Christ and Human Nature
July 24th, 1966 @ 7:30 PM
CHRIST AND HUMAN NATURE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-24-66 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are invited to turn with us to God’s Holy Word and read it out loud together. Matthew chapter 14, beginning – Matthew chapter 14, beginning at verse – well, I did not intend to read the whole context. Let us read it all; verse 22, the passage that the pastor is going to expound tonight is Matthew 14:22 to the end of the chapter, so let us read the whole passage. I do not know how to break into it, so let us read it all. And on the radio, get your Bible and read it out loud with us. Matthew chapter 14, verse 22 to the end. Now everybody, reading together:
And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.
And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone.
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.
And He said, Come.
And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.
And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Genneseret.
And when the men of that place had knowledge of Him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto Him all that were diseased;
And besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
Last Sunday night – and you are listening on the radio to the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Christ and Human Nature. In our preaching through the life of Christ, last Sunday night we left off with verse 21, which is the concluding verse of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand [Matthew 14:15-21]. Then tonight we begin with verse 22 and preach through to the end of the chapter [Matthew 14:22-36].
Now the miracle of the feeding of five thousand andron, men, "beside the women and children" [Matthew 14:21], there could easily have been as many as fifteen or twenty thousand people there in that desert place on the Gadarene, the eastern, the Decapolis side of the Sea of Galilee. And in that vast multitude, for a man to feed that great aggregate with five little barley biscuits, a fare of the poor, and with two little fishes [Matthew 14:19], such as a boy would catch out of the lake – for a man to feed a multitude like that incited and excited.
Oh, how volative were the spirits of the pilgrims from over the Jewish world who were then in Palestine. "Why look at this Man," they said, "look at Him. He can raise the dead by the word of His mouth [John 11:43-44]. And He can feed a great army by just multiplying loaves and fishes." And they said, and now I’m quoting from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John [John 6:5-14] – well, this miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is the only one that is recounted in all four Gospels, and John says that when they saw that marvelous, miraculous endowment of the Savior, that they would "take Him by force and make Him a king" [John 6:15].
And I can just see that. "Why, here is a man that can raise the dead. And if our soldiers are killed, he can bring them back to life and put them in the army to march again. And here is a man that can feed the vast multitudes by just breaking, by just giving out." Why, you have the logistics of every kind of enemy attack, and enemy destruction, and a march on your own part. Why, it’d be unbeatable. You’d have the thing made. So the multitudes were excited, and they sought to make Jesus king. "We’ll overthrow that Roman tyrannical power, and we’ll make Jerusalem the head of the nations of the earth. And we will march against our enemies, and Jesus will be our king."
Now that pleased the disciples very much. They egged it on. I can just see James, and John, and Simon, and Bartholomew, and Thaddeus, and Matthew, and the little James, and Simon the Zealot. And I can just see all of them, just working out there like a ferment; "That’s right, that’s right. He is the king. He is the one. We can win. We’re unbeatable, unstoppable, impregnable, invincible, let’s go!" And James had it in his head he was going to be chancellor of the exchequer, and John had it in his head that he was going to be prime minister, and one of the others added here he was going to be chief of staff. And somebody’s going to lead the air force, and somebody’s going to lead the navy, and somebody’s going to be in charge of all of the armies of occupation. Why, I can just see that. I can just see that. It was a great day for the disciples.
And when Jesus saw – and this is the way John wrote it – when Jesus saw that they would come and by force make Him a king, He grabbed those twelve disciples – and you can imagine, grabbing all these kids and bringing them down here to Vacation Bible School. That’s exactly what Jesus did with these twelve disciples: He grabbed those twelve disciples – in their exuberance, and in their enthusiasm, and in all their marvelous plans, and visions, and dreams – He grabbed those twelve disciples, and He forced them in a boat, and He sent them out to sea, right in the midst of that marvelous triumph [Matthew 14:22; John 6:116-17].
And the Lord went up in a mountain alone to pray: "And when He had sent them away, He Himself went up into a mountain apart to pray; and when the evening was come, He was there alone" [Matthew 14:23]. Think of that. In the midst of the acclaim and excitement, the kingdom offered Him – Satan doing it again – the kingdom offered Him – push it all aside, look upon it as nothing. Send those who were leading all the exuberant enthusiasm away, up there in a mountain apart, kneeling down to pray [Matthew 14:22-23].
