What Kind of Man is This?
Remember those No fear stickers that were popular a while back? That saying is not very wise. Right? Truly having no fear may end up with a trip to the ER, as many skateboarders can tell you.
God has created people with a warning system, called fear. Fear is essential because it serves to keep us alive. For instance, fear signals us to step back from a cliff. It reminds us to take precautions when entering a dangerous part of town at night. It can make us think twice before engaging in war, and it keeps us safe in our everyday lives.
However, sometimes we have unhealthy fears. Fears that can paralyze us and can cause us anxiety. We flee from those fears, either physically or emotionally. When fear crosses over to the unhealthy, the root cause of this may be that we fear the unknown.
Perhaps there is no greater unknown and greater fear than the spiritual world. The reason we fear death, is we fear judgement, and we don’t know what is going to happen. We fear standing before God.
Then, even if we do not fear judgement, we may have other fears on earth, because we doubt that God is in complete control.
Now, people may not say it out loud. Out loud we say things like Yes I believe God is control. Yet practically we live as if Evil is just as powerful and there is a great war going on, and sometimes good wins but sometimes evil wins. But we just never really know. And that is frightening.
We fear that somehow evil will get us, and we be left suffering forever lost in the valley of the shadow of death, instead of in green pastures.
That is is a lie. Do not let fear lie to you.
When you leave today’s service, My prayer for you is that you see two absolute truths.
God is control-God Almighty has power over evil. This is not an equal battle between good and evil.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
And Truth # 2
2. For those God has called, there is nothing to fear
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
The idea is this. When you have given your life to follow Jesus, you are bought and paid for by the precious blood of the son of God. You are his child. God has you and he holds you. Being in his love drives out fear. There is no fear of judgement, and even in life, we have only healthy fears because God is working all things for the good of those he called.
Now let’s stand and recite together Psalm 23 as our call to worship.
We are coming to a conclusion in Matthew in Chapter 8. The tension has been building. If there was a movie being made of this… we would all be riveted to the screen eating our popcorn as the music intensified the lighting intensified. The tension would almost be unbearable as we come up to this closing scene of Chapter 8.
As you may recall things were going swimmingly for Jesus and the crew. There was a good sermon, people were getting cured, people were looking forward to the kingdom on the way. Nothing but blue skies and bluebirds.
But then, on the shore of the lake, the clouds started building and we got a ---not so good feeling. An ominous feeling set in as Jesus gave orders to cross to the other side, and some people started dropping off.
18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Now, one might wonder why it was that these people were dropping off. Perhaps, they loved their life more. Now if that was the case, we drill down a little deeper to find the root of that problem.
When people love something, they have a fear of losing what they have. They have a fear that if they leave what they have— the life ahead of them has a potential of being worse than what they have. There some fear of the unknown- they are not sure that Jesus will deliver on the promises made in the sermon on the mount, or in the promise of the kingdom of God.
So, the storm clouds are gathering right? Ok people on the shore--Jesus says, here is the offer- head out into the unknown waters- Face the gathering storm, or remain on the shore and choose the safety of the life you know.
Is this a healthy fear, keeping you safe and alive or is it an unhealthy fearing fearing what you need not fear?
That depends on who you think Jesus is-If he is just some crackpot, and overly enthusiastic preacher, then it is a good healthy fear, and you probably should remain on shore-
However-If you think Jesus is who He is-God in the flesh-Than getting the boat-going with with- Jesus leaving your life is no big deal- Nothing to fear -Because God is calling-
In any event, some chose the shore, some chose the sea and the boat left for the other side.
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Jesus stills the storm. Be still-and it is calm-
What kind of man is this? Who can still the sea? Who can stop the wind? An overly enthusiastic preacher-or God Almighty?
In any event the man in the boat has power-scary power- hurricane ending power IN HIS WORD-right....just say the word and my servant will be healed.
We can think of two possible reactions of the disciples in the boat- either they faced the rest of the trip laughing in joy, and saying wow did you see that? Man when He said be still and the waves stopped. Wow Jesus you are really powerful. Woo Hoo! Jesus I thought we were goners but then you calmed that storm-that was great!
