John 6:19
When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the sea--and they were terrified.
The Fifth Miracle in John's GospelAlexander MaclarenJohn 6:19
A Constant MiracleArchbishop Trench.John 6:1-21
A Great Multitude Followed HimCalvin.John 6:1-21
Believers Must Help ChristC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:1-21
Christ Feeding the Five ThousandJ. N. Norton.John 6:1-21
Christ Feeding the Five ThousandJ. A. Seiss, D. D.John 6:1-21
Christ Feeding the Five ThousandFamily ChurchmanJohn 6:1-21
Christ the Best ProviderC. Gerok, D. D.John 6:1-21
Christ the Bread for the WorldA. Maclaren, D. D.John 6:1-21
Christ the Lord of NatureBp. Hacker.John 6:1-21
Christ the Refresher of MankindBp. Alexander.John 6:1-21
Christ's Acceptance of the Meanest GiftsArchdeacon Farrar.John 6:1-21
Christ's ArithmeticW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 6:1-21
Christ's CompassionJ. N. Norton.John 6:1-21
Christ's EconomyCalvin.John 6:1-21
Christ's ThoughtfulnessJ. Trapp.John 6:1-21
Christ's Use of MeansJ. Vaughan, M. A.John 6:1-21
Distrust of Self, and Trust in GodP. Young, M. A.John 6:1-21
Feeding the MultitudeH. J. W. Buxton, M. A.John 6:1-21
Five Barley Loaves and Two FishesS. S. TimesJohn 6:1-21
Giving and ReceivingJ. Trapp.John 6:1-21
Jesus KnowsC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:1-21
Lessons for Ordinary Persons and About Little ThingsArchdeacon Farrar.John 6:1-21
Lncidental TestsDean Boyd.John 6:1-21
Philip and Andrew; Or, Disciples May Help One AnotherC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:1-21
Philip and His MasterC. H. Spurgeon.John 6:1-21
Plenty Out of Christ's PovertyArchdeacon Farrar.John 6:1-21
Sums ProvedJ. R. Howatt.John 6:1-21
Thankfulness and DistributionS. Robins, M. A.John 6:1-21
The Arithmetic of Philip and the Arithmetic of Our LordLange.John 6:1-21
The Barley LoavesW. Denton, M. A.John 6:1-21
The Church and the WorldF. W. Macdonald.John 6:1-21
The Compassion of ChristJ. Trapp.John 6:1-21
The Compassion of JesusMonday ClubJohn 6:1-21
The Destination of Our LordF. Godet, D. D., F. Godet, D. D.John 6:1-21
The Feeding of the Five ThousandA. Maclaren, D. D.John 6:1-21
The Great Multitude Waiting to be FedW. T. Bullock, M. A.John 6:1-21
The Lad and the Hungry MultitudeM. G. Dana, D. D.John 6:1-21
The Maintenance of Natural and Spiritual LifeBp. S. Wilberforce.John 6:1-21
The Reason for This JourneyW. Denton, M. A.John 6:1-21
The Resource of ChristJ. Trapp.John 6:1-21
The Scene on the MountS. S. Times.John 6:1-21
The Testing Power of CircumstancesDean Boyd.John 6:1-21
The Young Should be Used as Well as AmusedT. Green, M. A.John 6:1-21
Two Hundred Pennyworth of BreadC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 6:1-21
Unbelief Discovered by TrialJ. Trapp.John 6:1-21
Whence Shall We Buy Bread, that These May EatCanon T. F. Crosse, D. C. L.John 6:1-21
A Night Upon the DeepT. WhitelawJohn 6:14-21
Afraid of ChristJ. Trapp.John 6:14-21
Christ in the Night StormT. L. Cuyler, D. D.John 6:14-21
Christ not a King by ForceJ. Parker, D. D.John 6:14-21
Christ, Though Absent, has not Deserted UsJ. Trapp.John 6:14-21
Christians in Darkness When Christ is not NearW. Arnot, D. D.John 6:14-21
Does He not Always Walk Upon It? is not His Majestic Tread on the Galilean Waters TypicalA. P. Peabody, LL. D.John 6:14-21
Jesus Absent in DarknessC. S. Robinson.John 6:14-21
Jesus on the Mountain Above the Political Designs of MenLange.John 6:14-21
Night with JesusH. Bonar, D. D.John 6:14-21
Secret PrayerJ. Trapp.John 6:14-21
The Absent ChristW. M. Taylor, D. D.John 6:14-21
The Disciples and Their Absent MasterW. Arnot, D. D.John 6:14-21
The Distinguishing Characteristics of Christ as a TeacherW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 6:14-21
The Kingship of ChristW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 6:14-21
The Lord's Voice to His PeopleT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 6:14-21
The Misinterpretation of the Divine Sign by the Perverseness of the Carnal MindJ. P. Lange, D. D.John 6:14-21
The Pathway of the KingA. Maclaren, D. D.John 6:14-21
The Recognition of Christ in the Hour of DeathHomiletic MonthlyJohn 6:14-21
The Sequel to the MiracleA. Beith, D. D.John 6:14-21
The Storm on the LakeW. M. Thomson, D. D.John 6:14-21
The Symbolism of the VoyageJ. Trapp.John 6:14-21
This is of a Truth the ProphetW. W. G. HumphryG. Humphry, B. D.John 6:14-21
Three Views of ChristT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 6:14-21
Timely ComfortJ. Trapp.John 6:14-21

