Matthew 8:18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side.
19. Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.''
20. And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.''
21. Then another of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father.''
22. But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.''
23. Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.
24. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.
25. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!''
26. 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.
27. And the men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?''
Starting out with vs. 18. we see Jesus giving a command to depart to the other side. I would like to point out that it wasnít a suggestion, it wasnít a general statement of what He thought in His opinion should happen, but a very strong statement given as a command. I would also like to point out, these were Jesus disciples who traveled with Him, and saw Him in action on a daily basis. They saw the healings and miracles; they were used to the miraculous taking place.
With His command, they started out to do just as He told them. However, on the way, something happened. There arose a great tempest or storm, and the boat they were in was covered with waves. They were afraid and lost sight of what the master told them to do.
That happens to us sometimes as well. We get distracted by the circumstances and forget Who told us what we should be doing. Letís imagine what would happen if Jesus were to appear in the flesh and tell us to do something. Would we believe that we could do it? Do you think that if He told you to do something that you actually could, or would you be fearful as the disciples were? Would you have boldly said we are going to the other side? Jesus said we could, so therefore we can. If the master tells you to do something, you not only can, but also will be able to complete what was given to you to do if you will just dare to believe what He said was true. The disciples did not believe, or they wouldnít have been afraid and declare that they were going to perish would they? They collectively said we are going down! In Markís accounting of this voyage they even went so far as to accuse Him of not caring.
Mark 4:38b "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?''
Donít be too critical of the disciples until you have put yourself in their place. Many Christians often do the same thing today. They get discouraged and blame God for their failures. Jesus was not to blame for their lack of faith. We as a society have gotten into the mindset that no one is to blame, young people are taught in school that there are no winners and losers, participation is all that counts. We as a society donít want to be held accountable for our actions. If we fail it might injure our self-esteem, and nobody wants that to happen.
Jesus would not give them a false sense of esteem but showed them the truth. He always spoke the truth. Sometimes we have to put our feelings aside if we are going to learn. Is it better as Christians to have a false sense of esteem, or to grow up in the things of God? The truth is the truth, regardless of our feelings.
The disciples had taken this same attitude. "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?'' Itís much easier to blame God for our failures than to say we have missed it, or say Lord I donít understand, please teach me. This same mindset that is prevalent in our society has carried over into the church. Many Christians donít want to take responsibility for their actions or lack of understanding. They donít want to say I missed it.
I have talked to many Christians who are mad at God for something that happened in their life. Others just as bad, say well, I guess it was Godís will to teach me humility. You better not even think of saying maybe itís not God, but you. We all have to be open to correction and discipline if we are going to grow. God is never the One to blame, letís accept that.
John 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Christians many times blame God, accusing Him of not answering their prayer while all the while, there are always reasons. Iím not here saying I know all the answers, but I know that God knows, and He is not the problem, but the answer. Heís the problem solver.
Jesus response to the disciples lack of faith was to rebuke them wasnít it?
26. But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?
He didnít give them an ďI participated ribbonĒ for just being there. Jesus was there to teach them how to succeed in the midst of apparent failure. There is a major lesson here for us to follow if we will receive it. We can never learn to succeed if we are not willing to admit that maybe itís me that missed it, and not God. The disciples were basically saying, how could you let this happen to us? God lets it happen to us just as He let it happen to the disciples. Donít forget, Jesus was in the boat as well. Can you imagine Jesus saying, Father how could you have let this happen to me, Iím your only Son, why are bad things happening? Donít you care that my disciples and I almost drowned out here in this storm?
That sounds ludicrous doesnít it? If that sounds ludicrous for Jesus to act in that way, why is it acceptable when we do it? It wasnít acceptable then, and itís not acceptable now. He would not have rebuked them if it were. Jesus was not in the least bit concerned about the bad circumstances that were surrounding Him was He? He wasnít accusing the Father of allowing Him to go through a terrible storm. In the midst of the terrible storm He had ultimate confidence that He would indeed go to the other side. You might say, well that was Jesus, He had the authority do these kinds of things.
Hereís a valid question that we should ask, what right would Jesus have to rebuke His disciples if what they were saying and acting out, was OK? He would not have any right if that were the case would He? Yet, He did just that, He said just that. He accused them of having little faith. His accusation was true. It was not meant to tear them down and belittle them, but to empower them to be more than they ever thought they could be. Thatís the way Jesus is. He wants us to be more than we think we can be. We have to get rid of our stinking thinking first, if we are ever to accomplish that. Thatís why Jesus rebuked them, to admonish them to get out of the rut of little faith and fear, and to get the proper mindset that it would take to go to the other side. They surely could have done it if Jesus told them to, couldnít they? They had to believe it was true first if they were ever going to try.
In todayís church if you even hint to someone that possibly their faith is weak, you are immediately criticized as being uncaring. In the same train of thought, was Jesus uncaring for rebuking His disciples, or did He love them enough to show them the way to walk in victory regardless of the size of the storm? We know His motives were always to teach and strengthen those around Him. Jesus was not uncaring, but showed the disciples how to walk in the faith that they had. Look at what He said, and also didnít say. He didnít say that they had no faith, but that the faith they had was little, and then demonstrated to them how to use their faith to accomplish what they were originally told to do. They had faith, they just were not using it. The more you use your faith, the stronger it will get. As James later said, faith without works is dead. What good is faith if we will not dare to use it?
Jesus is the master teacher and we should copy His example by building up others around us. People are built up when they receive the truth, even if it kind of stings at the moment.
The disciples came out of this experience not just rebuked and chastised, but empowered to walk even as He walked. He wanted them to believe that when He told them to do something, that they could, even if the circumstances were contradictory to His word.
Having said all of this, I realize that people are all at different levels of their faith walk, and I am not here to criticize anyone. I am certainly not perfect, or claim to have arrived.
Iím in process just like we all are. I have however, learned not to blame God for my mistakes, or accuse Him of not caring. If God didnít care, Jesus would not have come. That was the ultimate sign of love toward us.
There are always going to be storms in our life. We have a choice to make in how we respond to them. If we donít have the answers, then letís pray for Godly wisdom and understanding. The Apostle James said thisÖ
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
He has not left us alone. If we are willing to be taught, He will teach us. I have learned that many times it is a lack of understanding on my part. When understanding comes, faith comes with it. Faith always starts where the will of God is clearly known and understood.
Psalms 119:130 The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
Lets get understanding and then dare to step out on Godís Word. If it tells us to do something, then we surely can. Amen.