Five Reasons for Good Cheer
“And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 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. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.”
Every step in the earthly life of the incarnate God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is full of deep meaning and spiritual significance. It is impossible for us to grasp the full meaning of his words and deeds until we see him face to face. Yet, it is easy to see that the events recorded in this passage of Holy Scripture have a very wide range of instruction.
These verses clearly show us a picture of every believer’s position in this world and the hopeful prospect of our Lord’s glorious second advent. Like the disciples in their little boat, we are often tossed to and fro by many storms and contrary winds. Like these disciples, we are frequently without the enjoyment of Christ’s manifest presence in this world. Yet, we shall see our Lord face to face. This is our joyful hope. Christ will come again and receive us unto himself.
Like these disciples tossed about upon the stormy sea, soon we shall see things changed for the better. When our Master comes, we will no longer be tossed about. Our storms will be over. All that is contrary to our happiness will come to an end. And we will enter into a great eternal calm.
However, for the present study, I want us to focus our attention to our Master’s words to us in verse 50. He said to his disciples, and he says to you and me, in all the storms and contrary winds we must endure in this world, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” I want to use the story recorded in these verses to give you five reasons for good cheer.
Before I proceed, I realize that some who read these lines have absolutely no reason for good cheer. The wrath of God is upon you. You are hovering over the very brink of hell. You are but a breath away from everlasting torment. Unless and until you flee to Christ for refuge, unless and until you bow to the Son of God in repentance and faith, trusting Christ alone as your Lord and Savior, you have no reason to rejoice in anything. Every breath you take in rebellion against God will increase your misery in the world to come! I plead with you in Christ’s stead, “Be ye reconciled to God!”
However, for you who believe God, though you may be required for now to sail through stormy seas and be tossed about by contrary winds, there are found in these few verses of inspiration five reasons for good cheer. As I call your attention to them, I pray that God the Holy Spirit will seal them to your heart and to my own, for Christ’s sake.
Providence of God
All who believe God have, at all times and in all circumstances, reasons for good cheer. If I believe God, I ought always to find a reason for good cheer in the wise and good providence of God, my heavenly Father. Divine providence is God’s rule, government, dominion over, and disposition of all things for the good of his elect and the glory of his great name. Read the verses before us carefully and you will see that it was no accident that these disciples came into this storm and experienced the great distress recorded. They were compelled and constrained by Christ himself to sail into this storm. — “And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people” (v. 45).
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).
No matter what the storm is which I am compelled to endure, no matter what contrary winds I must face, I am given these assurances in the Word of God…
· My life and all the affairs of it are ordained and ordered by God my Savior.
· My Lord will come to me and make himself known to me upon the raging billows in such a way as I could not otherwise know him.
· I will sail through the storm and reach the other side of the sea, by God’s grace and in Gods appointed time.
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows, like sea billows, roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
‘It is well, it is well with my soul!”
Presence of God
Not only are we assured of the universal providence of God over all things, we are assured of and should be of good cheer in the awareness of the presence of God our Savior at all times and in all circumstances. We are not always aware of him; but he is always aware of us. We do not always know his presence; but we are always in the immediate presence of God our Savior. — “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” (v. 48).
With those words the Holy Spirit tells us several things. The Lord Jesus saw his disciples in the storm, though they could not see him. We are never beyond the reach of his eye. Our way is never hidden from him. He knows the path we take. Wherever we are, whatever our circumstances may be, the Son of God sees us. Alone or in a crowd, in sickness or in health, in perils at sea, in perils upon the shore, and in perils in the wilderness, his eye is upon us! The same eye that watched the tempest tossed disciples watches us. Our darkness is light before him. There are many times when we cannot see him; but there are no times when he does not see us.
The Lord Jesus came to his disciples in the midst of their great trouble and distress. He came to them in the fourth watch of the night, after a long night of great distress. He came to them in a supernatural, unexpected, unexplainable way, “walking upon the sea,” the raging sea that terrified them! He came to them when they were in desperate need, after they had toiled all night in rowing. And though he was coming to them, it appeared as though he would have passed them by. Nothing could have been further from his mind, but he appeared to be entirely unaware of and totally unconcerned for his disciples. Yet, he was right there with them.
He who walked upon the water never changes! He always comes to us at the right time. He always comes when we most need him and are made to know that we need him, in the fourth watch of the night, after we have toiled long and hard and accomplished nothing by our toiling. When it appears that he would pass us by and cares nothing for us, the Lord is at hand.
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
Power of God
We who believe should always be of good cheer because of the providence of God, the presence of God, and, third, because of the power of God. I can never make up my mind which is more comforting to my soul: the omniscience of God, the omnipresence of God, or the omnipotence of God (Psalm 139:1-18). — “And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered” (v. 51).
As soon as our Lord stepped on board their little boat, the storm ceased. What power he possesses! What power there is with him! Even the winds and storms obey his mere will. Everything in God’s universe is completely, totally, and constantly under his dominion and subservient to his will. — “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth!”
The fact that the disciples “were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered” should not surprise us. How often we have experienced such amazement at our Savior’s intervention in our lives. Like these disciples, we do not doubt for a moment our Redeemer’s divine omnipotence. Yet, like these disciples, we rarely expect it to be displayed; and when it is, we are filled with astonishment.
Pity of God
Fourth, believing God, we should ever be of good cheer, realizing the great pity of God our Savior toward us.
“But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.” (Psalm 78:38-39)
“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalms 103:13-14)
Look at the disciples’ behavior in verses 49-52, and remember that God our Savior is God who has compassion upon chosen sinners and pities us in our weak, sinful condition in this world.
“But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.”
Their behavior is a fair, accurate, faithful representation of us all. We should never be proud, heady, and high minded. We should never be too harsh in our judgment of these men or of other believers who behave as they did. These men were the Lord’s disciples, faithful men, gospel preachers. Yet, when they saw the Lord walking on the water, they thought they had seen a ghost, and were terrified! They forgot the miracles they had just witnessed and experienced. And their hearts were hardened in unbelief. Yet, their hardness and unbelief did not prevent Christ from coming to them, delivering them, and using them.
Path to God
Fifth, we should ever be of good cheer because Christ is the path to God (vv. 53-56).
“And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.”
Commenting on these four verses Robert Hawker wrote…
“I would appeal to the common sense and history of all mankind, whether the imagination can furnish a portrait so beautiful, so affectionate, and interesting, as is here drawn of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Prophet, ages before had said, ‘Behold, your God will come and save you! Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing’ (Isaiah 35:4-6). And here we behold God indeed in the person of his dear Son, surrounded by the sick and diseased of every description and character, while as many as touched him were made whole. Oh! for grace, to come to Him now by faith; for surely, none whom God the Holy Ghost shall lead to Jesus, will the Lord send empty away.”
As those mentioned here brought needy souls to the Savior, you and I are responsible to tell other eternity bound sinners who Christ is, what he has done for us, and where he may be found. The place of mercy is the place where Christ is, where his Word is preached, his name is honored, and his power is manifest. Bring the needy to his house, bring them to the Savior himself in prayer, lay them before him, and seek the grace of his Spirit for them, that they might touch him in faith and be made whole by him. The only path to God is Christ, faith in Christ. — “As many as touched him were made whole!” It is still true. — As many as touch him are made whole.
Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com