The last miracle was one the teaching of which was certainly good for all, alike for the disciples and the multitude; and of the two for obvious and natural reasons, perhaps more so for the former than for the latter. But, letting alone the teaching force of it, that foregoing miracle had for its practical object the benefit of the five thousand with women and children, allaying their hunger and bringing home to their hearts - of what ever character those hearts - some sense of and some persuasion of the thoughtful consideration of the Lord. For the small number of the twelve disciples there was never any great difficulty - probably never any at all - in supplying "all their need." But the present miracle was one for the disciples themselves. It was good alike for their body and soul. It may, perhaps, be said to have been in higher kind also, even as limb and life are ever of more import than the satisfying of hunger, though this may be intense. Though we are not at all bound to find herein the reason of its following so distinctly in each account upon the other, yet the link of thought may be helpful. And far is it from being out of analogy with the truth, that he who so cares for the vast flocks scattered, needy, distracted with fear, or callous with indifference, shows no small proportion of that care in also caring for the shepherds and bishops and pastors of the flock, whom he has set, and whom he ever still is setting, over them. It certainly is so in the history now before us. Notice here -

I. AN INSTANCE OF CHRIST SENDING HIS SERVANTS TO TRY THEIR WAY BEFORE HIM TO FEEL AND TO TEST THEIR OWN QUANTUM OF STRENGTH AND RESOURCES; AND OF HOW, THEN, IN SUCH CASES HE IS WITH THEM, AND OVERTAKES THEM TO THE VERY MOMENT OF THEIR REAL NEED. Distinguish with emphasis such cases from those in which forwardness and self-confidence and unsafe zeal lead the way. And notice what room there is in the dispensation of the Spirit for full account to be taken of this principle. How needful it is, how desirable it is, for us often to feel that there is One who trusts us to go onward awhile, and apparently as though by ourselves, but whose eye and whose love are none the less ever near to us! And notice, further, that these are not for a moment to be counted artificial devices of the vast and infinitely wise superintending Providence, even though for wise and high ends. There were reasons why the disciples were sent onward before Christ.

II. AS INSTANCE OF A CERTAIN APPARENT CONSPIRACY AND ACCUMULATION OF THE DIFFICULTIES OF NATURE CONTENDED WITH, BY THE INCREASE OF CONSCIOUS HUMAN EFFORT AND TOIL; AND YET WITHOUT AVAIL, OR WITH VERY LITTLE AVAIL. Darkness, wind, and stormy waves were all "contrary" to the disciples; but they rowed where sails would not serve; and they toiled; and yet there came the hour when the most that they could say for themselves and their effort was that they did not retreat, that they could just hold their way. But this was much to be able to say.

III. AN INSTANCE OF THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF HELP BEING JUDGED TO BE EITHER AN EMPTY FORM, OR A FORM, IF NOT EMPTY, CHARGED WITH SOME SPECIES OF ADDITIONAL FEARFULNESS. Remark that the version, "a spirit," is not most correct to the word used, or probably to the real description of the alarm excited in the minds of the disciples. Nor can any justification be adduced from the passage of any scriptural warrant for belief in certain superstitions. It may be said to be Scripture, on the other hand, which defines spirit, and determines the reality of spirits, and does not deny, indeed, that spirits may take "phantom" appearances, but in this place certainly does not state it. The word is not the same as that used, e.g. in Acts 12:15, nor does it point in the same direction.


V. AN INSTANCE OF A GLORIOUS EPISODE OF FAITH, AND THE FAITH THAT SIGHTS IMITATION AND LIKENESS. Faith is the very father of great thought and great enterprise for some; for others it is patient endurance of the storms, and the vanquisher of fears, and exquisite rest from anxiety. But in its noblest attempts, it knows no measure and owns no limit, while it keeps its firm look on its Lord. It partakes of the omnipotence of its unseen object.

VI. AN INSTANCE OF AN INGLORIOUS LAPSE OF FAITH. The cause of this very plainly marked here - the eye turned away from its great object, and confused by the difficulties of sense.


