The vital thing in discipleship is to actually follow Jesus Christ wherever He goes.
Have I left the lesser loyalties to follow the higher priorities of the Kingdom of God?
It is not enough to be impressed with His person, or what we can get from Him. Perhaps some of our evangelism and friendly “seeker services” are like the people on the shore of the Sea of Galilee seeking another amazing miracle. Perhaps like Carnival, we shout, “Throw me something mister!”
The crowds along the lakeside wanted more healings than teaching. Jesus got into a boat and headed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
The vital thing Jesus wants is for us to follow Him. Jesus still says to would be disciples, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury the dead” (Matthew 8:22). Jesus got in the boat “and His disciples followed Him” (v. 23).
Have we gotten into the boat with Jesus? Weak faith grows strong in the fierce storms of life.
One moment Jesus is asleep on a pillow in the rear of the boat in a fierce storm, overcome with exhaustion from a busy day. Then we see Him a few moments later calming the fierce wind and waves, which only God can do.
Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the events that day when Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee (Luke 8:22). Jesus, exhausted from a day of ministry, fell asleep in the rear of the boat. “A fierce gale of wind descended upon the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger” (v. 23). Matthew who was an eyewitness said, “There arose a great storm,” literally “a shaking.” The “boat was covered with waves” (Matt. 8:24). It was such a severe storm that these professional sailors panicked.
Jesus was not only divine, but He was thoroughly human. He is the God-man. He is fully God and He is fully man. Here we have a beautiful picture of the human side of Jesus because He was in the need of rest. He was tired and exhausted. He needed to get away from the crowds and rest. He put His trust in His heavenly Father to watch over Him.
Suddenly, a furious storm came up and strong violent gale winds whipped the waves and engulfed the boat. It was a “boisterous surge, a violent agitation.”
This storm was different from anything they had ever encountered before. They had never experienced anything like it. Humanly speaking the situation became increasingly grave.
The disciples panicked. “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” (Matt. 8:25).
Jesus “rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm” (LK. 8:24). Matthew says, “it became perfectly calm,” or literally “a great calm occurred.” After such a storm a lake does not calm down that quickly and stay that way. The disciples knew that it normally takes a while for the waves to settle down. Here, eyewitnesses said the lake calmed immediately.
Christ, God omnipotent, was in the boat. He is the master of the wind and the waves. Wherever Jesus is the power of God is there. Wherever Jesus is the storm becomes calm. Suddenly the surface of the lake became as smooth as a piece of glass.
The reaction of the disciples at the calmness struck them with “fear and amazement.” It is probably correct to say they were now more afraid of the calmness than the storm.
Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?” (Lk. 8:25). His faith was in His Father (Ps. 89:8-9).
The amazed disciples were saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” (v. 25).
Where was their faith? They had enough to get into the boat with Jesus and follow Him. Yes, getting into a fishermen’s boat was their safety zone. They had done that hundreds of times. They had also ridden out a few bad storms in their lifetime.
Why were they not exercising their faith in Him at this time?
Our faith in God has to be exercised personally. It refuses to be controlled by the fierce storms in life. It refuses to panic when the going gets tough and beyond our comfort. We have to focus our faith on Him.
The thing that moved Jesus in this account was not the violent storm, but the lack of faith of the disciples. “Why are you timid, you men of little faith?” (Matt. 8:26).
With Jesus in our boat we should have courage to face the storms by faith in Him. Christ is always in the boat. Jesus is praying that we will have strong faith in Him (Lk. 22:31-32).
The things that hinder our faith are doubt, rationalizations, anxiety, lack of courage, etc. Faith is volitional. It is a choice I make.
Our faith has to be tested before it can be trusted. God allowed a violent storm to test the disciples. Jesus entrusted His safety to the Father. The disciples trusted in their own competence as professional fishermen. “Their unbelief was more dangerous than the storm.” It takes God to change the weather.
“Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2).
Where is your child like trust? Would the One who had chosen them to follow Him allow them to perish in the storm? Was not His presence reassuring? We know Jesus had the storm “under control” because He was sound asleep in the raging storm.
John Ryle said, “How many have faith and love enough to forsake all for Christ’s sake, and to follow Him wherever He goes, and yet are full of fears in the hour of trial! How many have grace enough to turn to Jesus in every trouble crying, ‘Lord, save us,’ and yet not grace enough to lie still and believe in the darkest hour that all is well.”
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2000