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Calming the Storm

January 14 2024

Book: Luke

Scripture: Luke 8:22-25

Our text this morning is a brief, powerful story from the life of Jesus. Luke 8 verse 22:

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So, they set out,

23 and as they sailed, he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger.

24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.

25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

This is very clearly a story about faith. What does it mean to have faith? And I think the story provides us with three ways of thinking about faith.

First, Jesus wants his disciples to TRUST HIS PLANS.

We want to focus immediately on the fact that Jesus can calm the storms in our life. He calmed the storm. He can do it for me. He can do it for you. What’s the storm in your life?? Yes! But first, we need to deal with this: Jesus put them in the storm!

Whose idea was it to go across the sea at this moment? It was Jesus’ idea! Was the storm a surprise to Him? Did He seem surprised? Why did He put them in danger? Why did He lead them into a storm?

And here’s the hard truth: Sometimes the Lord leads us directly and intentionally into troubled waters. Before we rejoice over the miracle, we need to deal with this: God puts us in the storm… on purpose!

The Old Testament clearly portrays God as the author of the wind and the waves.

Jeremiah 51:16 – “When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.”

Psalm 148:7-8 – “Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!”

God commands the storm from beginning to end.

Peter, one of the men in the boat, would later realize this and use it to encourage people who were being tortured for their faith. Some of them were even being burned alive!

1 Peter 4:12-14 – “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

Jesus can calm the storm. But we must first realize that God leads us into storms for a reason. And according to Peter, the primary purpose is always the glory of God.

When we look at our circumstances, and everything around us seems to be falling apart and beyond our own control, we are encouraged not to hang our heads in despair. Instead, we are meant to turn to Jesus. We are meant to trust Him. Trust His plans.

Second, Jesus wants his followers to TRUST HIS PRESENCE.

Jesus is literally sleeping! My family jokes that I can fall asleep anywhere. I’m not sure I could sleep through a storm in a rowboat. But they have to wake Jesus up! And what do they say:

“We’re all gonna die!” In Mark’s Gospel, they also ask a question. “Don’t you care?” And isn’t that the question we ask?

It is incredibly easy, from our perspective, to look at the world around us and ask that question. Global crisis after global crisis. Local crisis after local crisis. Personal crisis after personal crisis. Does God even care?

I sometimes ask it too. Is God up there taking a nap? And I think Jesus is just as patient with us as He was with His own disciples. Our perspective is limited and because of that, we are always tempted to ask “Why”. Why is this happening? Why doesn’t God do something? Why must we suffer?

The Bible’s answer to these questions is always the same. God doesn’t give us the details we want about the present. He only offers us two things: a promise and His presence.

#1 – Jesus told them the destination. He said, “Let us go to the other side.” That implies that they will make it to their destination. If they took Jesus at His word, they would never have been afraid.

Think about life from the perspective of a young child. They have a limited perspective. They have a lot to learn. There are times when children are afraid, but we make them promises. “If you jump, I promise I will catch you.” “I won’t let you sink in the pool.” “I won’t let go of the bicycle until you learn to balance.”

God filled up a book with promises that even when things get difficult the end will be worth it. He has told us the end of the story!

And if you think about our promises to children, what is it we are really promising. Not only that they will be safe, but that we will be with them. And that’s the real answer to the question, “Doesn’t God care?”

#2 – Jesus put himself in the storm too. He did not just send His disciples into the storm. He went with them. And He would promise them many times that no matter what they would face in life He would always be with them.

It’s OK to ask the question – God, do you care? But God doesn’t promise to take away the storm immediately. What He does promise is that there is a destination, and that He will be with us on the way. Trust His presence.

Finally, Jesus invites his followers to TRUST HIS POWER.

The disciples vastly underestimated Jesus. He calms the storm, and it makes them afraid.

What happens when we underestimate God? It leads to fear. That’s essentially what it means to lack faith – to assume that God is either not powerful enough to help or that He is not interested in helping. All of these men believe in God. All of them believe that Jesus was sent by God. But that’s not faith.

In the very next story, Jesus is going to confront a legion of demons and they immediately recognize Him. They knew exactly who Jesus was, what Jesus was capable of, and they feared Him because He is their enemy.

If we are followers of Jesus, then we are no longer God’s enemies. And that means we have nothing to fear. Why would we fear a storm if we believe our lives each day are really in the hands of God?

These men were just as safe in that boat as they would have been in their beds at home. And maybe that’s why Jesus was asleep. To make that exact point… why are you afraid of something that cannot take your soul?

Fear is perhaps the primary emotion of unbelief. It demonstrates that our hearts are in doubt that God can do what He has promised to do.

To be clear again, God has not promised us an easy life free of storms. What He has promised is to deliver His people from the hurricane of sin and death. And one day He will end the storms completely.

There is a beautiful picture in Rev. 4 of the throne room of God. Listen to verse 6:

“Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal.” Beautiful, yes. But there is more to it than that.

The water is perfectly still. There are no waves, no tides. No chaos. In the Bible, the sea always means chaos. And God is promising peace – a perfectly still sea. No waves. No storms.

But first, Jesus needs to prepare His disciples for life in the middle, before that time comes.

I believe the calming of the storm is really about Jesus preparing the disciples for his death and resurrection.

Jesus would tell them many times that He was going to die and rise again. But they don’t get it, because when it actually happens, they all freak out and go into hiding. They were afraid and confused. Perhaps they thought, “Doesn’t God care? Why is Jesus dying?” Even though Jesus told them His plans, they didn’t accept it. And the whole time Jesus was hanging on the cross He was showing them just how much He cared. [arms wide] But in that moment, they saw it as loss and failure.

What storm are you in right now? Jesus invites you to trust Him. He has told us the destination. He has promised to be with us. And He has the power to follow through on that promise.

And if that’s not enough, and you are tempted to doubt His love, look again at the cross. Only my God, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was willing to sail into the storm we call sin and death for us. And if you believe this, then every storm you live through becomes an opportunity to give God glory.