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158 - The Hand That Is Always Near

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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August 5, 2023 2:46 pm

158 - The Hand That Is Always Near

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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August 5, 2023 2:46 pm

Episode 158 - The Hand That Is Always Near (5 Aug 2023) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, today in Matthew's Gospel, the apostles are in a boat again in a storm on the lake. And Jesus is with them, right? Because the first time he was asleep in the boat and he just woke up and calmed the storm.

Well, that's what's odd. This time he's not with them. But he comes to rescue them anyway.

He does. We'll see how today on More Than Ink. Well, yeah, you found us.

This is More Than Ink. I'm Jim. And I'm Dorothy. And we're glad that you're back with us. We are reading our way through the Gospel of Matthew. And we're in chapter 14 if you're following with us. But last time we were here, we need to kind of set the context.

Go back to what you were talking about before. So we remember that at the feeding of the 5,000, which is what just happened, that had happened immediately following when Jesus receives the news of the death of John the Baptist. And so his response to that was, let's withdraw in a boat to a lonely place.

Yeah, let's get alone for a while. But when the crowds saw that he was leaving and heard where he was going, they followed him and that precipitated the thousands of hungry people in the field that then had an event. It was a big event. It was a huge and significant event. I think in a previous conversation, you even called it probably one of the most important miracles in the New Testament. So well known. And all four Gospels record it. So it is a very important thing. And so Jesus, they've just done that.

Yeah. And so we have to keep in mind that Jesus has been sort of on overdrive for a while. I mean, he wanted to get away potentially, I guess, to grieve for John the Baptist, couldn't. The people followed him into what he designed was a really faraway place, but they found him. And if you think about it as a human being to receive the news of the death of John the Baptist, it's like, okay, this is serious business now. We've just taken a turn into the deeper water, in a sense. And so it doesn't surprise me at all that Jesus would want to get away to a lonely place and just be with his Father over that.

Yeah. And as you read the parallel passage in John's Gospel about this being the 5,000, it says in chapter 6 of John, it says that the people came to make him king. And so that enthusiasm is something that Jesus has got to cool down here right now. So that's where we get to as we look in chapter 14, verse 22, is he's trying to cool things down a little bit. And he's trying again to find that solitude that he's looking for. So again, we do... We start off today's episode with an escape from the people again.

That's kind of an interesting one, because this is the... I think this is the only time it's recorded that Jesus actually told the disciples, now you go away, because I'm going to stay here. And he did send them out, but this is... He's just sending them home. Yes.

So that's kind of interesting. Shall we start reading? Let's do it. 1422 of the Gospel of Matthew.

Okay. Immediately, he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said it is a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But immediately, Jesus spoke to them saying, take heart, it is I, do not be afraid. Oh, dear, let's stop right there for a second.

Yeah, because suddenly, things are different. So let's recap. So he actually... Well, he made the disciples get in the boat. Right.

You can get the... He had to insist on that. And if I make up a little dialogue, I can see Jesus saying, you guys get in the boat and you're coming with us? No, I'm staying here. Well, then we're not going to leave you.

No, you got to go. So he made them leave and leave him behind. That's deliberate. Right. Would have been a long walk home.

That's right. And to go to the other side. And if you look in the other Gospels that have this account, this is one of the most fascinating events to read in the other Gospels because there's a lot of extra information if you go around. But it says when they went to the other side, they're going to aim for the other side. In Mark's Gospel, it says they're going to Bethsaida. And in John's Gospel, it says they're going to Capernaum. So they're just going... Oh, they're just heading out. That's hometown area.

That's the general area. Yeah. So he did that. He sends them off and he dismisses the crowds. And I suppose when they see the boat going, they figure, well, things are really done. So the apostles go off in the boat and then Jesus stays behind. And he goes up to the mountain by himself to pray. So finally he gets this solitude he's been trying to get after the death of John the Baptist. But when evening came, he was there alone, it says in verse 24, the boat by this time was a long way from the land. Again, a nice fact you get from John's Gospel, it was three or four miles away.

And if you don't know anything about the dimensions of the Sea of Galilee, at its widest spot, it's only about seven and a half miles wide. So they're right out in the middle. So they're in the center. They're about as far as they can go. Yeah.

