Don't You Care We Are Dying
On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Jesus had just finished speaking parables to the crowd and the disciples, when He instructs His disciples that they need to get into the boat can cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The parables were used to reveal information to those whom Jesus had chosen to understand the message and to hide it from the rest. These two parables had to do with the growth of the Kingdom of God. In the first parable, Jesus tells us that the Kingdom grows from the seed of the Gospel itself. It becomes the job of His disciples simply to sow that Gospel and watch the kingdom grow. The second parable relates that even though the Kingdom of God has a humble beginning like that of the tiny mustard seed, it achieves a great result. These parables are tied to the events that were about to follow, including this passage. Jesus got into the boat with the disciples, and as He was tired fell asleep in the back of the ship as the disciples started to cross over. It also says that other small boats made the crossing, but the action itself only mentions the boat Jesus was in. The Jewish people tended to fear the water. They called bodies of water the “Abyss” or the “deep.” When one looks at the Book of Jonah, for example, it is remarkable that Jonah was so adamant against going to Nineveh to preach that he was willing to enter a boat to make the long trip to Tarshish. Like the book of Jonah, a sudden and violent storm arose which threatened the lives of those on the boat. Like Jonah, Jesus was sound asleep as the waves lashed over the ship, and the crew was having great difficulty crossing. In fact, the disciples who were experienced with the Sea of Galilee were frightened that the boat was about to founder. The disciples were amazed that Jesus could sleep through the tumult. So they woke Him up and rebuked Him? “Don’t you care that we are ll about to die?” they exclaimed. So Jesus arose and rebuked the wind and the waves, and there was calm. Then He rebuked His disciples for having so little faith. But instead of having their fears calmed, they were even more frightened about Jesus than they were about the storm. What kind of man can speak to the wind and waves and bring such calm? Certainly, this shows Jesus as being much more than an ordinary man. Who can speak to the wind and calm the sea but God? When this text is applied to our situation today, it usually is to show that Jesus calms the storms in our lives. I have heard a saying like: “Sometimes Jesus calms the storm; sometimes He calms us.” But this is really to miss the point here. There is far more to this than tht. So let us look further. We have already looked at the parables which show how the Kingdom of God grows. Now we need to look at the next passage which follows. They would cross over and land of the Gadarenes. There they would meet a demon possessed man which was greatly feared and lived in the cemetery. Jesus would cast the devil out of the man, and he would tell his country folk about it. There were pigs in the story, so we know these people were not Jewish, but Gentiles. Gentiles worshipped pigs, and Jesus’ control of them by sending them to drown in the sea put the inhabitants in great fear. He had killed their gods. Another detail that is easily overlooked by our modern culture is that the idea of the sea or lake was more than a scary abyss. It was often used to describe the Gentile nations which surrounded Israel. We sometimes refer to a group of regugees as a flood of refugees which gives a similar idea. The Gentiles had different customs and culture. The Greeks had tried to suppress Jewish culture and replace it with Greek. This had been forcefully tried under the Greek King Antiochus 4 nearly 200 years earlier. This king had sacrificed a pig on the altar at the Temple which resulted in a war that led to temporary independence for Israel. So when we place the idea of the calming of the sea with this text, we realize that it all has to do with the mission to the Gentiles. Jesus was preparing His disciples in advance for this mission. When this is put together, it says that the disciples would have to overcome their fear of the Gentiles and instead minister to them. They would have to transcend cultural norms. They probably had some racist ideas about the superiority of their own religion and culture. As far as they were faithful to the LORD and His Word, there is some ground for their privileged position as God’s chosen people. But they had been chosen by God’s grace and not something in themselves. They were as needy as the Gentiles of God’s mercy. Like Jonah, they would have to overcome their hatred of the Gentiles and proclaim the Gospel message of repentance. The Gentiles were perishing and the mercy of God was to go to them as well as the Jews. Our fear of the one who stills the waters must be greater than our fear of Satan. Jesus calmed the sea and He calmed the demon possessed man. We cannot overcome our prejudices and our fears without the help of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, there is great risk in engaging other cultures and non-Christian people. In fact, we should expect persecution and even great hazard to our lives. We will find ourselves in a storm of controversy. We need to be assured that Jesus is with us, and that ultimately, He does indeed care for us. Even if we lose our lives, we shall not ultimately perish. The God who raised Jesus from the dead on the third day will raise us again to eternal life. So when we are called into mission, it may not be to cross a literal body of water. It may, but the dying are all around us as well. When Jesus commissions the disciples in Matthew 28, He first reminds them that He had been given all authority in heaven and earth. The scope of Jesus’ authority goes much higher than His authority over the weather. The Pagans who lived among them had gods who controlled the weather like Baal. They had other gods for fertility, others for harvest. They had gods for everything. But Jesus is the sole authority over the universe. The Father has declared Him Lord of all. Therefore, He is to be feared, revered, and obeyed by His servants. When He says “Go,” we must go. We are to make disciples of all the nations (Gentiles). We make disciples by winning them which is sealed by baptism and to nurture them by teaching them to observe all that Jesus had taught them. They need not fear the hand of either man or devil because Jesus promised that He would always be with them.Jesus was calm in the storm, and so should we be. We are to sow the gospel seed faithfully. The life is in the seed which produces the desired result because the Gospel serves the function of DNA. The LORD has also promised that a great harvest is to be had. We sow the Gospel and we nurture with the Word of God. So let us look beyond ourselves and proclaim the message of the Kingdom.