And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. Matthew 14:23-24
This is a marvelous picture. The disciples are obeying Jesus’ instruction, doing what he commanded, and they are running into great difficulties.
Matthew tells us that Jesus was praying. They cannot see Jesus. He is not physically present with them. But he can see them: “Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars” (Mark 6:48).
This is a marvelous illustration of what we experience in the Christian life. We are committed to a life of obedience to Christ. And having launched out in this direction, we quickly find that living an authentic Christian life is more difficult than we had thought.
We find ourselves straining against the currents of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and sometimes it seems that for all our efforts, we seem to be making little progress. But Christ is praying for us. He has ascended into heaven, where he has given himself wholly to the work of intercession. He represents us before the Father. We cannot see him, but he sees us, and he knows everything about us.
It’s not difficult to imagine the frustration of the disciples. “It’s all very well for Jesus to tell us to do this. Does he realize how difficult it is?”
Is there an area in your life where you are trying to obey Jesus, but it is causing you great trouble, and you feel abandoned by him?