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Faith and Little Faith

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
March 22, 2021 8:00 am

Faith and Little Faith

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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March 22, 2021 8:00 am

We may assume that the disciples followed Jesus because they knew he was the Messiah, but it was not until the 14th chapter of Matthew’s gospel that they finally acknowledged him as the Son of God and worshipped him. In this message, we’ll learn about Peter’s adventure and the bizarre circumstances that brought the disciples to a place of faith confession.


We may assume that the disciples follow Jesus because they knew he was the Messiah, but it was not until the 14th chapter of Matthew's gospel that they finally acknowledged him as the son of God, and worshiped him in this broadcast of the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will learn about Peter's adventure in the bizarre circumstances that brought the disciples to a place of faith, then confession welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically as we listen in together to the teaching of Dr. Boyce. Consider what circumstances of life are currently testing your faith when the storms rage and the waves rise. Who do you turn to where people who approached the four Gospels on my suppose Matthew, especially as if what we have here is more or less a collection of unrelated storage where these little incidents stand on their own really have a whole lot of bearing to what has gone before. What comes afterwards except the general flow of the story. I guess they would think of Matthew, choosing from all the many things that Jesus did incidents which he dropped and was what almost as if they were picking apples from a tree and dropping them into a bucket. Actually the gospel is much more than that is carefully constructed and if we use the analogy of food is more like a banquet where you have early courses later courses that are all carefully tied together by somebody who really knows how to prepare a rich feast that the apples run nourishing. Of course they are much more is to be found in the development of the hole we tried to do that as we have been working our way through Matthew, and what I have been pointing out about these more or less middle chapters of the gospel 14 to 16 is that here we have several distinct themes. As you recall that Jesus has backed away from the masses somewhat, although he does continue to teach them and he'll let me find an example of it in the passage we come to now, but he's more or less specializing in his time with his disciples so we have three themes we find Jesus private teaching of the 12 defined repeated failures on the disciples part to understand a respondent was teaching and then thirdly we have some small glimmering's of faith which, in some way to a climax in Peter's great confession on the 16th chapter that we already seen some of that in the story that we looked at last time. That is the feeding of the 5000 when Jesus told his disciples to feed the people knowing obviously they couldn't do it. He was clearly intending to impress upon them that they could do nothing and teach them at as a basis for appreciating the fact that he could do everything and then when he took a five small loaves of bread to fish and multiply them so he ended up feeding a great entire crowd.

He was teaching them is own complete sufficiency in all things, and when to use the disciples actually to distribute the fish and the bread which he had prepared he was teaching them their role and being bearers of the bread of life to those who were starving.

Spiritually, you don't have to think very deeply into the story to see that that's what's going on now we have the next step in Jesus teaching when he walks on the sea of Galilee and allows Peter to walk on the Sea of Galilee to story about the disciples very slow growth in faith. Peter began in faith as we now but his faith wavered any began to sink. So what the story really is teaching is that we will only grow strong in faith ourselves when we keep our eyes on Jesus, who is the source of our faith and don't turn aside to focus on threatening circumstances, pointing out in an introductory way that this is the only gospel that tells the story of Peter walking on the water Gospels and is Mark and John tell about Jesus walking on the water. This is the only one that actually tells about Peter doing that now the story doesn't begin with Jesus walking on the water. It begins with Jesus sending the disciples away in about the other side of the Sea of Galilee. While he went up and mountainside to pray because this is mentioned in other Gospels. We got a lot of insight into what was going on. By comparing them in what we find when we do that is that there were three distinct motivations at work here, and what Jesus was doing himself and what he was calling on his disciples to do were told in Matthew and Mark that he wanted to be alone to pray: additionally that he wanted to escape the crowds and get some rest and then John tells us that he wanted to defuse a popular movement was growing at the time that would've made him king that all these people.

I thought that was a good thing anybody who could do that they have political power and so they were going to make him king but Jesus didn't want to go in that direction. Now these all fit together nicely.

The people were beginning to think about making a McCain.

That's the kind of thing that would quite easily have captured the imagination of the disciples because they were virtually along those lines themselves. So when Jesus sent them away was to isolate them from the popular movement when he dispersed the crowds.

It was to keep that kind of movement from growing.

