John 6:16-21 | Take Him Into The Boat

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. (John 6:16-21)

The Scene:

Jesus was spending time with his disciples on the mountainside when a crowd of more than five thousand approached them. They were following him because of the miracles he had been performing on the sick (John 6:2). Being just days before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus performed a miracle by taking five small barley loaves and creating them enough food to feed the entire crowd. There were even twelve baskets full of leftovers.

Jesus demonstrated great intentionality in the way he connected with people that day. He was purposeful to spend time with his disciples. Testing them, he asked specific questions, even though he already knew what he was about to do. He even capitalized on the circumstances at hand by preforming a miracle with bread leading up to the Jewish Passover.

As we’ll discover through the rest of this chapter, the purpose of this miracle was about much more than feeding hungry people some bread. It was actually about demonstrating that he is the Bread of Life. Jesus cares about our physical needs, but he cares a million times more about our spiritual condition. Even though the crowd realized Jesus was the prophet who was to come into the world, they were seeking a political king and a welfare lord. They weren’t looking for someone to be king of their hearts. So, Jesus knowing that they were going to try to make him king by force slipped through the crowd and fled to the mountain by alone.

Waiting on Jesus

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. (John 6:16-17)

I hate going to Costco on a Saturday in Spanish Fork. It is always so crowded. You have to wait in line for five minutes just to get a sample of Kirkland hot dog. I’d rather come back another day than stand in line for five minutes. Isn’t that crazy? I’d wait an entire day to avoid waiting for five minutes?

Here, the disciples were waiting on Jesus. He had gone alone to the mountain. Evening came and they didn’t want to wait on him anymore, so they got in a boat and headed across the lake in the dark without sonar or GPS. They found themselves in a situation where they had just experienced this close and amazing time with Jesus, but now he’s nowhere to be found. He’s silent.

Ever been there? You’re right there with Jesus, walking side by side. You’re experiencing his guidance, his comfort and witnessing his power then right when it starts to get dark and the way becomes uncertain he seems to vanish. You wait, but it feels like forever as the pressure of the present circumstances continue to rise. It’s getting dark, what are we going to do? The bills are starting to pile up. I can’t keep on with the way I am being treated. Or, this ministry seems so lifeless and stagnant. How long can I continue in this? I cant’t wait forever, I have to do something!

What do you do? How long do you wait? I wish there was a one-size fits all answer, but there isn’t. Sometimes we’re supposed to stay right where we are and keep doing what we’re doing. Other times we’re supposed to get in the boat and start rowing in faith. Every situation is different, but there’s one thing that should remain consistent – our attitude. While we wait, we choose to be faithful, we choose to serve and we choose to worship. Like the lyrics to the John Waller song,

“I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race even while I wait”

Jesus is going to show up! In reality, he never really leaves. He just creates situations where he seems distant in order to develop our faith. While we wait on Jesus, sometimes our part means we move ahead in confidence, other times we’re supposed to say put. Either way, we choose to serve, we choose to worship, we choose to keep running the race while we wait.

Whether you’ve been impatient and proceeded without Jesus or not, you will at times find yourself in a seemingly unmanageable storm of life.

The unmanageable storms of life

The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. (John 6:18)

Have you ever been out on a lake in a windstorm? It’s scary! You literally fear for your life. Wind creates waves making it very difficult to maneuver your boat. They’re dangerous too. Waves can fill your boat with water so fast that it will sink it in a matter of minutes. A wave can also capsize your boat leaving you stranded in the water. These guys were not only in a windstorm, it was dark out and they were several miles from shore. The situation may have seemed hopeless.

Tragedy will strike. Before moving to Utah, I was a pastor in Texas County, Mo. This is a rural part of the state. It’s not the kind of place you would ever think of a s being dangerous. Most of the people are simple country folk. However, this week eight people were shot and killed in a shooting spree. Three weeks ago, I found out that my former secretary’s sister tried to hire someone to kill her. These are people that I know and love and look what they are going through.

How do you deal with that kind of stuff? What do you do when the storms of life become unmanageable?  When you’re in a situation that doesn’t seem to have a solution and there’s no logical way out, what do you do?

Take him into the boat

When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat… (John 6:19-21a)

Taking on more weight isn’t going to help your cause in a wind and wave storm. This doesn’t make since from a logical prospective. Jesus was walking on the water and didn’t need a boat. So, why did they take him into the boat? Because they knew they couldn’t navigate the storm without him. You cannot go where Jesus wants you to go if he isn’t in control of your vessel. If you want to make it through the storm you have to have Jesus in the boat.

Implications: He drives the ship… You have to let go of the helm. He doesn’t want to be your copilot and he doesn’t need you as his copilot. He’s the captain. When you let him on the boat and give him control he gets you where you’re going.

Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. (John 6:21)

Here’s the big reality, Jesus is the creator of all things (John 1:1-4, Colossians 1:16) and he upholds the universe by the power of his word (Hebrews 1:3). The unmanageable storms of life are nothing compared the power and authority of Jesus. Why would you want anyone or anything else in control of your ship? Why wouldn’t you plead desperately for him to come on board and take control?

Closing thoughts:

The storms of life are inevitable. Maybe you’re facing one right now. Is there enough room for Jesus? Are you having a hard time making room on board for Jesus? Maybe your life has gotten so full of stuff that you’re not finding space for Him. Take Jesus into the boat first then let him decide what needs to go.

Are you waiting on Jesus? Maybe there’s a situation in your life where you feel like you’re at the waters edge and it’s getting dark. Your instincts are telling you get across the lake before it’s too late, but there’s a part of you that feels like you need to wait for Jesus. Should you wait for him on the shore or should you get in the boat and wait for him on the water?  I can’t answer that question for you, but I will plead with you to choose to worship, choose serve, and keep running the race while you’re waiting.

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