Matthew 8: 23-27
By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Storms Cannot Buffet those in Christ
General Idea: This passage is about relying on God's power. The Disciples believed and saw some incredible events, but somehow what they had observed and participated in firsthand did not create in them an ability to trust. We will see this theme tested within ourselves when the storms of life buffet against us. This includes the tempests of frustration, the chaos of stress, the gossip from toxic people, the daily grind of life, wrong choices, people conflict, and, of course, sin. How we deal with this is paramount to our ability to trust God. If we prepare to trust in Christ, we will be taken safely across. If we do not, we may sink.
No human has control over the elements of matter in the universe. We may think we do because we can, through technology, manipulate our environment and may even one day be able to control the weather, but only God has real and total control. In this passage, Jesus is defiantly demonstrating His godhood by taking control of creation.
1. The disciples followed Him. It is one thing to believe in something, and quite another to trust, and even more to obey an idea, plan, or cause. To follow Christ requires all three.
a. We need to receive His free gift of grace, which we do nothing to get; at the same time, faith is required in order to receive it.
b. To help our faith and relationship with Christ and others to grow, and for Him to work in our lives, especially to touch others, we also have to be willing to trust and obey Christ as Lord over all things--including our lives.
c. A common theme in the Gospels is that hearing the Word is not enough; you have to obey it (Luke 8:8,18,21-25).
d. Mark records Jesus saying, "let us cross to the other side (Mark 4:35-41)." Jesus is in Galilee according to Mark 3:7, and the other side would be Gergesenes and the Gadarenes region where Jesus goes to in the next passage (Matt. 8:28f; Mark 5:1).
2. "Without warning, a furious storm came," the Sea of Galilee is 13 miles long and 8 miles wide, and is located in a basin 700 feet below sea level, making it one of the lowest points on earth. Mountains surround it, and its southern end is a deep, cliff-lined valley. Cool air from the Mediterranean is drawn down through the narrow mountain passes, and collides with the hot, humid air of Galilee lying over the lake. Thus, the size and shape of this area creates a vortex effect with weather patterns, so that sudden, violent storms come up without warning. A person in a boat will not see them coming until it is too late, because they are hidden behind the mountains.
a. Most first century fisherman stayed close to the shore of Capernaum. The disciples showed some faith by being willing to go across the sea to the other side by Jesus request (Luke 8:22).
b. A small fishing boat and a typical fisherman who only stayed close to shore would be unprepared for such a storm and it would easily capsize the small boat, killing all aboard. This explains the fear the disciples had.
i. We, too, can stay close to the shore of our comfort in the Christian life, and never take risks, or exercise real impacting faith. To pursue the Christian life and make an impact requires us to venture were we may not want to go, but we only do this by His leading, and only move by His empowerment. We merely trust and obey.
ii. This is also the pattern for life. We do not see what is ahead. We do not see how our choices, sin, and events may collide, causing sudden and violent storms of stress, chaos, strife, pain, and suffering.
iii. If real faith is shown when the storms come, what would your faith show now?
iv. Storms are a part of our lives in a fallen world. At any one moment, you are in a storm, you just got out of a storm, or you are headed into a storm. So, are you prepared?
v. Sometimes we feel Jesus is asleep, as life overwhelms us, but rest assured. He is still there, caring and carrying us. Even if He was asleep (He does not) and our troubles keep multiplying (and they will at times) we are still safe when we remain in the boat--in Him (John 14-15)!
3. Jesus was sleeping. This gives us a picture of Jesus' humanity, as He must have been so totally exhausted from all of the crowds converging at Him, He fell asleep (Mark 4:38; John 4:6; 11:35-38).
a. I head a pastor say once that this passage is a testimony to the fact Jesus is not God, because God does not sleep. This notion is ridiculous, as what man can calm a storm? And, we have to remember, Jesus is fully God and fully man, so, He is susceptible to all of our ills while He still remains sovereign over the universe. Because of this, He was able to take our place in life and in death, for our redemption.
b. Typical fishing boats had a raised stern with a compartment underneath; perhaps it was there that Jesus slept. Some boats had that stern covered by a leather or wood roof. Mark adds that Jesus was sleeping on a cushion. A cushion was normally kept under the coxswain's seat (helmsmen's) the person who steered to boat (Mark 4:38).
c. Jesus was relaxed during the storm, a picture of faith for us to emulate. We can rest under His cover, and still be tranquil in composure and free from our stress (2 Kings 6:16-16,32; Psalm 4:8; Prov. 19:23).
d. You of little faith. What a sting those words must have been to the worrisome disciples, as they realized they had messed up again.
e. The secret to remaining joyful in the face of adversity is our faith, our confidence and assurance that He is there in the boat with us. Jesus will not let the boat capsize. But, even if it did, He is still there.
