1. The parallels to this account are found at Mark 6:45-52 and John 6:16-21. It is not found in Luke. All four evangelists record the feeding of the 5,000 which happened just before the account on the sea.
2. From John 6:14-15 we learn that the people wanted to make Jesus a (bread) king. Evidently the disciples were tempted by this idea too. The incident of the loaves had left them spiritually insensitive. Mark 6:51- 52. Jesus forced the disciples to get into the boat. Matthew 14:22; Mark 6:45. Because of their spiritual insensitivity and danger from the temptation of making him a false king, Jesus purposely arranged this incident on the sea so that they would finally confess that he was the Son of God. Matthew 14:33.
3. Very likely the desire of the people to make him king tempted Jesus severely. That's why He withdrew alone to the mountain to pray. See John 6:15. He must have prayed about eight hours. He left there between 3 am and 6 am (300 and 600 hours) the next morning. Matthew 14:25 and Mark 6:48. Furthermore, Jesus knew that a great battle faced him the next day. John 6:22-59. The disciples, too, might be tempted to join these heathen. John 6:67.
4. The disciples were spiritually insensitive and were very likely tempted to help crown Jesus king. And they faced a severe test the next day. And so Jesus arranged the storm on the sea to make them see their utter helplessness and need for Him. At the same time, He was very likely severely tempted to become king and was facing the unbelieving mob on the next day. But, in His mercy and grace, Jesus came to the aid of his faltering disciples. He taught Peter a dear lesson. Secondly, all of them worshipped Him and said: "You are certainly God's Son!" Matthew 14:33. And the next day Peter, in the name of all of them, said: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we believe and know that You are the Holy One of God." John 6:68-69.
5. The phrase in Matthew 14:24 is variously translated "beaten, battered, tormented, tossed by the waves." This verb is elsewhere used of the activity of Satan beating, battering and tormenting mankind. God permitted Satan to afflict Job severely. The thorn in Paul's flesh was a messenger of Satan to torment him. II Corinthians 12:7. God permitted Job, the disciples and Paul to be afflicted for their own good, to cleanse their faith of doubt, to look to Him alone for help.
6. The adverb "immediately" occurs with verbs at verses 22, 27 and 31. Jesus' help is always immediate.
7. Under normal circumstances their boat should have crossed the sea of Galilee in about three hours, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (1800 hours to 2100 hours.) The disciples must have fought the rough sea for at least six hours. Affliction is often long and difficult to endure.
8. As at Luke 24:37 here at Matthew 14:26 the disciples thought they saw a ghost, a disembodied soul. There is no such thing. At death the soul goes either to heaven or hell. It does not wander about. The idea of a ghost shows the disciples' lack of faith. They were insensitive to the loaves of bread. Mark 6:52. No wonder they thought they saw a ghost! Their faith failed them.
9. When Jesus says: "Fear not" He always gives the reason for not fearing.
10. First, all of them cried out for fear, verse 26, and then Peter also cried out for fear, verse 30. Why? Instead of looking only to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2), he looked at the fearful waves. No wonder he sank! No wonder Jesus said: "Oh man of little faith, why did you doubt?"
11. First Peter said: "Lord command me" and then he said: "Lord save me." Peter was not as strong as he thought he was. But the Lord did save and help him. The next day he made a great confession. John 6:68-69.
12. Here we have four miracles: Jesus walked on the water; Peter walked on the water; the wind quieted suddenly; the boat came rapidly to land. Though they were in the middle of the lake, John 6:21 tells us that immediately the boat was at the land.
THEME: Jesus, Helper Of The Helpless
Last Sunday we heard about the showing forth of Jesus, our Substitute, the One who took our place. Today we hear about the showing forth of the Helper of the helpless. Just before our text Matthew tells us of the feeding of the 5,000. Unless God feeds man, man dies. Today's text shows forth Jesus as the Rescuer of doubting, fearful, lost mankind. He is truly the Helper of the helpless. He is true God.
I. HE IS THE SAVIOR AND HELPER OF ALL MEN.
I Timothy 4:10 says that God is the Savior of all, especially of those who believe. That is clearly exemplified here in our text.
A. He is the Savior and Helper of all men's bodies. God makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45. Just as God feeds all the birds and animals, so He feeds all human beings, whether they are believers or unbelievers. On the day before our text, Jesus fed the 5,000. See verses 15-21. When evening came the people had nowhere to go. The disciples could not feed them but Jesus could and did. He fed both the unbelievers and the believers. We know from John 6:66 that on the following day many of these people left Jesus. They were unbelievers.
B. He is the Savior and Helper of all men's souls. We know from the parallel account at Luke 9:11 that Jesus "began to speak to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing." Before Jesus fed their stomachs, He fed their souls. The kingdom of God is about forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Mark 6:34 tells us "He saw a great multitude, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things." He truly came to seek and save the lost. But on the following day (John 6:66) many of these people left Jesus. They were unbelievers.
II. HE IS THE SAVIOR AND HELPER ESPECIALLY OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE
A. He foresees their danger. (Matthew 14:14-36; Mark 6:34- 56; Luke 9:11-17 and John 6:1-71 are parallel accounts. The preacher should read all four accounts which supplement each other)
The 5,000 wanted to make Jesus their king, an earthly king. Very likely the disciples were tempted too to make Him king. That's why Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and leave. He went to the mountain alone to pray for Himself and the disciples. Then He allowed the storm to toss them about so that they would cry to Him. He foresaw their weakness of faith. They showed their unbelief when they thought they saw a ghost. Peter showed his unbelief when he looked away from Jesus and began to sink.
B. He rescues them in their danger.
We can easily understand the fears of the disciples. When danger threatens us we think that we are surrounded by ghosts. But Jesus put his disciples into this situation to make them trust Him. He could feed 5,000 people. He could walk on the water. He could foresee and arrange the storm on the sea for the disciples good. He says: "Oh ye of little faith, why did you doubt?" He rescues and helps especially those who believe.
C. Their reaction to Him.
When the wind stopped they said: "You are certainly the Son of God!" Though they had been spiritually insensitive to the feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:52), when the wind stopped "they were greatly astonished." (Mark 6:51). Mark 6:52 describes their condition before their hearts were changed. On the next day when the multitudes left Jesus Simon Peter said: "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." Jesus is the Rescuer and Helper especially of those who believe.