“Emmanuel’s Domain Part 1” – Matthew 8:23-27

June 14th, 2015

Matthew 8:23-27 (Mark 4:34-41; Luke 8:22-25)

“Emmanuel’s Domain Pt 1”

Service Orientation: If we truly trust in King Jesus, whose domain is all of creation; we should never be afraid of our circumstances again.  

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Jesus replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. — Matthew 8:26

 

Background Information:

  • (v. 23) Matthew emphasized that Jesus got into the boat and the disciples followed. This may have been a wordplay by Matthew to connect this miracle with the preceding episode and give it a discipleship focus.  In other words, this is what discipleship might involve!  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 161)
  • (v. 23) The Sea of Galilee is small; it is only thirteen miles from north to south and eight miles from east to west at its widest. The Jordan valley makes a deep cleft in the surface of the earth, and the Sea of Galilee is part of that cleft.  It is 680 feet below sea level.  That gives it a climate which is warm and gracious, but it also creates dangers.  On the west side there are hills with valleys and gullies; and, when a cold wind comes from the west, these valleys and gullies act like gigantic funnels.  The wind, as it were, becomes compressed in them, and rushes down upon the lake with savage violence and with startling suddenness, so that the calm of one moment can become the raging storm of the next.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 316)
  • (v. 23) If the first-century-A.D. boat recovered from the mud of the northwest shore of the lake of Galilee in 1986 (now preserved in the Yigal Allon Center at Ginosar) is typical of the normal working boats of the period, its dimensions (8.20 meters long by 2.35 wide) would suggest that the boat might be overcrowded with more than thirteen people. There might have been practical problems if the two potential disciples of vv. 19-22 had in fact joined the group!  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 336)
  • (v. 24) Storms can appear suddenly over the surrounding mountains, stirring the water into violent twenty-foot waves. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 162)
  • (v. 24) The storm is called a seismos, which is the word for an earthquake. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 317)
  • (v. 25) Traversing the Sea of Galilee by night was a common experience for fishermen, who used trammel nets throughout the night. Many boats needed a crew of at least five to handle the boat (four rowers and one rudderman) though it could carry as many as sixteen.  There was enough room for a person to lie down in the stern and sleep when not on duty, with perhaps a ballast sandbag for a pillow (cf. Mk 4:38).  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 351)
  • (v. 25) If this is the same incident as the one recorded by the other Synoptics (Mk 4:37-41; Lk 8:23-25), this is the only time the Gospels record Jesus’ being asleep. (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 154)
  • (v. 26) Deilos (timid) (NIV = afraid) has the basic meaning of being fearful or cowardly, and the disciples must have wondered why Jesus wondered at them. How could He ask why they were afraid and timid, when they obviously had everything to be afraid of?  The great question in their minds was why Jesus was not afraid.  It was the middle of the night, the storm was sure to wash them overboard or sink the boat, and any response but fear seemed foolish and unnatural.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 34)
  • (v. 26) This expression involves an obvious personification (comp. Ps 106:9; Na 1:4); and Mark (4:39) gives the words addressed to the sea, as if speaking to a person, or to some fierce monster. Those words might be rendered “Be silent, hush”; but the latter word is literally “be muzzled,” applicable to a furious beast.  (Alvah Hovey, American Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 187)

 

The question to be answered is . . . What does Matthew write to reveal to us about Jesus in this passage?

 

Answer:  Everything is under Jesus’ domain.  If we truly possess faith in Jesus then there is no rational reason why we should be afraid of anything that comes our way.  

 

At creation God ordained man to be king of the earth, to “rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gn 1:26).  But when man fell into sin, he was dethroned and lost his sovereignty over the earth.  He lost his God-given majesty along with his innocence.  With the rest of the earth man was cursed and corrupted.  He lost his dominion, and both man and earth lost their glory.  The control of earth fell into the hands of the usurper, Satan, who now reigns as ruler of this world and age (Jn 12:31; 14:30).  Man’s sin, earth’s corruption, and Satan’s rule have brought sickness, pain, death, hardship, sorrow, war, injustice, falsehood, hunger, natural disaster, demonic activity, and every other evil that plagues the world.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 29)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Authority

 

What can we learn about Jesus from Matthew 8:23-27?:

I-  Jesus has authority over nature.  (Mt 8:23-27; see also: Ps 18:15; 29:3-4; 65:5-8; 89:8-9; 104:6-8; 106:9; 107:23-32; Isa 50:2; Jon 1:16; Na 1:4; Eph 1:18-23; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:3)