When the web up into the mountain to pray. It obviously was to seek once again God's direction in a way his ministry should unfold may recall that he had experienced something like that earlier when the devil had offered him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory in the wilderness of people were doing the same thing, only on a smaller scale. All Jesus had to do was bow to popular opinion, they make him king is the way Satan said all you have to do is bow to give you all the kingdoms of the world and their glory right now. When the devil had approached him with that temptation at the beginning of the ministry. Jesus had spent 40 days fasting and prayer here. He needed at least a few hours we went up into the mountain again to review all of this in light of all before the Lord. Current boss who worships with the Sunday by Sunday writes in his commentary on Matthew, Jesus need for prayer was evident in view of the temptation to swerve from a course of action that would make in the sin bearer of the world and also the anticipation of defection from any of his followers now sending away of the disciples and the dismissal of the crowd place toward the end of the day, I suppose, before it began to get dark we could guess that it was around seven or eight at night and what we are told here is a Jesus prayed for manpower until he came to the disciples during the fourth watch of the night in the early days of Jewish history the Jews divided up that night watches into three parts. By this time the Roman government had posed a way of doing things, and when the various watches of the night are referred to its generally by Roman reckoning of the Romans had four watches and the last watch this one was just before dawn and so what we are told is that Jesus came walking to the disciples and what would be roughly between 3 o'clock and 6 o'clock morning you put that together and suggests that Jesus had been praying on the mountain for six or seven hours and that the disciples had been rolling on the Sea of Galilee for six or seven hours. Normally it wouldn't have taken them out on the cross the lake. It's not all that big, but they had this fierce storm was making the rowing difficult, and not only that they were in great danger.

Now it was in the middle of this danger on their part, the Jesus came to them on the water. He had been on the mountain. Presumably he had seen everything that was happening down below from the mountain he could see the lake see the boat he knew what was going on.

He didn't need any kind of spiritual insight to know what was happening, but he did exercise supernatural power when he came to them on the water.

When the disciples so I'm of course they were afraid they were terrified. They thought they were seeing a ghost. But their fear would probably be greater than that of a blade they thought of this as an omen and who are in danger who see ghosts think that probably is is an omen of their own death must've thought this was a warning that they were all going to drown. So they really were terrified.

Now when Jesus came walking on the water. The total role which in the Old Testament is ascribed solely to God versus could be mentioned but Job 98 as an example, it says God alone stretches out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea. I would maybe too much suggests that a verse like that is literally in Matthew's mind as he records the story, perhaps even less than he expected his readers to make that connection, but there's something to be set for one thing.

In Mark's parallel account set of Jesus that he seemed to be about to pass by them. It's a unusual verb and that verb occurs in Job 9 just a few verses after this matter. Treading upon the water and when Jesus calls the disciples steers when he does it is by articulating a great name for God Jehovah when he says it is. I actually rendering of it is I am may be. Matthew had that in mind, here you have a great demonstration of the deity of Jesus Christ. At any rate, that's what was happening now as soon as the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water and recognize that it was Jesus. Peter called out asking to be allowed to come to them. Said Lord if it's you tell me to come to you on the water. Charles Spurgeon is sometimes quite interesting and his handling of text like this and I find them a little bit of music at this point because he believed that Peter was quite out of line to be making the request.

What did Peter want with walking on the water. Spurgeon queried, he suggested, here's what I find amusing that his name Peter which means a rock. Should've warned him like a stony go to the bottom and understand what he was saying.

Spurgeon reasoned that when Jesus told Peter to walk toward him, knowing he would say it was to teach them a practical lesson. He wasn't to do anything as foolish as that of the future. I think that's probably a bit too hard on Peter and for a textual reason because Jesus rebuked a little later on in verse 31 is not for his impetuously but for his vacillating faith once he started out as people take Peter's faith is brave and faithful thing that I think they're probably right to do that. But whatever the case, we sometimes are too presumptuous, and we do has to do things were not called to do and then we flounder in our attempts now. What's important in the story is its analysis of faith teaches us about true faith. Certainly, why Matthew included it. These chapters record the disciples first feeble attempts to understand and trust Jesus. When asked what faith is. I often say it is worth repeating because we have shallow thinking at this point many branches of the church that faith is not just a simplistic idea in the Bible.

It's not just sort of well believing and that's all there is to it all up. Some people would make it that it always has real substance to it. I like to point out that the classical theologians, who often wrote in Latin used three key Latin words to describe what faith is lake set on the one hand, it's no teaching that involves information or content you just believe in a vacuum, or believe nothing you believe something so you have to know the faith, in order to believe that you have to know who Jesus Christ is and what he's done.

That's the first thing and then the second thing is a census is a Latin word meaning agreement. Sampson is the word we get from it in English so you don't just know what Christians teach about Jesus concerning his person and work actually come to believe in your site that is right. He really is the son of God.

