The Fourth Watch

“And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them”

Mark 6:48

The fourth day, the fourth man, and the fourth watch all have related truths in which we can find comfort and confidence.

They had entered the boat at His request. He had constrained them to enter it and to go to the other side to Bethsaida while He sent the people away. Did they wonder about how He would get there? Were they wondering what was delaying Him and what He was doing?

They had obeyed His request. And yet … the wind suddenly arose, perhaps a gale was blowing. There was among them, seasoned fisherman, accustomed to storms. But this was a challenge even for them. Why should things go wrong when they had obeyed Him and where they were supposed to be? Wasn’t everything supposed to go smoothly when you obeyed?

Two things are worthy of note before looking at the Lord’s arrival on the scene: He had prepared them for this trial. Earlier, He was with them in a storm on the sea. He was available to them and they only had to awaken Him and call upon Him for help (Mark 4:35-40). 

Second, He was not really away from them. He was upon the mount praying (v 46) and His eyes were watching them (v 48). They did not know it, but He was as much with them while on the mount as He had been when in the ship.

They must have wondered as well, how everything would work out. He had said He would get them to the other shore, but it looked hopeless. They kept rowing as the hours passed. Finally, the fourth watch of the night, as late as it could be before the sunrise, He came. The waves they were fearing became the very vehicle which brought Him: He came walking on the waves. They did not recognize and understand everything at first, they thought it was a spirit. But when He entered the small boat, the wind ceased, and all was calm.

We can be faced with things which “do not make sense.” Our plans and goals can be upset. We think we are in the mind of the Lord and yet problems seem to arise. We struggle and wait, and things do not get better. It may not be the fourth watch of the night yet. He had to let them exhaust all their own strength before He came. It is not that He finds delight in seeing us struggle; He delights in having us depend on Him. We would want Him to arrive in the first watch of the night; to come immediately when problems begin to arise. He is not ignorant, impotent, or indifferent to our situation as we face COVID-19. Especially with being homebound, we want this thing over now if not yesterday. Maybe it’s not the fourth watch of the night as yet.

The fourth day became the day of His presence in their sorrow; the fourth Man was His presence in the fire; the fourth watch was His presence in the storm. Each provided a revelation of His greatness and sufficiency.

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