I have heard the story from Matthew 8:23-27 many times. This is the story of the disciples in the boat going from Capernaum to Gadara across the Sea of Galillee. Prior to boarding the boat, Jesus had spent time in and around Capernaum healing a man of leprosy and then healing the servant of a centurion. Jesus had demonstrated to His Apostles the power and the ability He had to take care of people when no one else could. In those days, leprosy was incurable and so were many other ailments that befell people, such as that centurion’s servant.
The story continues with Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law, as well as multitudes of sick and demon possessed people. The Bible says that by Jesus’ word alone, they were all healed. But at some point, as word spread that day, and into the evening, many people began bringing sick and demon possessed people to Jesus. When Jesus saw all of these people, He asked the disciples to get Him into the boat and to depart for Gadara. That’s all in Matthew 8:1-18.
Now I highly doubt that when He saw the multitudes He became overwhelmed by the thought of needing to heal all those people. I believe He was growing weary and tired. Even though Christ was 100% God in the flesh, He would still get weary and tired. For example, after being tempted by the devil in the wilderness for forty days, angels came down and ministered to Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). Another time that Jesus grew tired and weary was while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and angels came and ministered to Him there as well (Luke 22:41-43). So it wasn’t that He did not, or could not help the multitudes of people, it was simply that in the flesh, Jesus was getting tired and weary and needed rest. He was not overwhelmed by the circumstances.
Now, with Jesus possessing the godly characteristic of omniscience, the ability to know all things from the beginning of time to the end, He knew He had miracles to perform across the Sea of Galillee. This is why He charged His disciples to get into a ship and go across the sea to the country of Gadara. Jesus had plans to sleep on the way there and rejuvenate his tired weary body and ready Himself for the day ahead. So they all boarded the boat and hoisted up the anchor, and away they went.
If you’re familiar with the story, you know that a storm arose. It’s unclear exactly how long after the ship set sail that the storm hit. Luke 8:23 simply tells us that “as they sailed He fell asleep.” It’s important to understand that the storm did not start as they were entering the boat, nor did it start before they even left the shore. More on that in a little bit. But Jesus, according to Luke’s account, had time to fall asleep before the storm hit. But, whatever time it happened, it happened…the storm hit and caused great distress and fear in the hearts of the disciples on that ship.
At some point these sea-worthy men needed help, and they knew it. I’m sure that after doing all they knew to rectify their situation, once they recognized their efforts were futile, they went and woke Jesus up. They didn’t wake Him up in hopes that He could help. The disciples woke Him up because they KNEW He could help. And Jesus did just that…He awoke…calmed the wind and waves, and saved the disciples from certain impending destruction. Yes, Jesus had calmed the storm in their life that night. That’s what we’re all taught. The mistake is being taught that when GOD brings storms into our lives, we can turn to the strength of Jesus to help get us through. I say it’s a mistake because God did not bring that strom upon the sea that day…and here’s why I know…
I know this to be true because of a seven-letter word. “…Then He arose and REBUKED the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm (Matthew 8:26). This storm is not a lesson in how God will test our faith and how we respond. It absolutely can not be that. The word rebuke carries with it a stern accusatory tone. Just look through the many verses where someone is being rebuked and it’s not pleasant. So Jesus would not have gotten up and taken a stern, accusatory, and unpleasant tone with His Father. That’s absurd. No…this storm was not God’s doing! So, the question is, if it wasn’t God’s doing, and if it couldn’t have been the disciples themselves because none of them had that power to conjure up a storm that threatened their lives, then who? This storm was brought on by the devil, and when you look at it in this light, it makes this story’s promise exciting to us.
Take a look at what Jesus asked of His disciples. Matthew 8:18 specifically states: “Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave COMMANDMENT to depart unto the other side.” Jesus charged His disciples with a command. It was His will that they take Him to the other side. In Jesus’ mind, this was not optional. It’s what He wanted them to do. Essentially, these disciples, like us, were expected to do God’s will and carry out whatever it is He asked of them. It was God’s will for those disciples to take Jesus to the other side of the sea.
