- Sermon Notes
In the Middle of the Storm
Intro: What are you going to do?
As we continue through the book of Matthew, we know that Jesus has been preaching, teaching, and bringing about healing for all who would come to Him.
Many were hearing about Jesus and began following Jesus from places near and far. Some were there following out of mere curiosity; some were skeptics;
some wanted to follow until they understood that it would change their lives; and while few, some were willing to follow no matter the cost.
As the crowds continue to increase around Him, Jesus gives orders for His disciples to head to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples followed Jesus’ instruction, got on a boat and would soon be in the middle of a storm like they had never seen or experienced on the water. It would challenge their skills and abilities; but most of all, it would challenge their faith. This storm would provide an opportunity for Jesus to remind them of the importance of faith in the middle of any storm.
Read: Matthew 8:18, 23-27
Several of Jesus’ disciples were experienced fishermen, they knew the Sea of Galilee well and had likely come across sudden storms before. Confident in their ability to keep their boat afloat, they call upon Jesus after they realize the storm is more than they can handle. What might have otherwise been a routine trip across the Sea of Galilee became an opportunity for Jesus to show that He is the One to call upon in the middle of a storm.
I. Turn to Jesus
Matthew 8:23-24, When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.
- From Mark 4:36, we understand that Jesus and His disciples were in a boat together and there were others who also crossed the Sea of Galilee, however, they were not in the boat Jesus was in.
- We know that it was likely late into the evening (vs. 16) as they ventured out on the water to get to the other side.
- Sea of Galilee is about 13 miles wide one way and 7 miles wide the other way. It is just over 600 feet below sea level and directly to the north is Mount Hermon, which rises over 9,200 above sea level.
- Violent winds come down off of the mountain, the cold air meets the hot, and causes the wind to swirl and intense waves to begin crashing suddenly on the sea.
- A great storm came upon the sea (vs. 24). The word translated for “storm” here is the Greek word seismos. It is where we get the word seismic which related to earthquakes or vibrations of the earth.
- In fact, this term is used 12 times in scripture and this is the only time it is translated “storm.” Every other time it is translated “earthquake.”
- After teaching, preaching and healing throughout the day prior, Jesus, in a demonstration of His humanity, lays down for rest, and the experienced fisherman navigate the waters through the night.
- While on the water, with Jesus asleep on the boat, a storm suddenly hits. Wind blowing, waves crashing and water is filling the boat. This storm hits so suddenly and so fiercely, these experienced men had no answers.
- The storm shaking the waters, the waves covering the boat, so much so that the boat was beginning to fill up. While the disciples try to fight this storm, Jesus is sound asleep on a cushion in the back of the boat (Mk. 4:37-38).
Illus. A really good sleep story!
- I picture this boat on the sea, being covered so dense is the wind, water and waves, that the disciples cannot see the front of the boat. It is covered with water.
- Likely just glimpses of their surroundings in between waves, the sea shaking, out of solutions, beyond their experience, skillset and ability, with a boat that is likely to flip over or be torn to pieces and at the end of themselves and their ability…They turn to Jesus.
- Jesus was in their boat! They had no need to be afraid, rather, they simply needed to turn to Him.
Illus. Intramural championship!
- What changed in that moment was who we were with.
- Important for His disciples and important for us as well. In this life, in the storms we face, we must always remember who is with us.
Isaiah 43:2, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.
- With the storm raging and they have tried everything they could, the disciples turn to Jesus.
Mark 4:38, Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?
Matthew 8:26, He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.
- What I find most interesting is that prior to addressing the storm, Jesus addresses the disciples. “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”One ripple effect of storms in our lives is fear.
- Fear causes doubt, question and the inability to see anything other than the storm at hand. Jesus is asking the question, “why are you afraid? where is your faith?”
A. Have faith, not fear
- In light of the circumstances, it would seem that most would respond the way that the disciples did.
- But when the storms come, we know where our hope is found, it is found in the One who said, I will never leave you, or forsake you…He is with you!
Hebrews 11:6, 8, 10, But without faith it is impossible to please Him…By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going…For he was looking for the city with has foundations, whose architect builder is God.
Illus. I am happy to move once you give me a map!
- We may not know exactly where, but we know exactly who. Outside of faith I may not know exactly how, but I know exactly who.
Illus. Just a few quick calculations.
- In between waves, perhaps the other boats following were watching as the disciples were trying their best. Perhaps wondering, where is Jesus?
- Why aren’t they calling upon Him? Don’t they know who is in their boat?
- The question for the believer then, is this. Are you living like Jesus is with you? In the storm, are you trying all you can while He is back of the stern, or will you put Him at the bow.
Illus. Who is in charge?
- If He is behind you as you look at the storm, you will see the storm first. If Jesus is in front, you will see Him first, before the storm, difficulty, or concern.
- If you put Jesus in front of the storm you will see that He isn’t pacing back and forth, He is not anxious, worried, stressed, or without hope. And when you have that perspective, like Jesus, you will be able to rest, because you know the reason for your hope, it’s Jesus.
Romans 8:39, Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Luke records the disciples waking Jesus saying “Master, we are going to drown!” Mark details that they question whether Jesus cares whether they drown. But Jesus is sound asleep, peacefully.
- I find the contrast between the disciples’ panic and Jesus’ peace quite intriguing.
- Surely, we might come to Jesus in the midst on the storm we are facing, a storm where we have explored every avenue, pursued every remedy known to man.
- There is this old saying, “God helps those who helps themselves.” … “I am just trying to help myself, brother!”
- But what I see throughout scripture is that God helps those who are helpless.
Matthew 5:3, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- And Jesus called the disciples out on the water, the place where several of them had experienced great success with thriving businesses as professional fisherman. And even in the waters of their expertise, Jesus is ready for them to call upon Him.
B. Hold onto what He said
- As the disciples call upon Jesus in desperation, He addresses them first.
- The storm is raging, the boat seemingly about to be destroyed, He first responds to the disciples’ lack of faith.
- Prior to ever getting on the boat, Jesus gave orders to the disciples to depart to the other side of the sea (vs. 18).
Mark 4:35, Let us go over to the other side.
- Jesus had told them that they were going to go over to the other side. He didn’t say, “let’s go drown,” or “let’s go sink our boat.” He said, “Let’s go over to the other side!”
Matthew 28:20, And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Isaiah 41:10, Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely, I will help you…
- When you are in the middle of the storm, remember what He said, hold onto and remember that what He says is sure, true and will come to pass. Are you holding onto what He said?
Illus. He won’t forget!
- Then He turned to the sea, “hush, be still” (Mk. 39). After addressing the disciples, Jesus addressed the sea and it was immediately still. It didn’t slowly change over several minutes or hours, it stopped at that moment.
- We might look at this story and think, wow, a storm like that and Jesus is on the boat, what took them so long to call upon Jesus? This is the same question we have to ask ourselves in what we face…Am I trusting in and calling upon Jesus? Am I mindful that He is with me?
Psalm 50:15, Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.
When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing!" He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"