Mark 6:45


I. THE SERVANTS OF THE LORD ARE EXPOSED TO OPPOSITION AND DANGER IN CARRYING OUT HIS COMMANDS.

II. WITHOUT THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF HIS PRESENCE DIFFICULTY APPEARS INSURMOUNTABLE.

III. HE IS EVER AT HAND TO BLESS THOSE WHO ARE STRIVING TO OBEY HIS WORD.

IV. WHEN HIS SERVANTS ARE READY TO RECEIVE HIM HE WILL COME TO THEIR RESCUE, AND EVERY OBSTACLE WILL BE OVERCOME.

V. SUCH TEMPTATIONS ARE INTENDED TO DISCOVER THEIR NEED OF HIM, AND TO CONFIRM THEIR FAITH IN HIM. - M.









And straightway He constrained His disciples to get into the ship.
This does not mean that our Lord forced His disciples' wills, but that from being unwilling He made them willing to do as He desired. Reasons they were loath at first to take ship without Him.

1. Because His society was very amiable, sweet, and comfortable to them, as they had hitherto found by experience; therefore they were unwilling to part from Him, though but for a time.

2. It seemed a matter against reason for Him to stay behind alone in a desert place, especially as night was coming on; therefore they were unwilling to leave Him there.

3. They knew there was in that place no other ship or boat besides the one in which they were to pass over (John 6:22); therefore they would have had Him go over with them in the same ship.

4. It may be also that they were afraid to pass over without Him, lest, if a storm should arise, they should be in danger. Once before, they had been in danger of drowning when Christ was with them; much more, then, might they now fear the worst, if they went without Him.

(G. Petter.)

By nature the best of us are very slack and backward to yield obedience to the will of Christ, especially in such things as oppose our natural reason, will, and affections; in such commandments of Christ, we have much ado to yield obedience, and are very hardly brought to it. Though we have the express word and commandment of Christ, yet when the things commanded are contrary to our reason and will, we draw back, and are loath to obey Christ's will. We are by nature so wedded and addicted to our own reason, will, and affections, that we find it exceedingly hard to captivate them in obedience to the will of Christ as we ought.

1. Labour to see and bewail this our natural corruption.

2. Pray to Christ to subdue it, and to frame us by the power of His Spirit to more willing and cheerful obedience.

(G. Petter.)

I. WE MAY TAKE THIS AS A PICTURE OF THE STATE OF CHRIST'S CHURCH BETWEEN THE ASCENSION AND PENTECOST. The disciples were then for the first time launched without Him upon the sea of this world — powerless as yet to run the race set before them, and in darkness and uncertainty as to what might be their Master's grand design. But His eye noted from above their comfortless condition, and soon He came to them in the person of the Holy Spirit, to be not only their far-off Intercessor, but their present Guide and Helmsman, piloting them to the bright shore of eternal life.

II. WE MAY ALSO SEE IN THE LITTLE FISHING BOAT, TOSSED ON THE DARK AND STORMY WAVE, A LIVELY IMAGE OF THE CHURCH UNDER THE PRESENT DISPENSATION. There is usually in the life of each individual Christian a period of striving after grace, life, and power, which have not yet been communicated to the soul. But Christ will come if the soul remain stedfast. And then shall all things go well. The vessel, freighted with the presence of the Incarnate God, shall no longer be driven back by the violence of the winds, but make her way surely, if slowly, to the haven where she would be.

III. THIS INCIDENT MAY, MOREOVER, BE REGARDED AS TYPICAL OF CHRIST'S SECOND ADVENT. Much darkness and obscurity and perplexity now — the necessary tests of faithfulness and stability. But the day is at hand when all things shall be manifested in the light of the Divine Presence. Watch and prepare for that, by weaning the affections from earthly things and fixing them on Christ; also by exerting yourself to bring others into such a state as that they shall be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

(Dean Goulburn.)

