Please read Luke 8:22-25. (See also Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41).
A. Jesus, Son Of God, Demonstrates How To Reign By Faith
This Passage of Scripture provides additional proof that Jesus is the Son of God and teaches us to practice faith in Him, as Jesus did. Thereby we rule over the storms of life and glorify the Creator of heaven and earth.
Since Jesus became fully human, He could demonstrate that man can live an overcoming life in the midst of all the tests and trials surrounding Him in this fallen creation.
B. Setting Off On A Mission With Jesus
The story begins where Jesus, after a busy day, without taking a bath or changing His clothes, sets off in a boat for the opposite side of the Lake of Galilee.
The boat was not His. Jesus kept as few possessions as possible, so that He would not be burdened with baggage when travelling all over. He therefore often availed Himself of whatever housing or other necessities were available. The boat probably belonged to Peter who was a fisherman of that area. His other disciples, several of whom shared in this trade, made up the rest of the passengers and crew.
C. Be Givers And Not Just Receivers
Disciples of Jesus must not only seek His presence to receive His blessings, but also to be available to be of use to Him. Serving Him and His Kingdom with our possessions, brings a great inner satisfaction and opens the heart for a greater infilling of the Holy Spirit. It also is a way of laying away treasures in heaven which will be awaiting our arrival.
D. Buying Out The Time
Since Jesus was continually under His Father’s direction, He used His time wisely. On reaching His destination, He would immediately have to minister to two demon-possessed men, a task that would tap His energy. Therefor He utilized the boat trip to take a nap to replenish His strength. He settled on a cushion spread along the longish rear bench of the boat and fell asleep.
E. A Good Start
Other small boats followed them. These were people to whom He had been ministering. They got so enthusiastic about Him and His ministry, that they followed Him in their boats to be able to hear more, see more and experience more.
Initially the journey literally was “plain sailing.” The disciples, as soon as they had launched the boat and hoisted the sail, probably sat back comfortably, chatting and enjoying the ride for they too were pretty worn out by the day’s activities.
F. Unexpected En Route Experiences
After a while, however, the wind picked up strongly and white caps appeared on the tops of the rising waves. To those who knew how quickly vicious storms could hit this seemingly tranquil lake, this was a bad sign. Therefor the other boats, hastily made a beeline for the nearest shore to save themselves. (We do not read of them again in the Scripture dealing with the event following the crossing of the lake).
The disciples, having Jesus with them in the boat and having had His clear command to sail to the other side of the lake, were not left with this option, so they ignored these signs of nature and continued on their journey. They also did not have the heart to waken their tired Leader to confer with Him.
G. Applying Their Skills
Some of the disciples, like Peter and his friends, were fishermen by profession and if there was one thing they knew how to do, it was to handle a sailing boat. Over many years they had certainly faced and survived many a storm on this very lake. So they probably confidently took charge, hauled in the sail, swung the bow against the wind, laid hold of the oars and rowed with all their might till the veins on their necks and forearms bulged. Their aim was not to make headway to the distant shore, but just to steady the boat, keeping it from broadsiding and being capsized by the waves.
H. A Friend Turning Into An Enemy
The very wind that was to be their servant, pushing them effortlessly across the lake, had suddenly turned upon them as a ferocious, howling enemy threatening to destroy them. The waves tossed the boat about like a tiny pebble. It staggered up against the towering banks of water, hesitated on the summit of a wave, then dashed down the other side. Smaller waves rushing on top of the larger ones, spilled over the stern. The disciple Matthew recorded in chapter 8:24 that the boat was “under the waves,” which means that torrents of water were pouring in over the sides.
In no time the boat was losing its buoyancy. It was becoming heavy with water, sinking lower and lower, the sides now just a few hand breads above the surrounding waters. The water inside the boat was halfway up their calves. Everything that could float, tossed around, banging against the sides. While some men kept rowing, the others lay hold of whatever hollow utensil was within reach and furiously bailed out the rising flood, but to no avail.
This storm was one too much for them. The boat would very soon silently slip from under them, sliding down to the sandy bottom of the lake of Galilee. They would be flailing around on the deep waters. Many of them, if not all, would drown.
J. Time For A Miracle
The time for a miracle was almost overdue, but the Miracle Worker was fast asleep in the stern. Fast asleep while the boat was bucking like a wild steer. He might even have covered Himself with a tarpaulin against the spray of water. How could He have been so unaware of their plight!
K. Turning To Jesus
In the nick of time some of the disciples turned to the Master but not gently, reverently, shaking Him by the shoulder and bringing their need to His attention, no, hollering in fear, frustration and anger above the screeching of the wind, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are dying?”
(Another of His very, very close friends that had spoken the same words to Him on another occasion, was Martha when He did not command her sister Mary to help her in preparing a meal for the guests: “Lord, don’t You care?”)
These words were a sure sign that the raging storm was not only onto them but had entered right into them. Their inner turmoil was a mirror image of the surrounding stormy waters. Their faith was sinking away into a sea of doubt.
L. Jesus’ Response
Taking all three Gospel accounts together, the following picture emerges. Before speaking to the storm, Jesus chided His disciples, saying: “Where is your faith?” Then, looking at the waters, He commanded both the wind and the waves to be quiet and immediately they obeyed, died down, became quite still, like a person dropping dead when being shot between the eyes. The boat peacefully sat on the waters like seagull.
Yes, He was not too late to save the situation; He never is.
Then he turned back to His world evangelists to be. Amazed at their panic He enquired reproachfully, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” (“Why are you so afraid? How is it that you have so little faith that you get scared of a little storm?”).