 

Storms normally subside gradually, with winds and waves diminishing little by little until calm is restored.  But this storm subsided faster even than it had come; it came suddenly and ceased instantly.  Though small in comparison to hurricanes and typhoons, that storm on the Sea of Galilee had generated multiplied millions of units of horsepower.  Yet Jesus stopped it with a word–an easy feat compared to His bringing the entire world into existence with a word.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 36)

 

In our text, notice that Jesus doesn’t pray to God to stop the storm.  He addresses the storm directly.  Jesus says to the waves, “Play dead,” and they, like an obedient dog, lie flat.  It’s as if creation recognizes its Creator’s voice.  It’s as if “all things hold together…by the word of his power” (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3).  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 227)

 

It is still too much for the disciples to grasp fully, for what Jesus has just accomplished is something only God can do.  When Jonah tried to run from his calling to preach to Nineveh, God caused the calming of the storm, which produced a similar reaction from the sailors (Jon 1:16).  In the Psalms Yahweh is celebrated as the master of the storm and sea (Ps 65:7; 89:9; 104:6-7; 107:23-32).

In other words, Jesus is far more than the disciples have up to this time supposed.  And he is far more than what we have often understood as well.  It is a challenge for all of us to look clearly at Jesus as the divine-human Messiah, to allow him to amaze us, and even beyond amazement, to move us to follow him as his true disciples.  We would do well to humble ourselves and call on him at our time of need, as self-sufficient as we might think we are.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 352)

 

It is ironic that the wind and the sea were far more obedient to Jesus than the men who were in the boat with Him.  God says, “The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider” (Isa 1:3).  People do not know the voice of their Master.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 252)

 

They saw that his authority extended over nature and were thus helped in their faith.  Yet they did not grasp the profundity of his rebuke.  Indeed, wherever oligopistos is used in Matthew, a root cause of the “little faith” is the failure to see beyond the mere surface of things.  Thus the pericope is deeply Christological:  themes of faith and discipleship are of secondary importance and point to the “kind of man” (cf. BDF, par. 298[30]) Jesus is.

It may also be that Matthew is again juxtaposing Jesus with man’s limitations and Jesus with God’s authority, a device he so effectively uses in this Gospel.  As Jesus is tempted but rebukes Satan (4:1-11), as he is called the devil but casts out demons (12:22-32); so he sleeps from weariness but muzzles nature (see further at 4:2).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 216)

 

It is not that the danger is not real (for surely experienced Galilean fishermen would know when they were in serious danger), but that God is not limited by the natural forces which he created.  Jesus’ confident “rebuke” to the storm, expecting it to recognize his authority, and the immediate calm which resulted, show that he wields the Creator’s power (for God’s “rebuke” of the sea cf. Ps 18:15; 104:7; 106:9; Isa 50:2; Na 1:4).  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 336-7)

 

The same Christ who stilled the Sea of Galilee is the Christ who keeps every atom and every star in its orbit.  He keeps the universe in balance and provides for each plant and animal.  One day He is coming to restore the world that sin defiled, to make completely new the heavens and the earth.  Even now He is the God who gives eternal life to those who trust in Him, and who will calm their every storm and give strength for their every tragedy.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 38)

 

Further “nature miracles” in 14:15-21, 23-33; 15:32-38; 21:18-22 will reinforce the message that Jesus is able to do what normal human beings cannot do, and while the christological implication is here drawn out only in a rhetorical question (v. 27), a similar miracle will evoke in 14:33 the disciples’ first explicit recognition that Jesus is the Son of God.  When to this is added Jesus’ authenticated claim to a further divine prerogative, the forgiveness of sins (9:3-6), there is no doubt that Matthew intends his readers to perceive what only gradually became clear to the disciples, that there was a more literal dimension to the title “God with us” (1:23) than perhaps Isaiah himself had intended.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 334)

 

The power of the Teacher to speak and control the waves shocked the disciples.  The storm was out of control, their fears were out of control, but Jesus was never out of control.  He may have had no home and no place to lay his head (8:20), but he had power over all the forces of nature.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 163)

 