I. ANALOGIES IN THE CHRISTIAN'S VOYAGE THROUGH LIFE.

1. How many earnest truth seekers have been thus tossed by doubts and perplexities, with scarce one ray of light to guide them,

2. How many in the hour of spiritual awakening have passed through similar experience.

3. How many realize this amid the difficulties and temptations of life.

4. And others learn it in the hour of sorrow and suffering.

II. CONSOLATIONS.

1. Christ knows all.

2. Christ loves ceaselessly.

3. Christ prays constantly.

4. Christ comas with deliverance at the right time.

(M. Hutchison.)

This word "toiling" is quite inadequate to express the full force of the term. One of the oldest of English versions has it, "harassing themselves." Tyndale renders it, "troubled." Alford suggests, "distressed," which is the best word of all, and the one which our new revision adopts — "distressed in rowing." Those skilled fishermen evidently had a hard time of it. They needed to put forth the most violent and persistent efforts in order to keep the small boat from being dashed to pieces before the hurricane. And of course they became positively tired out, and their faith had something like a melancholy failure. In religious experience we are often more disheartened than we need to be, because some perverse disposition misleads us to contrast our states of low enjoyment with remembered disclosures of high exhilaration under extraordinary excitement. The midnight of commonplace rowing appears more gloomy and unwelcome just because the previous noon was so abundantly blessed with gifts and graces. Our favours seem hopelessly dull, simply because they were so lately revived into unusual strain, and are now worn out by the exalted indulgence. The changes begun in the circumstances are continued in our bodies, and so these moods grow reciprocally depressing. What we mourn over as base coldness, sometimes is nothing but natural reaction. Oftentimes our most heavy seasons of despondency are brought about by mere physical illness, or unusual prostration from distemper Or overwork.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

"He saw them toiling," so we read, and then we reflect how little reason these men had for being melancholy. "In our fluctuations of feeling," says pious Samuel Rutherford, "it is well to remember that Jesus admits no change in His affections; your heart is not the compass Christ saileth by." Our vicissitudes toss only them. selves, and overturn only our pride, and that not perilously. Jesus' care remains steady. If it be dark, and He has not yet arrived, we may be always certain it is because He pauses among the trees to pray. We are to keep working and watching; for when He sees we are ready to receive Him, He will start directly towards us on the sea.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

There was more dread than joy in the presence of the Saviour. They would not have been so much afraid had they been expecting Him, but the troubles of the night had made them forget His promise. Their terror is not, however, a thing altogether unknown in the deeper religious experience. For when a trouble comes upon the pious Christian, what is felt most sorely is not the outward calamity which his neighbours see, but an inward wound which comes from the conviction that God has actually forsaken him and delivered him over to the assaults of an unknown hostile spirit power armed against him. There is no lesson harder to understand than that troubles are not signs of the wrath of God. Had the disciples seen that it was Jesus who was coming to them through the storm, they would not have been troubled; could we know that behind the storms of life there is the Saviour Himself near us, we should not have that vague yet bitter sense of the presence of a spirit of evil who is seeking to overwhelm us.

(T. M. Lindsay, D. D.)

I. Separation is sometimes required to prevent improper sympathy.

II. Difficulties are to be expected, and weakness experienced, in the Christian course.

III. Appearances awaken needless fear through inconsideration.

IV. Christ speaks to encourage, and comfort, and give peace.

(J. H. Godwin.)

The design of religion is to make us of good cheer. We are surrounded by causes of alarm, but the gospel bids us fear not. And that which alone can enable us to be of good cheer amid sorrows is the presence of God our Saviour.

I. THE DISCIPLES IN A STORM.

1. It is most likely that they did not understand the reason of the request (ver. 45). But they were commanded, and this was sufficient. It is the duty of Christians to do many things the reason of which is hidden from them. Our duty may even sometimes oppose our preferences. However delightful the company of Jesus must have been, the disciples gained far more by being obediently absent than rebelliously near. Obedience is the best kind of nearness.

2. The evening on which the disciples embarked was calm and fair. But the finest day may be followed by the stormiest night.

