Jesus in the boat

This article focuses on a grave danger that exists in Christianity. A disaster that plunges men into eternal damnation without any form of reversal. This disaster is the possibility of some believers getting to the Pearly Gates only to realise that they were never really truly saved on the earth! That, unknown to them, they never truly knew Christ – even though they called Him “Lord, Lord”, served in the church in His name, with some even performing spectacular miracles in His name.

Yet they did not know their true spiritual condition before God. They thought they knew Christ, but Christ never knew them.They thought they are with Jesus in the boat of there life.They were never truly connected to the source of life – Jesus Christ. Most probably, they were members of what they thought were living churches of God, perhaps they were even workers there. Like most of us, they also prayed in the name of Jesus, and got answers from heaven. They also fasted. They did quiet time. They gave to God. They evangelised. They looked forward to the return of Jesus. Yet….

This was the grim reality that Jesus presented to His hearers towards the end of His iconic Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5-7. It is a reality that confronts the believers of today, just as it confronted those that heard Him over 2,000 years ago. And it is a consideration that ought to keep believers very sober and watchful as we traverse our pilgrimage on this side of eternity, as admonished in passages like the following:

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6)

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour….” (1 Peter 5:8)

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” (1 Peter 4:7)

With Jesus In The Boat, The Storm Will Be Over


Please also read 1 Thessalonians 5:8, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 1:13.

Why does the New Testament repeatedly mention the need for believers to be sober in their Christian walk? The answer is simple. In the bliss that may at times accompany our walk in the Christian faith, it is possible to assume we are journeying with Jesus Christ, when, in actual fact, He is not (or is no longer) a part of the journey.

Let us illustrate this, using Luke 2:41-51 as an allegory. In that story, the family of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, were returning to Nazareth after the Feast of Passover in Jerusalem. It was a great time of joy for the whole clan. The joy of knowing that they had celebrated the Passover ordained by God since the days of their forefathers. So, an atmosphere of spiritual fulfilment pervaded the throng as the extended family headed back home.

As they went along, the Bible records in verse 44 that Joseph and Mary assumed that 12-year-old Jesus was journeying along with them in the midst of their relatives. They had travelled a day’s journey before they realised that Jesus was not in the company. It was a day of blind faith in believing that, somehow, Jesus was following them. That Jesus was somewhere in the crowd.


Few Encouragements For You To Just Endure Suffering For Christ

But, clearly, Jesus was not! He had stopped. He had made a detour somewhere during the journey of merriment. A detour to ‘be at His Father’s business’ (verse 49). A quiet, unnoticed detour that none of His co-travellers noticed. So, in that period, at that moment in history, they had ‘lost’ Jesus! And for a whole day, they did not know that they had lost the greatest treasure on earth – the treasure that God committed to their care. They had lost Jesus. And they did not know.

This is an actual story that happened in the physical realm. But it embodies a great spiritual truth. Travelling with Jesus may be a risky venture for a disciple that is not vigilant – especially when we are travelling with Him in the company of others. There are several biblical illustrations that highlight this danger.

First, we can learn from the example of the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. The Bible described them as virgins (unbelievers are not described as ‘virgins’ in a metaphorical sense in the Bible). They also had lamps. And they had also been awaiting the arrival of the Bridegroom like the other five wise virgins. Yet, the door was shut against them in verse 10. Their cry for mercy did not change the situation. Rather, we can assume that they would have been shocked by the response that came from the Bridegroom from behind the door, “…Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (verse 12). It was probably at this point that the gravity of their situation really hit them. Thy had been locked out of the presence of the bridegroom! And it was too late to do anything about it.

What do we learn from the suffering of Christ?


If this is only a parable that Jesus told to urge His disciples to be watchful, there are indeed true life scenarios that emphasise this huge, spiritual danger. In a sobering way, it is Jesus Himself that helps us to see how it is possible for a whole church to ‘lose’ Christ, and not even know it! He highlighted this danger in His interaction with the seven churches in Asia, as recorded in Revelation 2 and 3. In these accounts, three out of the seven churches that Jesus evaluated had ‘lost’ Christ in varying degrees.

The first church that we see facing this existential danger is the remarkable church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7). The church was very fruitful and had so many positive factors in her favour. Yet in verse 4, Jesus announced somberly:

“Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”

They had left Jesus, yet they were ‘doing well’! They had left Jesus, yet they had many positive indices as Jesus outlined in verses 2-3! This is the danger of spiritual motion without progress. The danger of going around in spiritual circles that lead nowhere. To underscore the huge danger that lay ahead of the Ephesian church, if they continued on the same path, please look at Jesus’ warning to them in verse 5:

“… repent… or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

Obviously, if they didn’t repent, and He removed the ‘candlestick out of his place’ as a consequence, that church would have been plunged into darkness – and eventually into oblivion. This is the danger of thinking we are travelling with Jesus, when He’s actually not in the boat.