Then those men when they had seen the miracle.
I. THE EFFECT OF THE MIRACLE ON THE MIND OF THE MULTITUDE. They, like all Jews of the time, were expecting the Prophet like unto Moses. The Divine commission of Moses was authenticated by the miraculous manna; what then could this miracle mean but that He who worked it was the antitype of Moses. And then Moses had been king as well as prophet. Who could be better qualified for "leader and commander of the people" than Jesus: Time and place were both favourable for raising the standard of rebellion, and five thousand resolute hearts formed no mean nucleus of an army which would soon include every Jewish patriot. Measures, therefore, were taken to compel Christ to yield to their wishes.

1. In this incident we have an example of zeal without knowledge. Christ was indeed a King, but had they apprehended in what sense nothing would have been further from their wishes.

2. Zeal without knowledge must at all times be most injurious to the true interests of the cause of Christ.


1. He withdrew.

(1)To frustrate their purpose.

(2)To show that His kingdom was not of this world.

(3)To ascend a higher throne, not by popular election, but by the cross.

2. He withdrew to pray, thus indicating the nature of the glory He sought. He had much to plead for on behalf of the multitude on whom the miracle had been lost, and in behalf of His disciples who had more than half taken the infection. Lessons:(1) Those who misuse Christ and His blessings must not wonder if they are deprived of His presence.(2) Spiritual safety is closely connected with retirement from dangerous associations. Christ not only withdrew Himself but sent the disciples away (Matthew 14:22; Mark 6:45).


1. Those who seek and find their delight in Christ's presence know the bitterness of His absence. How often are Christ's disciples tossed with tempests and constrained to hard and apparently fruitless service!

2. The Master is ever at hand when the storm is fiercest and where the labour is hardest.


1. Aroused their fears.

2. Elicited their prayers.

3. Secured their safety.

4. Brought them safely to shore.

(A. Beith, D. D.)


1. A couch of repose after the physical exhaustion of the day.

2. A temple of prayer (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46).(1) For Himself that Be might resist the temptation He had just escaped as in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8-10), and that He might be supplied with strength for the coming miracle.(2) For the people who were as sheep without a shepherd.(3) For the disciples gone on their perilous voyage.

3. A tower of observation of His disciples as now He watches us from heaven.

II. UPON THE SEA (vers. 19, 20).

1. The mysterious apparition.(1) What it was. Christ really walking on, not swimming in, the sea, not walking on the shore. There is no difficulty here to those who believe the previous miracle.(2) Why it came. To proclaim Christ Lord as the Controller of nature, as the bread had proclaimed Him its Creator.(3) When it appeared. Between three and six o'clock in the morning when the rowers were at their wits' end. So Christ interposes when our need is greatest (Amos 5:1).(4) How it was regarded. With fear, as Christ's unusual appearances often are.

2. The familiar voice.(1) What it said (ver. 20). A note of assurance (Isaiah 43:2; Isaiah 54:11).(2) How it acted. It dispelled their alarms.

III. IN THE BOAT (ver. 21).

1. The wind was hushed (Matthew 14:32). To lull the soul's hurricanes when Christ steps within (John 14:27).

2. The disciples were amazed (Mark 6:51), and led to worship (Matthew 14:33). Christ's supremacy over nature unmistakably betokened His Divinity.

3. The voyage was completed.Learn:

1. The dependence Jesus ever felt on prayer.

2. The notice Christ continues to take of His people.

3. The ability Christ possesses to help in the time of need.

4. The glory Christ shall yet bring to His people and to this material world.

5. The object of all Christ's manifestations to lead men to recognize His Divinity.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

This is of a truth that Prophet

1. His originality.

2. His miraculousness.

3. His authority.


1. His positiveness.

2. His self-assurance.

3. His self-representation.


1. His naturalness.

2. His simplicity.

3. His variety.

4. His suggestiveness.

5. His definiteness.

6. His catholicity.

7. His spirituality.

8. His tenderness.

9. His faithfulness.

10. His consistency.

11. His devoutness.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

They draw from the sign a correct conclusion (a true doctrine) and a false application (a bad moral). So with orthodox faith a false (ecclesiastical or secular) morality is often associated.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

1. They beheld in Jesus the fulfilment of prophecies fondly remembered, of hopes long deferred. The Law-giver who was to be a second Moses; the Deliverer who was to be a more mighty conqueror than Joshua; a King more glorious than David, wiser than Solomon, was come at last.

2. They who said so were not men learned in the Scriptures, like the Jewish scribes and rulers; book-learning, even of the highest sort, is apt to make those who have it slow in forming their judgments, backward and cold in declaring them. Nor were they men of the city, who might have gained some knowledge at second hand from those who had searched the Scriptures. But they were a crowd of rude, simple folk, come together from the hill country of Galilee, where old traditions had been handed down from age to age by word of mouth. With an instinct more true, more strong, than the opinions of the learned, they perceived that the bread which they received in such abundance could only have been supplied by God Himself, and that in Him who fed them thus God was revealed as clearly as when He spake by the profits to their forefathers.

3. Confessions of this kind, all the more impressive from their being artless and involuntary, are often to be met with in the four Gospels, and are just such as we might expect men would make on .seeing of a sudden the supernatural power and wisdom of Christ (see John 1:49; Luke 5:8; Mark 15:39).