He really is the Savior he really did die on the cross for our sin, we might be rescued from it and forgiven and go to heaven when we die.

All that is involved in the matter of the sent but even that isn't fully faith in the biblical sense does I guess there's a sense in which the devils go back are they certainly understand the theology and they will understand Jesus as the son of God and what he claimed by his death upon the cross. The real element that critical one is the third Latin word they use for that was my duty. We get our word fidelity from it and it involves actually trusting Christ or committing yourself to Jesus Christ on that's what Peter's action demonstrates so well and is why it's recorded here. He believed that the figure he saw on the water was Jesus and that Jesus had power to call them and hold them up as he walked toward him is Peter, and said using the words of Paul to the Philippians I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me any good long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, when he turned his eyes away from Jesus and began to think of his own ability. That's when he began to sink. When he looked about became aware of the window and saw rolling waves and began to sink his faith faltered very important I think to recognize that although Peter's faith faltered. It did not fail utterly lost faith in Jesus ability to bear them up over the water, but he still trusted Jesus at some level because when he began to sink. The first thing he did was call out to Jesus when he said, was Lord save me another words help. I said a moment ago that Peter's walking on the water is a good illustration of the trusting nature of faith, but it's also a good illustration of the true but faltering faith, which is what the faith of most of us is like Peter had no faith at all is active. Getting out of the boat would've been mere foolishness or bravado, and when they began to sink. I suppose what he would've done most naturally was try to swim that everything he could to get back into the boat to see his weight was actually a genuine faith proved it by the fact that he cried out to Jesus's faith was weakened by the waves. This is our faith is often weakened by difficult circumstances. When Jesus rebuked him a rebuke and not for having no faith at all but rather having little say oh you of little faith. Jesus said why did you doubt how moment ago I disagreed with Spurgeon, which is rather bold thing to do.

Believing that Peter's attempt to walk on the water was actually a good thing it is treated that way in the gospel, but Spurgeon said something else with which I agree entirely.

And this is what he said. He said Peter was near his Lord when he was sinking and when he was walking mining that is good is when Peter was in trouble and he was driven to Jesus just as we find in our own lives is why Jesus permits storms to come into our lives to save as long as slides going along well were not having any trouble. I almost said as long as life is going along swimmingly and we're not having any trouble.

We don't feel much of a need for Jesus. All we believe the course we do ease the Savior we trusted him as our Savior force them but our faith is somewhat abstract.

Maybe even peripheral blood, trouble, and suddenly we're confronted with our own lack of ability in our weakness and where driven Jesus simply because there's nowhere else to turn to in times like these that faith in Jesus Christ grows strong on the Jews were not great seafaring people like and say they were land-based people and so there are many stories in the Bible about characters having to do with the waves of the sea is what I think of the story of Jonah. Jonah was trying to run away from God. You know he had called him to go to Tarshish, and preach the gospel apparently didn't want to do it. So we went down to Joppa and he took a ship sailing to the far side of the Mediterranean. He wasn't acting in faith as Peter was.

He was very disobedient, but when God sent the great storm that threatened to sink the ship on which he was sailing and when sailors eventually threw him overboard and drown which is what Jonah had called upon them to do when he was sinking down to the bottom of the sea forever, and when he was swallowed by the great fish. It was then that he turned to God again in prayer and found salvation tells us about in the second chapter has a great prayer from inside the fish goes like this in my distress I called to the Lord and he answered me from the depth of the great Mike called for help and you listen to my cry you into the deep end of the very heart of the city and the currents swirled about May all your waves and breakers swept over me when my life was ebbing away I remembered you, Lord, and by prayer rose to you to your holy temple see it was when he was in great distress. Trouble, he was driven to God, called out to him and when he called out the found salvation often takes things like that in our lives to turn us from our complacency to an active, vigorous, genuine trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior. I think of another example doesn't have anything to do with water, but it is exactly the same point. NASA is one of the great writers of the Psalms, and he tells us in Psalm 73 that he was almost thrown off balance by the apparent easy life of the wicked new got it been good Israel, but here's what he says is for me. My feet almost slipped.

I nearly lost my foothold because I envied the arrogant.

When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

I have no struggles, their bodies are healthy and strong free from the burdens, and demand are not plagued by human ills goes on like that for several stanzas until he explains how his faltering faith wasn't last restored. It was he says were 17 when I entered into the sanctuary of God than I understood. There final destiny rest of the song goes on to tell how God held by the right hand. Just as Jesus must've reached out his hand to save Peter and ends by claiming that for my time on he made the sovereign God is reputable may be the case that you been sinking in life in one way or another whether it's because of your own personal problems or circumstances are all kinds of things that may have come into your life.