What is striking is that not only the winds immediately quiet down, but so do even the waves.  Generally, as is well-known, after the winds have perceptibly diminished, the billows will continue to roll for a while, surging and subsiding as if unwilling to follow the example of the now subdued air currents above them.  But in this instance winds and waves synchronize in the sublime symphony of a solemn silence.  Something comparable to an evening stillness of the starry heavens settles upon the waters.  Suddenly the surface of the sea has become smooth as a mirror.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 412)

 

II-  Jesus leads His followers into storms so we can discover and experience Who He is and who we are.  (Mt 8:23; see also: Ps 27 & 29; 46:1-3; 62:1-8; ch 120; ch 121; Isa 6:1-5; 26:4; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-25; 2 Cor 1:8-11; Jam 1:2-4)

 

Faith urgently needs to know, not so much what Jesus will do or what promises he may have made that are applicable to this or that situation, but who Jesus is.  The Christian must learn that knowing the authentic Jesus better is what strengthens faith the most.  We discover with increasing delight that Jesus is always far more wonderful than we had anticipated.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 185)

 

There arose a very great storm, v. 24.  Christ could have prevented this storm, and have ordered them a pleasant passage, but that would not have been so much for his glory and the confirmation of their faith as their deliverance was:  this storm was for their sakes, as Jn 9:4.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 110)

 

Often our souls are troubled because we feel there is a problem where God can’t or won’t work.  When we truly understand who God is, however, we will realize that he controls both the storms of nature and the storms of the troubled heart.  Jesus’ power that calmed this storm can also help us deal with the problems we face.  Jesus is willing to help if we only ask him.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 162)

 

They had nowhere else to turn but to Jesus and were exactly where God wanted them to be.  Sometimes the Lord has to bring us to a point of absolute desperation before He can get our attention, and that is what He did with those disciples whose boat was about to be swamped or torn to pieces.  They had run out of human solutions and had only Jesus to turn to.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 34)

 

Men are always in difficulty with their faith because their God is too small.  If they can once see the true God, and get the perspective that sees Him as filling all in all, then the difficulties of life will rapidly diminish to their proper proportions. (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Remedy, 340)

 

How did they know he was a man?  They could see him sleeping.  He commanded a ship.  So why were they so perplexed about his humanity, saying, “What manner of man is this?”  His sleeping showed he was a man.  His calming of the seas declared him God.  (Chrysostom, The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 28:1)

 

That the noise, the violent rocking of the boat, and the cold spray of the water did not awaken him gives us a glimpse of the physical drain on Jesus throughout his earthly ministry.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 162)

 

I believe the reason most of us don’t enjoy our anointing is fear.  We are afraid to claim this power because we’re afraid to really follow the Spirit’s leading.  Because He may not lead us where we want to go.  He may lead us where we don’t want to go.  He might even ask us to climb up on a cross after we get beaten half to death.                                                                                                                                                                                           —Buddy Briggs (1-21-09)

 

Often trust begins on the far side of despair.  (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 117)

 

“To know the value of an anchor you must feel the stress of the storm.”  (Bishop Kendall @  Annual Conference ‘09)

 

Let us therefore conclude, that all this was arranged by the secret providence of God,–that Christ was asleep, that a violent tempest arose, and that the waves covered the ship, which was in imminent danger of perishing.  And let us learn hence that, whenever any adverse occurrence takes place, the Lord tries our faith.  If the distresses grow to such a height as almost to overwhelm us, let us believe that God does it with the same design of exercising our patience, or of bringing to light in this way our hidden weakness; as we see that, when the apostles were covered by the billows, their weakness, which formerly lay concealed, was discovered.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 424)

 

“A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.”— David Clardie

 

The trial of faith is also a test of its character; it is the furnace that tries the ore, of what kind it is:  it may be brass, or iron, or clay, or perhaps precious gold; but the crucible will test it.  There is much that passes for real faith, which is no faith; there is much spurious, counterfeit metal; it is the trial that brings out its real character.  (Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul, 87)

 

Sometimes we call people great men/women of faith.   What is the great accomplishment in that?  If we truly understood Who God is and His nature, then we would understand that ANYBODY would have great faith in Him once they have a clear vision of His nature.  The issue is not the faith we can muster in God. The issue is seeing God as he truly is and then simply believing in what we know about God.  Our problem is we have a faulty or inadequate vision of God.  (Paraphrase of Superintendent Ramundo’s message @ HFM 11-5-12)

 

It is not great faith in God that is needed, but simply faith in a great God.