4. It is not to be supposed that the like effects should be wrought in us, who have heard and read a hundred times the record of these things. Miracles the most amazing, discourses the most persuasive, the heartrending tales of sufferings inconceivable, sound in our ears as old familiar truths; and familiarity too often leads to neglect, even though it may by no means breed contempt. They who live in sight of a beautiful landscape lose in some degree the perception of its loveliness. They would like to view it with fresh eyes; as the strangers do who come to visit them. There is stealing over us a spirit of indifference, which for any saving purpose is as dangerous as the spirit of downright unbelief.

5. God does not suffer us to remain without a warning in this deadly stupor. Not by miracles, not by the visitation of angels, but in the course of His providence, by what we call the accidents of life, He arouses us and makes us see the Saviour as plainly revealed to our inward vision as He was to those men sitting on the grass and eating the bread which He gave them in the wilderness.

6. And what sort of things are they which bring us to see in His beauty and majesty that Saviour who hitherto has had no form or comeliness in our sight, so that we have even hid our faces from Him? Have we been led to look with abhorrence on one of our darling sins and yearn for the purity which once we had, and which we cannot of ourselves recover? And has a ray of comfort from Him been shed upon us, kindling a new hope in our breasts, making us embrace as a living truth what had become to us a dead form of words, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners? Or has the heavenly ray reached you by another path? It is in love that thou art chastened, that the weight of thy affliction, which is but for a little moment, may gain thee the exceeding and eternal weight of glory. I have been the Man of sorrows, and now am at God's right hand. I know thy afflictions, and even the glory here am touched with a feeling of them. But such is God's law, equal for all;" only through tribulation canst thou enter the kingdom here above." Have such consolations given a new turn to your thoughts, and thrown some light on the deep mystery of your life? If so, you might well exclaim, "This is of a truth the Prophet that cometh — that Herald of life and joy, so greatly needed by the sons and daughters of affliction, so longed for by me, sorrow-stricken, sick at heart as I am! This is He, the Desire of all nations!" And if, in any of these ways, the good impression has been made upon you, take care to keep it by giving good heed to it, and especially by often calling to mind the circumstances under which you first received it. Otherwise it will soon wear out like the stagnant pool of Bethesda, troubled for an instant by the angel's wing.

(W. W. G. HumphryG. Humphry, B. D.)

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and... make Him a King
1. Some men have greatness thrust upon them. From all such Christ separates Himself, knowing that what is done by compulsion may by compulsion be undone. So He would not have a kingdom forced upon Him, nor would He be forced on a kingdom. Wonderful words are written on His royal banner: "Put up thy sword," "My kingdom is not of this world."

2. This is the second time that He declined a crown. It is not every man who has two such chances. Everything depends on how you get hold of your kingdom. If you have offered false worship for it, it will rot in your grip; if you have been forced on reluctant hearts, they will east you off in the spring tide of returning power.

3. There is something in this Man more than in any other man. The more His character is studied, the more independent we shall be of theological evidences. The grand claim of Christ to supremacy goes right up to the centre and necessity of things.

I. NOTHING HAS TO BE DONE IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN BY VIOLENCE, by mere force. Did not Christ come to be a King? Yes. What matter then the way of becoming one? Everything. A man must prove his title to his seat, or he may be unseated.

1. It is not right to do right in a wrong way. It is right that you should come to church: it would be wrong to force you to come. The end does not sanctify the means.

2. Force is powerless in all high matters.(1) You can force a man to kneel, to repeat devotional words while you stand over him sword in hand; but he defies you to make him pray.(2) You can force a man to pay his debts, but you cannot make him honest. Honesty cannot be created by force, nor dishonesty be punished by it.(3) You can compel a nation to build a church, but you cannot compel it to be religious. The very attempt to force a man to be religious destroys the temper which alone makes religion possible.

I. While all this is true on the human side, the real point to be considered is that JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF WOULD NEVER REIGN BY MERE FORCE. If you could force men to Christ, you could never force Christ to men. It is the Infinite that declines. Jesus reigns by the distinct consent of the human mind. "If any man will open to Me, I will come in." "Come unto Me all ye," etc.

III. If He will not be a King by force, BY WHAT MEANS WILL HE BECOME KING? 1, Preach Me, is one of His injunctions. Show My doctrine, purpose, spirit, throughout the world. That is a roundabout way, but the swing of the Divine astronomy is in it. It is not the thought of a common man.

2. Live Me: "Let your light so shine," etc.; "I have given you an example;" "Follow Me."

3. Lift Me up. "If I be lifted up," etc.(1) On the Cross of Atonement.(2) By us when we love His law, submit to His bidding, reproduce His temper, receive with unquestioning heart all the gospel of His love.