Perhaps sickness or alienation from friends or family or anything like that God use those things brought you close to himself. That's why he sent them stop looking at the waves begin to look at Jesus as you know, you find that he's there to save you and help you and your faith will be strengthened is what Jesus was doing with the 12 we find that as the story goes on after Jesus had rescued Peter. The two of them climbed into the boat and wind died down, I was impressive in itself, something similar had happened on an earlier occasion, we read about in Matthew eight that isn't that climax of the story in Matthew 14.

The climax here is not the stilling of the waves or even Jesus. Earlier words Peter when he says oh you of little faith, why do you doubt the climax is the disciples confession of faith in Jesus and their worship of him.

In verse 33 then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, truly you are the son of God. This is the first time the gospel where Jesus is called son of God by the disciples and days are words that advance on what had been said earlier in chapter 8. They had asked what kind of man is this even wins in the waves obey him, but they didn't answer their own question here, they say, truly you are the son of God, and a long way to go yet and Peter's confession, chapter 16, is another high point where they recognize that he is the Christ the son of God, the divine Messiah.

And even then they didn't understand anything about his work had to go on the begin to teach them.

From that point, but they were getting there. They were beginning to see which one they said truly are the son of God phrase had messianic overtones and they were beginning to set yes you are the one who should come, let's not forget their worship either what the text says is that they worshiped him, saying, you are the son of God. This is also the first time in the gospel that the disciples are said to worship Jesus back in the second chapter.

The Magi did it once again from the East. They worshiped in verse 11.

Later, a leper is said to of worship cases low in the new international version. All it says is that he knelt down before him. Chapter 8 verse two synagogue ruler does the same thing in chapter 9 verse 18. This is the first time the disciples themselves are said to abortion is important to note that there worship in verse 33 is joined to their confession are son of God, because that's what worship is worship is in the ceiling. Son of a motion acknowledging who God is praising him for who he is worship would deepen as they came to know more what they did know was right and so properly they worshiped worship is acknowledging who God is praising him for who he is and what he has done, how I notice also that in their worship. They focus on Jesus, after all, Peter just been rescued from Browning. I suppose many of our services.

It would be time for testimony which they Peter come on up there, take the microphone and tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us how it felt when you were out there sinking down and in the waves. Were you afraid. What were the thoughts that went through your mind. Did you think you were drowned when was it that you actually began to think about Jesus. I did nothing of the sort. They also seen the stilling of the waves. I was a great miracle but they didn't hold a debate on miracles whether it happens entirely by supernatural powers or whether there actually scientific explanation for what was going on. Nothing of the sort. Jesus was there.

They were impressed with Jason's and so they worshiped him, he that greatly Christian churches today, although sadly there's very little of it now. The last paragraph takes a step further on the work that Jesus had begun several months before continued as he moved into the region of Janessa Rex and heal those who were sick.

There, Jesus didn't seem to of been there before. Because of people that know him by face, but they recognize that this traveling teacher who had come was Jesus.

And so they brought their sick to them to be healed of his reputation. Probably one of the things they had probably heard it was that woman with an uncontrolled bleeding had been healed just by touching the hem of his garment, so that kind of superstitious reference to a game and this is what they did. Now the text doesn't say that these people believed on more than those in the upper region of Galilee on that side of the lake only and assert was to the south, someone they were only using Jesus for their own analysts just as people who had been fed with the loaves and the fish were using Jesus for their own ends. I wanted to make infant King so they could go on being fed. Nevertheless, Jesus had compassion on them, and what were told is that he healed them anyway that a courses final point Jesus is also been caring for you even if you bought committed your life to him help you possess the possessions you won't even the life you are living are God's great gifts to you. Don't be like that people of Janessa Wright let it stop at that. So one day eventually perish in your sentence.

Turn your eyes Jesus trust Jesus commit your self to campsite is Peter and Lord save may cry out with the disciples truly you are the son of God's away a person passes from spiritual death, spiritual life is what the stories are all about spreading her father as we bow before your weak acid by the power of your Holy Spirit same power that led to the recording of these words and holy rich.

We might also be led to understand and embrace what is found there and in many cases passed from death to life, finding salvation and other cases for those who already know you find our faith strengthened.

Learn what it really is. Day by day the midst of life's troubles, Jesus, and find one who can indeed help frame Jesus and you are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.

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