Lord God, you who know that we are placed in the midst of so many and so great dangers, and that because of our human weakness we cannot always stand upright: Grant us such a measure of strength and protection that we may be supported in all dangers, and be carried through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.
Matthew 8 : 23 - 27
Jesus Calms the Storm
Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
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.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
The Lord Jesus displays his dominion over the forces of nature. The God-man in the boat had designed the journey across the lake to be a voyage of understanding for the disciples. It was not to be a peaceful crossing. Providence had decreed not just a run-of-the-mill storm that causes no great panic, but a furious storm that descended without warning. Un-forecasted terror gripped the seasoned sailors who normally could handle
their fishing vessels with great expertise. Waves easily mounted the sides of their boat threatening to fill it with an unwelcome volume of water and sink it. The disciples instantly sensed the danger with unaccustomed alarm. But Jesus was unaware and continued sleeping. His former encounter with a crowd tired him and he needed refreshment. His sleep was so sound that the raging storm did not disturb him. The
disciples rising reliance upon the master was quickly awakened.
They woke Jesus with urgent appeals for safety. They were embroiled in a life or death situation and they had sufficient trust in the power of Jesus to rescue them. “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown?” A disastrous death was imminent. No sailor of any kind underestimates the danger of water. These hardy and experienced men who derived their living from the lake were seriously afraid of the fate that surrounded them - demise by storm stronger than any they had ever experienced.
It was a case of the Lord educating his folk by extreme measures. Experts and people of exceptional accomplishment can tend to rest on heir abilities to cope. Providence sometimes issues a surprise that shakes us out of our presumptuousness. None of us are
omni-competent or invulnerable. There is always something that will scare the greatest hero out of their wits. The disciples quickly learned that they were mere men dependent on more than their acquired skills or inherited abilities. When it comes to the crunch many of us learn our dependence on divine action and intervention. Humans are not supermen (Hyper-men) as much as some males may retain that boyish notion.
But the disciples were taught much more about themselves in the midst of the tempest. Mere men they certainly were, but mere man Jesus was not. “The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” The raging
storm revealed the unrestricted authority of the Son God. Our self-trust, our creature-trust in our fellows must subside as we arrive at an absolute trust (never fully gained on earth) in the Saviour who ever sails with us. How often has he stood with us through the storms of life? How often could he address us with those words, “You of little faith, why are you afraid”.
This is not simply a cosy story to soothe the timid or apathetic. It is a call to courage in our confidence in God when our stoutheartedness falls apart and we tremble in great fear. It points to our ultimate defense, our only deliverer Jesus Christ. Jesus’ power prevails everywhere, always. O, for that certitude!
*The sea of life: Blessed are all your saints, O, God, and King, who have travelled over the tempestuous sea of this life and have made the harbor of peace and felicity. Watch over us who are still on dangerous voyage. Frail is our vessel, and the ocean is wide; but as in your mercy you have set our course, so pilot the vessel of our life towards the everlasting shore of peace, and bring us at last to the quiet haven of our heart’s desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. St. Augustine
Matthew 8: 28-34
Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men
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. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
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. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
Jesus' lake crossing was dual purpose. He had demonstrated his power to govern nature (of which he was Creator), now he will show his supremacy over the realm of the demonic. He transfers himself from the stormy elements of wind and wave to the dark realm of mental derangement and terrifying physical violence. He elects to arrive at a place too terrible for folk to pass by and notice, and he encounters the fearsome territory
and fury of men inhabited by evil spirits. Their desperate depth of depravity and dangerousness is signified by their frightening emergence from the desolate tombs of the dead. These men are deemed beyond all help and hope. They stir revulsion and dread in every heart that hears of them. What an unimaginable and miserable destiny.
But Jesus went there to meet these prisoners and practitioners of evil. He was sovereign over the demonic oppressors to liberate them, and powerful enough to banish the devil’s minions. The Lord Jesus proved himself superior to all powers, natural and supernatural, and all that is deadly and destructive. He is the strong man and strong Son of God and our Refuge from all that threatens to harm us. He is our all-round and abiding security. Heaven will reveal the times and types of his rescue of us in a hazardous life. Yet, there are those for whom Jesus is the principal upsetter of a preferred way of life that they cannot ever envision quitting. They bid him to depart from them. They deem him unprofitable to their accustomed desires. They are the ones to be pitied in life’s story.