We live in an environment where the “wind is against us”. We strain to cut through the wind, but we just don’t get very far. In this scene, the 12 disciples are fighting to row against the wind for most of the night. After staying back on shore for the first part of the night, Jesus set out walking on the water effortlessly. In fact, He was about to stroll past them, while they fruitlessly wrestled with the oars.
When the disciples saw him, they were terrified until He reassured them and climbed into the boat. Once Jesus was in the boat with the disciples, the wind ceased; there was no more struggle, only smooth sailing from then on.
Perhaps the wind remembers the rebuke of the Lord from a previous encounter as described earlier in this Gospel account, and behaves as soon as He is in their midst, but it is noteworthy that the word “wind” is so often used to describe the spiritual world. We don’t know from whence it comes, or where it blows, yet it stirs up the physical realm. The invisible wind caused the sea to violently respond. They struggled against it and exhausted themselves, while Jesus who spent the time in prayer, strolled effortlessly by on top of the sea, unhindered and unaffected by the wind. It is as though the winds parted, and the sea was restful wherever He planted His next step.
What if the disciples had turned back to where Jesus was and pleaded “Lord, without You, we are struggling against a contrary wind. We have seen how the wind and waves obey You. Therefore we’ve come back to ask You to get into the boat with us.” Maybe this is why Jesus waited on shore for so long. Perhaps He was wondering when it might occur to them that they were powerless without Him. By the forth watch, it would appear that they were going to continue their fruitless struggle against the contrary wind, not asking for help, nor even praying for it, just fighting against the elements of the invisible world in the weakness of their flesh.
One can almost picture Jesus shaking His head as He decides He’s let them struggle long enough. He was about to stroll past them, onto the other side not taking notice of their plight. It wasn’t cruelty that Jesus allowed them to exhaust themselves against this opposing wind; it was an object lesson. We all must come to the end of ourselves sooner or later.
We can do nothing in our own strength. There is an invisible contrary wind blowing against us, stirring up the physical world with its circumstances and interruptions. We can fight against it in our strength, but it is a fruitless struggle and all that we accomplish is exhaustion.
We recall that the Lord had commissioned them earlier to go out two by two, proclaiming the gospel, healing the sick, and casting out demons. They returned feeling “empowered”. Jesus had to demonstrate to them that they were utterly helpless without Him. Their power depended upon Jesus. The Scripture mentions that “their heart was hardened” (Mark 6:52). Whenever we think that we did something amazing, pride rears its ugly head hardening our hearts. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Pride is the sin that caused Lucifer’s fall, and it is the greatest disease to afflict mankind. This is the affliction of the old man, and why we must put him off.
We are entirely dependent upon Jesus, living in union with Him, abiding in Him. He must be in our boat at all times if we are to get to the other side. We must seek Him and ask Him if He is indeed sending us out, or is He calling us to “come aside by ourselves to a deserted place to rest a while”. It is imperative that we are abiding in Him and being sensitive to His will. We cannot have an agenda of our own. We must surrender our agenda and wait upon God.
Deborah J Claypool