4. He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves. Only God has real and total power over His creation. Jesus demonstrated that He is God, because even the winds and sea obeyed Him (Psalm 29:3-4; 65:5-7; 89:9; 107:23-30).
a. Jesus is Lord over creation, but you have to exercise your will to move it out of the way so He can be Lord over your life. He will rarely bully His way over you; you have to reach out to Him by faith, even though He reached out first to save you. It is by faith alone we receive His grace that has been offered to us.
b. Mark adds, peace/ be still (Mark 4:39). In the Greek, this means to be muzzled, as in muzzling an ox. Jesus, being fully God, has power and authority over creation (Mark 1:27). He has authority in His teaching (Mark 1:22), the power to forgive our sins (Mark 2:10), and the power to save and empower us.
c. The calming of the storm resembles His exorcisms (Mark 1:25-26; 5:4; 23).
d. There are numerous stories of Greek gods and pagan legends manipulating the weather; these stories took place in the far distant past. In Hebrew tradition, only God has that power (Psalm 107:29; John 1:15).
5. "What kind of man is this?" asked the disciples. They knew that Moses and Elijah were able to manipulate the weather; however, they did not do so on their own power, rather, God worked through them with His power! There were also stories told about angels coming, who looked like men, but they could not manipulate the weather either. So, they were perplexed in trying to understand who Jesus was. We are plainly told throughout Scripture and doctrine who Jesus is. The disciples had to discover it first hand.
a. Who is this in your life? In all honesty, if you believe in what Jesus had just done, the only answer to this rhetorical question is that He is God! God's presence and power were demonstrated as He controlled the weather (Psalm 65:7; 107:25-30; Prov. 30:4).
b. Mark makes it clear that Jesus is God at the very start of his gospel (Mark 1:1)!
c. These miracles over nature helped the disciples to develop and increase their faith in Jesus. (Mark 4:41)
There will be times when we are afraid. Sometimes we will be just a little nervous; sometimes we will be outright panic-stricken, as the disciples must have been. We will see the storms of life come against us, causing us to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Even those who have been through them before and have grown and matured will become tired and wearisome. The danger is when our faith breaks down into fear so we do not venture out with it. We become stuck, and refuse to learn and grow.
He may even take you through the storm to the very edge of your breaking point to get your attention. But, the only thing that will be broken will be what must be broken, our will, the rest of us will become stronger. Just as most fisherman were unwilling to venture past the coastline (for good reason for them, not for us with faith), if you do the same with your walk in Christ you will sink in those shallow depths. As you will not realize that Jesus is there to take you through it, all you will see is the storm and not the growth and fruits that it can bring you. You will not develop true confidence in our Lord or will He be able to take you where you will learn the most and do the most good.
The key to unlock the fear so it opens into contentment is our worship and prayer time. Sometimes that is all we can do, but it is not a last resort it is our front line and most important defense. It is to be our preparation for the weathering of a storm. It will help you build your relationship with Christ so your faith, confidence and courage grow. Then those storms and crises will make you stronger and help you help others through them too. When we fully learn to trust, then we can obey and it will build our confidence so we will sail across those storm tossed seas of life in confidence as Jesus Christ is there beside us manning the helm!
1. Have you ever been in a bad storm or earthquake? How did you handle it?
2. If you were in the boat with Jesus and just as the disciples you did not fully comprehend who this guy was, what would you have done or said?
3. Why are you afraid at times? What causes your faith to get wet from the storms of life?
4. How have you relied on God's power?
5. What do you do when the storms of life buffet against you? Such as, frustration, chaos, stress, gossip, toxic people, the daily grind of life, wrong choices, people coming agents you, and of course sin?
6. How we deal with the stress of life is paramount. So how should you deal with them?
7. It is one thing to believe in something and quite another to trust and even more to obey an idea, plan or cause. To follow Christ requires all three. Why is this so? How have you seen this evident in your life?
8. To help our faith and relationship with Christ and others to grow and for Him to work in our lives especially to touch others, we also have to be willing to trust and obey Christ as Lord over all including our lives too. Why? Why would some Christians choose not to grow?
9. Hearing the Word is not enough; you have to obey it: Why? After all we are saved by grace it requires nothing on our part, so why should we put forth the effort to grow in Christ, why should we venture out in the lake of life were it is not safe?
10. Big problems sometimes creep up to us without warning hidden behind mountains. What are the mountains for you? Such as pride, not looking at a situation carefully, not looking at things long term….
11. What can you do to prepare yourself for the storms of life?
12. Do you think the disciples showed some faith? How so or why not?
13. Why did Jesus get mad at them?
14. It is easy to can stay close the shore of comfort in the Christian life and never take risks or exercise real impacting faith. What is your comfort and reason for not venturing out further in your faith?
15. What can you do to be willing and able to pursue the Christian life with more vigor and make more of an impact?
16. Real faith will be shown when the storms come, what would your faith show now?
17. Who is Jesus in your life: lord, Lord, LORD or LORD?
18. Storms are a part of our lives in a fallen world. Either you are in a storm, or you just got out of a storm or you are headed into a storm, so are you prepared? So what is your weather status now, clear, cloudy, raining, storming, hurricane or?
19. Have you ever felt Jesus rebuke? Or have you realized, oh no, I should have…? What did you do and what did you wish you did? How can our mistakes help us see what and how we can do and be better? What can you do to remain joyful in the face of adversity?
20. What is the secret to remain joyful in the face of adversity? What can you do to make sure this does not remain a secret?