3. The frightened disciples in their storm-driven boat fitly represent the circumstances by which believers are often tried — disappointments, losses, cares, etc. Christian discipleship does not exempt from such storms (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 4:12; 1 Peter 5:9). These storms may often rise against us, even when acting in direct obedience to the will of Christ. No difficulty must daunt us in the way of obedience.

4. While the disciples are battling with the winds and the waves, where is Jesus? (ver. 46). But they were not forgotten, nor are we. He watched them in the tempest, and He sees His storm-driven followers now.

5. When He sees the fitting season has arrived, He will appear for their deliverance (ver. 48). He may delay to reveal Himself, but not to succour and support them.

6. When He did appear to His disciples, the manner of His coming was so unexpected and strange that, instead of joy, their first emotion was terror. Like the disciples, we often mistake the form and presence of our Lord!

II. THE TERROR OF THE DISCIPLES ALLAYED BY THE ENCOURAGING VOICE OF JESUS. "It is I; be not afraid!" In every event, important or trivial, in the estimation of man, He speaks, and says, "It is I." Recognize Christ more vividly in all your troubles. Look away from inferior agencies, or you will be sure to fear. The assurance of Christ's presence involves everything needed to calm the fears, and soothe the sorrows of afflicted believers.

2. It was the voice of power.

3. Of love.

4. Of wisdom. The faith which recognizes in all events the voice of Jesus is the true alchemy which transmutes all baser substances into gold. The storm is terrible in appearance only.

5. The voice which speaks to us in the storm is that of One who has Himself been tempest test. What strong consolation is thus presented to afflicted disciples! Shall we wonder or repine at affliction?

6. The disciples had often witnessed the efficacy of His voice. Nor is it altogether strange to us. Has never spoken in vain. All anxieties should subside at the sound. What could He say that He has left unsaid to calm our apprehensions? Believe the promises, and there will be a great calm. Conclusion: To those who are not disciples He does not say, "Be of good cheer!" You are in awful peril. He is only with His disciples in the storm. No comfort for you while continuing "an enemy to God." Your condition and character must be changed. Let your eye gaze upon Jesus! He offers to screen you from the danger, and says to all who flee to Him for safety, "Be of good cheer!"

(Newman Hall, LL. B.)

I. CHRIST SEES ALL THE STRUGGLES OF HUMAN LIFE. The greatest battles are not those fought on the plains of the world and recorded in history, but those fought in courts and alleys by unfortunate men and women, who have to weather the storm of life without a friend. Christ sees every man's circumstances and heroism, etc.

II. CHRIST SEES ALL THE STRUGGLES OF CHRISTIAN LIFE. They are numerous, hard, continuous. He does not permit us to see all the difficulties of the future. Ply your oars. Watch and pray.

III. IN THESE STRUGGLES, HUMAN AND DIVINE, CHRIST DOES NOT COME TO US AT ONCE. There was time for the development of character, for the exercise of faith, patience, etc. Christians often complain that Christ's comforts do not come sooner. It is not when we will, but Divine love is never late. There is a time for succour. Times and seasons are known to Him.

IV. HOW HIS COMING AFFECTS US. He did not perform the miracle first, but said, "Be of good cheer." The Master's "good cheer" suited to all classes and conditions of His disciples, especially those who are liable to be dull, morbid, despondent, fearful.

(W. M. Statham.)