 

Jesus promised us that everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt (see Mk 9:49, NKJV).  The desire for ease, comfort, and stress-free living is an indirect desire to remain an “unseasoned,” immature Christian.  Struggle makes us stronger; it builds us up and deepens our faith.  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 129)

 

Trials are the soil in which faith grows.  (Our Daily Bread  9-19-12)

 

He chose to go by water.  It had not been much about, if he had gone by land; but he chose to cross the lake, that he might have occasion to manifest himself the God of the sea as well as of the dry land, and to show that all power if his, both in heaven and in earth.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 110)

 

They, and they only, will be found the true disciples of Christ, that are willing to go to difficulties.  Many would be content to go the land-way to heaven, that will rather stand still, or go back, than venture upon a dangerous sea; but those that would rest with Christ hereafter must follow him now wherever he leads them, into a ship or into a prison, as well as into a palace.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 110)

 

More than others they had witnessed his miracles and apparently believed he could rescue them.  Jesus’ rebuke is therefore not against skepticism of his ability, nor against the fear that the disciples like others might drown.  Rather they failed to see that the one so obviously raised up by God to accomplish the messianic work could not possibly have died in a storm while that work remained undone.  They lacked faith, not so much in his ability to save them, as in Jesus as Messiah, whose life could not be lost in a storm, as if the elements were out of control and Jesus himself the pawn of chance.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 216)

 

Just as a crowd expects a magician to do his trick, yet marvels when it is done, so the disciples turn to Jesus for help, yet are amazed when he stills the storm so that there is complete calm.  What kind of man is this?  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 216)

 

The tense used in the original pictures Jesus slumbering peacefully.  He had been working hard and was very tired.  Besides, it was not difficult for him to fall into a deep sleep, for his trust in the heavenly Father–his own Father–was unfaltering.  Neither the roaring of the wind nor the dashing of the waves nor even the rolling and pitching of the boat was able to awaken him.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 410)

 

He had two objectives in mind.  He wanted to teach them to remain undismayed amid dangers and modest in honors.  So, to prevent them from thinking too much of themselves, having sent away the multitude, he kept them near him but permitted them to be tossed with a tempest.  By doing so he disciplined them to bear trials patiently.  (Chrysostom, Gospel of Matthew, Homily 28.1)

 

The disciples’ efforts as seamen had failed, as they could see.  The seas attempted to spend their fury against them, and the waves were ready to swallow them.  (Chrisologus, Sermons 20.1)

 

The meaning of this story is not that Jesus stopped a storm in Galilee; the meaning is that wherever Jesus is the storms of life become a calm.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 318)

 

His fatigue is a sign of His true manhood, of His toil up to the very edge of His strength; a characteristic of His life of service, which we do not make as prominent in our thoughts as we should.  It is also a sign of His calm conscience and pure heart.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 413)

 

Though Christ is present, the storm comes, and He sleeps through it.  Lazarus dies, and He makes no sign of sympathy.  Peter lies in prison, and not till the hammers of the carpenters putting up the gibbet for tomorrow are heard, does deliverance come.  He delays His help, that He may try our faith and quicken our prayers.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 413)

 

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives–the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections–that requires hard spiritual work.  Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment.  As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.  Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.  (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 31)

 

Jesus has taken the opportunity for a rest, since the boat is in the competent hands of the Galilean fishermen who are the only disciples so far attributed to natural exhaustion as much as to supernatural confidence, but it provides the setting for a remarkable reversal of roles, in that the experienced fishermen appeal for help to a man who as far as we know had little experience of boats (Nazareth is up in the hills, a long day’s walk from the lake).  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 336)

 

According to His divine plan, God’s own Son would come to earth twice in the process of that redemption–the first time to redeem man and the second time to redeem the earth.  In His first coming Jesus Christ came in humility, going to the cross and rising from the grave to redeem man from sin.  In His second coming He will come in blazing glory and establish His thousand-year kingdom, the Millennium, and after that a completely new heaven and earth–redeeming the whole of creation for all eternity. . . . As we look at mankind and the present earth, however, it is glaringly obvious that man himself could never effect such changes.  Man cannot solve the natural problems of environment, weather, droughts, famines, disease, and sickness.  Someone has said that for every problem science solves, six others are created in its place.  The greater our advancements, the more severe the complications. . . . The power to reverse the curse and bring a new heaven and a new earth not only is infinitely beyond man but is inconceivable to man.  We cannot imagine the power necessary to make such a radical recreation of the universe, any more than we can imagine the power it took to create it in the first place and to sustain it.  Man has the capability to destroy his world, but not the power to perfect it. . . .God had said that the One who would reverse the curse would come through the line of David, and Jesus did.  God had said this Deliverer would be born of a virgin, and Jesus was.  God had said He would be approved by the Father, and Jesus was.  God had said He would be more powerful than Satan, and Jesus proved that He was.  God had said His Son would speak the truth, and Jesus did.  God had said He would have power over disease and death, and Jesus proved that He did.