I suppose the whole sky turned into a marvelous open door into glory. I suppose the Shekinah that burns in the presence of God flamed the more brilliantly, glad to see their Prince again. I suppose the angels stopped their praising to listen to what the Son of heaven had to say, up there in a mountain alone? No. As it was in the beginning, evermore and shall be with the Father. And what an astonishing thing, that He prays [Matthew 14:23]. Why, in His hands slumbers omnipotence. With the very word of His mouth He can bring back to life the sheeted dead [John 11:43-44]. He can stop the wind and the roar of the tempest, He can still the sea [Luke 8:23-24]. The demons and the devils obey Him [Matthew 8:28-32, 17:18]. Yet He prays, and sometimes in agony [Luke 22:44]. That’s our Lord, kneeling before the Father, resting in the Father, hoping in the Father, trusting in the Father [John 17:1-26]. "(In the roll of the book it is written of Me,) Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God" [Hebrews 10:7,9], and He bowed in the will of the Father [Matthew 27:32-50].
But oh, these disciples, these disciples; while our Lord is in that mountain apart, praying and pouring out His soul [Matthew 14:23] – while the Lord is up there, these disciples, look at them! They are mad! They are disgusted! They are so ill-spirited! The Lord put them in that boat [Matthew 14:22] and there they are on that sea. And at six o’clock in the morning they had rowed barely three miles [John 6:16]. I can just see them out there, just a-griping, and a-fussing, and a-fuming, and a-grumbling, just as mad as they can be! I can just see them out there; somebody pull a row here, and quit, and jower; one would pull a row on this side, and quit, and fume and fuss, disgusted; I can just see them out there. All night long they’ve gone less than three miles [Matthew 14:24].
So the Lord just decided, "They want to run this thing themselves? They want to take the helm? They have got their own dreams, and their own programs, and their own ambitions, and their own visions, and they want to live their lives. They want to do it themselves." So the Lord just decided, "I am just going to stay and let them have it. They want to row that boat themselves, and they do not want Me in it. They do not like what I am doing, and they are mad, fuming, fussing, disgusted; just going to leave them alone; just going to let them have it to themselves."
So He stayed; the Lord is up there staying. One of God’s winds [Matthew 14:24], I can just see the Lord, "Come here, one of God’s winds; come here. See those disciples down there just jowering around, and griping around, and fussing around? Just look at them! Look at them! Now you go down there and shake the living daylights out. Just go down there and do it. Just go down there and just do it."
So there came out of nowhere, there came one of those winds that can so suddenly arise in that depth below the sea, in that Arabah where the Sea of Galilee is held. And in that wind their little boat began to move, and rise, and fall, and shake, and tremble, and shiver. And it scared the disciples to death [Matthew 14:24]. Isn’t that the way we are? We like it ourselves; don’t want God in it, and we don’t want His plans for us, and we don’t want His program. And we got our own ideas, and our own dreams, and own ambitions, and our own way, and we want to row our own boat. Of all the things, if we couldn’t row this little boat in this little sea, what in the earth would we do if God turned over to us all the boats of all the seas of all the world? Then, if God turned over to us all of those celestial ships that sail through the infinitude of the chalice of God’s sky above us? And what would we do with all of the forces that control and lie back of this whole creation? Oh, we are lost without God! However we may think of ourselves, and dream for ourselves, and have ambitions for ourselves, without God, without Him, we are helpless.
I don’t know of a sweeter poem than this by Henry Van Dyke. I love the sentiment of its truth.
O Maker of the Mighty Deep,
Whereon our vessels fare,
Above our life’s adventure keep
Thy faithful watch and care.
In Thee we trust, whate’er befall;
Thy sea is great, and our boats are small.
We know not where the secret tides
Will help us or delay,
Nor where the lurking tempest hides,
Nor where the fogs are gray.
We trust in Thee, whate’er befall;
Thy sea is great, and our boats are small
When outward bound we boldly sail
And leave the friendly shore,
Let not our heart of courage fail
Until the voyage is o’er.
We trust in Thee, whate’er betide,
Thy sea is great, and our boats are small.
Beyond the circle of the sea,
When voyaging is past,
We seek our final port in Thee;
O bring us home at last.
We trust in Thee, whate’er befall;
Thy sea is great, and our boats are small.
["Voyagers," Henry Van Dyke]
So when the winds had shaken them, and the fury of the waves had frightened them, and they saw their utter helplessness, why, Jesus came, as He always does, walking to the disciples in their hour of need [Matthew 14:24-25].