Jesus teaches us on the green grass under blue skies, but trains us in the lions’ dens, in the seven times overheated fiery ovens and on the tempestuous seas. Jesus’ gym where He turns mortal men into soldiers of the cross, is more taxing than any other training field on earth.
M. What They Did Correctly And What More They Should Have Done
- What they did correctly:
- Continuing their journey in the face of the storm according to Jesus’ orders when the other boats turned back.
- Most probably doing what every good sailor would do when facing a storm: physically handling the boat to the best of their ability.
- Did they pray in their hearts or out loud to God in heaven to deliver them? We are not told, but they could have been so intent on rowing the boat that they never did so.
- Should they have commanded the wind and waves to be still as Jesus did? It is rather easy for us to say a quick “Yes” for we have read in the Bible of Jesus doing so but:
- They were OT believers and they had no previous example of how a threatening danger could be averted by speaking to it.
- They had not yet been filled by the Holy Spirit and therefor lacked the boldness worked by the Spirit.
- We need to get God the Father’s approval before we do as Jesus did. When Paul was at sea in a similar storm, God did not give him authority to still the storm but informed him that they would be shipwrecked but their lives would be spared (Acts 27:13-38).
- What they should have done was:
- Not to have panicked.
- To have turned to Jesus timeously to cope with storm before it got out of hand. Their relying totally on their own ability, almost cost them their lives and their boat.
N. What God The Father Had Accomplished By This Incident
He had used the storm to further convince these twelve men that Jesus was indeed His only begotten Son. By having this incident recorded in three of the Gospels, God does the same for all the millions of readers down through the ages. We have further proof of the deity of Christ.
O. In Christ’s Gym
Undoubtedly bad things often happen to good people. Think of Job in the Old Testament. He lived as close to God as a human being possibly can, nevertheless, he lost much of his property, many of his trusted servants, all his children and, in the end, also his health. Living close to Jesus is no guarantee that things in our lives will always run smoothly.
On the contrary, being very near to Him, means being very near to the cross.
He said to all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same will save it. (Luk 9:23).
To live in Jesus’ shadow, sitting at His feet, means sitting in the shadow of the cross. It is a life-threatening place. It means that when you receive His command to cross to the other side, you continue doing so, right into the face of the storm and you press on when all the other boats have turned back and their occupants are sitting in the shelter of their homes, sipping coffee, shaking their heads at your madness, watching the shoreline to see when the shattered pieces of your boat will wash out.
P. The Trainee’s Understanding Of His Training
I need to wake up every morning knowing that the God of love may have some special training in store for me this day and be alert to cope with it in a spiritual way should it come unexpectedly.
Storms are God’s training apparatus. When they hit me, it is not necessarily because I am out of His will, but mostly because I have not turned back like the other boats; I am in my boat and He is with me. I am following His command, on my way to yonder heavenly shore.
He, my Coach, may seem to be slumbering, but He is watching me keenly. He wants to bring me into a deeper understanding of my own insufficiency and His all-sufficiency. The flesh must first spend itself before faith is exercised and the Spirit can take full control. Only when my own initiatives are totally exhausted, when I gasp for spiritual breath, do I let go of the oars and reach out for The Hand.
Jesus did not apologize for taking a nap but was annoyed because they had failed the test; now He would have to arrange for another one for they were in training as world evangelists and would often be on their own in years to come.
They were to have it imprinted into their minds that they were on a mission and that nothing, but nothing could harm them unless God expressly allowed it for a purpose that would work out for His glory.
Jesus never panicked; He knew that He was to die on a cross on a certain date at a certain time and that His Father would keep Him safe until that moment and then walk with Him all the way.
They were to learn to keep focusing on the Lord continually and, even in the smallest issue quickly ask, “What now Lord,” before reaching for the oars.
Q. Failing in Facing The Storms Of Life
Do we often act like the disciples? When a storm strikes, our immediate reaction is to rush in to solve it. This is not quite wrong. Of course we need to use our resources, but, but … at the same time we need to exercise our faith in God to give us wisdom to take the right action and to bless our efforts.
Instead, we often do like a cat when a naughty boy grabs it by the tail: it digs all four claws into the carpet and pulls forward with all its might to get away from the offending hand whereas it should rather yield, turn around and claw at it with its nails. The unwise cat gets into a frenzy and applies the wrong remedy.
We do likewise when we react in the flesh and our uninspired, unwise efforts achieve nothing. We panic and a storm of unbelief floods our hearts. Then, when God does not grab an oar and help us rowing, we want to scream at Him. The fact is that we have been doing a lot of pulling and sweating and very little trusting and praying.
Then, on top of it all, Jesus gets annoyed with us.
R. Fair-Weather-Faith Cannot Be Condoned
Jesus looked around Him at the dripping wet figures of His disciples, staring at Him with wide stretched eyes and demanded sternly, “Where is your faith?” What He was asking was, “Have you not seen me performing so many miracles, even raising a dead girl, why did it not enter your minds to act in faith to stop the storm?” When will you begin to live out your faith, to put it into action? When will miracles become part of your daily lives?”
Christians often look like wet chickens to the world around them because they do not exercise their faith when hit by the storms of life. They end up just as bewildered, shamefaced and confused as their next door neighbours.
S. Let Us Go For Victory
The goal of our training is to become like Jesus; developed in faith, capable of coping with all the wiles and onslaughts of the devil.
Then we too will experience the breathtaking difference between natural action in the flesh and supernatural conduct in the Spirit; the difference between man working and God working.
Would life not be so much simpler, more peaceful, more relaxed if we would just exercise our faith instead of burning our brains to think out a human way of handling supernatural challenges?
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