What is it which so often troubles our faith in the Divine promises? It is the fact that God does not direct events and things for the triumph of His cause, and that that cause seems often to be vanquished by fatality. This is a contradiction which confounds us. God wants truth to prevail; He commands His Church to announce it to the world; His design is here express and manifest, and when, to serve Him, His Church puts itself to the work, God permits circumstances to array themselves against it and hinder it. The wind was contrary! How many times have believers felt this! In the first centuries it was that periodical succession of implacable persecutions, scattering the flocks, immolating the shepherds, annihilating the Holy Scriptures, destroying in one dark hour the harvest of which the world had seen the admirable first fruits. The wind was contrary! At the close of the Middle Ages, and under the influence of the scandals displayed in Rome, it was that mocking and profound unbelief which secretly undermined the Church to such a degree that, without a religious awakening, the world would seem to become heathen again under the breath of the Renaissance. The wind was contrary! Later on came the ardent and generous passions of the eighteenth century letting loose on the world a formidable tempest. In our days listen. Is the wind which comes down from the icy heights of positive science favourable to our cause? Is the stream which comes to us from the springs of our democratic societies sympathetic? Are you not often scared at seeing all the hostile powers which combine against Christianity today? Doctrines openly materialistic, grave or cynical atheism, harsh and disparaging criticism, rightful complaints too well justified by the infidelities of believers, prejudices, misunderstandings, blind passions, — do not all these announce, even to the least clear-sighted, formidable storms to which our actual strifes are only as child's play? Why does God allow His cause to be thus compromised? Why does not He, who is the Master of the waves, pacify the storms? That is one of those grievous questions which none of us can escape. Scripture replies to it in some measure. It has pleased God, says St. Paul, to choose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. One would say that He wishes to show that the triumph of the gospel expects nothing from external things, from the impulse which comes from popular currents. We forget that Christ overcame the world only by raising against Him all its resistance, that the cross has been a sign of triumph only because it has been an instrument of punishment, and that in its apparent impotence and ignominy we must seek the secret of its power. The wind was contrary! But this was not the only obstacle the disciples encountered. Jesus Christ comes to them, but not till the fourth watch of the night, that is to say, near to the morning. Till then, we might say, He has forgotten them. It is in the last hour that He comes to succour them. History is like a night stretching across the ages; in all times believers are called to wait for God's intervention, but God delays to come, and that is the supreme trial of faith, greater perhaps than the opposition of men and even of persecution. The first Christians believed in the immediate return of Christ; that hope has often filled a generation of believers with enthusiasm. Already they saw the dawn breaking, they saluted the King of glory who came to deliver the Church and to subdue humanity. A dangerous excitement, a transitory fever in which imagination had more share than faith! On coming out of those dreams, the enervated soul often despairs, and in a paroxysm of gloomy discouragement it doubts the truth, because it no longer expects its triumph. It must be said that God, who is the Master of time, has reserved to Himself to fix its duration, and that we are absolutely forbidden to bind it in our measures and limits. Now what is true of the history of humanity applies equally to each of us. When the night of trial begins, we want deliverance to be announced during the first watch. Why does God remain inactive and silent? Why those long delays and those unanswered prayers? Why that tranquil, slow, regular course of second causes behind which the First Cause remains mute and without effect? The violent emotions of great trials are less formidable than that pitiless monotony which enervates and wears out the secret springs of the soul. Now, precisely because this danger is so real we must forecast it. Let us know, beforehand, that that trial is in store for us. If God delays, wait for Him. At last Christ draws near. He walks on the waves before the disciples, but they, frightened, see in Him only a phantom, and emit a cry of terror. All the traits of this narrative may seem those of a striking allegory, and this last still more than the others. Often Christ has appeared to humanity as a phantom. That pure and holy image, all whose features unite in the eyes of faith to form the most ravishing harmony, that face which surpasses all those of the sons of men, and which traverses the centuries surrounded by a halo of righteousness, of purity, of infinite mercy, that being at once so real and so ideal, so real that none has left on earth a deeper impression, so ideal that no light has made His pale, that Christ has often awoke in those who beheld Him for the first time only mistrust, hostility, mockery, and more than one generation has hailed Him with a repellent cry. Let the writings of the most ancient adversaries of Christianity be read. Let one page be quoted to me in which a trace is recognized of the moral impression which the life of Christ produces today on every sincere conscience. We believe that they never contemplated Him; that their look was never stayed on Him in an hour of justice. They had the Gospels, they had the living testimony of the Church, and the history of Jesus was not yet disfigured by the iniquities of its defenders. It does not matter, they saw Him only through the thick cloud of prejudice and hatred. It was a phantom they fought against. The Christ of Celsus and of Julian, the Christ whom anti-Christian satire mocks, is a silly Jew, whose greatness no one suspects for a moment. Our century has seen the same facts reproduced in an entirely different form. To what did that vigorous and learned attack against Christianity tend, so cleverly led by Strauss, if not to make a myth of Christ and His work; that is to say, a mere conception of the human consciousness? Now a mythical personage is a phantom and nothing more. The supernatural Christ was to them only a phantom, and they would never have believed then that one day they would find light and peace at His feet. But in the midst of the gloom which envelops the disciples a voice is heard. Jesus Christ has spoken. He has said, "It is I; be not afraid." The apostles recognize that voice, and in the midst of the storm their hearts are penetrated with a Divine peace. It is the same at all seasons. There is an incomparable emphasis in Christ's sayings. Yesterday we were in trouble and anguish, today we hear and are subdued. Explain who can this phenomenon. It is a fact for which witnesses would rise today in all parts of the world. Here is the tempest of doubt. Here around you and into your very soul another night descends, envelops and penetrates you. It is the night of remorse, the memory of a guilty past which haunts and besets the human conscience. Here is the hour of suffering. Finally, here is death, death which for in any of our travelling companions is the extreme end and the separation without return. He has spoken. Will you pay attention to this? I do not say, "He has reasoned, He has argued, He has proved." I simply say, "He has spoken!" Now it is found that everywhere and in every age there are men who are enlightened, soothed, consoled by this voice, and to whom it gives an invincible conviction, an immortal hope!