Well, that also frightened them. I guess it would us too, seeing somebody in the gray of the night walking on the sea, on the water. And the disciples cried out for fear [Matthew 14:26]. And the Lord said, "Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. It is I. Be not afraid" [Matthew 14:27].
And Peter said, "Why, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water" [Matthew 14:28].
Well, what do you think about a thing like that? Do you think that’s presumption? The Lord was delighted with it. Any time a congregation, or a family, or a man, or a woman; any time they exhibit a great faith in God, the Lord is delighted. "Why, Simon Peter, you want to walk on the water? Come, come, come" [Matthew 14:29].
And Simon Peter crawled overboard, looking at Jesus, walking on the water to Jesus. Then, then he became conscious of himself, "Well, look at me, walking on the water. Look at me, look at me! Look at these feet walking on the water. Look at me. Look at me. Imagine that, me walking on water – oh, oh!" And he looked at a big wave a-coming, and another big wave. And he listened to the roar, and he got his eyes off of Jesus, and began to sink like a piece of lead [Matthew 14:29-30].
Isn’t that folks? As long as you got your eye on Jesus, everything’s fine, glorious, happy, marvelous, excellent, superb, heavenly; everything’s just great, keeping your eye on the Lord. Then after a while we take our eyes off of Jesus, and we begin to look at that old critter over there, and that sister over there, and that old somebody over there, and then ooh, it sours; "Why, I don’t even know whether I’m saved or not." We fall in such an estate.
I know a whole lot of things wrong with you, and you, and you, and you. I know a whole lot of things wrong with me, and me, and me, and me. I know a whole lot of things wrong with all of us. And I know a whole lot of things wrong with everything we’re in. But I don’t know anything wrong with Jesus. And if I keep my eye on the Lord, I’m all right. Keep my eye on Jesus, everything’s just fine. When I begin looking around – Ooh! Pretty soon I begin to sink.
Well, that’s what happened to Simon Peter. As long as he was a looking at Jesus everything was just fine. He was a walking on the water, imagine it! And when he began to look around him, those disciples over there in that boat, and he out there in those waves, and hear the wind, and look at the sea, he began to sink. The Lord had to go over there, and pick him up, and raise him up [Matthew 14:31]. Why didn’t you keep your eye on the Lord? Why don’t we? It’s a weakness. It’s a weakness; Christ and human nature.
Well, they come immediately to the land. And when they came to Genneseret [Matthew 14:34] – that’s a valley on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, vastly populated in those days – and it became known that the Lord was there. The people brought to Him all of the afflicted, and all of the hurt, and all the sorrowing, and all of the diseased, and all of the demented; they brought them all and laid them at the feet of Jesus. And they besought that they might only touch the hem of His garment. Isn’t that amazing? [Matthew 14:35-36].
How different people react when different folks come into town. You have a great, celebrated singer come into town and there are those who are gathered to listen. Or you let a marvelous symphony orchestra come into town and there are those who gather to see and to listen. You let a great, famous baseball team come into town; there are those who gather to watch; or a pugilist in a ring, or a wrestler, there they are to watch and to see. Let a politician come into town, there they are gathered around; different people interested in different things.
Who gathers round when Jesus is close by? Those that are broken, and distressed, and demented, and discouraged, and diseased. They are the folks that gather round the Lord Jesus. If you never have a need of the Lord, He will never be Lord to you. If you never feel yourself lost, He will never be a Savior to you. It’s when you need Him that Jesus is all that He claims to be. So when He came, they besought that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And the beautiful word, "As many as touched were made perfectly whole" [Matthew 14:36]; how sweet and how precious.
Now may I conclude? And our time is gone. How could our Lord be so massive a minister? The great incomparable grace of the Master; how, how? Oh, what He did and what He could do! How was He able? And in that same marvelous ministry you find in His disciples, for He said, "Greater works than these shall you do, because I go away to My Father" [John 14:12]. What is the secret of a tremendous ministry like that? It is very evident. The secret is found up there in that mountain – alone in prayer, in solitude, in quietness, baring His heart before God [Matthew 14:23]. And there never has been and there never will be a great ministry of majesty, of massive proportions, of effectiveness, of glory and power without that staying alone in the presence of God.
