Last week, we began a discussion about the mercy and grace of God. We learned about what the terms mean, and we started to look at how realization of God’s mercy and grace can impact every area of life.
As we see ourselves on the other side of the cross, we start to comprehend the reality that we are not still trying to get to the finish line; we have arrived.
Today I’d like to continue this discussion, and explicate these ideas further. As we continue examining God’s mercy and grace, we will see more of what He has accomplished, and more of who we are in Him.
It’s important that we grasp as much of this truth as we can. The foundation of His finished work is the foundation upon which we stand. Understanding and receiving the truth of our spiritual identity and status in Him, we can stand securely; not on the shifting sand of circumstances, emotions, and the world. I urge you to not take this fact lightly because integrating this truth into our life is essential to victory in Christ.
Living Your Identity in Christ
As we saw last week, recognizing that we are completely clean and forgiven in Christ is the avenue by which we are released from bondage. The crushing weight of guilt and shame is removed when we realize that the person who was in-line for that, died on the cross with Christ. Again, understanding this truth is vital for success and victory.
However understanding this truth is just one part of the puzzle. We must also receive the truth of Christ for ourselves. We started to look at receiving the truth of Christ last week; how it is more than just knowing the truth mentally, but also believing it, and living it. I know that this point seems simplistic, but I keep repeating it because this is precisely the area that so many people get confused, stuck and frustrated – just as I did for many years. This point of believing and receiving the finished work of Christ is actually so simple, that we often miss it entirely.
Let’s take a look at some examples in scripture, starting with Mark 6:47-52:
“And when even was come, the ship was in the middle of the sea, and he alone on the land.
And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary to them: and about the fourth watch of the night he comes to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed by them.
But when they saw him walking on the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:
For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and said to them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.
And he went up to them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.
For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.”
This section of scripture is powerful, but as with many things we often don’t meditate on it. I invite you to examine closely with me the picture that is being painted here.
Jesus had just sent everyone away so that He could have some time to pray alone. If Jesus thought that was important, then that prayer time alone, just you and your Heavenly Father should be something that we value as well.
Jesus is the Peace in Your Storm
The scriptures tell us that He saw them in the middle of the sea, toiling and rowing because the wind was contrary to them. And that He alone was on the land.
They were struggling, they are fighting, they were being resisted by the wind and the raging sea. But Jesus was on land, perfectly still, perfectly calm, on perfectly solid ground.
In the fourth watch of the night (which began at 3 a.m.), Jesus came to them in a most peculiar way; by walking on the water. The very thing that was troubling the disciples, was contrary to them and causing them problems, Jesus was walking above. Take some time to think about that, and let it inform you about Jesus.
Jesus does not struggle, nor is He hindered by the storms of life or the waves of trouble. Yet He saw His disciples struggling, and did not remain distant, nor did He force them to come to Him, but He went to them. Don’t rush passed these details, each one can demonstrate something wonderful about Jesus.
His mercy and grace doesn’t leave you to fend for yourself. Nor does He expect you to strive to reach Him, but He will gladly come to you. And nothing will prevent Him from reaching you.
In verse 48 we can see that He would have passed by them. This is an unfortunate rendering of the Greek text, which makes it seem as though Jesus was just going to walk-on-by, and not give assistance. However, that idea is inconsistent with what we’ve seen in the previous verse, that Jesus intended to come to them.
Jesus wanted to come near, to help them, and we see that’s exactly what He did.
Now obviously the disciples were afraid when they saw someone walking atop the waves. They thought He was some sort of spirit or ghost. To a certain extent their reaction is completely understandable. Except for the fact that this was Jesus, and this is where we get down to the root of the issue. They didn’t recognize Him. They weren’t expecting Him. And they didn’t expect anything miraculous to happen.
Consider the events that follow. The disciples thought Jesus was some kind of a ghost, and they cried out in fear. Jesus again demonstrates remarkable mercy by immediately speaking words of comfort: Be of good cheer: It is I; be not afraid. And please notice the specifics of what Jesus is saying here: The reason why the disciples (and us), don’t need to be afraid, is because Jesus has come – He is here. He is the reason that we can be of good cheer today.
Receive God’s Complete Provision
What happens next is quite fascinating. Verse 51 tells us that He went into the ship, and the wind ceased. That’s all is takes to calm the storms in your life; receive Jesus. However notice the next part… even though the outward problem was solved, their inward fear still remained; verse 52 tells us why:
They did not consider the miracle of the loaves, because their heart was hardened.
Friend, this same scenario is playing out today in the lives of many Christians who are stagnating in the same situation. Jesus is in their lives outwardly, but they do not meditate and consider Him inwardly. So they often are troubled, afraid and guilty, failing to truly receive His mercy, and His grace.
The miracle of the loaves, represents Jesus divinity, compassion, care and provision all wrapped-up into one. It’s when Jesus took the five loaves of bread and two small fish, and fed an entire multitude. And He didn’t merely supply them enough to avoid starvation, He supplied them as much as they wanted (John 6:11). Jesus continued to feed everyone until they were no longer hungry. His divine generosity and provision far surpasses basic necessity. He is a rich King who richly supplies His children.
Learn this lesson my friend, because it is part of the lesson of the loaves.
Jesus had the crowd sit down before they were fed; a picture of rest. And then Jesus provided for them using five loaves of bread, and two small fish. Five represents the number of Grace. And the bread, represents Jesus as the true living bread. The multitudes were fed using the bread of Jesus’ grace. Along with the two fish, the five loaves total seven.
Since fish typically represent believers in scripture, and seven is the number of completion, we can see another marvelous picture: When the bread of Christ is joined with believers, it is a perfect union that results in completion.
The disciples failed to consider the miracles of the loaves, and as a result, remain troubled and confused in their hardened hearts, even though Jesus had already solved their outward dilemma.
Today, I encourage you to take time, and truly meditate and consider God’s mercy and grace in your life. Consider all of His miracles, including the loaves and fish – and consider His ultimate sacrifice on the cross for you.
As you meditate on Him, you will find that fear has no place. You will be of good cheer, as you see Jesus, not only near by, but abiding in you, and you in Him.