Above all else the miracles were foretastes of kingdom power.  When Jesus healed diseases and restored broken bodies, He previewed the kingdom, in which there would be no sickness or deformity.  When He cast out demons, He previewed the kingdom, in which there would be no demonic activity.  When He raised the dead, He previewed the kingdom, in which there would be no death.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 30-31)

 

Just before we see one of His most awesome demonstrations of deity, we see a touching picture of His humanness.  The Lord was bone weary, and He slept so soundly that not even the tossing of the boat, the noise of the wind, or the blowing water in His face awakened Him.  He was soaked to the skin while lying on hard planks with only a cushion for His head (Mk 4:38).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 33)

 

Mark reports that, along with their great amazement, the men were also “very much afraid” (4:41).  They were now more afraid of the one who had stilled the storm than they had been of the storm itself.  Many of them had encountered dangerous storms, but none had encountered such supernatural power as Jesus here displayed.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 36)

 

God’s majesty is so overwhelming that when He displays Himself in even a small part of His glory men cannot stand in His presence.  These disciples suddenly realized that God was standing in the very boat with them, and they were terrified by His power and His holiness.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 37)

 

What then is faith?  Faith really means believing in God, believing all that He tells us about Himself, all that He tells us about what He has done for us, all that He tells us about what He is going to do, and trusting ourselves utterly and absolutely to that.  What is faith?  Faith means reasoning and arguing on the basis of revelation.  Faith means, not that I try to reason myself to God, but that, believing the revelation given by God, I reason from it.  Faith means drawing out the inevitable deductions from what God has said.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, 163)

 

III-  Jesus rebukes our little faith and our resultant fears.  (Mt 8:26; see also: Mt 6:30; 14:15-33; 16:8; 17:7, 20; 28:5, 10;  Mk 4:35-41; 6:45-52; Lk 1:13, 20; 2:10; 5:10; 8:22-25; 12:28-32; Jn 6:16-21; Rv 1:17-18)

 

I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is.  I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil.  I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety.  In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath—these are not my native air.  But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely—these are my native air.  A John Hopkins University doctor says, “We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact.”  But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; We are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear.  God made us that way.  To live by worry is to live against reality.  (Dr. E. Stanley Jones, Transformed by Thorns, 95)

 

Fear knocked.  Faith answered.  No one was there.

 

The function of fear is to warn us of danger, not to make us afraid to face it.

 

We fear so much because we fear God so little.

 

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”  —Karl Barth

 

The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.  — Oswald Chambers

 

Do you know what Jesus’s most frequent or oft repeated prohibition in the Gospels was?   It wasn’t “Thou shalt not steal” or “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, or Thou shalt not kill”, it was “Do not be afraid!”   Why?   Most than likely because we do not trust in the providence of God.

 

It is important to say that Jesus is not addressing fear as such (fear in the ordinary or necessary sense), but rather their “excessive fear.”  Fear that pushes faith in God out the back door.  Fear that doesn’t recognize who’s in control.  Fear that doesn’t acknowledge who’s onboard the boat.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 217)

 

The words little faith may not so much refer to quantity of faith as to its impoverished nature (as in 17:20, where faith like the grain of a mustard seed is not large faith but a certain kind of faith).  Jesus presupposes that proper faith would drive out fear; he rebukes the disciples in that in their case fear has driven out faith.  Clearly they have enough faith to turn to him for help; but the desperation of their cry and their astonished remarks after the miracle show their faith is not very mature.  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 183)

 

What is clear is that both Mark and Matthew set faith over against fear.  Faith chases out fear, or fear chases out faith.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 216)

 

The office of faith is to suppress fear.  But the origin of faith is often in fear, and we are driven to trust just because we are so much afraid.  A faith which does not wholly suppress fear may still be most real; and the highest faith has ever the consciousness that unless Christ help, and that speedily, we perish.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 414)

 

He does not find fault with them for being “fearful,” but for being “so fearful” as to let fear cover faith, just as the waves were doing the boat.  He pityingly recognizes the struggle in their souls, and their possession of some spark of faith which He would fain blow into a flame.  He shows them and us the reason for overwhelming fear as being a deficiency in faith.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 414)

 

I’ve always understood that courage is about the management of fear, not the absence of fear.  —Rudy Giuliani

 

You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so.  For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.