Now, since I’ve already established the fact that it makes no sense to believe Jesus would wake up and rebuke His own Father, we have to understand that the devil brought on this storm. Remember that from the beginning and throughout Scripture, the devil has tried to kill Jesus or prevent His birth in the first place (starting with the killing of Abel by Cain in Genesis). So the very essence of the reason for the storm may have been an attempt to destroy Jesus; thus halting Jesus’ influence in this world from that day forward.
But the disciples knew Jesus could help them and so woke Him up and asked Him if He even cared that they were all going to perish. Whether or not the disciples knew Jesus could quell the storm itself is irrelevant…the disciples had just witnessed multitudes of miracles so they knew Jesus could do something to help them in their time of crisis. That’s just what Jesus did. He woke up and REBUKED the storm the devil had brought up, thus saving the disciples to continue their charge…given by God…to get Jesus to the other side.
Herein lies the spiritual application for us. Remember I said it’s important to note the timing of the storm? It came in the middle of their quest to fulfill God’s will. They had no problem getting started and even had smooth sailing in the beginning, but then the devil sent a storm. When God calls us and charges us to do something for Him, we are all gung-ho and have little difficulty when we first start off. We’re enthusiastic and ready to “get Jesus to the other side.” But soon, the devil gets wind of the adventure and doesn’t want Christ’s influence to continue, so he sends a storm into our lives to “kill” any chance Christ has to go forth from our life.
Like the disciples, we may struggle and fight these storms internally and intellectually and finally reach a point where we will either admit defeat and give up and be drowned and destroyed, thereby thwarting God’s will in our lives at that moment, OR, we’ll reach the end of ourselves and call on Christ for help. Jesus wanted His will done in what He charged His disciples to do, so He was willing to quell the storm in order that the disciples would complete their God-given task. So too, does Jesus want us to fulfill His will for our lives, and will quell the opposition if we come to Him concerned that we “won’t make it.”
The disciples came to Jesus frantic because they cared whether or not they survived (physically) and we need to come to God during these storms frantic because we want to survive (spiritually). Jesus will make sure we “get Him to the other side” if we’re serious about getting His will accomplished despite the upheaval of storms in our lives. Amazing to me is the fact that the disciples were astonished that the wind and the waves obeyed Him after having seen first-hand all the miracles Christ had performed right in front of them. With the completed Word of God in our hands, we shouldn’t be astonished at this, as we have read first-hand the miracles of Christ in the lives of others as well as the power He has over the forces of Satan.
Remember what it says in 1st John 4:4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” There’s no storm that the god of this world (Satan) can bring to try to thwart God’s will from being accomplished, that can’t be overcome by the Spirit of God that is in us. The Spirit of God within us is stronger than the god that’s in the world. That’s why Christ was able to quell what the devil threw out there in an attempt to stop the disciples. And He can do the same for us.
A complimentary teaching is that of 1st Thessalonians 5:24, “Faithful is He who called you, who also will do it.” Usually this is a parallel verse to Philippians 1:6, but I want to challenge you to look at the verse this way…God wouldn’t call on us to do something we couldn’t do. So in other words…if He calls us…He’ll not only equip us, but protect us, and finally see us all the way through our charge, if we let Him…if we call upon Him with frantic concern the way the disciples did.
A few bullet points to remember:
- This story is about a storm that the devil brought into the lives of the disciples and into our lives also because Jesus wouldn’t rebuke His Father.
- Just as the disciples were charged with doing God’s will (getting Jesus to the other side), so too are we charged with carrying out what we’ve been called to do.
- Fulfilling God’s will for our lives should be of such importance to us that when a storm seems to be derailing that course, we need to come frantically to God for help in quelling the storm.
- He can and will conquer the storm based on the promise of 1st John 4:4 and 1st Thessalonians 5:24.
- With the storm quelled, we can safely get “Jesus to the other side” like the disciples did.