They're as far from land on both sides. Right. Yeah. So they are really out there and they're getting beaten by the waves. Sounds like another story we had with them where it looks like they were going to drown. Well, it's interesting because this is the second time that Jesus has calmed the storm. And, you know, to compare those two, the other one in Matthew's Gospel is in Matthew 8.

Yeah. And in that time, he was actually in the boat with them and was asleep. And they woke him up and said, Lord, don't you care, right? Save us.

Save us. But this one is completely different. And when we read to the end of the story here, we'll make a comment on their different response. Yeah. It is quite interesting because they bear a striking resemblance.

Well, it says a couple more details that are important. 24, okay, they're a long way from the land. So they're at the halfway point. Right. Turning around is going to help them. It's beaten by the waves.

So that's similar. And the wind was against them. And the only way they can go against the wind is by rowing. So these guys are working. They're working really hard. Very, very hard. And how long have they been doing this?

For a while. There's 25 in the fourth watch. And, you know, they take the nighttime from six in the evening to six in the morning and you chop it into four three-hour sections. Those are the four watches.

So this fourth watch is going to go from about 3 a.m. in the morning to 6 a.m. So these guys presumably left, you know, at sundown maybe, something like that. Yeah, probably it was dusk or, you know, the end of the long day, but they were tired already. But they were tired. So they've been rowing all night and it's somewhere between three and six in the morning. I mean, they are just bushed. That's what we call the wee hours, right?

When you're just not sure of yourself. You've been up all night. You can hardly think straight.

Yeah. Think massive exhaustion. And that's where they are right now. And frustration because they're halfway across the lake and they're all out of gas.

And they're working as hard as they can to get to the other side. And then Jesus decides to join them. But interestingly enough, the question that comes to my mind, did he decide to join them in the boat or to join them on land? And that's where one of the other Gospels gives us some interesting insight because it turns out in Mark's Gospel it says that he meant to pass them by. Right. So he was just going to, he was just on his way to the shore to meet them on the other shore on the other side. And then he happens to come close enough to the boat and they see him and they freak out. Okay. But he didn't just happen to come close.

No, no, no, no. I mean, you're setting us up like Jesus didn't know what he was doing. Of course he knew what he was doing.

No, I'm not saying it was an accident. I'm saying he was on his way to the other shore. And if they hadn't spotted him, that's exactly what he probably would have done.

Yeah, that's an interesting detail. Because they spotted him and said it's a ghost. They were terrified. So this is what's going on. And then from the water, while he's on the water, he says, take heart, it's I, don't be afraid. And that's where we are right here.

That's where we are. These exhausted guys and they see what they think is a ghost walking on the water, but it's Jesus. And he says, it's me. And then the story turns really interestingly in 28. And by the way, what you're going to read next in 28 is not in the other Gospels. Only in Matthew's account.

Yeah. So let's see what this very interesting turn is. So the Lord says, take heart, it's I, do not be afraid. And Peter answered him, Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. Okay, stop. Why on earth would he say that?

Really enthusiastic. I don't know. You got to kind of think that Peter, you know, he has this reputation of speaking before he thinks like, what if Jesus says, okay, come. So he said, come. So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. Okay, this whole picture is mind bending. It's very mind bending.

It's very mind bending. Verse 30. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink. He cried out, Lord, save me. Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him saying to him, Oh, you have little faith.

Why did you doubt? And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And, and those in the boat worshiped him saying, truly, you are the Son of God.

I don't even know where to start to comment on this. There's some questions. I've always been fascinated why this account of Peter making his attempt to walk on the water is not carried anywhere else.

It's just here. It does actually make sense that it wouldn't be in Mark's gospel because people have surmised for years that Mark's gospel is primarily spoken from Peter. So maybe in kind of a humility, Peter says, let's not cover that part.

Let's just, let's just do this. But you know, it turns out that Matthew and John Bose, Matthew alone says this is what's and what happened. So isn't it interesting that that Peter has enough faith to get out of the boat. But then it's like, you can't believe what he's doing. And he looks around at the waves, he takes his eyes off Jesus and looks around at his circumstances and starts to sink.

