HE SEES YOU BEFORE YOU SEE HIM Andy Hollifield 9-13-17
Matthew 14:24 & 25 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. (25) And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
John 5:5 & 6 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him lie, and knew he had been a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
Let me begin by saying that I am glad that Christ provision in my life doesn’t depend on me seeing him but rather on him seeing me. Since I know that he sees all and knows all, that gives me great comfort. I don’t remember exactly who it was that I heard make this statement, “he sees you before you see him”, but it is true as proven by the scripture listed above.
I have always loved this story and most of us learned it as a child in Sunday School. We learned about Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14 which takes place just a few verses later in the chapter. As I have gotten older and studied it a lot more, I have realized that there are even more important aspects of that story. If you back up a few verses, you will see where Jesus had sent the crowds away and also had his disciples to depart in a ship going to the other side. It says that he sent them before him, so apparently he was planning on going over later to the other side. He never specified how he was going to get there and they didn’t ask. It goes on to say in verse 23 “when the evening was come, he was there alone.” Verse 24 tells us that “the ship was now in the midst of the sea and was probably already being tossed.” That is where it starts to get good. Evidently, he had sent the disciples on the ship before he sent the multitudes away and then went to pray in the evening. Apparently the ship was in the midst of the sea when he went to pray. That may not seem like a big deal, but in a minute you will see that it is and I believe it will be a blessing to you. The bible also says that when they were in the midst of the sea that the wind was contrary to them and the ship was tossed with waves. Verse 25 says that “in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them.” As I am sure you know, at this time in history, days and nights were both divided into watches of three hours each. The watches of the night started around sundown which would mean that 6-9 PM would be the first watch of the night. If you do the math, that would mean that the fourth watch is between 3 and 6 AM. Think about that for a minute; it would still be dark at that time. In Mark chapter 6 verse 48, the bible says that “would have passed by them”. It also says in verse 50 that “they all saw him”. I really like how that in the 4 gospels, you can put all of the various accounts together and come up with a detailed story. John 6:17 says that “it was now dark and Jesus was not yet come to them.” John even goes on to tell how far out they were when Jesus came to them. He said they were about “five and twenty or thirty furlongs” when they saw Jesus coming toward the ship walking on the sea. A furlong is about 600 feet which means that it was between 15000 and 18000 feet. That would put the distance from shore at between 2 3/4 and 3 1/4 miles. That was way too far to swim back to shore under the best conditions much less in a storm. Verse 18 even said that “the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.” So if we set the scene and get a picture of what was going on; here were the disciples, who were experienced fishermen and had no doubt been in storms before, around 3 miles from shore getting tossed by the waves and wind a while before daylight and they were struggling with rowing and were no doubt getting tired. Then they see what they think is a spirit coming toward them walking on the water and they were afraid. To be honest, I would have been too because seeing a man walking on water ain’t natural.
Now for the best part. To start with, the fact that apparently Jesus saw them from the shore at evening in the middle of the sea is incredible enough. The fact that he must have seen where they were in the early morning darkness during a storm is even more incredible. Mark 6:48 says that Jesus would have passed them by. Just a little Andyology, I personally believe that he knew exactly where they were because he had walked towards the ship in the dark. If he done that, how could he possibly not see them when he got that close? I think that if they hadn’t cried out in fear, he may have kept walking and been waiting for them on the other side. That is just how he does with us isn’t it? He’s always right there close but often waits for us to cry out in our storm before he makes his presence known to us. I am glad that he can see me in the darkness of night and the storms even though I can’t always see him.
In John 5 the story isn’t quite as detailed as the other one. If you read from the beginning, the bible says that these porches were by a pool by the sheep market. I have mentioned this in other articles but why would anyone want to be anywhere near a sheep market unless they were buying or selling sheep? Yet, that is where we find Jesus going to those porches and walking through the people. I suspect that since this man was lame, he was laying as close as possible to that pool to improve his chances of being able to be the first one in. Think about this for a minute; I don’t know how deep that pool was, but it would take a great amount of faith to roll off into a pool knowing that if someone was a step faster that you wouldn’t be able to stand up and might even drown. With that in mind, we see Jesus walking amongst all of those people with various diseases and infirmities and the bible doesn’t say that he even spoke to anyone until he got to this one particular man. That in itself ought to bless us just knowing that when we are totally hopeless and need help, he is willing to pass by everyone else and come to us. Next is the fact that before he ever spoke to the man he already knew how long he had been in that condition. This man had been in that shape longer than Jesus had been alive on this earth. Next, when Jesus spoke to the man he didn’t force himself on him or make a big production out of anything, he just asked him one question. He didn’t ask the man about his past or if he had committed some great sin and make him confess it publicly, he only asked if he wanted to be made whole. Jesus knows all things but he never asks us about our past because it has no bearing on whether or not he is willing to help us. I am glad that is the approach he takes when he saves us. He didn’t tell us in Romans 10:9 to publicly confess our sins in order to be saved. Those are between us and God. But rather he tells us if we confess him as being Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we shall be saved. That is all it takes. This man did what we often do when Jesus offered him healing; he began to tell him all the reasons why he couldn’t be healed. Jesus wasn’t deterred but gave the man one command which required faith to even attempt and he was made whole. It has always seemed curious to me that 5 is the number of grace in the bible and this scripture is found in chapter 5 and this man’s story starts in verse 5 and he was in a place with 5 porches. That’s a whole lot of coincidences isn’t it? Not really, just a whole lot of grace. One more thing I want to mention about this story is that Jesus saw this man and knew everything that was going to take place before the man ever laid eyes on him.
That is just how Jesus is with us. He sees us, no matter about darkness or storm clouds or weaknesses or disability, before we see him. Our circumstances or excuses do not deter him one bit from meeting our needs. And if you read further, you will find that the religious crowd found fault with what he had done because he didn’t follow their legalistic rituals. That tells me that Jesus must not care what anybody thinks about how he deals with people and what he does for them and when he does it. Aren’t you glad that you are Jesus’ primary concern from before his birth to Mary even until today? Everything he does is with you and I in mind. He sees you before you see him. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!