“Christ is …”

John 6:16-21

{Prayer}

            Back in 2017, a newspaper reporter in Galveston, Texas, published a story about Chirpy the parakeet.  One minute Chirpy was peacefully perched in his cage and singing a song.  The next minute, he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over!

            Let me explain.  It all began when Chirpy’s owner decided to clean out the parakeet’s cage with a vacuum cleaner.  Not a bad idea, as long as you remember to take the parakeet out of the cage first.  Chirpy’s owner stuck the end of the vacuum cleaner into the cage with Chirpy still in it.  She barely started cleaning when “bam” … Chirpy got sucked into the vacuum.  The bird owner gasped, turned off the vacuum and opened up the bag.  There was Chirpy … alive, but stunned.

            Since the bird was covered with dirt and dust, the owner grabbed him, raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chirpy under running water.  Then, realizing that Chirpy was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do … she reached for her hair dryer and blasted the bird with hot air.

            A few days after the ordeal, the reporter who wrote about it contacted Chirpy’s owner to see how the poor guy was doing.  The owner replied, “Well … Chirpie doesn’t sing anymore … he just sits and stares.

            We understand this, don’t we?  We can all relate with Chirpy.  Sucked in, washed up, and blown over!  That’s enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.  One minute we’re singing a song, the next minute … the pink slip comes, the doctor calls, the check bounces, the policeman knocks at our door, or she sends a text saying “It’s over!

            We’re sucked into a black cavern of doubts, doused with the cold water of reality, and stunned with the hot air of empty promises.  After it happens … we don’t sing anymore … we just sit and stare.  WE all remember that day … it’s the day the music died.

            Christ’s disciples can relate. The storm roared on.  Stars were hidden by a black ceiling.  Clouds billowed like smoke.  Bolts of lightning zig-zagged across the ominous sky.  All four Gospels include the narrative about the storm on the Sea of Galilee, but only John tells us that it was dark.  “By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them” (John 6:17).  I’ve mentioned, especially in Bible class, that John often intends for his words to have several different meanings.  It was evening and it was dark.  No doubt about that, we get that concept.  But there is more to this.  John in his Gospel uses dark to describe the most excruciating times.  Here’s an example, one of many we could choose from.  In John 13:30 … we’re told that when Judas left the Upper Room to betray Jesus … it was dark.  Oh it was dark alright … very, very dark.  The word dark is John’s way to describe the dire circumstances.  Utmost evil.  Total chaos.

            “A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough” (John 6:19).  Remember the Sea of Galilee is below sea level, which means that when the warm air blows in from the Mediterranean Sea and hits the colder air streaming south from a mountain range … it’s a recipe for disaster.  All of a sudden a storm hits and all hell breaks loose.  This is the context, the backdrop for Christ’s fifth sign, fifth miracle in John’s Gospel.

            What do we learn from it?  We learn that Christ is close.  “When they had rowed three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water” (John 6:19).  If you have ever been out on the water when a storm hits, you know that there is nowhere hide.  You are at the mercy of your Maker!

            But the most terrifying force of nature, a storm at sea … it holds no terror for Jesus.  Jesus doesn’t walk above the storm.  Jesus doesn’t walk around the storm.  No, Jesus walks into the storm.  Jesus walks into the heart of the storm.  Jesus walks into the heart of your storm.

            When would that be?  “Mom, Dad … I’m pregnant.”  “Why Bill?  You’ve been cheating on me for two years!”  “Honey … our baby is dead.”  “Mary, your cancer is terminal.  There is nothing else we can do.”  When things go south, when the deep, pitch black, chaotic darkness settles in … Christ walks toward your sinking ship.  He doesn’t go past you.  He doesn’t ignore you.  He doesn’t neglect you, overlook you, or forget about you.  No … Christ is close.

            In this sign, this miracle, we also learn that Christ is in control.  Anyone familiar with the Old Testament recognizes that when Jesus walks on the Sea of Galilee, he’s doing what the Old Testament says only God can do.  Job 9:8 says, “God alone stretches out the heavens and tramples down the waves of the sea.”  Psalm 66:6 says, “He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot.”  Throughout the Old Testament, God controls the sea!  Here in John … that’s Jesus!  He is God!

            This is confirmed by Christ’s words, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (John 6:20).  Or a more literal translation of the Greek, “I AM. Don’t be afraid.”  You see, when Jesus says, “I AM”, he’s saying that he is God.  How so?  Well think back with me to when God appears to Moses in the burning bush.  Moses asks, “What is your name?” God replied, “I AM who I AM.” (Exodus 3:14).  So what is God’s name?  I AM.  “I AM” is a major theme in John’s Gospel.  In John 6:35, “I AM the bread of life.”  In John 8:12, “I AM the Light of the world.”  In John 14:6, “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life.”  John 8:58 says it best … Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”

            “I AM. Don’t be afraid.”  Christ controls everything were afraid of.  Afraid of spiders?  Jesus is greater than spiders.  Afraid of cancer?  Jesus is greater than cancer.  Afraid of that ugly sin?  Jesus is greater than that ugly sin.  Afraid of that person?  Jesus is greater than that person.  In fact, Jesus is greater than any person.  Afraid of death?  Jesus is greater than death for he even says in John 11:25, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” 

            This fifth sign of Jesus walking on water teaches us that Christ is close, that Christ is in control and …

            It teaches us that Christ is capable.  “And immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading” (John 6:21).  Immediately the boat reached the shore.  There was no delay, no dawdling, no dilly-dallying around.  Christ is capable!  Your boat will reach the shore.  Your boat will certainly reach the shore safely.  How can you be so sure?

            Because Jesus walked into another gale-force storm.  Like before, he didn’t walk above it, he didn’t walk around it.  No, Jesus walked into the storm, into heart of the storm.  Jesus walked into the heart of the storm for you and for your salvation.  And it was dark … it was very, very dark.  That’s what your and my sin did to the Savior.  When the bloody mess was over … Jesus had no song to sing.  He hung there, lifeless and limp.  It was the day the music died.

            But!  But … three days later the music, check that … the grand symphony of celebration rocked on!  John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it!”  The light shines!  There is nothing dead about our Jesus!  And because he lives, we have a song to sing!

            Just ask John.  John was crude and crass.  John ran with the wrong crowd and had no use for Jesus.  John worked on a slave ship called the Greyhound.  It crossed the Atlantic Ocean bringing African slaves to America.  One night, waves pummeled the Greyhound.  John worked the water pumps all night, but it was a losing cause.  Finally he threw himself on the saltwater-soaked deck and pleaded! “Lord, have mercy!”  Miracles of miracles, the boat safely reached the shore.  After that John had a song to sing.  John Newton wrote his song on December 31, 1773.  What’s the song?  Amazing Grace … how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

            Storms come.  Storms come quickly.  Storms come unexpectedly.  Storms come ferociously.  If you’re in one, then you know exactly what I mean.  If you’re not in one today, you know as well as I do … one may be in tomorrow’s forecast.  But reassured, Jesus still brings boats safely to shore.  And that’s because Christ is close, Christ is in control, and Chris is capable.  With this … we have a song to sing.  Amen.

            The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.

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