(E. Bersier, D. D.)

The winds always seem contrary to those who have any high and earnest purpose in life. Careless sailors afloat on the currents, with no aim but the pleasure of motion, who can watch the play of the wavelets, and hear their musical splash, or gaze on the tints that gleam on the opalescent sea, find life a pastime — for a time. But those who have a course, a compass, a pilot, and are in haste on the errand of heaven, are kept to the full strain of vigilance lest winds should sweep them backwards; and often hand weary, heart weary, they are tempted to give up all effort to keep their course, content to drift with the current which sets back again to the forsaken shore. An earnest purpose alone gives us the measure of the influences which surround us.

I. We are able when thinking over this great matter, a life course and its issues, to remind ourselves of THE GREAT LIFE COURSE TO WHICH THE WINDS WERE EVER CONTRARY, which something seemed always to sweep back from its end. Without question, life is a hard matter to the earnest; the night is dark, the toil hard. Often the main support of faith is to look steadily to Him to whom the night was darker, the toil harder, and who is seated now a radiant Conqueror at the right hand of the throne of God.

II. LET US LOOK AT THE BROAD FACT OF THE CONTRARINESS OF THE CURRENTS OF LIFE. I am not speaking of storms, but of the constant steady set of the current, which seems to keep us under perpetual strain. With some there is a lifelong struggle to fulfil the duty of some uncongenial calling, which yields no fair field of activity to the powers which they are conscious are stirring within. There are others who are crossed in their dearest hopes; life is one long, sad regret. There are others with a weak and crippled body enshrining a spirit of noblest faculty; with intense ardour pent up within.

III. THE REASON AND RIGHTNESS OF THIS CONTRARINESS OF THE CURRENTS OF LIFE. God sets things against us to teach us to set ourselves against things, that we may master them. We are kings, and have to conquer our kingdom.

IV. THE MASTER IS WATCHING HOW THE LESSON PROSPERS. Not from on high; not from a safe shore; but there in the midst of the storm He is watching, nay is walking, drawing nigh, in the very crisis of the danger and the strain. He enters the ship; the danger is over. A force stronger than the current is there to bear us swiftly to the shore.

(J. B. Brown, B. A.)

I. THE EFFECT OF RAPID TRANSITIONS IN OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES UPON INTERNAL RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE. That had been a great day to these disciples. Their enthusiasm had been aroused by the magnificent miracle. But out here on the water they had no cheering alleviation of their work. Wet to the skin by the spray, cut to the bone by the wind, we cannot wonder that they speedily became fatigued and disgusted.