Right. A nice a nice moment to think about what walking by faith is. Well, it's, you know, it's such a simple story, but it just gives us this very visual picture of what that is, to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Yeah, no matter what the circumstance, no matter you think you're doing something you have no power to do, you can't possibly know what to do next. And yet, it fixing his eyes on Jesus is what was going to keep him walking in the storm on the water. And the minute he stops doing that, he starts to sink. But isn't it lovely, he cries out and Jesus reaches out his hand and grabs and grabs him takes hold of him.

Whoa, there. It's interesting that he says to Oh, you have little faith. Why did you doubt? That's the same thing he said to them the first time this happened. Right? Peter wasn't walking on the water the first time but he is he says to them that time to back in Matthew eight Oh, little faith.

Yeah. And what did he doubt? I you know, he doubted Jesus ability to get him across the water because the circumstance of the wind and the waves became a bigger picture in his mind right and Jesus capability, which really always always is what happens to us. That's what happens when we stop fixing our gaze on the one certain thing and start looking at the circumstances then we lose our Well, because the circumstances are in particular terrified big and it doesn't take much for your mind to imagine what how it could go even worse. So this sent me thinking of and you're gonna laugh when I say this has sent me thinking of laboring in childbirth, because back in the days when I was giving birth, we we did a preparation time and and having a focal point was part of that. So that when the when the contractions got the worst, you could just drill a hole in that focal point with your eyes and get them breathe through it.

Right. So fixing your eyes on the one still point takes your attention off everything else. Well, it keeps you from over overlook. That's the wrong word by by over. What am I trying to say?

I don't know. Well, I'm just thinking in the childbirth case, your focal point had nothing to do with trust in the focal point. Oh, no, no, no thing that was an attention issue. What it is, is it diverted your attention from dwelling too much on the pain in the circumstance. That's what I'm getting at.

Well, that's what I was getting at, too. Maybe I didn't say it very well and sent me thinking about a little incident in the life of Jehoshaphat back in Second Chronicles 21. Looking out over my enemies of Israel who are all lined up to attack and his prayer to the Lord is, you know, will you judge them?

We don't know what to do. Our eyes are on you. Yeah, yeah. One of my favorite stories. Well, that describes Peter here, right?

Yeah. Another interesting thing is that Peter actually asks him to command him to come out. Now, I think that's why I give him points for that, because he's not being presumptuous. You know, he could have seen Jesus walking on the water, he would go, Oh, here we go and jump out of the boat.

And that would that would be presumptuous. So he says, Well, you know, if you want, you can command me to come out. And, and he says, Okay, come out. Well, he doesn't say it exactly says, Lord, if it's you. So he's, you know, he's trusting that at some point, he's going to recognize the voice of his Lord. Yeah, but I'm saying he actually asks permission. He says, command me and I'll do it. He's waiting to be commanded to do it.

I think that's what's interesting. And I give him points for that. Because up to this point, Peter is always very presumptuous in many ways and kind of spontaneous.

This is spontaneous, too. But he's saying, basically, I'm not going to come out unless you command me. And Jesus says, Okay, well, my dad, I'm not even sure about that. Because why on earth would he come out in the first place? It's not a human instinct.

I'm not sure Peter was thinking that what Jesus was doing was something they could replicate that it was intended to see. So that's what it's like. He doesn't he doesn't want to be out of order here. So I so I give him a point for that. That's all I'm saying. And then he actually does get out of the boat and starts to walk and then dwells too much on how big the problem is. And now how much Jesus is bigger than the problem. That's that's the problem. That's where he doubts. Oh, you have little faith.

Yeah. So if you remember back in Matthew eight, when after Jesus says, Why are you timid you men of little faith, he rebukes the winds in the sea. This is Matthew 826.

And it becomes perfectly calm. And then they marvel saying, What kind of a man is this that even the winds in the sea obey him? That was a little while ago.

But before here at this point, they say, Oh, surely you are the Son of God. Right, right. And this is the first point that this flag is stuck in the ground. Right.

This is a big deal right here. However, again, if you read the other gospel accounts, there's there is some division in the boat. Oh, it turns out because when you read Mark's gospel, it says and this is the response is the mixed response. First, they were utterly astounded.

Okay, that matches. And then for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were right. Their hearts were hard. So we actually have a mixed response in the boat when you read both gospel accounts. Yeah.

