Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: If we have faith in God, then the limits of our own power do not matter because there is a greater power at work; the Lord who can calm the storm with a few simple words. And if Christ can do that, how much more can he do in this world if we only have fai

Have you ever wondered why the disciples were afraid? I had never really given that question much thought before, mostly because the answer is right before us, right? The disciples were afraid because there was a terrible storm! Well, there certainly was a big storm and that would be a cause for fear in the hearts of any who found themselves in a simple fishing boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. But, the thing is, many of the disciples were fishermen. They practically lived on the Sea of Galilee. They most certainly would have encountered storms in their work on the Sea before, so why are they so afraid now, this is really nothing new?

What about you? Have you ever been in a familiar situation and yet found yourself fearful? I think this happens to us a lot; maybe when we step into the hospital to check on a sick relative or to undergo some kind of surgery. Or perhaps we get a little overwhelmed on the first day of school, even though we’ve been going to the school for several years. I must admit that often, before I set out on a new venture for God, I have a stormy feeling of anxiety and fear in my gut. “What if this is a failure?” I might worry. “What if people don’t respond, or show up, or whatever…”

I think that’s one of the things that plays into the problem with the disciples and the storm on the Sea of Galilee. It’s a familiar setting, fishermen in a boat on the Sea. And they must have encountered storms before. So it seems that there’s probably something more contributing to the disciples’ fear here. When Jesus tells his disciples, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake,” this command was about more than just a change of scenery, because on the other side of that sea was Gentile territory. And this was Jesus’ and the disciples’ first mission trip into a land that almost any Jew of that day would have considered a dangerous and even inappropriate place to go. And so as we read the story of the mighty storm at sea, I wonder if these veteran fishermen weren’t just as afraid of where they were heading as they were about the storm itself.

But Jesus wasn’t afraid. In fact, Jesus was fast asleep! And when the disciples, in a panicked frenzy, wake Jesus up, the question foremost on their minds is, “Don’t you care?” Don’t you care, Jesus, about this terrible storm? Don’t you care that we are scared out of our minds? Don’t you care that we might diiieeee??? Knowing that these disciples have likely encountered such storms at sea before, the whole scene suddenly seems quite ridiculous, doesn’t it? It’s like the little child who falls and scrapes his knee. And the way he cries out and carries on for the next hour or so, you would think the world was coming to an end! And so it seems with the disciples. But Jesus keeps things in perspective as he calmly rebukes the wind and waves into submission. And then he turns the question on the disciples. The disciples’, “Don’t you care?” is answered with a simple, “Don’t you have faith?”

It seems so basic. A very simple question, and yet it stands at the heart of Christian discipleship. Faith gives us the courage to weather the storms. Faith builds confidence in our ability to venture into foreign territory. Faith brings hope. And I do believe that the more we venture out with Jesus; the more we take the chance with Christ to cross into new territory and new ministry to serve new and more people, the less afraid of this sort of thing we become, and the more peace that floods our souls! For we learn that when we are living within the will of God, there really is nothing to be afraid of. And if we fail? Well, we weren't doing this for our sake in the first place anyway, right? So Jesus can calm storms, both the literal kind with rain and wind, and the kind that stir up inside of our hearts and minds. But at the same time, he calls on us to have faith.

I think one of the awesome things about this story of Jesus and the disciples on the stormy sea is that it reminds us that even the most tenuous faith is life-changing. In the face of this great storm, the experienced fishermen are completely helpless, so they turn to Jesus; presumably because of the powers he has shown in healing sick people and casting out demons. He is their only hope, and so in fear and desperation, with just a hint of faith, they wake Jesus with an accusatory plea: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” It is a cry we have all uttered at some point in our lives, is it not? In the face of natural disasters, hurricanes, tsunamis, and floods; the tragedies caused by terrorist attacks, war, and inexplicable acts of violence; the pain of illness, grief, and the various kinds of personal suffering, we often cry out to God, “Do you not care, God? Do you not care that we are perishing?” Yet, it is only when we have articulated these feelings—and even the anger beneath them—that we can be still and listen for a word from God; a word that will calm the storm, a word that will “make things better.” But again, it takes faith.

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