Preached @ Anchor Community Church on October 5th 2014
We are in a series of events in Matthew that are demonstrating His authority by showing His power through healing and miracles. Last week we saw that it is easy to get caught up with what Jesus does (Miracles) rather than being raptured by Christ Himself.
In our day and age, it is hard for many people to believe in the idea of real miracles. Some see the healing miracles of Jesus as real, but psychosomatic. Most scholars do not see Jesus’ natural miracles like the one we see today in our passage as real at all. Most of the objection is due to western enlightenment presuppositions. “If we can’t figure it out or see it, it didn’t/doesn’t happen!”
The problem with this view is that it is just as religious as those they decry; it’s a worldview of faith, not science or “fact.” It doesn’t fit their worldview (Materialism) so it must be false. Eminent scholar and skeptic Richard Dawkins said, “If miracles can exist, then anything is possible.” His point is that if religious people can “Cop Out” by saying God is beyond our reason, and that He can do miracles as He pleases, then we can say and believe anything. The problem once again with this opinion is just that; it’s his opinion. Another noted scholar/skeptic of the 20th century (Richard Lewontin) wrote,
“(Science has) an adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen” (Emphasis mine).
Miracles mess with their worldview of materialism and their different versions of uniformitarianism. They begin their search for the truth behind the cosmos with some clear presuppositions; there aren’t any god(s) to create it, everything we see is from natural/material events, and is functioning like it was then (Uniformitarianism), that current experimentation/theory can expose the truths of the physical past in accurate and absolute terms. Miracles mean there is possibly a god(s), and that doesn’t fit their desire or worldview. Miracles exist outside of the “regularities of nature.” Simple!
However if miracles do exist, then there is a God who does them, and if there is a God who does them, there needs to be a natural allegiance to that God. An actual miracle is an “Irregularity.” That’s what makes it a “Miracle!” Miracles show us that God is in control, and He is powerful. Jesus demonstrates who He is, through His miracles.
Big Picture: Jesus is the calm in the midst of the storm!
From the Head…
We saw two men who desired to be close to Jesus, or to “Follow” Him, but they didn’t want to be that close. The word follow is used 3 times in ten verses. There is definitely a linguistic connection to follow (ακολουθελω). The first disciple in Matthew 8:19 promised to follow Jesus (Future Active Indicative), but Jesus realized he may have had religious zeal, but not the passion that drives from a changed heart. He liked what Jesus was doing. So Jesus made Him aware of how hard the road will be to following Him. The second disciple wanted to follow Jesus, but he had other more pressing things to do, so Jesus emphatically told Him to dispose of His idols, and follow Him in Matthew 8:22 (Present Active Imperative).
We see in Matthew 8:23 that, “His disciples followed Him” (Aorist Active Indicative). We will see that although their faith was weak, it was operative. They grew afraid when they realized that following Jesus wasn’t easy, and they experienced firsthand what He was intimating in Matthew 8:20.
In our passage today, there are Four Truths that relate Jesus being the “Calm” in the storm…
Following Jesus Is Often An Invitation to Storms (Matthew 8:24)
Immediately entering the boat with Jesus “A great storm arose.” The word Matthew uses is the word Seismos which is close to our word “Seismic, and denotes a violent movement or disturbance. Mark and Luke’s account of the same story use a different term (λαῖλαψ μεγάλη ἀνέμου/Great storm of wind), which some see as a contrast and a motif of Matthew’s depicting a seismic warning of a coming apocalyptic. However this story is probably not a metaphor or allegory, with eschatological inference. The fact is, life isn’t always a wonderful plan. It’s messy and filled with horror. Life’s circumstances test our faith. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12 reminds us that ‘Those who desire to desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.’ Any cursory reading of scripture reminds us that quite often the people of God are put through the most trying times.
Then our text tells us that “He was asleep.” Jesus’ ability to sleep is in contrast to the anxiety ridden fear and lack of trust of the disciples. Jesus sleeping depicts His trust in His Father, not Inaction (Psalms 121:4; 1 Kings 18:27).
True Disciples Convert Their Fear Into Hope (Matthew 8:25)
Fear is normal. The question is, what will you do with it? In spite of the disciples fear and weak faith, they knew where to turn in the end when they cry out “Save us Lord!” The word Matthew uses is Soson, which has the idea of “Rescue from danger, deliver one from peril.” This is Jesus’ main purpose to “Seek and save the lost.” The disciples were weak, but they knew Jesus saves.
Jesus Still Answers When We Can’t See His ‘Calm’ (Matthew 8:26)
In spite of our brokenness and weaknesses, God responds favorably. Jesus asks them “Why are you afraid oh you of little faith?” noting their weak faith, while Matthew contrasts it with the strong faith of the gentile’s faith (Matthew 8:10).
Faithlessness is our greatest sin. It’s a lack of trust that often stems from our own pride desiring to be little gods. Unbelief was the great sin of Israel, “Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise” (Psalm 106:24), and is abominable to God, but in spite of His disciple’s unbelief, God still acted on their behalf, because of His faithfulness.
In spite of their weakness, He “Rebuked the winds.” Jesus is operating on His Father’s promises, not the fickle attitudes and actions of His people. Whereas Sleeping shows His humanity, rebuking the winds shows His Divinity.
The Seas Obey God
- Job 38:8-11
- Psalm 65:5-8
- Psalm 89:8-9
God is in control of all things, and though this is often perplexing as we try and wrap our minds around natural disasters, it is true biblically, and when God acts, He always acts according to His will, and His purposes, and while we may not know or understand them, we can rest in them.
Jesus’ Calm In the Storm Cannot Be Ignored (Matthew 8:27)
When we get even a glimpse of who Jesus is, it ought to drop us to our knees, and force us to proclaim with the disciples, “What sort of man is this?” Jesus can’t be tamed by your presuppositions of Him. He is not the same as any “Man.” When we really understand Jesus, we either cower in fear, or fall down in worship. This is why we can’t ignore the theological doctrine of the Trinity, because this Jesus, who came in the flesh as a man, was far more than just that, which is why miracles make sense.
…to the Heart
Are you wracked by the desire for comfort or non-commitment? Are you wracked by fear? What have you needed to trust God lately? How often will you “Walk by faith and not by sight?” The disciples demonstrated their trust in spite of their weak faith. In the end they believed that Jesus was who He said He was. In what way(s) are you working your faith? Too often we choose comfort over trusting God. We have plans to step out and trust, but in the end, we are preoccupied or fearful.
In spite of our weaknesses, Jesus Christ is faithful. He is the only one who truly saves, and He is the only one who truly trusts His Father, as He went to the cross to prove it, and take on our calamity for His glory and our joy!
Questions To Ponder
- What is the current storm in your life?
- Are your storms the result of ministering the gospel, or your own sin?
- What is Jesus calling us to in regards to faith in this passage?
- What life circumstances have you doubting your place in the Kingdom? Or doubting the Kingdom at all?
For Further Reading
A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener
The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins
The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti
Sermon On the Mount; Sinclair Ferguson