Shipwreck Scenario 2: On the Sea of Galilee
It had been an exhausting day for Jesus and the twelve. They had gone to a mountain locale that is now known as the Mount of Beatitudes, where he taught them the essentials of Kingdom living. By the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, throngs of people had gathered. They were amazed that he taught them with Kingdom authority. As he departed the mountainside, the crowds followed him. He healed a leper, the servant of a Roman centurion, Simon Peter's mother-in-law, and many others. With the multitude pressing he gave orders for his entourage to go to the other side of the Sea Of Galilee. Matthew records what happened in the boat as they crossed the lake.
Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that waves swept over
the boat. But, Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord,
Save us! We're going to drown'.
Matthew 8: 24-25, NIV (1996)
It was a shipwreck in the making. Matthew also wrote about the outcome---
He replied, 'You of little faith. Why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and
rebuked the wind and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were
amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the waves obey
Matthew 8: 26-27, NIV (1996)
This was another near-shipwreck illustrating Kingdom truth about dealing with the potential shipwrecks we encounter in this life. Three have been most instructive for me---
1. Many shipwreck events in this life occur without warning.
We humans cannot see the future. Modern technology has given us ways to forecast some future events. But, even our weather predicting systems, as efficient as they appear, are not precise and exact. It is one of the reasons Scripture teaches the fallibility of human plans and our need to trust God for the exigencies that confront us in "without warning" circumstances. Life is hard, even more so for people of faith. Jesus reminded his followers that we would have trouble in this life (John 16:33). "Without warning" obstacles challenge and test us. They are inevitable. We should prepare for them.
2. Jesus was in the boat.
My grandfather, Rev. O.F. Owens, was a Southern Baptist pastor for many years. I don't remember many of his sermons. But, I do remember a dramatic moment in his sermon about the tempest on the lake that day. He described the suddenness of that storm in vivid word pictures, helping us imagine the horrors of that hour. Then he said, "But, Jesus was in the boat!" It was a reminder to all of us that his grace is truly sufficient for even those dark unexpected "without warning" trials. I can't speak to every life situation, only my own. With great certainty, however, I can affirm that Christ in our lives has has guided us through several significant storms. That Jesus is "in the boat" has been a shipwreck reality for us in every one. We always need a "gut check" to insure that he is in our boat for real.
3. We must recognize Jesus as Lord and Master of all things.
The disciples had not realized his true identity at that time in his earthly ministry. He challenged them with the declaration, "You of little faith". He instantly calmed the wind and the waves and moved them to a new understanding of faith. With him in the boat, they did not have to be afraid. It was a valuable lesson in their discipleship.
There's a lot of debate these days about the influence of Christian faith in the demographics of of those professing belief in Christ. It is true, we are human to the bone and subject to the sinful ways that are our nature. This I know, however: our faith in Jesus as Lord and Master has given us hope and peace through many of those potential and real shipwreck experiences. Our first "gut check" in the face of such drastic times is to know that Jesus is the in the boat, and that he commands even the winds and the waves.
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