to the disciples on the sea? What lesson did they need to learn?
Matthew 14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
Mark 6:47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.
“Had they, out of the abundance of their hearts, been conversing together in regard to these things
“They forgot their disaffection, their unbelief, their impatience. Everyone worked to keep the boat from sinking…. Until the fourth watch of the night they toiled at the oars. Then the weary men gave themselves up for lost. In storm and darkness the sea had taught them their own helplessness, and they longed for the presence of their Master.
“Jesus had not forgotten them. The Watcher on the shore saw those fear-stricken men battling with the tempest. Not for a moment did He lose sight of His disciples. With deepest solicitude His eyes followed the storm-tossed boat with its precious burden; for these men were to be the light of the world. As a mother in tender love watches her child, so the compassionate Master watched His disciples.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 380, 381.
4. After they had rowed three or four miles against the waves, who came near to them walking on the sea?
John 6:19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
Matthew 14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
Mark 6:48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.
“When their hearts were subdued, their unholy ambition quelled, and in humility they prayed for help, it was given them.
“At the moment when they believe themselves lost, a gleam of light reveals a mysterious figure approaching them upon the water. But they know not that it is Jesus.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 381.
Seeing the Saviour
5. What did the disciples see that frightened them? What allayed their fears?
Matthew 14:26, 27 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Mark 6:49, first part But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out.
“The One who has come for their help they count as an enemy. Terror overpowers them. The hands that have grasped the oars with muscles like iron let go their hold. The boat rocks at the will of the waves; all eyes are riveted on this vision of a man walking upon the white-capped billows of the foaming sea.
“They think it a phantom that omens their destruction, and they cry out for fear. Jesus advances as if He would pass them; but they recognize Him, and cry out, entreating His help. Their beloved Master turns, His voice silences their fear, ‘Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.’” –The Desire of Ages, p. 381.
Walking on water
6. What did Peter immediately request? What made his boldness turn to fear?
Matthew 14:28-31 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
“Looking unto Jesus, Peter walks securely; but as in self-satisfaction he glances back toward his companions in the boat, his eyes are turned from the Saviour…. For a moment Christ is hidden from his view, and his faith gives way. He begins to sink. But while the billows talk with death, Peter lifts his eyes from the angry waters, and fixing them upon Jesus, cries, ‘Lord, save me.’ Immediately Jesus grasps the outstretched hand, saying, ‘O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’
“Walking side by side, Peter’s hand in that of his Master, they stepped into the boat together. But Peter was now subdued and silent. He had no reason to boast over his fellows, for through unbelief and self-exaltation he had very nearly lost his life. When he turned his eyes from Jesus, his footing was lost, and he sank amid the waves.
“When trouble comes upon us, how often we are like Peter! We look upon the waves, instead of keeping our eyes fixed upon the Saviour….
“Amid the storms of temptation he could walk safely only as in utter self-distrust he should rely upon the Saviour.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 381, 382.
7. What happened right after Jesus and Peter climbed into the ship?
Matthew 14:32, 33 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Mark 6:51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.
John 6:21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
“Those who fail to realize their constant dependence upon God will be overcome by temptation. We may now suppose that our feet stand secure, and that we shall never be moved. We may say with confidence, ‘I know in whom I have believed; nothing can shake my faith in God and in His word.’ But Satan is planning to take advantage of our hereditary and cultivated traits of character, and to blind our eyes to our own necessities and defects. Only through realizing our own weakness and looking steadfastly unto Jesus can we walk securely.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 382.
“… It has been Satan’s determined purpose to eclipse the view of Jesus and lead men to look to man, and trust to man, and be educated to expect help from man. For years the church has been looking to man and expecting much from man, but not looking to Jesus, in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered…. ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.’” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 93.
For additional study
• Matthew 14:22-33
• Mark 6:45-52
• John 6:14-21
• The Desire of Ages, pp. 377-382
• Education, pp. 88, 89
What do you think?
• To you, what is the most important lesson to be learned from today’s study?
• What encouragement do you find in this amazing story?