"During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake." Matthew 14:25
There is something kind of nice about a gentle Summer thunderstorm in the middle of the night. But as a general rule, we don't appreciate storms. For the most part we dread them and do our best to avoid them.
But in Matthew 14 we see how valuable a storm can be. These guys who had walked with Jesus and lived with Him 24/7 for several years, learned lessons about Him during the storm that they had not learned before.
Since all of us face storms in life and since, in fact, some of you are in the middle of a storm right now it is helpful to know that there a important life lessons that can be learned in a storm. To this point we have mentioned three:
Lake Lesson #1 - It makes a difference to know that you are in Jesus' boat when you're in a storm.
Lake Lesson #2 - Jesus prays for you while you steer the boat in the storm.
Lake Lesson #3 - Jesus always knows where you are in the storm.
Today we learn another helpful lesson - Jesus knows the perfect time to come to us in the storm.
Our text tells us that He came during the fourth watch of the night. If it mentions that in the Scriptural account it must be significant. And it is.
In the Jewish mind, the night was divided into four watches: watch one - 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.; watch two - 9:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.; watch three - 12:00 a.m. - 3:00 a.m.; and watch four - 3:00 - 6:00 a.m. It is during that 3:00 to 6:00 a.m. period that Jesus came to them.
I recommend that you do a study on the fourth watch of the night. It is pretty interesting and inspiring. Just to wet your appetite let me tell you a few other things that happened during the fourth watch: the Israelites fled from Egypt during the fourth watch of the night, after the Death Angel had swept through in the third watch; the Red Sea closed on the Egyptian army destroying them during the fourth watch, and the stone was rolled away from in front of Jesus' tomb so He could arise from the dead!
Some significant things happened during the fourth watch! Another one was about to happen because Jesus headed off across the lake during the fourth watch!
Now let's just be honest about one of our frustrations with God, He never moves according to our time schedule! It always seems like He takes forever to come to our aid. We always wonder if we are going to make it before He steps in to bring relief. But let's also be honest to admit that every time we have thought that He came AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME! Look back on every storm you have weathered and you will marvel at how perfect His timing was!
If you are storm tossed today. If your boat is rocking and the wind is against you and the waves are batting you like a ping pong ball - remember that His timing is perfect and you may be in the fourth watch!