 

Their summons is a curious mixture of fear and faith.  “Save us” is the language of faith; “we perish” is that of fear.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 413)

 

There is no place in true discipleship for fear–which itself arises out of lack of faith (disbelief).  The Greek word for “afraid” (deiloi) means “cowardly fear.”  The disciples were acting like cowards when they should have acted with faith in their teacher.  Despite all that the disciples had seen and heard thus far, they still had not grasped that Jesus was himself God, with God’s power and authority over all of creation.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 163)

 

The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him.  He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless.  He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit.  This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit.  A Christian is fearless. — Tertullian

 

Worry is telling God, “You can’t be trusted with these circumstances.”  —DeEtta Trainor

 

Jesus says that the root of anxiety is inadequate faith in our Father’s future grace.  As unbelief gets the upper hand in our hearts, one of the effects is anxiety.  The root cause of anxiety is a failure to trust all that God has promised to be for us in Jesus.  (John Piper, Future Grace, 54)

 

Instead of telling God how big your storm is, tell the storm how big your God is!

 

“Some Christians haven’t even attempted to think about whether or not they would die for Jesus because they haven’t really been living for Him.”  – dc Talk (Christian band)

 

Similarly, “Humble yourselves…casting your anxieties on God.”  One way to be humble is to cast your anxieties on God.  Which means that one hindrance to casting your anxieties on God is pride.  Which means that undue worry is a form of pride.  Now why is casting our anxieties on the Lord the opposite of pride?  Because pride does not like to admit that it has any anxieties.  And if pride has to admit it, it still does not like to admit that the remedy might be trusting someone else who is wiser and stronger.  In other words, pride is a form of unbelief and does not like to trust in future grace.  Faith admits the need for help.  Pride won’t.  Faith banks on God to give help.  Pride won’t.  Faith casts anxieties on God.  Pride won’t.  Therefore the way to battle the unbelief of pride is to admit freely that you have anxieties, and to cherish the promise of future grace in the words, “He cares for you.”  (John Piper, Future Grace, 96)

 

“. . . doubt looks at circumstances; faith looks to God.  (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Remedy, 343)

 

To become a Christian does not mean that you muster up or increase the level of my faith, but it means changing the OBJECT of your faith.  It means to change the object of my faith from myself to Christ.

 

Don’t fear tomorrow – God is already there.

 

Fear is the darkroom where Satan takes you to develop all of your negatives.

 

Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”  (Vernon Brewer, Why?, 64)

 

Worry is taking upon yourself responsibility God never intended for you to have. — Bill Gothard

 

“It is okay to be afraid.  It’s just not okay to quit.”   (Steve Brown; Living Free, 134)

 

He spoke to the men first, for they were the most difficult to deal with:  wind and sea could be rebuked afterwards.  He questions the disciples.  Alas, they had questioned him in an unworthy sense!  There is no reason in our unbelief.  That “Why?” is unanswerable.  If we are right in having any faith, we must be wrong in having any fear.  Little faith, from one point of view, is most precious; but under another aspect it is most unjustifiable.  Why “little faith” in a great God?  It is well that it is faith; it is ill that it is little.  (C.H. Spurgeon, Exposition of Matthew, 110)

 

Jesus reminds them that there was no valid reason for their bewildered panic.  Very recently these men had been selected to be Christ’s disciples, with a view to apostleship (Mk 3:13-19; Lk 6:12-16) and all this implied.  Would the One who had chosen them allow them now to perish in the angry deep?  Was not his very presence reassuring?  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 411)

 

The storm had them all frightened.  The fishermen, like Peter and John, knew those waters well, and their fear came from experience.  They had probably lost friends to such storms.  Nonsailors like Matthew were simply terrified.  Perhaps the fear in the eyes of their mates frightened them as much as the storm itself.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 164)

 

The splendor of a human heart which trusts that it is loved gives God more pleasure than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, the sight of ten thousand butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom.

