Study 3 STILLING THE STORM ON THE LAKE
OUR LORD’S MIRACLES
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portions: Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25)
In this dramatic miracle we have a striking parable of the Christian life. Our Lord had been teaching, and when evening came He said to His disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side” (Luke 8:22). Mark tells us that others were also crossing the lake in other boats (Mark 4:36). Suddenly a terrific storm arose, and the disciples panicked. Jesus was asleep in the ship, and it seemed that He did not care, so they woke Him and asked Him – Mark 4:38. Immediately He arose and rebuked the storm, and it was completely calm (verse 39). Then He gently rebuked them, and they stood back and wondered!
This is a vivid picture of the life of every Christian. As believers, we are on a journey from earth to Heaven. Sometimes it becomes very stormy and our faith fails, and our Lord seems to be sleeping. We are tempted to ask, ‘Does He care?’ Of course He does, and if only we would take Him at His word, as these disciples should have done, we would have no cause for fear, doubt or alarm, for notice that:
1. The Lord has declared His express purpose to accompany His children on the journey of life and land them safely on the other side.
Think about those words, addressed to His own, in Luke 8:22: “Let us go over to the other side”; they express the Lord’s purpose and intention, and they contain His promise to the disciples and to us. Here is the promise of His presence: notice the word “us”. Here is also the promise of our security, for the Lord’s word is, “Let’s go over…(not under)…to the other side”. On every hand we meet Christians who are doubting the Lord in these two ways. They ask, ‘Is the Lord really with me?’ to which the answer is, ‘Yes, of course He is!’ He is with us in the storms of life (Isaiah 43:2); in the sorrows of life (Psalm 23:4); in service (Matthew 28:19-20); in stress (2 Timothy 4:17); and He has guaranteed never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5-6). But Christians also ask, ‘Shall I really reach the other side?’ Here is our Lord’s word for it – and look up and compare John 10:28-29; 2 Timothy 2:19. If the Lord has guaranteed us a safe journey is it possible that anything can prevent the fulfilment of His promise? He has guaranteed to be with us all through the journey of life and to land us safely home at the end of that journey.
2. The journey on which Christ takes us through life is always through the storm.
Compare Matthew 8:24 with Luke 8:23. There is certainly no immunity from storms because we are Christians. Indeed, if we belong to the Lord trouble and testing are inevitable – look up and compare John 16:31; Philippians 1:29; Hebrews 12:5-13. Are you in the storm now? Do not be discouraged, but notice that:
- 1. Our Lord knew the storm was coming, but He did not delay their departure.
- 2. He permitted the storm and led them into it.
- 3. He allowed them to feel the fury of the storm.
- 4. He appeared to be unconcerned about the storm.
- 5. He was with them in the storm, so they were safe.
All these things are true in relation to every believer. Consider them carefully, and encourage yourself.
3. When Christians are in the storm their faith often wavers and fails.
These disciples were filled with fear, doubt and resentment, and the Lord whom they loved did not seem to care; they thought they would go under, and with a touch of bitterness they said, “Master, Master, were going to drown!” Have we not reacted in these ways? We have become fearful, we have thought we would sink, we have become resentful and we have even questioned the ways and the wisdom of God. In other words, our faith has faltered. Why did their faith falter?
- 1. They failed to trust His Promise, “Let us go over…”
- 2. They failed to rely upon His Presence: He was there with them.
- 3. They failed to take account of His Power. Could He not perform a miracle?
4. Why does the Lord permit and lead His people into the storms of life?
Does He have a purpose in permitting us to be tested and tossed about? Indeed, He does! There are at least four reasons why He led His disciples into the storm and permitted them to be tested:
- 1. To develop their faith. Perhaps this was the supreme reason, for when He had stilled the storm He gently rebuked them, saying, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). He allows trials in order to see how we will react and whether we trust Him, and in order that our faith may be developed – look up 1 Peter 1:7.
- 2. To reveal His power. It is as though He said, “I’m going to sleep, and then, when things are at their worst, I will show them who I am!” It is like that with us. We have learned about Him and have confessed Him for years, but do we really know in personal experience who He is and what He is able to do for us and for others? Who is He?
- He is the Man Christ Jesus. Yes, He is truly man – sleeping and tired. But is that all? No!
- He is God, the Sovereign Lord, the Lord of Nature, the mighty One. Read Luke 8:24-25, and see your Lord revealing His mighty power – the God-man, God manifest in the flesh, putting forth His sovereign power.
- 3. To prove His love. When troubles and trials come we ask all kinds of questions; for instance, we say, “Does He care for His people when they are in peril? Will He let them sink? Does He answer prayer? Can He give peace and a great calm, even in the midst of the storm?” And the answer to all these questions is, “Yes, a thousand times, yes!”
- 4. To further His kingdom. As Mark tells us, “There were also other boats.” These “other boats” were also in the storm – and it suddenly ceased! They would have wondered why, and when they were told why, the name of the Lord Jesus would have been magnified and His kingdom would have been extended. That is what the apostle Paul meant when he said – Philippians 1:12. What a revelation of the Lord and of His power these disciples would have missed if they had not passed through the storm! To the end of their days they would remember this experience.
5. They reached the other side safely.
Yes, they arrived there all right! They did not go under, they did not have to be rescued, and they did not swim the last lap of the journey! They went over and landed safely on the other shore with their Lord – and so shall we! The Lord promises to each one of us who belongs to Him a safe journey, though a stormy one – look up Romans 8:35-39.