The Winds and the Waves Obey His Will (Matthew 8:23-27)
Storms terrify many people. I have always been frightened by tornadoes. When I was four, a tornado went through our subdivision. As a child, I had many nightmares about tornadoes.
While the disciples were with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee, a great storm arose. The disciples became frightened. Jesus awoke from sleep and rebuked the storm.
Jesus’ calming the storm did three things:
- It demonstrated who he is: The Sovereign Lord who has all power–even power over nature.
- It strengthened the belief of his followers: belief in him as the Messiah and in his personal care as their Savior.
- It gave to all generations a picture of his care and power–His care and power to deliver through all the storms of life.
Let’s examine this story to see what we can learn about Jesus.
Disciples Follow Jesus, v 23
Jesus got into a boat and the disciples followed him.
Although in this text, the disciples merely follow Jesus across the Sea of Galilee, they were willing to follow Jesus anywhere.
- They showed this willingness when they gave up their careers to follow Jesus. Matthew 4:18-22 tell how four of the apostles gave up their careers. Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee and saw Simon Peter and Andrew casting a net into the sea. Jesus told them to follow him and he would make them fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Jesus. Going further down the Sea, Jesus saw the two sons of Zebedee, James and John mending their nets. Jesus called for them. They left their boat and their father. The disciples likely knew something about Jesus before this encounter. John 1:35-42 tells us that Andrew was a disciple of John. Because of John’s ministry, Andrew knew about Jesus. It is difficult to imagine the disciples leaving everything they had if they didn’t know who Jesus was.
- They showed this willingness when they gave up their families to follow Jesus. Matthew plainly says that James and John left their father. These men traveled with Jesus and were seldom home to be with their families.
- They showed this willingness when they went throughout the world taking the gospel to lost men. The disciples died violent, horrible deaths because they preached Jesus. Even John, who died naturally, faced imprisonment and the threat of death–There is another tradition which says that even John died a violent death.
We need to be this committed to Jesus today. The early church was steadfast in its devotion to God (Acts 2:42). We need to be steadfast in our devotion to God. We must be willing to give Jesus our entire lives.
- If we are to call Jesus “Lord,” we must do the things he says (Lk. 6:46).
- We are to love the Lord our God with “all [our] heart, with all [our] soul, and with all [our] mind” (Matt. 22:37)–Jesus is to be first in our lives.
- Jesus is to be more important than our families (Lk. 14:26).
Are you following Jesus with your all?
Disciples Fear, vv 24-26
When a storm arose on the sea, the disciples became frightened. Suddenly, a great tempest arose on the sea. This storm arose without any warning. The Sea of Galilee is subject to sudden and violent storms. The Sea of Galilee is about 600 ft. lower than the ocean. There are vast and naked plateaus which surround the sea; these plateaus have ravines and deep gorges converging on the sea. These ravines and gorges act like gigantic funnels to draw down cold wind from the mountains and thus disturb the sea.
The boat was covered with waves; waves were crashing up over the boat.
Yet, the Lord was asleep. Notice how Matthew juxtaposes the calmness of the Lord with the violence of the sea. Although the storm was severe, Jesus could sleep because he did not worry.
The disciples came to Jesus and awoke him saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” The disciples were coming face to face with death. They thought they might drown. The disciples knew the situation was out of their control and that they needed help. Some of the disciples were seasoned fishermen on this sea, and they were still afraid.
The Lord rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. Jesus rebuked fear and unbelief, for fear and unbelief dishonor him. The reason the disciples were so afraid is that their faith was lacking. It’s a wonder the disciples were lacking in faith. This very chapter in Matthew records many miracles of Jesus.
- When Jesus came down from the mountain, a leper came and asked to be healed; Jesus healed him (Matt. 8:2-3).
- When Jesus entered Capernaum, he healed a servant of a centurion (Matt. 8:5-13).
- Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14-15).
- After the sun went down that evening, Jesus healed many who were sick and possessed by demons (Matt. 8:16-17).
The disciples had witnessed these great miracles, yet they doubted. Are we sometimes like these disciples?
- We know that God has great power, yet we don’t trust.
- We know that God is watching over us, yet we worry.
- We often lack the faith which would allow us to trust God completely.
The Lord arose and rebuked the winds and the sea; there was a great calm. Jesus here shows himself to be the Sovereign Lord over nature. Since he helped to create the world (Heb. 1:2), it only stands to reason that Jesus has power over nature.
What do we do when trouble comes into our lives? That trouble is going to come. “Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). Job should know about trouble! Job lost his possessions, his family, and his health–Job faced many troubles. Eccl. 2:23 declares that all the days of man are sorrowful. How are we going to respond to trouble–with faith or without it?
Disciples Marvel, v 27
The disciples marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” “To marvel” means to be struck with awe, to wonder, to be astonished–the word comes close to meaning “worship.” The disciples were amazed by Jesus’ power. It amazes me that the disciples were so amazed. They had seen Jesus work miracles before. But this miracle seems to have made the disciples realize just how much power Jesus has. The disciples asked the rhetorical question, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” They knew who Jesus was–the Son of God. They knew the power God has and the power he had given his Son.
We, too, need to stand in amazement as we contemplate Jesus’ power. That power created the universe in which we live. That power conquered death and promises a future resurrection.
We need to contemplate the power Jesus has to help us deal with the storms in our lives. Jesus came and conquered this literal storm which troubled the disciples. Jesus can conquer the storms we have in life.
- If we turn to Jesus, he can heal a troubled marriage.
- If we turn to Jesus, he can mend a broken life–a life troubled by sin.
- If we turn to Jesus, he will comfort us in life’s darkest hours.
The disciples turned to Jesus in fear.
When we fear, we, too, can turn to Jesus. Do you need to turn to him tonight?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Alum Creek church of Christ in Alum Creek, West Virginia.