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Put yourself in the place of one of Jesus’ followers. In the space of a few days, you have seen a leper healed and returned to society. You have witnessed the paralyzed servant of a Roman official made well with a word from Jesus. You’ve also heard a message that people who follow Jesus will suffer difficulties.
So far, you have escaped hardships, but your circumstances are getting ready to change. Matthew told the story like this: “And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.
“And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’
“And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
“And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?'” (Matthew 8.23-27).
The Biggest Storm of Your Life
As we connect with this event in the life of Jesus and his disciples, pause for a moment and recall the biggest storm of your life.
— One of my friends was a Navy Seal during the Vietnam War. He may respond by remembering a time when his life was in the balance.
— Many families have gone through the storms of life as they sat by the hospital bed of a loved one.
— Another one of my friends may remember an overdose that was truly a life or death situation.
— Still another, may remember a betrayal of trust that produced deep hurt and confusion.
— Possibly, all that is going on in 2020 is the biggest storm of your life.
Spend a moment and think about the biggest storm in your life. Then, return to the disciples and Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. The boat was most certainly sailed by seasoned fishermen. They had considerable experience on the Sea of Galilee and knew that its squalls and storms could be very hazardous to travelers.
As they fought a severe battle with the storm, Jesus was asleep. Think about your situation. Did Jesus appear to be absent? Did you feel left alone? As you were afraid and anxious, did you resent the seeming absence of Jesus’ presence?
Jesus was a carpenter and not a fisherman. In their time of need the seasoned sailors appealed to him for help. Their request resembled a prayer. They said, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing” (verse 25).
Let’s not miss what Jesus said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (verse 26). I think they had every reason to be afraid. I also think that they showed their faith by waking Jesus up and asking for his help. However, Jesus differs with me. I wonder what he meant when he talked about their fear and little faith.
Could it be that Jesus wanted his followers to know that as long as they were with him, they were in the safest place possible? Even though Jesus was asleep and they were battling the storm of their lives, he was still in the boat. He had not left them.
I write my blog articles in the comfort of our basement. It is easy to be confident in Jesus in a safe and pleasant place. It is an entirely different matter to trust Jesus in the midst of the storms of life. Whether you are in an intense storm or sitting like me in a comfortable place, please know that Jesus is with you. As long as he is with you, you are in the safest place on earth.
Could it be that Jesus’ mention of their “little faith,” was a pointer to “greater faith” to come? The storm that the disciples encountered was nothing compared to their experiences we will read about as we continue in Matthew’s Gospel. The next events that are recorded in Matthew will test their courage and faith in greater measure. It is possible that Jesus slept through the storm as a means to build their faith in his presence and abilities.
Think back on the storms of your life. Even though I have hated every storm I went through, I have found that each “storm” has grown my faith and deepened my understanding about life and God. What about you? Can you view the storms you have encountered as opportunities to become wiser about life and filled with confidence in God?
Our world is currently in the midst of a violent storm. The winds and the waves of the corona virus, unemployment, racial tension and overall chaos threaten to swamp our small ship. As long as Jesus is in the boat with us, we are safe. We will develop more faith and wisdom for the next storm, as we continue to be faithful to Jesus and his purposes.
** Jesus’ Authority
When Jesus finished the Sermon on the Mount, “the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7.28-29).
The Roman centurion recognized Jesus’ authority over sickness and health. He believed that Jesus could command sickness to go and health to appear as easily as he could direct the movement of his troops (Matthew 8.9).
When Jesus commanded the winds and waves to be calm, the disciples exclaimed in amazement, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8.27). What they witnessed was a new level of authority. Jesus demonstrated authority over the natural elements of the earth’s atmosphere.
The issue of authority will come up several times, as we read Matthew’s Gospel. It was especially important to the Jewish leaders, because it answered the question, “Who is in control here?”
Matthew makes the answer to the authority question very clear, “Jesus is in control here.” He speaks words of authority. He has power and authority over illness. He can command the winds and waves.
As we read about Jesus’ authority, one question remains. Does he have authority over our lives? As seek to align our lives with Jesus’ life and ministry, let’s pray from the heart the words of the Lord’s Prayer,
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6.8-9)
Dear Jesus, during the storms of life that are present in our lives, we ask you to come to our aid. Take authority over our lives and may your will be done in us in the same way that it is done in heaven.