II. THE CLOSE AND SOMEWHAT HUMILIATING CONNECTION BETWEEN WISTFUL SOULS AND WEARY BODIES which always has to be recognized. Our most heavy seasons of despondency are often brought about by mere physical illness, or unusual prostration from our work.

III. THAT MERE FRAMES OF DESOLATE FEELING GIVE BY NO MEANS A RELEASE FROM THE PRESSURE OF DILIGENT DUTY. They could not let the boat drift. They had to use all their skill.

IV. JESUS CHRIST, EVEN IN DARKNESS, KNOWS WHO HAVE NEED OF HIM.

V. THAT JESUS CHRIST SOMETIMES DELAYS HIS COMING TO BELIEVERS TILL HE IS SURE OF A WELCOME.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

The sovereignty of Christ over the forces of inanimate nature is the general truth illustrated in this miracle, which may be taken with the former one, also wrought upon the sea, recorded two chapters before. He made the liquid waves a pavement for His feet; at His command their fury ceased, as He stepped into the tossing boat there was a great calm. We may look at this sovereignty of Christ over the sea in three ways — literally, spiritually, prophetically, in each case drawing a lesson. Let me try in a few words to show this.

1. Literally. There can be no force of nature, however untamable by man, which is beyond His control. If it was so in the day of His humiliation, how much more so now in His glory and universal sovereignty. Under His rule now must lie all the physical elements and forces which play such an important part in the lives and fortunes of us all. Think of the importance of this fact. There are times when nature seems tyrannical, remorseless. The earthquake crushes hundreds of sleeping families beneath the ruins of their shattered dwellings. The volcano scorches and blasts the fair scenes of human industry. The storm strews the shore with wrecks and corpses; the hungry sea swallows up its thousands of victims. Pestilence depopulates whole districts; drought and mildew make barren the fields, and leave the tillers of the soil to starve. Explosions, conflagrations, collisions, great catastrophes to life and property, happen in spite of all precautions, and scatter around wounds, and misery, and death. It might seem as if nature went on its reckless course, heedless of human cries, rushing along on the iron lines of fate, on its fickle wheels of chance, without pity and without purpose. Here comes in the first lesson of the miracle. Despair, fear, even inquietude, may be banished, if all nature be in the hand of Him who died to redeem us.

2. Let us view the miracle spiritually. Nature's storms are emblems of storms in man's heart; and Christ's sovereignty over those is a pledge to us of His power to control these also, and reduce them to peace. If we have any true knowledge of ourselves, our own consciousness will tell us how greatly we need to experience the peace-giving power of our Redeemer. We cannot be ignorant that human nature is discordant within itself, and that sin has set its faculties at war with each other. Times come when tempests blow in our own souls — tempests of temptation, and trial, and unbelief; times when our passions are violent and break away from control, or our fears rise and sweep wildly over us; times when inclination and self-interest fight fiercely against conscience, or guilt stirs up shame and remorse, and from one cause and another we are unquiet, restless, tossed to and fro, like the troubled surface of the sea beneath the smiting of the storm. And who shall lay to rest these tempests of the soul, and bring us to a holy calm and harmony within? The true and only Peacemaker is He who stood in the tempest-tossed boat, and said to the winds and the sea, "Peace, be still."

3. Once more, the miracle has a lesson for us when viewed in its prophetic aspect. Christ, Lord of the raging waters, stilling the violence of the storm, and bringing peace and rest to the tempest-tossed disciples, images His final victory over evil, and the salvation in which His redeeming work shall at last be completed.

(B. Maitland, M. A.)

In the novel, "Blessed Saint Certainty," a student, the son of a white father and an Indian mother, retires to the woods to seek communion with the Power above him. There, after many days, his Indian mother finds him talking to God, and crying to Him to reveal Himself. She sees that it would be a mistake to make known her presence; so she lies still among the brushwood, watching his struggles lovingly and sympathisingly, yet never uttering a word of help, And at last, when she judges it safe, she steals quietly away. God often treats His children in just that way. He, too, often sees that it is best to look upon the struggle, and to make no sign. So Jesus, in today's lesson, looked down from the hill and saw the disciples toiling all night in a storm which a word of His would have stilled. He meant that His disciples should learn a lesson from that storm.