IV. Now for the philosophical explanation of all this. "WE LOVE HIM BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US." This Man lays hold of our entire love, and thereby secures an everlasting reign. The man who proceeded to capture human nature as this Man proceeded is presumably a true king. No adventurer could have acted as Jesus Christ.

1. Little child, Jesus would not have you forced to be good. He says, "I am knocking at the door of your heart; let Me in."

2. He makes no proposition about going out.

3. The Church, like the Master, should not rule by force, but by love.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Secret prayer feeds the soul as secret morsels feed the body; therefore it is said to be the banquet of grace, where the soul may solace itself with God, as Esther did with Ahasuerus at the banquet of wine, and have whatsoever heart can wish or need require. While the disciples were perilling and well-nigh perishing, Christ was praying for them; so He is still for us at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

(J. Trapp.)

He alone.

I. He alone THE FREE ONE who is more a King than any prince on earth.

II. He alone THE CLEAR-SIGHTED ONE, who sees above all craftiness of policy.



Like Joseph our Lord suffered for the sin He so carefully avoided. The charge of claiming to be King was brought up against Him at His trial. Yet while shunning the bauble of an earthly sceptre, He was King of kings, and will for ever wear many crowns. To make Him King was of the Father, not of poor mortals. How low their ideas of Messiah's kingdom! What had loaves and fishes multiplied to do with "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever"?

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

And when even was now come His disciples went down unto the sea and entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum





(T. Whitelaw, D,D.)

It is sometimes worth while to try to meet the mournful and worried state of mind in the churches, when the good are longing, and perhaps waiting, for a revival of religion to come.

I. THE PICTURE. In the course of description of the scene on Lake Genesaret, it will not be difficult to suggest these points:

1. The close and rather humiliating connection between wistful souls and weary bodies.

2. The disheartening result of a rapid transition from exhilarating crowds to unromantic and lonely labour.

3. The feeling of desertion when, perhaps, Jesus is praying for us all the time.

4. Desolate frames of feeling give no release from diligent duty. Our question now is, What did those disciples do?


1. They kept on rowing. That is, they did precisely what they would have done if Jesus had arrived.

2. They headed the boat for Capernaum. That was what He bade them do (see Matthew 14:22).

3. They bailed out the water if any rushed into the boat. All the worldliness in the world's sea cannot sink Christ's Church, if only the waves are kept on the outside of it.

4. They strained their eyes in every direction for the least sign of Christ's coming.

5. They cheered each other.

(C. S. Robinson.)

It is always dark until Jesus comes to us, or until we go to Jesus. This is the case with —

I. THE AWAKENED SINNER who, in contact with Jesus, passes from darkness into light.

II. THE DESPONDING CHRISTIAN (Psalm 43., 51., 130.).


IV. THE BEREAVED. "If Thou hadst been here our brother had not died." But when He comes He is the Resurrection and the Life.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)


1. He leaves men for a time in fear and danger.(1) After the fall the whole world was thus left till Christ came in the flesh.(2) After the Incarnation He remained thirty years in obscurity. He remained far distant from Bethany till Lazarus was dead. He fingered on the mountain while His disciples were struggling with the storm.(3) At this day His people wonder at His absence, and exclaim, "Thou art a God that hidest Thyself."

2. His delay is no proof of His neglect. His delights were with the children of men before His abode was among them. When absent from Lazarus His heart was full of a brother's love. Here His purpose was to allow their extremity to become His opportunity. So when He left the world it was that the Comforter might come. And now it is only love that detains Him within the veil.

3. Never, and nowhere, do they who wait on the Lord wait in vain. To weary watchers the time seemed long but the coming was sure. "Faithful is He that promised." "He that keepeth Israel shall not slumber."


1. It was a matter of the heart. In knowledge they were children; and like children, too, in single-eyed, confiding love. Afterwards they became more enlightened. But their first love was not weaker than their last.

2. Observe how this child-like love operates in time of trial.(1) The waters were permitted to swell and frighten the children, although their Elder Brother held those waters in the hollow of His hand. But these true men would neither be bold in the absence of their Lord, nor faint in fear when He was at their side.(2) The storm and darkness made their hearts quiver, and all the more surely did these hearts turn and point toward the mountain-top when Jesus, the Daysman, stood laying His hand upon God.(3) But these dangers though great were material and temporal; whereas the dangers which induce us to seek a Saviour are our own sin, and the wages that it wins. But these burdens will make you doubly welcome.(4) The example of these Galileans is shown here as in a glass, that every mourner may thereby be encouraged to long for the presence of the Lord (Psalm 50:15).(5) Love to Christ in a human heart, kindled by Christ's love to man and laying hold of the love that lighted it, is the one thing needed.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

Jesus was absent all the while. He leaveth them, as it were, in the suburbs of hell. Howbeit as the eagle when she flieth highest of all from the nest doth ever cast a jealous eye upon her young, so doth this heavenly eagle.

