What is the biggest question to ask of ourselves and others? I suggest this could be the one: “Is Jesus with you?” How we answer that question reveals where our lives are at and where they are going. To have Jesus with us, means blessing; to have Jesus absent, means disaster. In an eternal sense the difference is heaven and hell. Jesus came as Immanuel which means God with us (see Matt. 1:23). When we receive Jesus we receive the salvation of God because we receive His Saviour. Thereby we know God is with us and have blessings untold for evermore. Jesus gave himself for our sins so that the sins that keep us from Himself would be taken away. When our sins are taken away we truly know Immanuel; God with us.
However, having Jesus with us is not just critical for our eternal destiny it is also critical for our day-to-day lives. In Matthew 14 the disciples when faced with a crisis over the food supply for the gathered multitude said to the Lord ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so that they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food’ (Matt. 14:15b). The disciples thought blessing would come for the people when they left Jesus, However the blessing actually came when everyone stayed with Jesus. So we read after the miraculous provision of food by our Lord that They all ate and were satisfied (Matt. 14:20a).
The next happening in Matthew’s gospel is interestingly introduced by the word “Immediately” (v22a). This suggests that there must be a close link with what had gone before. Remember the disciples had just had a living demonstration that being with Jesus brings blessing. It is with this background that they are sent away by the Lord to go across the lake. It seems to me that the Lord was testing them as regards to the necessity of having him with them. They should have responded: “No! Lord, we will not go unless you come with us”. Alas, they went and ended up a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it (Matt. 14:24b). They were a long way from their Master and in trouble. Being a long way from our Lord always means bad news.
The Lord in His gracious kindness then intervenes. He comes from the mountainside to the lake. And as He ventures on to the lake He walks on the water showing He is Lord of all. Two incidents then happen which are instructive to us:
- Peter looks at the Lord and not the storm and the waves and says “I want to be with Him”. So he gets out of the boat and heads for Jesus. He too, like Jesus, walks over the surface of the water when moving towards Jesus. Alas his progress is stopped when he sees the wind. The Lord intervenes to rescue Peter, but rebukes him for not trusting Him. It is instructive for us to note that when Peter was looking at the Lord and moving to Him all was well. When we have gone away from the Lord whether it be by neglecting our relationship with Him or determining to go our own way the consequences are always harmful, but when we turn and want to go back to Him all is well. And we will know Him intervening to care for us even when our trust in Him fades, as Peter’s did.
- And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God (Matt. 14:32-33) is how Matthew records the outcome of the event. Jesus is now in the boat. With Him in the boat all is transformed; everything is different. Of course the disciples should have known that this would be the case from what they had experienced with the feeding of the 5,000. When Jesus is with us all is different. This all has very big implications then. We must learn that the Lord must be with us. How easily we drift into life presuming that all will go well. The lesson from these incidents of the feeding of the five thousand and the storm on the lake is that we must have Jesus with us. So every day I must start out by seeking the Lord, that He might be with me. And in every part of my life, for our every conversation, every visit to the shops, every getting in my car I need the Lord with me. Everything in my life, home, church, work etc. must be greeted by a seeking of the Lord that He might be with me.
To reinforce the immense implications of the truth we have been pondering on, I want to look at two Old Testament texts:-
- In Exodus 33:15-16 we read Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’ So Philip, be a Moses and say to the Lord, unless you are with me Lord, I am not going. Please stop me going Lord if you will not come with me.
- When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze (Is. 43:2). When the Lord is with us; we need not fear. So is the Lord with you right now?
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of June 2016)