Three of the Gospels give us the account of Jesus and the disciples getting into a boat with the intent of crossing the Sea of Galilee. Jesus falls asleep in the boat, and a great storm picks up. The waves were causing water to flood the boat. The disciples wake Jesus up and let Him know that they are on the verge of death. So, Jesus turns to the storm, orders it to calm down, and after it does, asks the disciples why they were fearful, and where was their faith?
When considering this story, I think it is important to note that the vast majority of these disciples were fishermen by trade. They were comfortable being out on the water during all kinds of conditions. I would guess that whenever disciples like Matthew Levi (former tax collector) started to get a little queasy, Simon Peter was right there to tell him to “man up!”
When I was in the Air Force, I had a desk job; however, I was given the unique opportunity to take a flight in a training jet with a skilled pilot one time. At one point in the flight, we started pulling several G’s, and my G-suit began inflating. The pilot started talking me through the breathing exercises that I should do so that I wouldn’t pass out! I noticed that since he was talking me through these exercises, then he was not doing them himself. This prompted 2 thoughts in my oxygen starved brain:
- If he passes out, then there is nobody left to fly the plane!
- Since he was experienced, he was familiar with these conditions. On the other hand, if I had heard labored breathing, or the words “uh-ohh,” then I would have checking my parachute!
This is exactly what was going on with these disciples. As they sailed across the sea, and the storm starts up, I’m sure that at first, they were just thinking, “What’s a little wind. So the water is a little choppy. I’ve seen worse.” But it didn’t take long before they were crying out to Jesus, “Wake up! Don’t you care that we are about to die!” Now, I find it interesting that of the 3 Gospel writers that contributed this story, only Matthew was a first-hand eyewitness, and he was not an old salt dog fisherman. Yet his description of the storm does not conjure up thoughts that this was something to be feared. He simply called it a “great storm.” Really. After fearing for your life, you’re only going to call it a “great storm?” I think the reason is that he is telling it after the rescue in which Christ reached in and removed all the teeth from this storm.
When this storm hit, these disciples probably trusted in their skills and abilities as seasoned fishermen to be able to handle themselves in a boat on the sea. Then, it became apparent that this was beyond their abilities. In 2 Chronicles, King Jehoshaphat was faced with a battle in which Judah was powerless against an enemy that was too enormous for them. Jehoshaphat prayed “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Jahaziel prophesied and said, “Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” (2 Chr. 20:15 NASB).
Basically, the message was that they should not rely on what they could accomplish on their own, because they would fail. Instead, have faith in the Lord. It was His battle. He would take care of it.
The disciples in the boat had the same lesson. They found out that relying on their own strength, power, and abilities was futile. They would fail. This battle (against nature) was not theirs; it belonged to the Lord.
We sing a song in church that says:
“And I still believe You’re the same yesterday, today and forever
And I still believe Your blood is sufficient for me”
If we are to believe what we sing, then we are to also believe that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s. The problem is that all too often, many of us try to rely on our own strength, even in the face of insurmountable odds, to try and make a dent in our problems. Christ wants us to wake Him up. We are not to be fearful and ask “Don’t you care that we are about to die!” To that question, we’ll get the same response that His 12 disciples got, “Where is your faith?” No, what we need to do is say, “I know this is beyond my abilities. I place it in your hands.”
Some people act like they are afraid to wake their savior.
Even worse, some people went sailing, and left Jesus on the shore. He has to be in the boat. Make sure you let Him in before the storm picks up. Without Him, it’s going to be a rough ride.