23 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.
Away from the fevered life and contentious rancour of the city, alone upon the mountain top, in the calmness of the night, withdrawn from the irritating contact of prosperous wickedness, he could forget "the contradiction of sinners," and "in prayer all night to God," draw deep comforts from the realisation that despite the unbelief and repudiation of men, God was really his strength, his shield, his glory, his defence, the lifter up of his head. This was the exercise of his faith. *
...in the days of his flesh the Lord, like ourselves, felt the cloud and the heaviness and the bitterness appertaining to this body of sin, and the circumstances to which it stands related in this present evil world.
..."The waters are come in unto my soul."
This shows the keenness with which his afflictions were felt: they went home -- they pierced his soul -- they overwhelmed him with sorrow. [Psa 69:1]
... He had his season of what we are now going through, and his "waiting" is here shown to have been of that dreary troublous, trying character that we find it to be.
If we picture him in the aspect of a continual ecstasy or even a continual calm we make a mistake. He was a "man of sorrows," and part of his sorrow was this "waiting for God." We are tasting the affliction of this attitude. Our whole life is an act of waiting for God, waiting for the time promised, looking for, desiring, and living for the appointed day of the baring of His holy arm.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
What is claimed for Christ is that as the power of God incarnate, he has control of Nature.
This control does not mean that he is outside Nature or above Nature, but rather that he is in Nature in the sense of being related to the inner force by which Nature subsists, and can, therefore, manipulate that force for the accomplishment of specific results.
It is we who are outside Nature in so far as we are shut up within ourselves, and cannot, except by mechanical contrivance, control Nature in the least. Nature is in God, according to the testimony of the Scriptures, "In Him we live, and move, and have our being"; and again,
" Of Him. and through Him, and to Him are all things."
Consequently, a man who could say as Christ said, " The Father is in me," was a man who could counterwork gravitation without arresting it, by a counteragent more potent than air-bags, cork, India-rubber, or any created substance, viz., the primordial force of all Nature-the Spirit of God which God gave to Jesus without measure (John iii. 34).
THE TRIAL' P59 - Bro Roberts
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
There was logic in this. Jesus takes him at his word. A single word: "Come." At once, Peter has his legs over the side of the boat.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
He stands on the water. He makes a step or two forward. He looks round.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
The darkness -- not quite total, the angry waves; the roaring wind, overwhelm him with the peril of his situation: his confidence deserts him, and he finds himself sinking. What can he do? He is too far from the boat to clutch at that.
There is nothing left but petition to the wonderful man who stands before him unsinking in the tumult of waters.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
The remark shows that faith has something to do with a man's ability to use the power God may place at his disposal. This is according to experience of natural power. A confident faith can always do better with the same power than the man who unbelievingly hesitates.
But we must exercise care in the application of the principle to matters that are beyond natural power. Otherwise, we shall fall into the mistakes of the "faith healers" and some other extremists, who only cover themselves with confusion by the unskilful application of a true principle.
It is not in natural power to walk on the water: and no amount of faith will develop a power not actually present. With Christ, the power was present, and he provisionally extended it to Peter in the invitation to "come." There was an invisible hand held out to him for the moment to support him in the water. There was a something for his faith to act on which is not present in the normal relations of sinful men. His faith acting on it could hold him up. In the absence of faith on his part, he lost his hold.
The case is parallel to that of a child crossing a brook by the help of its father. If a child's confidence fails, the father's outstretched hand is of little use to it. The child's faith will enable it to make the most of it, and enable it to cross with ease. But suppose there is no father there, or a father not offering his hand, no confidence on the part of the child will get it across the stream. This is the case of those who see one side of the case and imagine that faith will do all. They are mistaken. Faith may help them a little, but they will certainly fall into the water.
..We have no power given us to walk on the water. To try to do it by faith in the absence of this, would be trying to fasten our grapnel in the air. A right discrimination in these matters will save us from confusion and embarrassment, without leading us into the tremendous mistake of those who regard the faith-performances of the first century as myths.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 34