However, Mark records something else about this incident. Mark writes that after Jesus calmed the storm-they were terrified.
38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark records that after Jesus stilled the storm, the disciples were terrified.
See, they realized that this was a new power they had not seen before. This was nature changing power in two words! They realized they were in the presence of the divine. Thier in the boat with them was power beyond anything they could have ever imagined.
They did not know what that meant, and they were terrified. I suppose they would run through their minds about the times they doubted, or the sins they carried with them. Their fear of the storm it appears turned to fear of judgement.
Maybe, they thought what does he know about me? What will happen when judgement comes? What will happen to all of of us.
Imagine the scene as they approached the “Other side” Ever been in a small boat in a lake after a storm. It has an eerie quiet about it. Were there a few waves, was it sunny or that scary overcast? tDo you know the sound of small waves gently lapping the side of the boat, that hollow echo, and then add in these thoughts about the power sitting beside you, it had to be frightening.
And if that isn’t weird enough look what happens when the boat eventually makes it to the other side.
28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.
When they get to the other side, they come to this region of non-jewish people. Gentiles. They are not -followers of God.
On a good day-the disciples would have been uncomfortable here, they are in a strange land, a strange people, not God followers. No churches--And the welcome committee comes to great them, out of cemetery.
Wow! Then, if that is not bad enough- These men are demon possessed!
Ok here is the thing-Were were talking about healthy fear, well it is a great time to have healthy fear-Demon possession is no joke.
These particular men were so violent that NO ONE could pass that way.
I remember when I was a young kid. In my neighborhood for a while there was a bully. I was terrified. If I spotted him, I often went around the block to get home. If I did not see him, I would try and operate on stealth mode. Trying not to be seen or heard as I passed by his house as quick as I could. Pedaling as if there is no tomorrow. Now, was that healthy fear, or unhealthy fear. I don’t know, but I know this I did not get beat up that summer.
I can’t imagine living in that town- Hey I’d love to come over for coffee, but I’d have to walk past the cemetery, and there are those guys. No thanks.
It would be awful. And a graveyard no less! Not too many people like graveyards without demon possessed men.
But in all of that perhaps we have two interesting principles here
if you are living among the dead, expect to encounter demons.
Now, I’m not talking about the physically dead. i’m not saying there is anything to fear in graveyards, but I’m talking about the spiritually dead, If you are living among the spiritually dead- expect to encounter demons.
People who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ are spiritually dead. They are walking in darkness, if you spend extended amounts of time among the dead you are bound to encounter demons.
Please don’t misinterpret me-Not every person that does not know Jesus is filled with demons. But… think about it this way.
Let’s say you work in a factory, you might notice that the language used by your co-workers is well.. a little different than the language heard around church. You would not expect the non-spiritual to talk spiritually.
Now, as you live more and more with the spiritually dead you might encounter greater degrees of darkness. You can imagine, the evil that occurs in the dark areas were sins are committed.
Missionaries see this all the time-There are areas of the world that have not yet heard the gospel preached. The demonic is very present there.
If you are living among the dead, expect to encounter demons. Now, I am not saying that you should avoid the spiritually dead. I’m saying that you should have a healthy fear, and be aware.
2.Just because you are walking with Jesus does not mean that will not encounter Satan.
In fact quite the contrary. It appears these demon possessed men WENT OUT to meet them. The devil prowls around looking for people to destroy-
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Have a healthy fear.
29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
Interestingly, the demons know who this is. They say what do you want with us- Son of God?
The demons know who God is. That must mean that knowing who God is-is not enough to save you. Knowing who God is at best makes you a demon.
That is stunning isn’t it? I mean right?We tend to forget this. We say If they would just here the gospel they would believe right? If they could just hear they would believe? Well that is true they cannot believe unless they hear, but just hearing doesn’t mean that they believe.
James 2.19 says this
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
Knowing about God is not enough.