Trust is our gift back to God, and he finds it so enchanting that Jesus died for love of it.  (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 2)

 

A significant contrast with Mark’s telling of the story is the different order of events:  in Mark the appeal is immediately followed by Jesus’ remedial action, only after which does he comment on their fear and lack of faith, whereas in Matthew the comments immediately follow the appeal–Jesus deals with the disciples before he deals with the storm.  This order is perhaps intended to underline Jesus’ control of the situation (there is no need to panic), but also serves to highlight the significance of the disciples’ failure in trust.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 335)

 

Every right-minded man utterly despises a coward in private life.  Cowardice is the unpardonable sin in a man.  A corrupt man can be reformed.  Many a corrupt man, both in politics and business, has been reformed within the past score of years, has realized the evils of corruption and is now a first-class citizen.  In the same way a coward who appreciates that cowardice is a sin, an unpardonable sin if persevered in, may train himself so as, first to act like a brave man, and then finally to feel like and therefore to be a brave man.  But the coward who excuses his cowardice, who tries to cloak it behind lofty words, who perseveres in it, and does not appreciate his own infamy, is beyond all hope.  (Theodore Roosevelt, Fear God and Take Your Own Part, 191)

 

He does not chide them for disturbing him with their prayers, but for disturbing themselves with their fears.  Christ reproved them first, and then delivered them; this is his method, to prepare us for a mercy, and then to give it us.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 110)

 

Jesus asks the disciples, “Do you still have no faith?”  That could actually be translated as “Where is your faith?”  I love that way of phrasing it.  By asking the question in this way, Jesus is prompting them to see that the critical factor in their faith is not its strength, but its object.

Imagine you’re falling off a cliff, and sticking out of the cliff is a branch that is strong enough to hold you, but you don’t know how strong it is.  As you fall, you have just enough time to grab that branch.  How much faith do you have to have in the branch for it to save you?  Must you be totally sure that it can save you?  No, of course not.  You only have to have enough faith to grab the branch.  That’s because it’s not the quality of your faith that saves you; it’s the object of your faith.  It doesn’t matter how you feel about the branch; all that matters is the branch.  And Jesus is the branch.  (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 55)

 

Faith is not about everything turning out ok–Faith is about being ok no matter how things turn out.  (At the end of Carole Jacobus’ emails)

 

Feelings are great liars.  If Christians only worshiped when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship that went on.  Feelings are important in many areas, but completely unreliable in matters of faith.  Paul Scherer is laconic:  “The Bible wastes very little time on the way we feel.”  (Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction Discipleship in an Instant Society, 50)

 

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants his footsteps in the sea

And rides upon the storm.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.  — William Cowper

 

Worship Point:  Worship Jesus Who is Lord over all.  All cancer, all death, all illness, all diseases, all tornados, all floods, all earthquakes, all circumstances.

 

There’s nothing worse than insecurity.  So many people live in fear because they are uncertain about what comes next and their standing before God, if they even believe in God.  On the flip side, there’s nothing better than being absolutely sure that the most powerful Being in the universe adores you as His own child.  This is precisely the confidence the Holy Spirit offers us.  (Francis Chan, Forgotten God, 103)

 

The believer who is aware of God’s power and love has no reason to be afraid of anything.  Because God both can and will take care of His children, there is no hardship or danger through which He cannot or will not take them.  God’s power and love will see us through any storm, and that is the essence of what we need to know and consider when we are in trouble.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 35)

 

Gospel Application:  Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6-7)In Jesus, we can rest in the midst of the most violent and devastating storms (Mt 11:28-29).

 

Jesus wants us to have a full picture of faith.  That includes bravery under duress.  We cannot learn to be brave in a classroom, but only as we get out and live in our broken world.  The faith that Jesus admires is tested by crisis and struggle and emerges confident in God’s power.  If you face a crisis today, pray for bravery and trust completely in God.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 164)

 

Our peace and faith come with the knowledge that Jesus has power over all storms, whatever their source or strength.  He can quiet them if he chooses.  Often the early Christians hoped for Jesus to quiet the storm of persecution, but he did not.  So in the middle of the storm, they relied, instead, on their faith in the power of their Savior and the eternal rest promised to them.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 164)

 

With that confidence and strength, you can not only go into the world, you can live out a gospel that is attractive.  In a world where there is much fear, people will gravitate to those who are living with a surprising lack of fear.  (Gary Haugen as quoted by David Kinnaman, Unchristian, 232)

