22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let’s go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we’re going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."
I don’t know if you have seen the advert for frozen oven chips ( french fries ) where a little girl is musing over whether she likes her Daddy or chips best of all. Throughout the advert she is thinking aloud, ’Daddy or chips ? Daddy or chips ?’. She is still thinking about this as she has a chip on her fork and her Daddy comes into the room. As he kisses his daughter, he quickly removes the chip from his daughter’s fork and eats it. She then says, in a resigned fashion, ’Chips’.
In today’s reading the disciples have to make a choice of ’Faith or Fear’. Much to Jesus’ disappointment, they choose the latter.
Situated in a basin surrounded by mountains, the Sea of Galilee is particularly susceptible to sudden, violent storms. Cool air from the Mediterranean is drawn down through the narrow mountain passes and clashes with the hot, humid air lying over the lake which is six hundred feet below sea level. This causes the violent winds that churn up the water.
They were undoubtedly in a fishing boat, probably belonging to Simon Peter or James and John. This would have seated about twelve people, with no sails. There were cushions at the stern, which Jesus slept on ( Mark 4:38 ).
Some of the disciples were experienced fishermen. They had weathered some storms, but this one was unexpected. They normally came in the day but we know from Mark’s account that this happened in the evening. It must have been a really ferocious storm too, because they were really frightened.
. In verse 24 they say to Jesus; "Master, Master, we’re going to drown!"
The disciples looked to the immediate; the winds, the waves, and the water coming into the boat. They thought of themselves, "we’re going to drown!"
Their attitude contrasts with that of Jesus. He was asleep after a hard day of teaching his disciples and crowds of people ( Mark 4 ). We might think that it would be difficult to sleep on a boat during a storm. But, after Chloe’s birth three months ago, I have been reminded just how tired one can be and how easy it is to fall asleep !
This is a reminder of our Lord’s humanity. Maybe it also showed his faith in God’s purpose and power.
However, only Matthew’s gospel features an appeal to Jesus to help, 8:25; The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!"
Mark has the disciples rebuking Jesus, 4:38; The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?" This certainly points to a failure of the disciples to appreciate whom they were addressing.
Being afraid is not always a bad thing, it can save us from dangerous situations. When we are in difficult situations being afraid can lead us to trust in something or someone beyond ourselves.
I was shopping in Burtons in the Potteries Centre in Hanley. Standing there was a man with a very sharp haircut, a smart light brown coloured suit, and a superior attitude. I think he was a Regional Manager. Round him were gathered a number of the staff and, when he suggested something, they uncritically enthused about it before rushing to carry out this man’s wishes. Here was a man of authority. An authority given to him by his superiors and one which was recognised and acted upon by those in the shop. He said something and it was agreed with and acted upon immediately.
Jesus said the words, the storm subsided and everything was calm. Last week when we looked at 6:17-26 we looked at Jesus’ authority over illness, evil spirits, and as a teacher. Later in this Chapter Luke shows Jesus’ authority over many demons (v.25 ff.), illness ( v. 44 ), and death ( v.55 ). here we have Jesus’ authority over nature.
Having rebuked the waves, Jesus rebuked his disciples, v.25, "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. Faith can chase out fear, or fear can chase out faith.
Jesus chastises his followers because they have failed to realise that his mission would not be ended by drowning in a freak storm. When he died it would be in accordance with God’s pre-ordained plan.
It is no use having a plan if you do not have the means to carry it out. Jesus did. He told the storm to be still and it was. This reminds us of God’s power over nature. We think of the way that God created in Genesis 1 and 2. He gave the word and it was done. He brought order out of the dark, deep waters ( Genesis 1:2 ).
In today’s Psalm ( 65 ) we read; 5 You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Saviour, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, 6 who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, 7 who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.
Jesus, in effect, took the power from the storm. The stilling of the storm is also a reminder that God has not only created, but he sustains. We, and the whole universe need God’s continuing sustaining energy to exist. Revelation 4, which is also one of today’s readings ; 11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
Joshua was given a ’Playstation’ for Christmas. One of the games which I enjoy is ’Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ?’. It duplicates the format of the television programme, even down to Chris Tarrant’s voice. One question was, ’Who do Christians believe created the world ?’. Of the four possible answers one was God, and one was Jesus.
Whoever posed the question clearly doesn’t know what Christians believe and hasn’t read Colossians 1:15; ’He ( Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
The only one who can control nature is the one who created it. Jesus.
v.25; In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."
The disciples were afraid twice in this story. The first time they were afraid of the storm. The second time they were afraid because they were in the presence of someone who had the power to control a storm. Jesus, God and man. This incident adds to what the disciples knew about Jesus, and the picture of Jesus that Luke is building up. Jesus only had to say the word and someone was healed, evil spirits driven out, the dead rise to life or the forces of nature obey him.
As Christians we need to be aware that there are a number of cults who claim to be Christian but deny the divinity of Jesus. Examples include the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mormons and Unitarians.
Sometimes in the church we tend to dwell too much upon the humanity of Jesus at the expense of his divinity. This diminishes the sense of awe that we should have when we come into his presence. It cam also diminish the priority that we give to worshipping him and following him. In the last ten years church attendance in this country has decreased, although about the same number of people are going to church. So, people are attending less frequently, and they are missing out.
I have had someone make a point about a sermon to me that was incorrect because they misunderstood the context. The reason for this was that they had not heard my sermon the week before that had addressed the issue in hand. It is important to be fed regularly and systematically, every week if we are to grow properly.
It is also important that we wholeheartedly serve Jesus because of who he is. Many people seem reluctant to serve God within the church because they don’t feel like it, it might be inconvenient, or difficult. Some have said that they feel they are letting me down, as if they are doing it for me !
If we fail to serve it is Jesus that we let down. Perhaps this is rooted in a failure to fully understand who he is.
We should fear God and, therefore, put him first. Martin Luther the sixteenth century reformer wrote : ’Being afraid of God is different from fearing him. The fear of God is a seed of love. Being afraid of him is a seed of hatred. Therefore, we should not be afraid of God but we should fear him, so that we do not hate him who we should love.’
This Jesus is great and mighty. Yet he cares for you and me. He calls us to respect who he is and what he has done for us. He invites us to have a life transforming faith in him.
This passage revolves around the last question. ’ Who is this Jesus ? ’
We may know the answer. We probably mix with many who do not know him. Let us use the opportunities that we have to introduce people to the living Lord Jesus by what we do as well as what we say.