The second time we see this danger is in the church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6). This was a very popular church with a great reputation in its community for being a living church. Everybody knew them for that. But, in the estimation of God, the words of Jesus are clear, “… thou … art dead….” (verse 1). So, a church that was in terminal decline had a reputation for being a living church, even among God’s people! Do you see the danger? They did not realise their true condition. And unless they repented, the outcome would have been disastrous as Jesus outlined in verse 3.

The third church with this same problem is the church that is spiritually equivalent to the church in our days – the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22). This was a church that thought she was a blessed church (verse 17). She did not know that, in truth, in the words of Jesus, she was actually “…wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”.

In verse 20, it is not difficult to deduce that this church has clearly ‘lost’ Jesus without knowing! For we see Jesus standing outside, knocking for the attention of those that could hear Him, so that He would fellowship with those ones. This church was blind, but she did not know. This church was naked, but she did not know. Ditto for being poor, wretched, and miserable. Yet, she prided herself in being a materially blessed church. They had ‘lost’ Jesus, and their focus had shifted from the eternal to the temporal. And they did not know.

It is the story of this last church that is most relevant for our generation. For, as mentioned previously, this church is a prophetic picture of the church in the end-time, in our days. Generally speaking, this is a generation that has ‘lost’ Jesus without knowing. A generation that is blind without knowing it. A naked generation that thinks she is clothed with Christ, clothed in His righteousness.

It is in the murkiness of this spiritual blindness that Satan is rapidly changing the façade of the church, and we are not noticing the changes. We are not noticing that the focus of discipleship has moved away from following Jesus by carrying our cross, to looking unto Him for the earthly blessings we think we can get from Him. We are not noticing that our church leaders are now living like the Pharisees that Jesus denounced – sitting on the best padded seats in the church, wearing apparels that distinguish them from their brethren, enjoying the use of high-sounding titles, and so on. We are not noticing that our generation is no longer raising true disciples for Jesus Christ, as the churches of old did.

All these are happening, yet we sit in these churches that are clearly devoid of the living, vibrant life of Christ. Yes, we moan once in a while that things seem not to be going too well, but we are still contented to sit there, devoting our time, devoting our resources. Presumably, the prophecy of Prophet Isaiah, as quoted by Jesus in Matthew 13:14, may have caught up with our generation:

“… By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive….”

The advent of the AGE OF SELF, along with the hordes of the evil spirits fuelling its manifestation, seems to be dulling our senses to the spiritual conditions of our days, and the true condition of our eternal souls before God.

For the falsehood that has flooded our churches today has altered our perception of the true Jesus Christ of the New Testament. It has also clouded our understanding of the very high standards that He set for those that will follow Him along the narrow way that only a few will find. Here are His words in Matthew 7:14:

“…the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (ESV)

Not only is the gate narrow, the way is also hard! And, in His characteristic frank manner, Jesus made it clear in Luke 14:28-32 that those who wish to follow Him should count the (hard) cost of followership before embarking on the journey of faith in Him. In this regard, here are a few of the non-negotiable conditions that He set down, in Luke 14, for men that would be His disciples:

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (verse 26)

“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (verse 27)

“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (verse 33)

He ended this challenging, soul-searching passage in Luke 14 with these take-it-or-leave-it words:

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (verse 35)

How many have ears to hear the challenge of followership as laid down by Jesus when He saw a great multitude following Him (verse 25)? For Jesus is far more interested in the quality of His followership than the quantity. Do you remember how He pointedly challenged His core disciples if they also wished to go back when the other disciples deserted Him in John 6:66-67? Clearly, followership is not a numbers game with Jesus – followership is a heart issue! And it is either a man’s heart is fully in followership, or he’ll be quietly cast aside – even when such a man erroneously thinks he is still following Jesus! No wonder the Bible says God cannot be mocked!

But attempting to mock God is the goal of Satan’s deception. Goaded by Satan, Eve thought she could mock God by getting God’s blessing (wisdom), while disobeying Him in eating the forbidden fruit. Today, Satan is goading believers to mock God by thinking we can get the blessings that are inherent in Christ, while ignoring the difficult reality of the cross. But God cannot be mocked.