So so there's a lot going on. But this is the first time anyone has actually said, You're the Son of God, we finally got it, which they weren't even willing to do when Jesus stopped the storm when they're all dying in the boat. Well, they weren't they weren't there yet. Yeah, they were wondering, okay, this guy's special.

Yeah, yeah. But now now it's different things. Things are shifting. But I just want to point out if there's still a little division in the boat. Not everyone is sure who this is. What I love is the simplicity of this story, right?

If you just focus on what Jesus does. He comes to them in the storm. He speaks to them in the storm. He identifies himself.

It says, Don't be afraid. It's me. And then he delivers them. Yeah, it's pretty simple. Yeah.

I mean, a five year old can get that he comes, he speaks, he delivers. Right. Right.

And, you know, let's just let's just drill this down one more time. Faith walking by faith rather than sight, which is what Paul says. You can see it right here because the sight would be looking at the circumstance, looking at the threat.

Right. Over over being overwhelmed by the circumstance and the potential. Well, the potential danger to yourself. No idiot would step out of the boat, let alone in a storm.

Let alone in a storm. So I mean, that's that's walking by sight. And there's nothing there's nothing really wrong with that. But what you have to do in walking by faith is to say, okay, that's big. And that threatens me and there's a real danger right here. But what I prefer to do instead of dwelling on my inability to deal with it, I'm going to I'm going to dwell on God's ability to deal with it. I'm not diminishing the size of the threat.

I'm actually being realistic about the size of threat. But what I'm saying is, but God is capable in this circumstance, even when I am not. And that's what walking by faith is all about is to actually give that to God and say, Okay, God, you need to take this because this is clearly bigger than me.

And I'm literally in over my head here. So He had given them precedent. He had in that previous incident. So you know, they knew that he had the power to calm the storm, which is why Jesus comment is Why did you doubt what?

Why did you do you know enough to know not to doubt, but he did? Yeah. And then just as a silly, can I do a silly aside a little bit?

You're gonna anyway, no matter what I say. Well, my imagination rolls when I think about these things. When Jesus takes him by the hand, they still have to make their way back to the boat.

Okay. And I believe he's still holding his hand was was Peter walking on the water? Or was he being dragged through the water?

See, that's the silly part. We don't know the answer to that. But but I've always wondered what that looked like as they came back to the boat.

If it was important, somebody would have told Yeah, yeah. But I mean, if he was sinking at the point when Jesus took him by the hand, did he actually start walking on the water again? That would be interesting to know.

But we don't know. Well, you know, the interesting thing to me is that when Jesus lays hold of him grabs him, right, that set me in mind, I was thinking, where have I run across that kind of expression before? Well, Paul says something very similar in Philippians three, when he says I press on to lay hold of that for which I have been laid hold of, right. So this is this picture of Peter needing to grasp onto Jesus, but it's Jesus who does the grabbing delivering and he is holding on to Peter.

So it doesn't matter whether he's walking or being dragged. And that is such a great thing that even when our faith is too little, we're not outside of his reach. No. So that's, I mean, that's just really, there's great, there's great truth in this tiny little story you can you can glean. Oh, you know, we need to press on really, really sweet things that follow. Okay, well, you want me to read? Yeah, go ahead.

Okay, we're going to pick up a little change of 34. Here we go. So when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. Neither Capernaum or Bethsaida, which is interesting. That's where they're aiming, but this is where they ended up.

They came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment, and as many as touched it were made well. Wow.

Wow. So, you know, we just in another context, we're just looking at the account of the woman with the flow of blood who came up behind Jesus and said, I only touched the fringe of his garment. And when you come across that phrase, the fringe of his garment, you think, why that?

Why did they think that? And other Mark accounts, people pressing him and touching him, Luke accounts, people pressing and touching him, and that power was coming from him when they touched him. So it says as many as touched it were made well, not touched him, right? They were delivered, they were saved, they were brought through that made well is an interesting word. But why the fringe of his garment? Did you think about that at all?

Well, not too much, but you seem to I think it's beautiful is a lovely, lovely picture. Why would they expect to be healed if they just touched the little flapping edge of his, of his robe or his cloak? Well, it's because I think probably because of a prophecy from Malachi. And if you look back, Malachi is the very last page of your Old Testament. Malachi four, verse two says, but for you who fear my name, the son of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, in the edges in the fringes, right? And you'll go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. So it's a very clear statement about what's going to happen when Messiah comes the son of righteousness, right? The dawning of a new day. And so for people who are thinking, if this really is him, if I just touched the fringes, I'll be healed.

