Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 9 2013 - John 6:1-21 – They saw Jesus approaching

It had been a hard day for the disciples. They had ministered to the needs of as many as ten thousand people and had cleared up the mess left after their picnic. And while they were busy clearing up and sending the people off home, Jesus had cleared off to spend time by himself somewhere up the mountain. As night fell and it began to get cold, the disciples had decided to go home to Capernaum. They got back into the boat and began to row across the lake. But by the time they had got to the middle of the lake they were being tossed about by a violent storm. They were alone and in the dark.

But a three or four mile stretch of rough water could not prevent Jesus from coming to the aid of his disciples: "They saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, 'It is I; do not be afraid.' Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading" (John 6:19-21).

There are times when the going is rough; times when we seem to struggle through the day and maybe even through the night making little headway; times when the Saviour seems far from us. We need the assurance that there is nothing that can keep him from us. In our times of deepest trial he is right there with us, encouraging us with the words, "'It is I; do not be afraid."

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ... No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39, New Living Translation)

Yet there are many times when we do not feel that Christ is close; do not feel that his love surrounds us. We feel abandoned and alone; left to clear up the mess made by others while Jesus has gone off into a place of peace and safety. It is at such times that we need to remember that his ascension into heaven is not an abandonment of us; he is no longer with us bodily, precisely that he might be with us in the presence and power of his Spirit.

Paul encourages the young Christians in Thessalonica with the words, “The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one… May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance” (2 Thessalonians 3:3,5). God’s strength and protection are ours as we persevere in following Christ. But we have strength to persevere only as our hearts are turned towards God in seeking to understand and appreciate his love for us. The habit of the directed heart will teach us to be conscious of Christ’s presence with us, even in the time of trial.

Holy Spirit, Spirit of the risen Saviour, direct my heart to fasten upon God’s love for me in Christ that I may go on following him. And when the road is rough and steep, or the storms threaten to overwhelm me, help me to fix my eyes on Jesus and to know his strength in my weakness.

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Peter Misselbrook