(J. Trapp.)

1. It was night, The disciples were alone, which made it double night.

2. It was night at sea. To be without Jesus in the day and on land was sad, but this was sadder.

3. It was a night of toil: rowing four miles in the teeth of the wind; and Christ's absence made their labour doubly hard.

4. It was a night of danger. The storm had broken loose and there was no Jesus. Let us look at these works in their more general aspect in relation to the Saint and to the Church.


1. The sinner's history is one long starless night.

2. The saint has his night, too, of sorrow, bereavement, and pain.

3. The Church, too, has her night — poverty, persecution, desertion. There shall be no night there, but there is night now.


1. The sinner's night is altogether without Him.

2. The saint has night when Jesus seems distant. Without Him altogether we cannot be — "Lo, I am with you always." But there are times when He is not realized; and the issue of these is to bring Him nearer.

III. NIGHT WITH JESUS. With Him the darkness is as the light. For having Him we have —

1. Companionship.

2. Protection.

3. Safety.

4. Comfort.

5. Strength.

6. Assurance of the coming day.

IV. DAY WITH JESUS. He does not say, "Let Me go, for the day breaketh." And if His presence has made the night pleasant, what will not that presence make the coming day!

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

They see Jesus walking on the sea
I. OF HIS MARCH ALONG THE AGES? No figure seems more literal than that by which we speak of the waves, the current, the sea of time. How constantly is the lapse of years, obliterating races, memorials, great names, the dykes set up by arms, laws, industries and enterprise. Of the civilized nations now on earth but one in Christ's time had a name or a place except the Jews. The languages then spoken are now dead. The manners and religions have passed away. Meanwhile, Jesus has walked upon the waves. The gospel has never been submerged or been less than the one shaping, controlling power.

1. At the outset fierce and bitter persecution assailed Christianity, but from beneath the heel of the Caesars it mounted their throne.

2. Then commenced the severer trial of corrupting prosperity; and still its ordinances, doctrines, and influence could not be wholly corrupted.

3. Invading races threatened to destroy it, but yielded to it.

4. During the dark ages it gave birth to noble charities, home life, etc.

5. In these latter ages how many and powerful have been the assailing forces, scientific and infidel; but no sooner has any fountain of knowledge become deep and clear than it has invited His tread and rolled tributary waves to His feet.

6. And lo! as centuries roll on His circuit widens. His steps lay hold on the ends of the earth and the islands of the sea.


1. How fierce the waves that threaten our peace and well being! Passion, appetite, lust, pride, desire, fear. What power but Christ's can walk these waves? But let Him enter and these billows know their Lord.

2. What miracles of mercy has He not wrought in these subject souls!(1) Here was intemperance or lust. No love could stem the torrent; but Christ entered and appetite was quelled and all is now pure and peaceful.(2) In that spirit passion raged; Christ entered and vengeance has given place to love and forgiveness.

3. In every soul into which He enters, He walks as sovereign. The forces of character mould themselves at His command.


(A. P. Peabody, LL. D.)

I. Many of my hearers may be just now in a FEARFUL NIGHT-STORM OF TROUBLE.

1. One is in the darkness of a mysterious providence.

2. Another is under a tempest of commercial disaster. He has lost "the rigging" of his prosperity; and his pride has come down as a top-sail comes down in a hurricane.

3. Another one is toiling with the oars against a head-sea of poverty.

4. The guiding rudder of a dear and trusted friend has been swept away by death.

5. Still another one is in a midnight of spiritual despondency, and the promise-stars seem to be all shut out under gloomy clouds. My friend A — is making a hard voyage, with her brood of fatherless children to provide for. Friend B — has a poor intemperate husband on board with her; and Brother C — 's little bark hardly rises out of one wave of disaster before another sweeps over it. There are whole boat-loads of disciples who are "toiling at rowing" over a dark sea of trouble.

II. THE HOUR OF THE CHRISTIAN'S EXTREMITY IS THE HOUR OF CHRIST'S OPPORTUNITY. At the right moment Christ makes His appearance. We do not wonder at the disciples' astonishment and alarm. But straightway Jesus speaks unto them, and in an instant their fears vanished and "the wind ceased." Now, good friends, who are breasting a midnight sea of trouble, open the eye of faith, and see that Form on the waves! It is not an apparition; it is not a fiction of priestly fancies. It is Jesus Himself! One who has been tried on all points as we are, and yet without sin. Christ comes to you as a sympathizing, cheering, consoling Saviour. His sweet assurance is, "Lo! I am with you. Fear not; I have redeemed thee." Receive Him into the ship. No vessel can sink or founder with Jesus on board. Let the storms rage, if God sends them. Christ can pilot you through. It is I! There may be a night coming soon on some of you, when heart and flesh shall fail you, and the only shore ahead is the shore of eternity. If Jesus is only in the bark, be not afraid. Like glorious John Wesley, you will be able to cry aloud in the dying hour, "The best of all is, God is with us!"