I'll be able to leap around like a calf. So no, it's it may be an incomplete understanding of what's being said there. But it's a it's kind of an interesting picture. The crowd's new. This is the the dawning of a new day. This is the son of righteousness. Son S U N in Malachi.

Right, right, right. But Revelation and Second Peter both refer to him as the morning star, right? The beginning of a new day. And so this idea of touching the fringe of his garment, I think is a clear statement of their belief that he this is the son of righteousness. This is the one who will heal us. This is Messiah. Yeah, that possibly could be Yeah, I've never thought of it that deeply before I always, I always take a much more pragmatic approach to this thing.

I know you do. But well, because it says so many people came. I mean, they went collecting people right huge region. So it's like, I don't think we have the time for each person to have a personal interview. No, so they implore Jesus, they said, Can we do it this way? Can they just touch the fringe your garment and that'll work? And I'm not sure they asked permission. I think they just pressed in this as they implored him that they might only touch Oh, I guess that's true. So it was kind of, again, a sort of a crowd control thing.

But I like your approach better. Well, I want to say one more thing about this idea of the son of righteousness, that Zacharias, the father of john the baptist in this beautiful song that he sings at the birth of john the baptist, he actually alludes to that same passage, when he talks about his son, right john the baptist, who's going to go before the Lord to prepare his ways. This is in Luke 176 and 77, to give his people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God with which the sunrise from on high shall visit. So there's Zacharias drawing a straight line from Malachi prophecy to john the baptist be announcing the sunrise from on high visiting us. Yeah, yeah. So those people who are close to the story or who knew their knew their scriptures were making the connection. This is the sunrise.

Yeah, yeah, this is the new day. And of course, the people in Gennesaret too, some of them might have traveled over to Capernaum or Bethsaida to where the action was going, or even in the wilderness. I mean, they might have been there, but it probably was not a lot because Gennesaret over on the western side of the lake and these other little villages are on the northern and northeastern side. So, so here, here is just a great opportunity, they may have only heard about what Jesus was doing, right, and said, now that he's not he's deliberately come to our shore on purpose.

Here's our big chance. And so they gather people from a huge region, and and bring them to him, and as many as touched him were made well. Okay, so we're running out of time. But pay attention, if you go back and reread this story, how much touch happens, who is touching whom? Jesus is assertively reaching out and touching and grabbing Peter, and the people are reaching out to touch Jesus touches a very important detail in this story.

It is. And I'll add one more slight observation of compassion in this story. In John's Gospel, it says that when Jesus got in the boat, they were immediately at Gennesaret, boom, just like that. And here's these guys who are in the middle of the lake, totally exhausted, I mean, just spent. And Jesus says, I've got this. And as soon as he gets in the boat, they're there. What a great, what a great loving thing he did, just to spare them that last effort getting to the shore because they're halfway in the middle of the lake.

And it's a big long way. So yeah, these these little stories have so much packed in them because we understand human nature, we understand how people do things. And so it doesn't take you much to unwind what people are thinking what the emotions are, what their aspirations are, and their hopes placed in Jesus as he shows up on their shore.

Great stuff. Well, we are out of time, you know, next time as we continue, we're going to turn the page into chapter 15. And as we do that, we're going to see what is actually one of my favorite sections of Scripture where all of a sudden there's going to be a collision between man made traditions, and God's commandments and how those mix us up and how they tend to steer us in the wrong directions.

And it sounds like a pretty dry material. But again, it's in the context of humans relating to humans relating to Jesus. So you're not going to miss that because it really it really is fun. And it kind of hearkens back to some observations that I like to point out in john two. So we're going to get there. I'm Jim and I'm Dorothy and we hope you join us again as we continue on this incredible adventure that Matthew is so we'll see you next time on More Than Ink.

There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, And while you're there, take a moment to drop us a note. Remember, the Bible is God's love letter to you. Pick it up and read it for yourself. And you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. Okay, I think we did everything right.

Okay, that's up to you. This has been a production of Main Street Church of rhythm city.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-05 16:51:05 / 2023-08-05 17:03:20 / 12

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