Steve Lee - Miracle Street

Overboard | A famous Bible story and an epic lifeboat rescue

April 15, 2022 Steve Lee
Steve Lee - Miracle Street
Overboard | A famous Bible story and an epic lifeboat rescue
Show Notes Transcript

The Bible of account of when Jesus walked on the water and then rescued his friend who wasn't as successful

If you want to know what God is like then take a look at the life of Jesus. His words, his actions, his reactions and his interactions with others. The signposts are there too in the physical world we live in. The fingerprints of the Father are everywhere from the beauty of creation to the ultimate force of the elements. The power of the ocean is an awesome thing but it can also be deadly and humanity has never brought it under control. The fear of being overcome by water is very common and it’s there on more than one occasion in the accounts of Jesus.

 The Bible describes a fascinating event whe Jesus and Peter, his disciple, meet on a lake. Peter was in a boat with some of the others when Jesus suddenly appeared, walking towards them on the surface of the water. Peter reckoned he was up for it too but it didn’t go to plan. Here’s how the whole event is laid out in the pages of the Bible. The disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came towards them, walking on the water. 

 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

 The RNLI, or the Royal National Lifeboat Institution is one of the most highly respected and honoured organisations in our nation. Many who have been rescued from the sea, owe those volunteer crews a debt that could never be repaid. Lifeboats have been used since 1834 and not only to rescue people. During the Second World War the RNLI went to the aid of ships that had been wrecked, towed vessels loaded with explosives and top secret information, navigated minefields, rescued downed aircrew, ferried food to remote villages, brought doctors to the injured and ferried priests to the dying.

 Coxswain William Gammon was the skipper on a lifeboat that went to the aid of a Royal Navy frigate off the Welsh coast on a stormy night 1944. With little thought for their own safety, the crew set off into the darkness and danger to rescue the stricken ship. As the lifeboat cut through the waves the frigate came into view as the experienced coxswain assessed perilous situation as the vessel plunged in the ferocious sea with its anchor airborne on the end of its chain. In an extraordinary feat of seamanship and courage William Gammon held the lifeboat alongside as 3 of the sailors leapt onto the safety of the deck.

 He repeated the remarkable manoeuvre a total of 12 times rescuing all 42 of the ship’s company. For a lifeboat crew made up of young men in their prime, it would have beenhighly impressive. The fact that two of them were in their 60’s and two more were in their 70’s, made it almost unbelievable. Three years after that epic rescue mission, Coxswain William Gammon was killed along with seven of his crew when the lifeboat Edward Prince of Wales was sunk attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Samtampa that had put out a distress call in a hurricane in the Bristol Channel.

 A story that has massive resonance with the entire message of the Bible, the story of God. From Genesis to Revelation, God is performing rescue after rescue on behalf of individuals, families, communities and entire nations. People think becoming a Christian is about taking on a pious religious belief, it’s nothing of the sort. Let me explain it as plainly as I can. There’s bad news and there’s good news. The bad news is that we have broken God’s perfect law and we’re separated from him as result, ultimately forever. But the good news is that Jesus embarked on a rescue mission to pluck us out of the overwhelming storm of human wreckage. This single verse from the Bible sums it up pretty well.

Jesus Christ died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. OK, so how does it work in simple English for you and me? Well the answer to that question is in that amazing account from the Bible when Peter responded to the invitation from Jesus to walk on the water. There’s a few things going on in that story that are a crucial in helping us get to grips with how we respond to God’s offer to us today.

 It was one of those moments when the humanity and divinity of Jesus are present at the same time. Jesus is reminding Peter and the rest of those guys in the boat who he really is, fully God and fully man. If he was only God how could we relate to him and if was only a man how could he saves us? But it’s not just about Jesus, it’s also about Peter. Believing that Jesus is a real person, even believing he is the greatest person and even believing he is the Son of God is not enough. A rescue always two people, the one being rescued and the one doing the rescuing.

 Peter walked on the water, a least initially and it required a very bold move, one that he doesn’t get much credit for. He had to step out of the boat and into the rough sea in response to the invitation from Jesus. He was successful all the time he had his eyes fixed on Jesus but when he started looking at his circumstances, the fear took hold of him and he began to drown before Jesus grabbed him and they both got in the boat.

 In the RNLI story, William Gammon brought the lifeboat alongside the stricken Royal Navy frigate but there was a still a leap of faith that was required to get onto the deck and off the sinking ship. In the same way, the decision to allow God to rescue us through Jesus Christ his son is about recognising who Jesus is and then taken the big step.  You can do that right now where you are. Put your trust in God and take that leap of faith towards him.