Today, He’ll earnestly call men to repentance. Today, He’ll supply the grace to all that choose to repent. In fact, where sin abounds, grace will much more abound! God will do all these today in His love and mercy. But, one day, mercy will come to an abrupt end for the unrepentant! One day, the door will be shut against all the virgins that are slow in preparing for His return – taking their preparation at their own convenience and pace. A pace that is often dictated by SELF in this AGE OF SELF.

For SELF seeks to undermine Jesus in every way possible. In fact, it has today created a distorted reality of a Jesus that can be tweaked to make us comfortable in lukewarmness. A Jesus that is compassionate, but not demanding. A Jesus that is forgiving, but not challenging. A Jesus that is understanding, but does not rebuke sharply. This is the type of Jesus that SELF loves and adores, and is willing to worship all the days of its life. The Jesus that millions and millions of believers are following today.

But as we all know, this distorted reality does not in any way fit the balanced reality of the true Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As the personification of love, the true Jesus loves men to the uttermost. But, at the same time, as the Lord over His house, He is also very strict with His people whenever the need arises. And, as the Lord of glory, the worship that is due to Him must spontaneously spring from the heart. When He was on the earth, Apostle John the beloved leaned on His bosom in a show of warm affection (John 13:23-25). But, in total awe, this same John ‘fell at His feet as dead’ when He saw Him in glory in Revelation 1:10-18.

For so is Jesus now – the Lord of glory! Our generation seems to have lost this sense of awe in relating to the Lord. We have become so familiar with Him that we do not know when or how to fall at His feet in awe of the majesty of His glory. Rather, we see an ever-smiling Jesus that is almost always on standby to perform the miracles that we desire of Him. This is what a distorted reality of Jesus has done to us.

The true Jesus remains as loving as ever. But also as strict as ever. Many times, His rebuke still stings – before it heals. In His interaction with the church in Laodicea, He told them plainly that His rebuke is an expression of His love (Revelation 3:19). In that same encounter, recorded in Revelation 2 and 3, some of the straying churches got quite a bit of His tough love, as He upheld the high standards of the Gospel.

And so, for the complacent church in Ephesus, it was “…repent…. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5). This would have plunged the church into darkness! For the deluded church in Sardis, it was: “… repent… or I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you” (Revelation 3:3).

The outlook for the lukewarm church in Laodicea was even more severe – ‘repent, or else I will spit you out of my mouth’. For the seductive Jezebel in the church in Thyatira and her victims, it was really hard: “Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead….” (Revelation 2:22-23). All these hard instances of “… repent… or else…” were directed at His church! Churches that were even closer to the days of the Apostles of Christ.

Jesus is love indeed. But in the time of backsliding and apostasy, Jesus’ love persists, but it presents itself as tough love! In our own days of great backsliding and apostasy, is it not a surprise that we are not hearing about the tough love through which Jesus shepherds His sheep back to the narrow path? The reason for this is simple. It is because the true Jesus is not present in most of the charade that is paraded in His name today. He is simply not there! What is there is a mirage of the distorted reality of Jesus. A non-existent Jesus. A ‘Jesus’ that is created by the AGE OF SELF, for the comfort of SELF, to attract and retain the people of SELF. A hoax created by Satan, the master of deception, manipulation, and bewitchment.

The false Jesus that is on parade in the church of today is the one that most believers in the church system know. They have never had an encounter with the true Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. And the result of this mass deception, this mass bewitchment, is easy to see. Please look at the fruits of the Christians of today. What do you see? Do you see the pursuit of godliness and righteousness? Do you see heaven-minded pilgrims that are bearing the yoke of the cross in a mocking world? Do you see men and women that have set their affection, not on things on the earth, but on things in heaven, where Christ dwells (Colossians 3:2). Do you see these forms of fruits abounding, or even budding, in our churches today?

Yet the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:16-19 rings true till today:

“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”

For the discerning, watchful believer, the abundance of bad fruits that the church of today is producing, without a massive cry of repentance, is enough indication that something is fundamentally wrong somewhere! And what is wrong is simply that Jesus is not at the heart and centre of what we call church today.

Men are being deceived. Many have been bewitched into these empty, religious institutions that hide under the name of Jesus to hoodwink gullible souls into perdition. For many, many will not know that Jesus is not part of this charade – until they get to the Pearly Gates! Many that think they are following Jesus today will be shocked on the Last Day when they realise that the Jesus they had been led to believe in is a mirage, a distorted vision of reality.

