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29 Luke 8.22-25

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Luke 8:22-25

A Catfish in your Tank

Open to Luke 8:22-25 (1606)

v    In many ways this is a good transition text back into Luke

Ø     Our summer series: God’s lifelines: Great Scriptures for Troubling Times was about how Yahweh is with us during the tough times in our lives,

§        During the trials, the valleys, the storms

·        And here we pick back up in Luke as Jesus leads his disciples into a storm…

v    Let’s re-orient ourselves in Luke

Ø     Point in the narrative where Jesus is schooling his disciples in what it is to have Faith

§        He has shown them the power of faith

·        Faith of the centurion

·        Faith of the Widow

§        He has directed them to someone who has displayed great faith

·        John the Baptist

§        He has tutored them in the dangers of wandering away from faith

·        Parable of the soils

v    Jesus now wants to test their faith

Ø     Our text begins in verse 22…

V. 22 ~ The Purpose

v    Jesus had just spent an intense period of his ministry traveling from town to town…

Ø     Proclaiming the Kingdom of God

Ø     Ministering to the Jews

Ø     And training his disciples

§        READ 8:1


v    Then one day he decides to cross the sea of Galilee

Ø     This is not a frivolous decision

§        He did not need a break

§        He did not just want to spend some time out on the water relaxing

§        He did not have to get away from the needy people

§        Or the pesky Pharisees

·        We have to understand that everything Jesus did was for a reason…

¨     For a purpose

Ø     And there are two purposes here

v    1) He wanted to start proclaiming the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles

Ø     Up until this point Jesus has had no interaction with the gentiles

§        Keeping with what the Scriptures say…

·        Coming first to the Jews and then to the gentiles

Ø     But their comes a time in his ministry when the Kingdom of God must burst out from its Jewish boundaries

§        And this was it

·        Going over to region of the Gerasenes, the Decapolis

¨     A gentile region

Ø     If we peek forward a little bit, there we see he heals a demon possessed man

§        Then told to go and tell the people about it

·        READ 8:38-39


Ø     This is so unlike Jesus

§        When he is with the Jews, he usually tells them to keep quiet, do not tell, keep this to yourself

·        Lk 5:12-16; Mk 1:40-45 ~ Healed man with leprosy, yet told everyone

¨     But here Jesus wants the news about him to spread…

Ø     This is the first purpose for the trip across Galilee…

§        To begin to bring the good news of the Kingdom of God to the gentiles

·        A work that was given to the Apostle Paul to carry on

v    The second purpose for the trip across the lake was to test the faith of the disciples

Ø     And we find this test in verse 23…

V. 23 ~ The Test

v    Lake Galilee is famous for storms that come up quickly

Ø     Because of topography…

§        700’ below sea level

§        Surrounded by hills and mountains on east side

§        Rivers have cut great ravines in the mountains leading to the sea

§        Cool air rushes down the ravines and collides with the warm air and creates an instant storm

v    The Greek word “squall” (lailaps) can be translated ‘hurricane’

Ø     So that gives you some idea of the predicament that they were in

§        We all remember the pictures of Katrina just several weeks ago

·        Imagine being caught out on that!

v    So Jesus brought them out into a hurricane for what reason…

Ø     To test their faith

§        Jesus was with them

§        The son of God was in the boat with them

§        God was actually there…

·        Not in spirit…as with us

¨     But incarnate!

Ø     What could possibly happen to them!?

v    If the disciples believed that Jesus was who he said he was…

Ø     Then they should have remembered the Old Testament promises

§        Ps 23

·        The Lord is their shepherd, even though they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, they will fear no evil, because he is with them

§         Dt 31:8

·        The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

¨     In fact 49x in the OT God tells his people specifically not to be afraid because he is with them

§         Joshua 1:9

·        Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

You see…

v    If they believed what the Scriptures said…

Ø     And believed who Jesus was…

§        Then they should not have been afraid

·        They should have known that all was going to be alright

·        That this was a temporary storm and that they would get through it just fine

¨     Jesus took them into the storm intentionally

Ø     Because he wanted to test their faith

§        Because a faith not tested cannot be trusted

v    That is the same for us, isn’t it?

Ø     If we believe what the Scriptures say…

§        That he is with us to the end of the age

Ø     If we believe who Jesus is…

§        The Son of God

·        Who, as Colossians 2:10 says,

¨     is the head over every power and authority

·        Eph 1:22

¨     Head over everything…

Ø     Then what do we have to worry about

Ø     What do we have to fear

v    But for most of us this is learned

Ø     That is why he tests us

§        He tests our faith so that it can be trusted

Ø     Some have the “Gift of Faith”

§        But for most we have to learn to trust the Lord in the storms of life

·        And the Lord does this by testing us

During the 19th century, attempts were made to ship fresh North Atlantic cod from Boston to San Francisco. At that time the only way to ship the fish to the West Coast was to sail around the South Amer­ican continent, a trip that took months. As you can imagine, the first attempts to dress the cod in Boston and pack them in ice failed miserably. By the time they reached California, the fish weren't exactly fit for consumption.

