Matthew 8:23-34 (continued)
“When Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. A huge storm arose on the lake so that waves were sloshing over the boat. But Jesus was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, rescue us! We’re going to drown!’ He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you people of weak faith?”
Then he got up and gave orders to the winds and the lake, and there was a great calm. The people were amazed and said, “What kind of person is this? Even the winds and the lake obey him!” When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake in the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed came from among the tombs to meet him. They were so violent that nobody could travel on that road.
They cried out, ‘What are you going to do with us, Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the time of judgment?’ Far off in the distance a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, ‘If you throw us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’ Then he said to the demons, ‘Go away,’ and they came out and went into the pigs.
The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned. Those who tended the pigs ran into the city and told everything that had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole city came out and met Jesus. When they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.”
Last time we were looking at those of us who make excuses to put off serving the Lord. We wait for some other event to occur before we commit to the Lord. We need to get married, finish our education and secure our careers and any number of accomplishments that need to be in place before we will wholeheartedly serve the Lord.
What if it were the other way around? What if we put off all other events and goals in life until after we were truly serving the Lord wholeheartedly, and then built every other goal and desire around that foundation? How would our churches changes? How would our families change? How would our priorities changes in regard to everything?
What if we truly sought the kingdom of God first and then allowed Him to add whatever He wanted to our lives? You see this is how the first church people lived. They even sold their property and gave it to the leaders to make sure that everyone had their needs met and they did not consider anything to be theirs at all.
“For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:34-35).
What an attitude of putting the kingdom of God and its people first. We need more of this in the Lord’s churches today. This sense of everything I have is God’s anyway, He just allows me to use it for a time. I should use it for His glory and to edify His people
Jesus Calms a Storm, Verses 23-27
For centuries the pagans had gods for everything. Gods for war, for farming, gods for fertility and on and on we can go. In Roman mythology Neptune was the god of the sea. But as we see in the account of the Jonah, these gods had no real power. Neptune or whatever god the sailors were praying to could not calm the sea nor stop the waves. But the Apostles got to see firsthand who the God of the Sea really was.
They were out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and a storm came up. No doubt Jesus knew the storm was coming and yet He led them into the boat. He deliberately put them in the middle of a storm. He could have said, ‘Hey fellows there is storm coming, lets us just wait here for a few hours and then go across.’ But He did not; He led them out to the sea and into a storm.
Jesus fell asleep in the boat and did not wake even in the midst of the storm He had to be awakened by the apostles. Many of us have the idea that Jesus is asleep in the midst of our storms. He either does not care, as the apostles thought here, or He was simply unaware of our plight. Have you ever screamed these words? “Lord, rescue us! We’re going to drown!”
I have screamed that at times while enduring many storms in my life. I have erroneously accused God of being asleep at the wheel of my life when in fact He is wide awake and in complete control. Jesus may have been asleep, but the waves were not able to harm Him and neither would they harm the apostles.
They knew He could walk on water and they knew that they could walk on water since they had seen Peter do it. Yet still they lacked faith; the faith to trust that the storm they were in was known of by God and that God had a plan—a way out and /or a way through.
As usual Jesus calmed the storm and awed them with His power. These poor fellows must have spent the greater part of the three plus years that they walked with Jesus slack jawed and awed with His power, and yet their faith seemed so small. My faith is small. Is yours? The storms of life send me running to Jesus asking, Are you awake? Have you abandoned me? Has your grace for me run out? Did I use up my quota?
Yet Jesus is the one who takes us into the path of the storms of life. He is the one who steps out ahead of us into the boat and bids us to follow Him. It is for His glory and your edification that these storms come. As long as your are alive the storms of life will come, they come in all forms from personal to financial, death, sickness and all in between. Life is a storm in itself; our frail human frame would bend and break were it not for Jesus’ constant watchful care. He is the true God of the storms and the King of the Sea.
Not All Storms Are External, Verses 28-33
Jesus calmed an external storm and then was met by two men who had internal storms. They were demon possessed. The demons made them violent and the whole area where they lived was afraid of them. They lived amongst the graves and tombs of the area. Once Jesus had cast the demons out the men became calm and in their right mind.
There are a lot of people today with what is perceived to be mental illnesses and what they really need is for Jesus to calm their internal storms. Depression, anxiety and host of other mental issues are sometimes the result of demon possession. They are some people who are genuinely ill because of chemical imbalances or other physical factors. But there are some who are simply possessed by demons and they need the Prince of angels to command them to leave. They need to get saved and have Jesus move in; this will help if not cure the issue.
I have heard so many testimonies over the years from people who lived with others who once they were saved totally changed. Their attitudes, demeanor and focus did a 180 and they say nothing can be attributed to that change except for Jesus. He is still calming internal storms. He still brings order from our chaos and He is still rescuing people from the dark forces of the world. What storms can Jesus calm for you today? He is still the only one who can calm ALL your storms.
Do You Fear God or Are You Afraid of Him? Verse 34
We are encouraged all throughout the Bible to “fear” God. We are to have a reverent and humble awe of Him as the King of kings and Lord or lords. We are to understand God’s power and His Sovereignty and have a healthy respect for Him.
But some folks depicted in the Bible spent a long time in fear of demon possessed men; we are told that they did not even go along that road where they were. Once the men had been freed from the demons the pig herders ran into town to let the people know what was going on and they came out to see for themselves.
They saw the men in their right minds, sitting and clothed and they became afraid of Jesus and asked Him to leave their area. Wow, what a reaction! Consider the account in John 4 when Jesus goes to Samaria and confronts the woman at the well, there she is astonished by His knowledge of her life and she is changed. She immediately went to get the town folk to see Jesus. They invited Him to stay and many of them believed in Him.
But the people of the Gadarenes would rather that Jesus did His storm calming elsewhere and so He did; He went on His way. In Mark 5:18 we see that Jesus left after they asked Him to leave. Jesus is a gentleman. He will not go where He is not wanted and He respects the will of mankind. After all He is the one who gave man freewill.
What about you? Have you witnessed the power of Jesus only to reject Him and ask Him to leave your life? We are that way as a nation and as nations here in North America. We have seen the mighty hand of God over us protecting us and making us strong but lately we have rejected Him.
We have asked Him to leave our homes, our schools our nations and ultimately our churches; and He did. He honored our request and respected out freewill. But He did not totally abandon us. Revelation 3:20 reminds that Jesus is just outside the door waiting for an invitation. He longs to do some miracles in your life, in your home, in your nation and in your church, if you would just ask. Don’t be afraid; FEAR the Lord with a holy awe. Men chase storms, Jesus calms them.
“What kind of person is this? Even the winds and the lake obey him!”