Worse still, many believers that started well have become careless, and many have been drawn away by sweet-talking ‘men of God’ – just as Apostle Paul warned against in Acts 20:30. They have been drawn away to these ‘men of God’ and to the ‘fake Jesus’ that they represent. Millions and millions and millions of believers are in this category. And, sadly, they do not even know!

This is the great end-time deception that Jesus warned against. The mass lukewarmness and apostasy that will make Jesus barely find faith on earth when He returns (Luke 18:8). The Apostles of Christ also prophesied about this catastrophe that is unfolding in our days. We are familiar with the several warnings given by Apostles Peter and Paul. Please read these lines from Jude 17-19:

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions [SELF].” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people [THE WORLD], devoid of the Spirit.”

They are devoid of the Spirit because they are devoid of Christ! Devoid of the knowledge of God that leads men into salvation in Christ Jesus. Rather, they are men governed by SELF and THE WORLD, as the passage clearly indicates. And this end-time is their theatre, their time of rising to the apex of their power and influence.

These warnings were issued over 2,000 years ago. And the events are playing out in our own days – in real life, in real colour. And yet, many remain ignorant. Many choose to live in denial of these realities. Many remain steadfast in their love and commitment to the empty, external form of Christianity (a façade) that Satan created and has perfected over several centuries of cunning manipulation.

This is a deception that is almost imperceptible – except by the illumination of the Spirit of God in a heart that is thirsty and yearning for nothing but the truth. A heart that does not trust any man above the word of God, however seemingly anointed the man is. For most of the men that lead the church system of today are men of Satan disguised as ministers of righteousness. Just as we read in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15:

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

They come, pretending to be ministers of righteousness; just as their master comes pretending to be an angel of light. Just to deceive men. To entrap men, and draw them away to a false Christ, and eventually into perdition.

With this huge danger lurking in the end-time, we should not be surprised that the warning of Jesus for the end-time is hinged on the necessity to WATCH! WATCH!! WATCH!!! And to pray. In the same way, Apostles Peter and Paul also focussed our attention on the need to watch as quoted earlier in the chapter when we were talking about sobriety.

Do we dare to ignore all these warnings from our heavenly Father that sees the end from the beginning? To watch means to look more closely. To be more attentive. To look beyond the surface. To go deeper than the glossy exterior. To be more diligent than those that are simply looking – and are seeing nothing.

This is the warrior-attitude, the warrior-mentality, that God wants all His children to develop and deploy in these Last Days. That is, children that do not want to be consumed by the perils of this end-time. The perils of eternal damnation.

“And so, what is the way forward?” some may be asking at this point. The answer is right there in the Bible. Captured in the words of Jesus in Revelation 3:20:

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

This is a call for separation issued by the Lord Himself. A call for separation to Himself. A call for separation from all the noise and jamboree of the empty religion that is all around us. A call for separation unto a more intimate, personal communion with the Lord. Please mark the key words of Jesus in the above verse closely: “…if any man … open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

Do you notice the intensely personal nature of this call to separation – ‘any man’, ‘to him’, ‘with him’, ‘he with me’? A very personal call. This separation is an absolute necessity because we cannot embrace light and darkness at the same time. There has to be a separation. We cannot hear the gentle knock of Christ and the cacophony in the church system at the same time. There has to be a separation.

For it is in the communion of this separation that men will be able to find Christ afresh – either for the very first time, or in a ‘return-to-your-first-love’ situation for those that have been drawn away by the enticement of the church system. It is in this communion of separation that our eyes would be opened to the glory of the Lord that will cause us to fall in awe at His feet – understanding His mind, mindful of His standards, and being resolute in the pursuit of the will of God to the very end. It is this last point that opens the Pearly Gates to the earnest pilgrim. Jesus made this clear in Matthew 7:21:

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

Apostle John that fell at the feet of Jesus also echoed this same truth in 1 John 2:17:

“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

The insight that we need to know the personal, specific will of God for our lives flow from the place of a deep, intimate communion with the Lord of glory. Do you know the specific, clear will of God for your life? The specific purpose for which He created you, and called you into the Kingdom of His Son for such a time as this? Are you pursuing that will of God with all your spirit, soul, and body? In this pursuit, are you on track? Are you on time? Are you running the race strictly according to the rules (2 Timothy 2:4-5)? These are not answers that can be plucked from the air, or from the noise of the empty religion around us.

These are answers that come only from the glorious lips of our glorious Saviour in the place of deep, focussed, personal communion. For, one day, the answers to the above questions will be all that matter – when this world would have passed away with all its lust. So, these answers must matter to you today above everything else in life. And there is only one avenue to get these answers – through the communion of separation unto the Lord of glory Himself.