Next, the cod were placed in holding tanks full of water, shipped to California alive, and dressed there. The results were less than satisfactory. The fish didn't get much exercise during the trip, and as a result they were pasty and tasteless. In other words, useless

Finally, someone hit upon an interesting idea. "Why don't we put some catfish in with the cod?"

Why would they do that?

Because catfish are cods' natural enemy. Sure enough, when a few catfish were placed in those tanks with them, the cod were always alert and swimming around. This time, when the fish reached San Fran­cisco, they were in perfect shape.

Ø     That is what God’s intention is through life’s storms

§        To mold us into perfect shape

·        The shape us into the image of his son

¨     To do this he allows difficulty to enter into our lives

¨     Storms to blow into our lives

Ø     In other words…

§        He puts a catfish in your tank

Ø     He put a catfish into Abraham’s tank in Genesis 22

§        Lord Tested Abraham with Isaac

·        Yahweh wanted to test Abraham’s faith

Ø     He put a catfish into Israel’s tank in Judges 3

§        Nations left to test the Israelites

·        Yahweh wanted to test Israel’s faith

Ø     He put a catfish into Philip’s tank in John 6:2

§        Jesus tests Philip by asking the question, how are we going to feed the 5,000

Ø     He must have put catfish into Apelles’ tank

§        In Romans 16:10 Paul tells us that Apelles was tested and approved by God

v    And you can bet that Yahweh is going to put a catfish into your tank

Ø     What Catfish has God put into your tank?

§        And here is the kicker…

·        If he hasn’t, do we pray that he will test us!

¨     Ps 138:23-24

Ø     Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Ø     We are to want to be tested by the Lord, because…

§        A faith not tested cannot be trusted

·        Illustration: Timex Commercial

¨     “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking”

Ø     You see…

§        God wants us to be time tested because of the promise associated with it

·        James 1:2-4, 12

¨     Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him

In verse 24 we see the outcome of the test…

V. 24-25a ~ The Failure

v    Their faith was tested, and it failed

Ø     But the failure was not that they did not have enough faith…

§        But that they placed their fear in the wrong object

Picture this: Eric Valli, a professional photographer, is dangling by a nylon rope from a 395-foot cliff in Nepal. Nearby on a rope ladder is another man, Mani Lal, doing what he has done for decades: hunting honey. Here in the Himalayan foothills, the cliffs shelter honeycombs of the world's largest honeybee.

At the moment, thousands of them are buzzing around both men. Mani, a veteran of hundreds of such attacks, is calm. Not so with Eric. Describing that moment in National Geographic, he says, "There were so many bees I was afraid I might freak out. But I knew if I did, I would be dead. So I took a deep breath and relaxed. Getting stung would be bet­ter than finding myself at the bottom of the cliff."

v    What is the difference between these two men?

Ø     Mani was focused on the honey while Eric was focused on the bee

v    The Bible tells us that the object of our fear should be the Lord

Ø      Prov 14:26-27

§        He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.

§        Their fortress was sleeping in the back of the boat with them

·        If they had focused on him…

¨     They would have seen life, and not the death around them

¨     They would have seen the honey and not the bees

v    There is a wise inscription on the tomb of Lord Lawrence in Westminster Abbey

Ø     He feared man so, little because he feared God so much

§        That is true

·        If you place your fear on the right object…

¨     Then the fears of this world grow strangely dim

Ø     Praise song: Turn your eyes upon Jesus

§        Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

§        Look full in his wonderful face.

§        And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

§        in the light of his glory and grace

In the last verse, we see the reaction of the disciples to Jesus calming the storm…

V. 25b ~ The Reaction

v    They actually react by asking the right question…

Ø     A question that you and I have to wrestle with

Ø     A question that is put to the whole world…

§        Q: Who is this? Who is this Jesus?


v    That is the question that God is asking each of us today…

Ø     Who do you think Jesus is?

v    In his great treaties on the matter Mere Christianity, C.S Lewis states that there are only three options to the question…

Ø     Who is Jesus?

§        Liar, Lunatic or Lord

·        Show Overhead

Ø     Some people get around the issue by saying that Jesus was…

§        A Wise Rabbi

§        A Miracle Worker

§        A Good Man

§        A Great Teacher


But Lewis goes on to makes this statement, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell.  You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us."

v    The question that Jesus put before the disciples

v    The question that he puts before us today is…

Ø     Who is Jesus?

§        Liar, Lunatic

·        Or the Lord God almighty!

v    Notes:

Ø     Do a study in your Bible on testing and you will find that…

§        When God tests us…

·        His motivation is to build up

§        When Satan tempts us…

·        His motivation is to destroy

Ø     In the storms of our lives, God wants us to come out the other end stronger

§        That is why we can consider them “Pure joy”


v    In the three Gospels where this appears, it comes after teachings on faith

Ø     Mark ~ Parable of the mustard seed

Ø     Matthew ~ Healing of the centurion’s son

Ø     Luke ~ Parable of the soils

Ø     We fail like this all the time…

§        But there are two things we can say about failure:

§        1) God does not love us any less

·        “We cannot ever be loved by God any less than he loves us right now”

·        God’s love does not fluctuate according to what we do

¨     Shown in how Jesus wept over Jerusalem

Ø     Matt 23:37

§        O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing

§        2) Failure can be fruitful

·        The disciples learned from their failure

¨     As we can

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