III. THE TEACHINGS OF THIS INSPIRING SCENE TO THOSE WHO ARE IN A MID-SEA OF CONVICTIONS OF SIN AND TROUBLINGS OF CONSCIENCE. The storm of Divine threatenings against sin is breaking upon you. You acknowledge that you are guilty. Alarming passages from God's Word foam up around your distressed and anxious soul. You cannot quell this storm, or escape out of it. Toiling at the oars of self-righteousness has not sent you a furlong nearer to the "desired haven." You have found by sore experience that sin gives no rest, and that your oars are no match against God's just and broken law. Friend! Listen! There is a voice that comes sounding through the storm. Hearken to it! It is a voice of infinite love, "It is I!" "Whosoever believeth in Me shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life." If you will only admit this waiting, willing, loving Jesus into your tempest-tossed soul, the "wind will cease." Christ can allay the storm. Receive Him. Do all He asks, surrender the helm to Him, and you can then feel as the rescued disciples did when they knelt down in the drenched bottom of their little boat, and cried out, "Truly this is the Son of God!"

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

It is I, be not afraid

1. In unexpected places.

2. At unwonted times.

3. In unfamiliar forms.


1. Of danger.

2. Of death.

3. Of evil.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

Homiletic Monthly.
The recognition of Christ coming to help and comfort in the hour of severest trial is ever the Christian's privilege. If he see Him not in the storm, he must look again and again, for he has but failed to recognize Him. This truth we would apply only to that last fearful storm which wrecks the bark in which the soul has been crossing the sea of life.


1. He has promised to be there. "Lo, I am with you alway." "When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee."

2. He who has given His life for us will not fail us in that most trying moment.


1. The Christian soul knows Him by His visage. Infinite love breaks through every disguise when viewed by the soul fitted to recognize it.

2. Knows Him because He announces Himself: "It is I, be not afraid."

3. Knows Him because of the calm that comes with Him. Conclusion: Martyrs and Christians in all ages have borne testimony to the recognition of Christ in the last hour of life.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

A believer must have on the sea of life, Patience for his tackling, Hope for his anchor, Faith for his helm, the Bible for his chart, Christ for his captain, the breath of the Spirit to fill his canvas.

(J. Trapp.)

Of Him in whom was laid up all their comfort. How oft are we mistaken and befooled by our fears!

(J. Trapp.)

— He waits to be gracious. Our extremity is His opportunity. God brings His people to the mount, with Abraham, yea, to the very brow of the hill, till their feet slip, and then delivers them. When all is given up for lost then comes He in, as oil of an engine.

(J. Trapp.)

My experience in this region enabled me to sympathize with the disciples in their long night's contest with the wind. I have seen the face of the lake like a huge boiling cauldron. The wind howled down the valleys from the north-east and east with such fury that no efforts of rowers could have brought a boat to shore at any point along that coast. To understand the cause of these sudden and violent tempests we must remember the lake lies low — six hundred feet lower than the ocean — that water-courses have cut out profound ravines and wild gorges, converging to the head of the lake, and that these act like gigantic funnels to draw down the cold winds from the mountains. On the occasion referred to we pitched our tents on the shore, and remained for three days and nights exposed to this tremendous wind. We had to double-pin all the tent ropes, and frequently were obliged to hang with our whole weight upon them, to keep the quivering tabernacle from being carried up bodily into the air. No wonder the disciples toiled and rowed hard all that night.

(W. M. Thomson, D. D.)

I have observed that a shipmaster, especially when the presence of currents and the proximity of land make his burden heavy, shakes the compass sharply, and then watches the point on which the quivering needle finally settles down. The shaking makes the master more sure that the needle points truly to its pole. In those days the magnet was not known. No trembling compass on the deck that night told the steersman how to hold his helm, after the mountains had disappeared in night; but an instrument more mysterious and equally true within those simple seamen had once been touched by divine, forgiving mercy, and pointed steadfastly now to the Source of saving power.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

I. THE STRUGGLING TOILERS. Is it not the history of the Church in a nutshell? Is it not the symbol of life for us all? The solemn law under which we live demands persistent effort, and imposes continual antagonism upon us; there is no reason why we should regard that as evil, or think ourselves hardly used, because we are not fair-weather sailors. The end of life is to make men,; the meaning of all events is to mould character. Anything that makes me stronger is a blessing, anything that develops my morale is the highest good that can come to me. And so be thankful if, when the boat is crossing the mouth of some glen that opens upon the lake, a sudden gust smites the sheets and sends you to the helm, and takes all your effort to keep you from sinking. Do not murmur, or think that God's Providence is strange, because many and many a time when "it is dark, and Jesus is not yet come to us," the storm of wind comes down upon the lake and threatens to drive us from our course. Let us rather recognize Him as the Lord who, in love and kindness, sends all the different kinds of weather which according to the old proverb, makes up the full summed year. The solitary crew were not so solitary as they thought. That little dancing speck on the waters which held so much blind love, and so much fear and trouble, was in His sight, as on the calm mountain-top He communed with God. No wonder that weary hearts and lonely ones, groping amidst the darkness, and fighting with the tempests and the sorrows of life, have ever found in our story a symbol that comes to them with a prophecy of hope and an assurance of help, and have rejoiced to know that they on the sea are beheld of the Christ in the sky, and that "the darkness hideth not from" His loving eye.