Again, demons know that too. Next you have to at least concede that He is God and you are not. If there is a God who made the world, I am not him, but he is all powerful.
Now, this is where things get interesting. At some point fear comes into play as James says demons believe that there is one God and shudder.
If you believe that a God made the world, at one point the thought comes into your head that you are going meet him one day.
At that point-you may be gripped with fear, perhaps a healthy fear, but fear. Let’s look at the fear in the demons.
29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
Have you come hear to torture us? The fear is real people. The fear of judgement is real. But what happens next is crucial, this is where the mind wants to play tricks, to escape the fear.
The first trick the mind wants to play is time-I’ll clean up someday- then someday never comes- I’ll get to church someday-- I’ve been meaning to.
Death seems far away--I have time. The demons are buying time. Hey Jesus there is a set time that I face eternity, and even though you have power to do so-it is not my time. Let me live a little while longer. Yet they know the time is coming.
30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding.
31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
The next option confronted with fear is to flee. The demons are now trying to bargin with Jesus to allow them to flee.
They are opportunists and there happens to be a heard of pigs, so they beg to go into the pigs. Going into pigs must be better than the alternative of facing the one who holds the power to still the storm.
People try to flee judgement, because they fear judgement. They do not want to hear about the fate that awaits them some day, so they flee. Either physically, or spiritually-
Adam and Eve, right? They fled physically-What happened after they sinned, they hid. Some people hide by avoiding religion, by avoiding church-They are in fear of judgement so they flee.
Sometimes people hide in their minds. In order to avoid the fear of judgement they invent ways in which to soften the fear. They downplay judgement. There are lots of people worse than me. Or they say my God would never send people to hell. They are fleeing judgement in their mind.
32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.
The pigs then run down into the water committing a mass suicide in order to avoid being inhabited by the demons. Even pigs knew enough that death is a better alternative than living with the demonic.
The demons meanwhile n the way out the demons get to destroy some people’s property and livelihood. Satan loves nothing more than destruction. And here he gets his wish.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Satan kills and destroys- But Jesus came so that they can life to the full. Jesus conquered the demons. The ones who lived among the tombs were set free. The townspeople were now free to walk by and not be attacked. They can live life again, but sadly the town does not want that.
33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
See following Jesus is often costly, it can cost your livlihood, and your life.
We learned that a few verses back, and again Matthew does not want us to miss that point. These people do not want to spend the cost, they are afraid. An unhealthy fear-How will they survive what changes will Jesus make next?
The best safest move is just to tell Jesus to leave , and not just ask but they pleaded, and in chapter 9 one Jesus leaves.
1 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town.
I want to point out the obvious. Look at the whole picture. At the start of this event-Jesus gave orders to cross over to the other side. He led them into a storm and into the very home of demons among the tombs, for the sole purpose of saving those two unknown men from the demons, yet was rejected by everyone else.
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?
Jesus came to walk among the dead. Jesus came to call the living out from the tombs. He came to conquer Satan and death. He came to drive out fear.
Jesus would later go to the the cross, so that He could pay the price for our sins. He went tot he cross to pay the way so that we do not to fear judgment.
He died and conquered death, just like He stilled the storm, just like he chased out the demons, and he rose again 3 days later.
He did this to call us so that we could dwell with him, and become his children. He did this so that we could walk through the dark valley knowing that we are walking alongside the one who still the storm and drove out the demons. He came to calls us to green pastures and to hold us in His arms.
The world is frightening. There are things to be afraid of, perhaps even more so these days. But when our faith and trust is in Jesus we know that all things are under his control, whether it is the storms or demons, or death or illness -all things submit to the mighty hand of our Lord Jesus.
But it is not enough to know these things, right? As we saw earlier, even the demons know such, we also have to submit to the hand of Jesus.
We have to stop hiding, and fleeing, and making excuses. We have to be willing to go to the other side, to get in the boat with Jesus no matter what storms He takes us through. We have to be willing to submit to Jesus. Turn to Jesus today, bring him your fears and your storms and you sins, follow Him abandoning all give your life to Him.
1 But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.