Session #066 All Aboard!
Scripture Matthew 8:23-27
Summary There are so many lessons that can be derived from Matt 8:23-27 … discipleship, storms, peace, fear and faith. This teaching will consider these points, but we must not miss Matthew’s main intent. More than Jesus bailing us out of the storms of life, it is always about Jesus, the Messiah and King. Regardless the uncertainties and challenges that may come our way, He invites all to follow Him to the other side. All aboard!
Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Matthew 8:23–27
More than Jesus bailing us out of the storms of life, it is always about Jesus, the Messiah and King. Regardless of the uncertainties and challenges that may come our way, He invites all to follow Him to the other side. All aboard!
All Aboard! Getting into the boat with Jesus (Matthew 8:23)
This is a miracle that shows us Jesus’ power over nature. Everyone talks about the weather but no one can do anything about it, no one except Jesus.
Jesus gets into a boat, to go to the other side (Matthew 8:18. From Capernaum to the region of Gadarenes which is approximately 6 miles, much like Singapore to Batam. To follow Jesus, be prepared for “the other side” (peran). pera means to cross over, to go further, to go beyond. As disciples, we have to go beyond salvation, and not get stuck in church or in our comfort zone.
Matthew records that “His disciples followed Him” in Matthew 8:23. Is it just the twelve or was there more than twelve? Mark 4:36 records that other little boats were also with Him. We do not know who these are but they were willing to make the journey with Jesus to the other side. Everyone is invited to follow Jesus, so do not disqualify yourself. Do not think it is only for the elite few.
Suddenly… (Matthew 8:24)
Do you not love life’s “suddenlies”? You are not exempted from these “suddenlies” when you follow Jesus. In fact, you should expect them. The disciples and all following must have felt really good about themselves, having made the decision and commitment to follow Jesus. They are on a mission trip with Jesus, on an assignment for Jesus, serving God; and suddenly … a tempest arose.
A Mega Storm, a great tempest (seismos means mighty shaking of winds and waves) arose (Mark 4:37). In Greek lailaps anemos meaning hurricane wind was used to describe the great windstorm that they had encountered. It was literally a huge whirlwind of wind.
There are two possibilities for the weather condition. One is that the Topographical of the Sea of Galilee made it prone to sudden storms that form very quickly with little or no warning. It was a freshwater lake; 13 miles long, 7 miles wide. It lies 650 feet below sea level and surrounded by high hills which formed a natural bowl.
The second possibility is Spiritual, were they experiencing satanic opposition (beyond what expert fishermen could have handled) to destroy the Messiah or to disrupt the mission?
Kingdom assignments awaited on the other side for them. When the kingdom of God advances, the enemy does not take it sitting down. Expect opposition.
We are surprised by what comes against us and by how we respond. Our natural instincts kick in which may or may not be consistent with what we believe or think we believe. Theological framework expects God to act or not act in a certain way. What is even more surprising is to discover Jesus fast asleep. As if oblivious to all that is taking place that His disciples are in danger.
Fear and Faith (Matthew 8:25)
Disciples must have tried their best to do all they can, and not to disturb the Master. Some of them were professional fishermen. But they did it all with their own strength and talents. Our abilities can only bring us that far. Our natural talents are no match for the supernatural. So they turned to Jesus, “Lord, save us!”
When Fear becomes larger than Faith
Fear is a God-given emotion. Over and over, God assures His people and tells them “Do not fear!” It is natural to fear and doubt so do not be condemned. The problem is when fear becomes larger than faith. You still believe, but that conviction is not strong enough to handle the fear or doubt your experience.
Fear questions others and God!
In our cry for help, there is a tendency to blame someone. For example,
“If not for this person or situation, I would be ok.”
“If my husband is not so mean, I would be fine.”
“It’s the storm’s fault!”
“Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Mark 4:38 sees the disciples asking Jesus why they are in this storm, and does He not care?
Fear tempts God!
To tempt means to test with an intention to show up what is flawed. Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness: “If you are the Son of God…” Israel tested God in the wilderness: “Did you bring us out here to die?!” As tempting as it is, we are not to tempt Christ (1 Corinthians 10:9).
In self-preservation mode, if it is not our faith that is the issue, then it is God’s faithfulness that is in question. In other words, God is not as faithful as He makes Himself out to be.
That is what the enemy wants you to believe!
Fear reveals the object of our faith
Our tendency to trust in our own strengths and abilities, thinking that we are trusting God. It is only when we encounter challenges that the truth is revealed. Do we really trust God like we say we do? If so, how do we respond? What is the object of your faith? Great faith is useless without a great God.
Thank God for “little faith”
It could be desperation, but their “little faith” drove the disciples to wake Jesus up. How can a carpenter help where professional fishermen have failed? What would a bible teacher do in a hurricane? Do not underestimate the “little faith” that you have. If your “little faith” pushes you to Jesus, it is that “little faith” that makes all the difference.
What did Jesus expect of His disciples? (Matthew 8:26)
Jesus rebuked the elements but spoke to disciples. There are other times where the disciples were rebuked but not this time. Jesus does not scold us for “little faith”. He encourages us to grow that faith. The Master uses this as another opportunity to teach and disciples.
Jesus expected the disciples to understand the fullness of His power and authority. Jesus does not only have authority over sickness and diseases. Jesus also has authority over the forces of nature and even the supernatural elements.
Jesus expected disciples to remember who is the leader and who are the followers. It was not the disciples bringing Jesus to the other side. The disciples were following Jesus to the other side. When we follow Jesus, we focus on Him. Our faith is not in ourselves, our faith is in Him. We do not take the lead, Jesus does. We do our part, Jesus will more than do His part. Even if we are being sent to the other side, we are assured of Jesus’ presence, protection and power. If God is for us, who can be against us? What can separate us from His love? Not even the wildest of windstorms. Not even death.
Matthew’s Main Message (Matthew 8:27)
To the Jews, only one person had control over the elements, God (Exodus 14:21, Psalm 89:8–9, Psalm 107:23–32; Jonah 1:4).
Our tendency to spiritualize this account, and applying it symbolically. It is not about our following, challenges, or even our faith to believe. It is about Jesus, the Son of Man, the Messiah, the Christ, who is fully Man, and also fully God.
One moment, Jesus is a picture of exhaustion and tiredness. Asleep at the back of the boat.
The next moment, He is in total control, exercising power and authority over the forces of nature. Jesus is unthreatened and nothing catches Him by surprise.
The main message here is that This is the Messiah who has been sent to save us! (Matthew 1:21)
The cry of the disciples has a far greater significance. It is an acknowledgment of the need to be saved. An awareness of impending death and destruction not just from physical harm but from spiritual destruction.
Jesus saves us not just from storms but from our sins.No man cannot save us. Only God can.
Are you ready to get into the boat with Jesus, to follow Him wherever He goes or wherever you are sent? Are you prepared for the uncertainties of a life lived with and for Jesus? The surprises that come our way should not surprise us. If you are moving on assignment, to the other side, get ready for surprises. Do not feel condemned. Just do not let fear get the better of your faith. Remember who you are following. Jesus is still able to calm the storms. However, that does not mean He will always still the storms. Sometimes, He sends the storms as in the case of Jonah’s disobedience. Sometimes, He allows storms. Sometimes, He stills the storms. Sometimes, He leaves the storms unstilled that our weakness may show His strength perfect (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). Regardless of the outcome, do not fear. Keep trusting and keep following.