II. THE APPROACHING CHRIST. If we look for a moment at the miraculous fact, apart from the symbolism, we have a revelation here of Christ as the Lord of the material universe, a kingdom wider in its range and profounder in its authority than that which that shouting crowd had sought to force upon Him. His will consolidates the yielding wave, or sustains His material body on the tossing surges. Two lessons may be drawn from this. One is that in His marvellous providence Christ uses all the tumults and unrest, the opposition and tempests which surround the ship that bears His followers as the means of achieving His purposes. We stand before a mystery to which we have no key when we think of these two certain facts; first, the Omnipotent redeeming will of God in Christ; and, second, the human antagonism which is able to rear itself against that. And we stand in the presence of another mystery, most blessed, and yet which we cannot unthread, when we think, as we most assuredly may, that in some mysterious fashion, He works His purposes by the very antagonism to His purposes, making even head-winds fill the sails, and planting His foot on the white crests of the angry and changeful billows. How often in the world's history has this scene repeated itself, and by a Divine irony the enemies become the helpers of Christ's cause, and what they plotted for destruction turned out rather to the furtherance of the gospel. Another lesson for our individual lives is this, that Christ, in His sweetness and His gentle sustaining help, comes near to us all across the sea of sorrow and trouble. A sweeter, a more gracious sense of His nearness to us, is ever granted to us in the time of our darkness and our grief than is possible to us in the sunny hours of joy. It is always the stormy sea that Christ comes across, to draw near to us; and they who have never experienced the tempest have yet to learn the inmost sweetness of His presence. Sorrow brings Him near to us. Do you see that sorrow does not drive you away from Him.

III. THE TERROR AND THE RECOGNITION. I do not dwell upon the fact that the average man, if he fancies that anything from out of the Unseen is near him, shrinks in fear. I do not ask you whether that is not a sign, and indication of the deep conviction that lies in men's souls, of a discord between themselves and the unseen world; but I ask you if we do not often mistake the coming Master, and tremble before Him when we ought to be glad? Let no absorption in cares and duties, let no unchildlike murmurings, let no selfish abandonment to sorrow, blind you to the Lord that always comes near troubled hearts, if they will only look and see. Let no reluctance to entertain religious ideas, no fear of contact with the Unseen, no shrinking from the thought of Christ as a Kill-joy keep you from seeing Him as He draws near to you in your troubles. And let no sly, mocking Mephistopheles of doubt, nor any poisonous air, blowing off the foul and stagnant marshes of present materialism, make you fancy that the living Reality, treading on the flood there, is a dream or a fancy or the projection of your own imagination on to the void of space. He is real, whatever may be phenomenal and surface. The storm is not so real as the Christ, the waves not so substantial as He who stands upon them. They will pass and melt, He will abide for ever. Lift up your hearts, and be glad, because the Lord comes to you across the waters. And hearken to His voice: "It is I! Be not afraid." The encouragement not to fear follows the proclamation, "It is I!" What a thrill of glad confidence must have poured itself into their hearts, when once they rose to the height of that wondrous fact I There is no fear in the consciousness of His presence. It is His old word, "Be not afraid." And He breathes it whithersoever He comes; for His coming is the banishment of danger and the exorcism of dread.

IV. THE END OF THE TEMPEST AND OF THE VOYAGE. It is not always true, it is very seldom true, that when Christ comes on board opposition ends, and the purpose is achieved. But it is always true that when Christ comes on board a new spirit comes into the men who have Him for their companion, and are conscious that they have. It makes their work easy, and makes them "more than conquerors" over what yet remains. With what a different spirit the weary men would bend their backs to the oars once more when they had the Master on board, and with what a different spirit you and I will set ourselves to our work if we are sure of His presence. The worst of trouble is gone when Christ shares it with us. Friends! Life is a voyage, anyhow, with plenty of storm, and danger, and difficulty, and weariness, and exposure, and anxiety, and dread, and sorrow, for every soul of man. But if you will take Christ on board it will be a very different thing from what it will be if you cross the wan waters alone. Without Him you will make shipwreck of yourselves; with Him your voyage may be as perilous and lonely as that of that poor Shetland woman in the Columbine a month ago, but He will take care of you, and you will be guided on shore, on the one little bit of beach where all the rest is iron-bound rocks, on which whoever smites will be shattered to pieces. "Then are they glad... where they would be."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

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