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Winkel sermon

John 6:16-21

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Mon. after Sexagesima
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Mon, Feb 17, 2020 

Job 98 says, "[God] alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea."

As the Creator who made all things in heaven and on earth, God alone does such things as walk upon water.  This means that Christ was demonstrating that He is God by what He did on the Sea of Galilee.

But if God alone walks on water, then what about Saint Peter, who also did it?  Although he is not mentioned in Saint John’s account, we know from the other Gospels that Peter is the exception that proves the rule.  Peter was able to walk only because he asked that Christ grant to him to do so.  The power was never in Peter, nor in any man, to have the Creator’s omnipotent dominion over the forces of this world.

So Christ, true God, walked upon the sea.  He walked straight through a raging storm, straight through the violent forces of a creation made rabid by the sin of Adam.  Christ cannot be stopped or hindered by anything.

Psalm 107 says, "Some went down to the sea in ships. … They saw the deeds of the Lord, His wondrous works in the deep.  For He commanded and raised the stormy wind which lifted up the waves of the sea.  They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths, their courage melted away in their evil plight.  They reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wit's end.  Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.  He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.  Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and He brought them to their desired haven."

This is pretty nearly a prophecy of the Holy Gospel.  John did not record the fact that the storm became still, although it is implied by the story and confirmed by the other Evangelists.  Also John records the interesting miracle that the boat immediately, once Christ was aboard, reached the land to which they were going.

He who stretched out the heavens and earth and established their dimensions was also able to use those dimensions as He wished.  As God could pluck up a man from one place and deposit him in another, as in the case of Phillip, He was able to somehow make the boat arrive at its destination, when just moments before, it had been far out into the sea.  The greatness of Christ power and lordship has no limit.

What do we do with all this? For one thing, we notice the reason for which Christ used His power.  He did it out of love for His disciples.  He did not want them destroyed, and so came personally across the sea, allowing no obstacle to block His preserving action there.

But you may notice also that since Christ is the Lord of heaven and earth, he also had mastery over the storm that suddenly came upon them.  He could have stopped the storm from happening in the first place.  But He decided to do things this way.  It appears that perhaps He did so to get them to believe more strongly in Him and to recognize who He was.

God also allows storms to enter our lives.  We may wish He would have stopped them before they rose up.  But He allows things to happen according to His wisdom.  He will intervene at the right time in order to rescue us from whatever threatens.  We may panic as we see the frightening things around us.  Perhaps they are natural forces, or perhaps illness or impending death, or perhaps persecutions that come upon us as preachers of the Word.

Regardless, we should recognize that Christ is the one who tramples down all forces that threaten His saints.  He may not do it as soon as we think He should, but faith recognizes that He always does things at the right time.  Our feeble wisdom cannot judge His gracious will.  We know that He loves us, and whatever He does is for our benefit, even if we cannot find the reason for His action.  Indeed it is best if we leave the reason and the wisdom in His hand, and simply pray, “Thy will be done.”

If we keep our eyes on Him, then it helps us not be afraid.  He is no ephemeral phantom who can do little except frighten us.  No, He is our flesh and blood, and a very real help in trouble.  Therefore He told the disciples, “I Am.  Be not afraid.” We should heed those words, even if the earth should shake, and the waves should roar and foam, even if the mountains tremble.  We should be still and know that Christ is God who has exalted Himself among the nations.  That is what the Cross is, the exaltation of Christ for the sake of the nations, and the destruction of His enemies.  This is Christ, the Lord of hosts who is with us.

He is the One who comes to us and says “I am,” as He said to the disciples.  On the lips of anyone else, the words would simply be self-identification.  But in this context, Christ is showing why He is the One who is able to overcome all forces for the sake of His saints.  He is as much as saying, “I am Yahweh the Lord, who treads down the hostile forces that are against you.  My foot crushes the serpent's head, and all the forces of hell are trampled by My mighty stride.  This is because ‘I Am.’

“Not just the sea, but also the abyss of hell and death are under My power.  All the fears of the grave and the punishments of your sins have been turned away because I have conquered death.  This is because ‘I Am.’

“As I have overcome sin and evil for you, I am also ready to transform nature to a state without sin.  The dangers and hostile forces in the creation will become only friendly and beneficial for you.  There will be no cause for fear in the world around you, because ‘I Am.’”

This is what Christ says to you today.  The Spirit grant you to have no fear because you see who has rescued you and is with you in this boat.  In His Name, Amen.

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