I heard a sermon last week about the familiar passage in the gospels which describes when Jesus calmed the storm. I have read this passage many times in my life, but I saw new things and learned so much! Does that ever happen to you? I was once again reminded that God’s word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). The main thing that I learned was that Jesus cares more about our hearts than anything else.
Let’s review a bit. Jesus had just preached his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) in which He had blown away His listeners with a completely mind-blowing, upside-down approach to life. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Wait, what? He had then touched and cleansed a leper who was willing to be healed. (Matthew 8). He then amazingly healed the centurion’s son only by speaking the words and had healed Peter’s mother-in-law by simply touching her hand (Matthew 8). Many people, including the disciples, had seen firsthand Jesus’ authority and power.
So now we catch up with Jesus and His disciples as they are traveling by boat across the Sea of Galilee. In Luke’s version of this event we read this: “Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” (Luke 8:22, NKJV). Stop right here and remember that Jesus said, “Let us cross over to the other side.” We’ll come back to that seemingly insignificant statement in a minute.
And so Jesus and His disciples start out across the lake, possibly rowing or using sails to help them cross. This journey was probably no big deal to these men who included known fishermen: Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
But now looking at Matthew 8 we read, “And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves.” (NKJV) And in Luke 8:23 it says, “And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.” (NKJV) This was no little storm, and the travelers were in great danger. Waves covered their boat and they were filling with water.
Side note: What was Jesus doing? He was asleep. Yes, He was asleep, completely worn out from all of the ministry He had just accomplished. And to me, the fact that He was asleep in such treacherous conditions shows that He was not a bit worried.
The terrified disciples came to Him, woke him up, and said, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” Now let’s return to that statement that I asked you to remember above. Jesus had told them that they were going to cross to the other side. He did not tell them that they might cross to the other side or that they maybe would make it if the weather and waves cooperated.
Jesus had spoken the word that they would cross to the other side, and when He says something, He always keeps His word.
But nonetheless, the disciples were terrified. Come on, admit it, you and I would be, too! But here’s the part that I really learned for the first time this week. Before Jesus calmed the storm, He addressed their faith and calmed their hearts. Jesus is always the most concerned about our hearts!
In Matthew 8:26, Jesus says to His disciples, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Perhaps He was thinking, “Did you already forget how I preached to the multitudes, how I cleansed the leper, and how I healed Peter’s mother-in-law?” We don’t know exactly what Jesus was thinking, but He compassionately addressed the lack of the disciples’ faith before He gave His attention to the sinking boat in which they were in.
And perhaps you know the rest of the story. Jesus “arose and rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was great calm. And the men marveled, saying “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:26-27, NKJV)
As I read this story over the years, my attention was focused on the fact that Jesus was so powerful that He had command even over nature! He was able to calm waves and wind just with His words. But I missed the part that He addressed the disciples’ faith, and their hearts, even before He calmed the storm.
Are you in a storm today? Perhaps Jesus wants to remind you to have faith that He is with you, faith that He cares, and faith that He has the power to calm your storm. Perhaps He is teaching you to believe Him and in His plan before He calms the storm in your life. Perhaps Jesus wants to address your heart and mine today.
Today, let’s meditate on Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (NLT)
The Lord said “when” we go through deep waters, not “if” so we know we will have to go through hard times. Let’s ask Him today to help us believe that He is with us in those hard times. Let’s ask Him to give us the faith to believe what He said, “I will be with you.”
Remember, if He said it, He will do it.
Kelly Balarie, author (Battle Ready, Rest Now, Take Every Thought Captive), speaker, and blogger, delights in joining hands with women as they go through life’s ups and downs. To see God move to revive hearts, to restore relationships, and to bring hope to weary souls highlight moments for Kelly. Beyond this, Kelly has led spiritual growth Bible study groups and has been seen on TODAY, The 700 Club, Crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com, and (in)courage. Her work has also been featured by Relevant and Today’s Christian Woman. She lives with her husband and two kiddos on the East Coast.
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