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JESUS CALMS THE STORM

Luke 8:22-8:25
Key Verse: 8:24b-2

Last week we thought of the meaning of a lamp on a stand and the preciousness of Jesus’ family. The light of God’s word should be put on a stand to shine so that people may see the light. When we have the word of God in us, each one can be a lamp on a stand, and this is God’s hope for us in this generation. And Jesus’ family members are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice. In today’s passage Jesus calms the storm. We want to expect smooth sailing in our journey of life, but in reality there are storms in life. As we think of Jesus who calms the storm in the sea, we may learn how to overcome storms of life.

First, the human Jesus (22-23a). Look at verse 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.” According to Mark’s gospel (4:35), this was one evening after Jesus had taught the crowd with many parables. After a hard day's work, Jesus must have been very tired, and so were the disciples, who had been listening to the teaching of Jesus and serving the crowd. When Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake,” it proposed a sort of vacation to the disciples. This time they could show their rowing skill to take Jesus across the lake. Perhaps they thought that they could do something for Jesus who had laboured much for them, and felt that their life was worthy of living. How excited they must have been as they sailed on the lake along with their master Jesus! Maybe they sang “Santa lucia.”

Look at verse 23a. “As they sailed, he fell asleep.” Their sailing was so smooth that Jesus fell asleep in his tiredness. That Jesus fell asleep is a very unique expression in the Bible. Though he is the Son of God, becoming flesh he needed sleep for the restoration of his physical body from tiredness. This is the human side of Jesus.

Luke describes this Jesus excellently. Though Jesus is Son of the Most High, when he was born, he was wrapped in cloths like other ordinary babies (2:7). In his childhood and teenage he grew in wisdom and stature (2:52). He was also hungry when he fasted (4:2). And when he was tired, he fell asleep. Having a physical body Jesus had to be crucified. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since the children have the flesh and blood, he too shared their humanity…” He is our merciful and faithful high priest, who is able to sympathize with our weakness (2:14,17; 4:15). We can come to him for help in time of our human weaknesses.

Second, divine Jesus (23b-25). Look at verse 23b. “A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.” This lake is also known as the Sea of Galilee. It is surrounded by plateaus, beyond which rise great mountains. Rivers flowing from the mountains over the plateaus into the lake carve out deep ravines. These ravines play the role of funnels, drawing down cold wind from the mountains and thus, causing a sudden storm to arise. A storm on this lake is unpredictable, but also characteristic.

At the storm, the disciples tried to handle the situation by themselves, since they were familiar with the sea as fishermen. However, all their effort was of no use. They were soon helpless and were in great danger. This was a life-threatening situation.

What did the disciples do? They went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” Jesus was still sleeping even in the stormy sea. Jesus went on sleeping until the disciples woke him up. Who among men can keep sleeping in the storm? Sleeping in the gentle waves of the sea is human but sleeping in the stormy sea is divine. According to Isaiah, he is the Mighty God and Prince of Peace. Yet, the disciples could not distinguish between Jesus sleeping in the gentle waves and Jesus sleeping in the tempest. So waking him, they said in panic, “Master, Master, we’re going to down.” At this point to them Jesus was just their human Master.

At this what did Jesus do? Look at verse 24b. “He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.” Everyone else was afraid of the wind and the raging waters, but Jesus was not. He was not only fearless,but even rebuked the wind and the raging waters. We remember that in Luke 4:39, Jesus rebuked the fever, when Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was suffering from high fever--this is the description of Luke, the medical doctor. Now, Luke, as a scientist, used the expression that Jesus rebuked the gale and violent waters. For he could see beyond the visible physical scientific world. There was evil force behind the storm that tried to seize the disciples with fear and destroy them, even Jesus, so that the gospel work would stop there. When Jesus rebuked, the storm subsided, and all was calm.

Julius Caesar once met a stormy sea on the voyage to battle. He struggled hard with the stormy sea until his ships were completely wrecked. He had never imagined that he could rebuke the stormy sea and make it calm. But Jesus rebuked the wind and raging waters. At his command, everything was at once calm, and the surface of the water was again motionless and unruffled.

Who is this Jesus? This is our question. This was also the question of the disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” It is very interesting that Matthew wrote the disciples’ response, “The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (8:27) and Mark, “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him” (4:41). Yet, Luke wrote, “…He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke’s diction reminds us of God’s command over the waters in Genesis chapter 1, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place,” and it was so. The water obeyed God’s command and was gathered to one place. And God called the gathered waters “seas” (1:9-10). Only the Creator God could command the waters. At this point, when Jesus commanded the winds and the water in the stormy sea, Jesus revealed himself as the Creator. This is a biblical constant. John 1:3 says straightforwardly, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God…For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…”

The Bible clearly depicts Jesus as both human and divine. Jesus is perfect man and perfect God. Both his humanity and his divinity must be acknowledged. This is the correct view of Jesus.