 

“God will either quiet the storm or quiet your heart in the midst of the storm” — David Clardie

 

The presence of God brings with it all that God is.  He doesn’t leave pieces and parts of Himself behind.  He blesses us with the fullness of His partnership in our lives.  His presence guarantees His protecting power, His sovereign direction, His unsurpassed wisdom, His tender loving care, and His just involvement in our lives.  To be afraid, to permit fear to shadow our souls, is to deny His presence.  Yet, embracing by faith the reality of His presence convinces us that He will fully secure us–regardless.  (Joseph M. Stowell, Experiencing Intimacy With God, Discovery Series 23)

 

Is it possible to have the walls crashing down around you and still experience contentment?  I would have never thought so, but I was surprised to learn that we can be content in the midst of suffering—not mere inconvenience, but severe, agonizing suffering.  The issue, I learned, is that our circumstances don’t determine our contentment, but our faith and trust in God do. (Patrick Morley; The Man In The Mirror, 101-2)

 

Christian men are but men.  They may have a bad liver, or an attack of bile, or some trial, and then they get depressed if they have ever so much grace.  But what then?  Well, then you can get joy and peace through believing.  I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever gets to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.  But I always get back again by this:  I know I trust Christ.  I have no reliance but in Him.  Because He lives, I shall live also, and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and my downcast soul and get the victory through it.  So may you do, and so you must, for there is no other way of escaping from it.  In your most depressed seasons, you are to get joy and peace through believing.” —  Charles Spurgeon

 

By definition, to forget God is to assume the place of God in your life and the world.  Now, what is so bad about that?  Oh my goodness, think about that for a second.  What do you think worry is?  Let me tell you what worry is.   Worry is a frustrated aspiration to omniscience.  Worry is saying exactly what James says we cannot say.  You are eaten up with worry to the degree you say, “I know.  I know what tomorrow holds.  I know what is right.  I know what has to happen.  I know how history has to go.  I know.  Now if you say that, you will be eaten up with worry because you are aspiring to omniscience.  (Tim Keller; sermon entitled Worry)

 

Master, the tempest is raging!

The billows are tossing high!  The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,

No shelter or help is nigh;

Carest Thou not that we perish? How canst Thou lie asleep,

When each moment so madly is threat’ning

A grave in the angry deep?

 

Refrain:
The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,

Peace, be still!

Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,

Or demons or men, or whatever it be,

No waters can swallow the ship where lies

The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;

They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,

Peace, be still! Peace, be still!

They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,

Peace, peace, be still!

 

Master, with anguish of spirit

I bow in my grief today;

The depths of my sad heart are troubled—

Oh, waken and save, I pray!

Torrents of sin and of anguish

Sweep o’er my sinking soul;

And I perish! I perish! dear Master—

Oh, hasten, and take control.

 

Master, the terror is over, The elements sweetly rest;

Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,

And heaven’s within my breast;

Linger, O blessed Redeemer!

Leave me alone no more;

And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,

And rest on the blissful shore.

 

Spiritual ChallengeLook to Jesus.  He is the author and perfecter of your faith (Heb 12:1-2).

 

The degree to which you die on the altar is the degree to which you will experience true joy in reality.  As the altar burns away the selfishness and ego and the self-protection, you will find you are free of the fear, of the necessity to defend yourself, and the necessity to be anything but His.”  ( Steve Brown; Romans Vol 2, # 15B)

 

We have great reason to thank God that Jesus, our great High Priest, is very compassionate and tender-hearted.  He knows our frame:  he considers our infirmities.  He does not cast off his people because of defects.  He has pity even on those he reproves.  The prayer even of “little faith” is heard and gets an answer.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 60)

 

Stop looking at your faith, and rivet your attention on Christ.  Faith is sustained by looking at Christ, crucified and risen, not by turning from Christ to analyze your faith.  Let me help you look to Christ.  Let’s read Lk 22-24 together.  Paradoxically, if we would experience the joy of faith, we must not focus much on it.  We must focus on the greatness of our Savior.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 218)

 

It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self:  to Jesus:  but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.  He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.”  All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.  But, the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self:  he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.”  Remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.  We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.  If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “Looking unto Jesus.”   Keep your eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you wake in the morning look to him; when you lie down at night look to him.  Do not let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail you.  —Charles. H. Spurgeon

 

 

Christ:

MASTER

OF THE

UNIVERSE

 

 

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