It is usual, in some swimming schools, to teach beginners by sending them into the water with a belt around their waist, to which is attached a rope which again is connected with an overreaching arm of wood. This is under the control of the swimming master, and it is used at first to support the learner in the water; but as the learner gains confidence, the rope is slackened, and he is left to support himself by his own efforts. The master stands by, watching the boy's struggles, ready to note any sign of real danger. When danger is seen, the rope is again tightened — at the right moment, not before — and the boy is taken safely out of the water. Jesus knows just how long to withhold help, and just when to bring it. He came to the struggling disciples in the fourth watcher the night.

The foolish child shrinks with terror from the sight of the doctor who comes to bring him relief. And we, sometimes, as foolishly fail to recognize, and shrink from, God's greatest blessings. A countryman saw, one morning, a gigantic figure coming towards him through the mist. He was about to flee in terror, when he noticed that the figure grew less and less as it approached. So he waited until it was near; and then found that he had been about to flee from his brother. Christ's disciples, through the mist of their fears, failed to recognize Him as He Walked on the sea.

There was once a young officer in a battle in India who was terribly wounded. The doctor ordered both his legs to be amputated (this was before the days of chloroform); and after the agonizing operation was done, and when the poor young fellow was laid exhausted on his bed, he at once asked for pen and paper, and wrote a letter to his mother. Doubtless during his sufferings there was present to his mind to strengthen him the thought of his mother, far away in England, and how she would feel for him. And if we gain strength from human sympathy, there is even more to be found in the assurance of Divine sympathy from our risen Lord and Saviour, who can send down His grace and the strength of the Divine Spirit.

(W. Hardman, M. A.)The Lord can bear to see His followers distressed — to see them engaged in sore conflict with the enemies of His salvation, and yet not fly to their immediate succour; for secretly He is helping them. His tenderness is not weak, but moves according to the rules of perfect wisdom.

(J. W. Pearson.)You are appalled, overwhelmed, and cry out with terror. But remember, it is Christ imperfectly known that terrifies: once understand and know His dispensations — once be thoroughly acquainted with the amplitude of His grace — once perceive how immense is His compassion towards the greatest sinners, how full and complete the price He has paid — and all this doubt and fear will vanish. And do we not often misunderstand the march of God's Providence?

(J. W. Pearson.)Observe, moreover, they go forward. That had been a sin, a capital offence, if they had endeavoured to go back to the shore. And yet they were but a little way from it. Happy is that young Christian who, if, after engaging in a course of real practical Christianity, after entering in the paths of piety and true religion, he speedily met with obstacles, speedily found himself overtaken with difficulties and distresses, still determined that he will struggle against them, that he will not be driven back by any difficulties, but that he will effect the good pleasure of the Lord, convinced that He will never forsake those that trust in Him. They might indeed have said, after toiling so long, "It is useless — we labour in vain — we spend our strength for nought — we never counted on this — we never imagined we were to engage in a service so arduous." O no; this is not their feeling; but having once engaged in it, they press forward; and He who commanded them to enter upon it, will assuredly succour them in due time.

(J. W. Pearson.)

Christ would accustom them to hardship by degrees. They had before this been in danger at sea, but then their Lord was present with them; and though He was asleep, they had free recourse to Him to awake Him, and did so, with their cries (Matthew 8:24, 25, etc.) . But now they were without His company. But though their fears and troubles were great while Christ was absent, they were increased at His coming to them in so wonderful a way, walking on the sea to give them help. And how ready are our hearts to sink, even when God and Christ are about accomplishing our deliverance!

1. The Person that spake, the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Those to whom He spake, viz., His disciples in their present distress; and by them to all true Christians. Their thoughts were as much troubled even as the sea.

3. We may observe the kind nature and design of Christ's speech to them at this time. It was full of compassion, and tending to their support: Be of good cheer, do net faint, nor be afraid.