This is not the whole story. After calming the storm, Jesus asked his disciples, “Where is your faith?” In Matthew Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Mt 8:26) and in Mark, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mk 4:40) In Luke Jesus had one simple question, “Where is your faith?” To the people of this world, the disciples’ response at the time of the storm was natural and normal. But to Jesus their response was not. When Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?” this was a rebuke. Why did Jesus ask this question of them? It was because they had experienced Jesus thus far. As for Peter, when he obeyed Jesus’ command, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch,” he could catch a large number of fish in the most unlikely place at the most unlikely time. The disciples could see Jesus healing a man with leprosy. They saw Jesus making a paralytic walk. They saw Jesus healing a centurion’s sick servant with just a word, without even encountering the sick person. They saw Jesus even raising a dead young man, and could know that he is in control over life and death. This Jesus was right there with them. He also clearly said to them, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” Nothing could thwart his plan. So the disciples had enough reason to put their faith and trust in Jesus. However, they were afraid that they would drown and die at the raging waters. They basically had the fear of death. This was not because the furious storm arose but because they did not put their faith in Jesus. So to Jesus their problem was not the storm but their faith. So Jesus asked them, “Where is your faith?” Jesus did not say, “Where is the storm? The storm was gone. Right? You are now okay.” The storm could rise again at any time. Jesus also did not ask, “Where is your rowing skill?”, “Where is your strength” or “Where is your wisdom?” No. he asked, “Where is your faith?”

To Jesus, in any situation, the real problem is a faith problem. Faith in Jesus makes all the difference. Jesus wants us to trust in him even in the storm-like situation. He wants us to believe his all controlling power and his all fulfilling word.

We can think of many examples, first of all, Daniel’s friends. They were threatened to bow down before the king of Babylon with a warning that if they did not, they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. At this terrifying situation they said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand. O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Da 3:16-18). What faith! What trust! Their faith and trust was right. Of course, their God saved them from the blazing furnace, when they were thrown into it. We can also think of Daniel. A decree was issued that anyone who prayed to any god or man during the next thirty days, except king Darius, should be thrown into the lion's den. However, Daniel, knowing this decree, got down on his knees and prayed in his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. He kept his prayer, although he knew the danger. It was because he truly trusted in God. His trust turned out right. He was accused of what he did by his enemies and was indeed thrown into the lions’ den. In God’s protection, the lions could not harm him at all. The author commented, “When Daniel was lifted from the den, no wounds was found on him because he had trusted in his God” (6:17-22).

We can also think of Apostle Paul. In Acts 27, he was in a ship sailing for Italy, with 276 people. The ship met a wind of hurricane force. The ship drifted away for fourteen days, and all lost hope of surviving. But when one person Paul had faith in God, all were saved and everyone reached land in safety (Ac 27:13-44). While he was in Roman prison, he said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phip 4:13). His body was bound in chains, and could not move freely. He could not go anywhere. His situation was really, “I can’t.” Yet, he said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” He could say this because he trusted in and relied on Jesus’ faithful love and limitless strength. And because of his faith in Jesus, he could encourage the believers in Philippian church that he who began a good work in them would carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phip 1:6). And he said in 2 Timothy that at his first defense no one came to his support, but everyone deserted him, but the Lord stood at his side and gave him strength, so that through him the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And he confessed that he was delivered from the lion’s mouth, and believed that the Lord would rescue him from every evil attack and would bring him safely to the heavenly kingdom of the Lord Jesus (2 Ti 4:16-18).

Our Lord Jesus wants us to really believe his limitless power and his word of promise to lead us safely to his heavenly kingdom despite all the dangers in our life journey. I again thank God for his perfect protection and delicate care for M. James, even while his angina was failing. All his family members trusted in God and acted accordingly. Now he is in recovery and we pray that God may restore him fully for the next one year. When Sara was rejected from U of T and McMaster medical schools, after the rejections from American universities two years ago, and her incident of the burn that seemed to be cured worsened her health condition, it was really like a storm. But I thank God that she has borne this stormy situation with faith in the Lord Jesus, who has been perfectly guiding her life. May God continually mould her into a woman of faith, who overcomes any kind of life storms and serves God’s purpose. Last Tuesday M. Sarah’s whole body was aching and shaking in cold, and had a high fever. This happened in the morning, while I was working. In the afternoon I went home and saw that she was suffering greatly. She said that she had never had such hard pain before. The degree of her fever was 39, and she could not take Tylenol because of nausea. In that situation we prayed, and while we were praying, I remembered Jesus who rebuked the fever, when Peter’s mother-on-law was suffering from a high fever, and rebuked the fever in Jesus’ name. God blessed our prayer and surprisingly Sarah’s fever went down. Since then she has been restored. I newly realize that I must learn to exercise faith in Jesus, who is in control over everything and whose power is limitless. I have one prayer topic to serve the ministry of God’s word. I pray for our Friday students’ meeting to be full of God’s word through their testimonies and that the word of God may work powerfully in and among us. Yet, it has not been easy to serve the ministry of God’s word. I have my own limitation and the limitations of people. But to Jesus the fundamental problem is my faith problem. This time I newly listen to Jesus, “Where is your faith?” May I recognize him anew as one who is in control over all and depend on him that his power may be revealed in this ministry of God, especially in the ministry of God’s word.

We thank Jesus who is fully human and fully divine. He understands our weaknesses and limitations. Yet, he does not want us to remain in our human weaknesses and limited situations. He wants us to put our faith and trust in him so that we may see his salvation at each impossible situation and experience his power over our limitations and serve his will and purpose. He speaks to us, “Where is your faith?” May we really grow in our faith in him, who is in control over everything and everyone and every situation.

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