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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 63 - John 6:17 - Night with Jesus Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




Night With Jesus.


"And entered into a ship, and went aver the sea toward Capernaum: and it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them."-John 6:17.



     Many a dark night has rested over this sea of Tiberias unrecorded. Many a storm has swept it; many an earthquake has convulsed it; many a wave has risen and fallen o'er its blue expanse; many a scene and hour of danger its steep hills have witnessed; all unrecorded; passing away in silence. But here is one night, of which record has been kept; one blast written down in history; one storm made memorable forever. At what exact part of that lake the occurrence took place we know not; it must have been somewhere towards the north, where Capernaum lay. Let us read this brief record, and learn its everlasting lesson.

     1. It was night. The sun had long set over the western steeps of Tiberias. Darkness was over all. The distant twinkling of the city lights in Capernaum or Chorazin was all that broke the gloom. Yes, it was night, and the disciples were alone. The Master was away. Jesus had not come to them. This made it double night.

     2. It was night at sea. Not indeed a sea broad and wide, like that which swept round Jonah, and wrecked Paul; but deep and wide enough for danger. They had left the green slopes, where they had been all day with their Master (5:10). To shorten their journey, by cutting off the north-eastern bend of the lake, they had taken ship; but night had overtaken them ere they had gone far; midnight had fallen, and they must row through the thick gloom over the eight or ten miles that lay between them and the northern shore. Besides, they were alone. Jesus had not come! They had looked for his joining them ere they embarked; and they were looking for Him still, expecting Him by some other boat; but He had not arrived. To be without Him on land, and by day, was sad; but to be without Him at sea, and by night, was sadder still.

     3. It was a night of toil. They had rowed some thirty furlongs,-about four miles,-but they had as many more before them; and it was severe toil after the incessant bustle of such a day as they had spent in feeding the multitudes. They were alone. The Master's presence would have cheered them; and, no doubt, as He had often done, He would have taken the oar along with them, weary as He might be. But He was not with them. They were toiling at the oar in this dark night, and Jesus had not come to them. This made their labour doubly hard, their weariness doubly sore.

     4. It was a night of danger. "The sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew." The storm had broken loose, and was rushing down from the mountains upon them; the waves were heaving round them and dashing over them. Peril encompassed them. Perhaps they were saying one to another, had the Master been here this storm would not have arisen, as if they would reproach Him for delay, forgetful that distance was nothing to Him. They were alone in this tempest. Jesus had not come to them. This made the storm seem more terrible. Had He been with them, even though He were asleep on the pillow, it would have calmed and cheered them. But He had not come!

     How much of trouble and despondency may have filled the hearts of the disciples on that night, we know not. The words certainly imply something of these,-"it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them." His delay was a trial of faith. It looked neglectful and unkind. They might be ready to say, "Master, carest thou not that we perish." But He loves to try, not to break, their faith. He will not try it beyond what they can bear. He tries it only to strengthen it.

     Let us look at these words in their more general aspect, as relating to the history of each saint and of the church at large. (1.) Night. (2.) Night without Jesus. (3.) Night with Jesus. (4.) Day with Jesus.

     1. Night. All have their nights. The sinner's history is all one long starless night. But the saint has his night too; his night of sorrow, of bereavement, of pain. The Church, too, has her night. She is "not of the night"; but she has "nights." Darkness, tempest, danger, are around about. Persecution, poverty, desertion; "famine, and nakedness, and peril, and sword." She has had many such nights, and will have them until her King arrives. There shall be no night then. But there is night now.

     2. Night without Jesus. The sinner's night is altogether without Jesus; nay, this is the very gloom of its darkness. But the saint has nights in which Jesus seems distant. "By night upon my bed I sought Him whom my soul loveth. I sought Him, but I found Him not." Without Him altogether he cannot be; for the promise is, "Lo, I am with you always." But there are times of sorrow, weakness, suffering, when He is not realized. And though the issue of these is to bring Him nearer, yet for a time He seems absent. The bond is not broken, but the joy is not tasted. The Church, too, has her nights of weariness and persecution in which He seems to stand aloof. It is dark, and He comes not.

     3. Night with Jesus. His presence is everything. It cannot indeed make it not night; but it makes the night to seem as day. With Him the darkness is as the light. For having Him we have, (1.) Companionship; (2.) Protection; (3.) Safety; (4.) Comfort; (5.) Strength; (6.) Assurance of coming day. With these may we not rejoice in the night? It is the night that draws out these blessings; that makes Jesus more suitable, more necessary. Blessed night that introduces us more fully into the fellowship of Jesus.

     4. Day with Jesus. Hitherto it has been night; yet during it the Church has had the Master's presence; "Lo, I am with you always." It has been good for her, indeed, to have Him with her during the world's darkness. But He does not leave her when the day breaks. He does not say, Let me go, for the day breaketh. More than ever shall He be with her during the long day of glory which is at hand. "So shall we ever be with the Lord"! He with us, and we with Him. And if his presence made night not only endurable but even pleasant, what will not that presence make the coming day!