4. The argument He used to silence their fears and doubts, and give them relief — "It is I:" i.e., One whom you have seen and known, and need not now distrust; One whose power and grace you have experienced, and on which you may still rely.

5. The time when He spake thus comfortably to them — "Straightway." In their greatest extremity He speedily reveals Himself to be their refuge; and raises their hope when their hearts are ready to fail. When believers are ready to sink under their troubles, 'tis the most powerful argument to their relief, to have Christ seasonably coming in, and saying to them, "It is I."

I. WHENCE IT IS THAT EVEN BELIEVERS ARE APT TO SINK UNDER THEIR TROUBLES. 'Tis no uncommon case for gracious souls to be cast down and disquieted under pressing afflictions. But there is a peculiar anguish in the hour of death. As to the springs of this.

1. We are too prone to put far from us the evil day.

2. Death may find us in the dark as to our title to the life to come, or meetness for it.

3. Conscience in our last hours may be awakened to revive the sense of past sins, and so may increase our horrors and terrors.

4. Satan sometimes joins in with an awakened conscience, to make the trial the more sore. Lastly, God sometimes withdraws the light of His countenance: and how deplorable is the case that the soul must then be in! "If God be for us, who can be against us?" If He speak peace, who can give trouble? And who could keep from fainting, did not Christ seasonably interpose, saying by His word and Spirit, "Be of good cheer, it is I." To proceed to the second thing.

II. WHAT CHRIST THUS SPEAKS FOR THE RELIEF OF HIS PRESENT DISCIPLES, BELONGS TO ALL THE REST OF HIS SERVANTS.

III. WHAT IS CARRIED IN THE ARGUMENT HERE USED AND WHAT THE SERVANTS OF CHRIST MAY GATHER FROM IT FOR THEIR SUPPORT. In general, it notes His presence with them, and His wisdom, power, faithfulness, and love to be engaged for them. 'Tis the Lord that speaks: and so —

1. 'Tis One that hath an unquestionable right to take from me, or lay upon me, or do with me, what He pleases.

2. 'Tis Christ that invites our regard to Him under every dispensation, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

3. 'Tis He that steps forth and offers Himself to our notice, saying, "It is I;" One who hath purchased heaven for His believing followers, and is preparing them for it, and in the best way conducting them to it.

4. He that thus speaks has moreover said, "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter" (John 13:7).

5. In Christ, who here speaks, all the promises of God are Yea and Amen: and He has bid His disciples to ask what they will in His name and He will do it. It is I, your only and all-sufficient Redeemer, on whom your help is laid, and whose business and delight it is to succour and save. It is I, who died, the just for the unjust, that I might bring you to God; and who have undertaken that you shall not miscarry or lose your way. It is I, who can bestow whatever you need, and deliver you from all your fears, and keep what you have committed to me against that day, the day of My coming to judgment." It is I, who live, and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Revelation 1:18). Fear not to go down into the grave, I will be with thee, and surely bring thee up again. It is I, who never yet failed any that trusted Me, and am the same yesterday, and today, and forever. It is I, who am the resurrection and the life, with whom is hid your life in God; and though you lay down your bodies in the dust, when I who am your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Me in glory. A few words by way of use shall close all.

1. Are believers themselves so ready to sink under their burdens, what then can bear up the hearts of others? "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

2. Seeing 'tis Christ's voice alone that can comfort the soul, how desirable is an interest in Him, and how earnestly should we labour after it? Lastly, let the disciples of Christ in all His dealings with them, dismiss their fears at His kind reviving voice, "It is I." It is I, who have all your times in My hand, and your safety as to both worlds at heart. It is I, whose power is over all things in heaven and earth, and that power is by unchangeable love engaged for you; and if this be enough to your comfort, be of good cheer, it is I, who call you now by My gospel to receive the benefit of it, further and further. It is I, who am entrusted with you, and may be trusted by you, as your nearest, best, and everlasting friend.

(D. Wilcox.)

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