"Where Is Your Faith?"
by Dennis Michelson
(Painesville, Ohio USA)
Children's children are the crown of old men.
Introduction: Small faith never becomes great faith without testing and trials. In this passage the trials of life are presented as a storm. The Lord is teaching his disciples to pray for a calm heart and not merely a calm storm. The storm can have a definite sanctifying influence if we hold fast to the Word of God in the face of fear.
When theology becomes "kneeology" then growth in grace is likely. Information with application will become stagnation and this is the dowfall of many in the ministry. Notice first -
1. The Command for the Voyage (8:22)
The command is simply "let us go over unto the other side of the lake." Paul VanGorder used to say that God's precepts carry with them the power to perform. If the Lord has commanded you to go to the other side of something then faith must hold to that Word from God rather than the fear generated by the storm. The old gospel hymn says "no water can swallow the boat where lies the Master of ocean, earth and skies." Please observe -
- The companions for the voyage (disciples).
These were flawed men who were by no means perfect but they were being perfected by means of this voyage. The Lord uses the same kind of people today. A doubter (Thomas), an egoist (Peter), etc.
- The confidence for the voyage (let us).
The Lord has promised to be with us always even until the end of the world. The Lord employs a hortatory subjunctive and nudges the disciples ever closer to the pressures of providence and the crucible of circumstances. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
- The commencement for the voyage (launched forth).
The weather was probably perfect since these experienced sailors would not embark in a storm. This is life for us. We set sail on a voyage and all seems well but in one verse everything can change radically.
Notice in the second place -2. The Conditions for the Voyage
3. The Conduct of the Voyagers
- He fell asleep. - Have you ever been tempted to think the Lord is oblivious to your problem? Remember - He that keepeth Israel never slumbers or sleeps. Here is the mystery of the hypostatic union - He is so human that he gets exhausted and so Divine that He will get up soon and tell the wind and waves to go to sleep.
- There came a storm. - The Lord knew about this but the apostles did not. This is contrary to the prosperity prophets of our day and those who deny God's sovereignty over all of our circumstances. Remember that "Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" (Matthew 4). God does not tempt us (as a solicitation to evil) but He does test us in the sense of trials to increase our trust in Him and His word. If you are having a problem with the storm then it probably indicates an underlying problem with the Lord of the storm!
- They were in jeopardy. - Our consequences and real, painful and often dangerous. At this point we need to be more consumed with the Lord in the boat than the water in the boat.
4. The Conclusions from the Voyage
- The disciples. - They were out of control. Feelings are real but they should not be authoritative. Go ahead and dip water out of the boat but keep singing "let us go over unto the other side of the lake."
- The Lord. - It is interesting that He "rebuked" the wind and the water. Was Satan seeking to sink the entire plan and program of God for the present age? The wind and rather ceased - as implied by the language - and this was indeed a miracle. They both stopped at the same time! It seems that the forces of nature are more obedient than the disciples when commanded to be calm.
- The Lord's Question. - "Where is your faith?" Oh they had great faith on the shoreline but the question is not "where was your faith" but "where is your faith." It is a lot easier to make an "A" on theology then it is to apply such truth in the midst of the raging storms of life.
- The Disciples Question. - "What manner of man is this?"
This is at the heart of the issue. If we truly believe that He is exactly who He says He is then our God will always be bigger than our storm. Mark's Gospel tells us that the Lord commanded "peace be still" and one wonders whether this was directed only at the wind and water, or perhaps even the hearts of the disciples?
Luke 8:25 says "and they arrived." There was never any doubt in the plan of God as they had been predestined when the Lord issued the command to get into the boat. The only boubt in the text was in the hearts of the apostles. "Where is your faith?"