There are some young ministers here tonight, I presume, on the way to vacation. Let me tell you young fellows something. I go around once in a while, look at these preachers, especially at these state evangelistic conferences. And when I see a preacher, and he’s always out back-slapping. He’s always out busy. He’s a running here, and he’s a running there, and he’s a doing this, and he’s a-doing that, and he’s a-yanking this, and he’s a-turning that, and he’s a-going yonder, and here, and here, and here, you know what I think? And I’m not mistaken. If I were going to his church on Sunday morning and again on Sunday night and listen to him, my soul would be fed on flotsam and on jetsam; for you can’t perform a great work for God and not be alone a great deal of the time with God. There is no such thing as a man laying his hand upon the hearts and the lives of people unless first he’s got his other hand in the hand of the Lord God Almighty in heaven.
"Moses," the Lord said to him, "Moses, you come up here. You come up here."
"Why, Master, we’ve got an exodus before us, and we’ve got laws to give, and we’ve got all kinds of legislation to hand down. And we have these people to train, and to lead. Master, busy I am."
The Lord said, "Moses, you come up here. You come up here." Moses stayed on that mountaintop forty days and forty nights in the presence of the Lord [Exodus 24:12-18].
And the Lord met Jacob on the way back to the Promised Land. And the Lord wrestled with him all night long. And it was only after that confrontation with God that the Lord changed his name from "supplanter," Jacob, to "the prince of God," Israel [Genesis 32:24-28].
In the temple, beautiful beyond any building the world has ever known, Solomon reared, erected, two great columns in front of that temple. The column on the right, on the south facing east, the column on the right; and the column on the south side he called Jachin. And the column on the left – there’s not a Mason on the earth that knows, but that knows what I’m talking about – and the column on the left that he reared to the north, he called Boaz [1 Kings 7:21]. Was it meaningless? The right column meant "beauty," worshiping God in the beauty of holiness; and the left column meant "strength," strength from God.
Or in the incomparable vision that Isaiah saw when he, in the temple, looked upon the Lord "high and lifted up." And above Him were the seraphim, crying "Holy, holy, holy." And each one had six wings; "With twain he covered his face," unworthy in adoration to God. "And with twain he covered his feet," that same holy adoration, humility before God. "And with twain he did fly"; two pairs of his wings in rest, in adoration, in prayer, and two of his wings in service and in ministry [Isaiah 6:1-3].
That is the pattern of our lives, and we pause to do this, and we pause to do that, and here we are involved yonder. The Lord says, "Come up here with Me. Close that door. Get down on your knees. Talk to Me about it." And out of those quietnesses, those commitments, and those confrontations with God come those great ministries for the Lord. That’s why He was able to do what He did. From the mountaintop He brought down to the valley, from the loneliness of a desert place into the city, He brought the presence of the Almighty. That’s what we need; my friend, take time for God. Quietly, lovingly, adoringly, preciously, prayerfully, beautifully, take time for God. And you will rise from your knees a thousand times strengthened for whatever task you’re about.
Now we must close. While we sing our song of appeal, somebody you tonight, give his heart to Jesus. Come, and stand by me. A family you, coming into the fellowship of the church, come and stand by me. "Pastor, we’re all coming tonight. This is my wife, these are our children, all of us are coming tonight." Or just one somebody you, a child, a youth, however God shall press the appeal to your heart; do it now. Make it now, "Here I am, pastor, here I come." When we stand up in a moment, on the first note of the first stanza, come. If you’re in that balcony round, there’s a stairway to the front and the back, and on the side, come, there’s time and to spare. The press of people in this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, "Here I am, pastor, I make it tonight." As God shall press the appeal to your heart, respond with your life. "Here I come, here I am," while we stand and while we sing.
I. Jesus and the disciples
A. The miracle of
feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:14-21,
B. The reaction (John 6:14-15)
sends out disciples in a boat; He went up the mountain alone to pray (Matthew 14:22-23)
1. He is Prince
of glory – yet He prays (Hebrews 10:7)
D. Disciples sullen,
indignant and critical
1. They had their
own plans, schemes, conditions
3. Jesus leaves
them to manage a little ship
E. Jesus comes, walking
to them on the water
1. Simon Peter –
sinks when he takes eyes off of the Lord
II. Jesus’ work and worship
A. Find the disciples
in same marvelous ministry (John 14:12)
B. Secret to tremendous
ministry is found in the mountain
1. Alone in
prayer, solitude, quietness before God
2. Christian life of
a. Two pillars of the
b. Isaiah’s vision in the