Tag Archives: disciples

What’s Your Problem?

Image Credit: James Seward
Image Credit:
James Seward

23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with His disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 Jesus responded, Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

~ Matthew 8:23-26 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Jesus Calms The Storm El Shaddai's Jewel
Image Credit:
Jesus Calms The Storm
El Shaddai’s Jewel

Imagine this, Jesus gets into the boat with His twelve disciples, to set sail across the Sea of Galilee to the region of the Gadarenes. Sailing across the sea of Galilee, which was quite large, approximately 13 miles long by 8 miles wide, would have probably taken around 2 hours on a good day with a good wind. It seems like all is well as they take off to cross the lake, and Jesus, who is likely exhausted from ministering, goes to the back of the boat by Himself to lie down, after which, He quickly falls into a deep sleep. The disciples were probably laughing and joking, possibly discussing all that they’ve witnessed while walking with Jesus.

Suddenly, who knows how long they had already been sailing?, a wild storm arose. Now, because the Sea of Galilee is 600 feet below sea level, and surrounded by hills and mountains that rise to 2000 feet above sea level, the air coming from the mountains is cool and dry, while the air down around the Sea of Galilee is very warm and moist, almost tropical, so, when the two air masses collide, it often sparks violent storms. Also, because the Sea of Galilee is only approximately 200 feet deep, when such storms arise, the water is churned up much quicker and more fiercely than deep water would be.

Image Credit: William Hole
Image Credit:
William Hole

Therefore, the storm that arose, rapidly became wild and brutal. I can picture the disciples rushing around the boat, doing all of the necessary things one would do when in a sailing vessel in the midst of a storm. They probably hastily lowered the sails, and threw the anchors over, in order to protect themselves and the vessel they were in, but it was all to no avail, as the storm raged on, and they began to panic.

Put yourself in their place, and try to imagine the terror they all must have felt. Before dedicating their lives to Christ, eight of the twelve men worked on the land, so their immediate terror is understandable, but let’s not forget that Peter, Andrew, John and James were professional fishermen before following Christ. They made their living on the sea, and I’m certain they had probably faced many storms on the sea, so I don’t imagine they panicked right away, as they went about their business, barking orders to the others, and trying to control the ship caught up in the tempest, but still, the storm raged, increasing its assault on the men and their sailing vessel, which seemed to get smaller and smaller, as the waves grew larger and more powerful, now washing over the sides of the boat. It seemed as if all hell broke loose, and maybe it had, and soon, even the stalwart fishermen were reduced to fear and trembling, as their lives flashed before them.

Image Credit: GoodSalt.com
Image Credit:
GoodSalt.com

Still the terrified disciples frantically tried scooping the water out of the boat, which was in danger of sinking or being torn asunder, when suddenly, one or more of them realized that Jesus was missing. I can almost hear them shouting to one another above the storm, “Where’s Jesus? Have you seen Him?”

“No — the last time I saw Him, He was asleep!” Can you even begin to understand their fear? They were now clinging on to the boat and to one another to keep from being washed over the side and drowning, and the last time anyone had seen Jesus, He was asleep, in the back of the boat. What if He had washed over? What if He drowned? What if they drowned? They all rushed, as quickly as they were able to move across the water-logged deck, through the hurricane force winds, and the pounding rain, to the back of the boat to see if their Lord was still there.

Can you imagine their relief at seeing Jesus, still very much alive, and sleeping peacefully though the terrible storm fumed furiously all about Him? Can you understand how their relief might have quickly turned to ire, as they all stood their soaking and trembling, fearing they were all about to die, while Jesus slept on, as though He didn’t have a care in the world?

Image Credit: http://farm4.staticflickr.com
Image Credit:
http://farm4.staticflickr.com

Have you ever felt that way when you’re in the midst of a storm? When it seems as though all hell has broken loose around you, and you’re in danger of losing your sanity, do you ever wonder where Jesus is? When it seems as though your whole world is crashing down around you, and you’ve tried to do all of the right things, but your storm just seems to get worse and worse, do you ever wonder if Jesus even cares about you?

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with His head on a cushion. The disciples woke Him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t You care that we’re going to drown?”

~ Mark 4:38 — NLT ~

Image Credit: http://www.vocations.ca
Image Credit:
http://www.vocations.ca

I wonder how Jesus felt, as His disciples awakened Him so abruptly? I can be pretty grouchy when someone wakes me up from a deep sleep so abruptly, and yet, given their circumstances, and given the fact that Jesus was filled with the Spirit, I imagine He felt love and patience for His battered and frightened disciples. His anger was directed, not at His disciples, but at the prince of the air, and so, after looking at His terrified, wet and wind-blown disciples, who looked as though they were on the losing side of a battle for their lives, Jesus arose…

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.

~ Mark 4:39 — NKJV ~

… Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

~ Matthew 8:26b — NLT ~

… When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.

~ Luke 8:24b — NLT ~

Now, who does it say that Jesus rebuked, and what does it mean to rebuke or to be rebuked?

re·buke[ri-byook]  Show IPA verb, re·buked, re·buk·ing, noun

verb (used with object)
  1. to express sharp, stern disapproval of; reprove; reprimand.
noun
    2.  sharp, stern disapproval; reproof; reprimand.
 Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. Think about this… Jesus expressed sharp, stern disapproval of the wind and the waves. I’ve heard many people say that Jesus rebuked the disciples, when He spoke to them, but the bible doesn’t say that. The bible says that Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves, and He spoke to the disciples…
Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
Then He asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Then He asked them,“Where is your faith?”
Image Credit: http://cccooperagency.wordpress.com
Image Credit:
http://cccooperagency.wordpress.com

Jesus didn’t rebuke the disciples for their fear. I can almost see Him looking each one of the disciples in the eye, not in anger, but with love and compassion, as He questioned them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 

His simple questions, as He spoke to the disciples makes me think of my children (me to – even as a young adult, before I developed a relationship with the Lord), who used to be frightened by loud and violent storms, no matter how often I comforted them, and told them that they were safe in God’s hands. No amount of coaxing and teaching could rid them of their fear, and had I scolded them, their fear of storms may have grown, as they associated anger and punishment with storms. It was only as they (and I) developed their own relationship with the Lord, and began to grow stronger in their faith, that they were able to overcome their fears.
Surely, the disciples were no different. Yes, they had been walking with Jesus for a time, and they had seen Him do many miracles, but no one could have the authority to control the weather, could they? You see, though they had witnessed and even participated in many of these things, the disciples still had much growing to do, and Jesus understood this and had compassion on them, just as any good father has tenderheartedness on his children, and so I believe His questions to the disciples were spoken in love, as He gently showed them that the raging storm wasn’t their problem. Their real problem was their lack of faith…
And so, beloved readers, what’s your problem? Is your real problem the storm that is raging all about you? Is your real problem the people who have hurt you, rejected you, stolen from you, lied to you or abandoned you? Is your real problem your illness or the sickness of a loved one? Or could it be that the real problem is that your faith in the One who calms the wind and the waves is weak? If so, my beloved reader, be of good cheer, and ask the Lord, who will not withhold any good thing from His beloved friends…
The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”
© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead

"Let the dead bury their own dead."
“Let the dead bury their own dead.”

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

~ Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg
Image Credit:
http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg

What do you think when you read this scripture? Does it sound harsh to you? Does it seem like Jesus is being really cold in light of the pain the disciple must be feeling at the death of his father? I always struggled with that passage, and I’ll be honest with you, I prayed the Lord would give me the wisdom to understand this and to share it with you (and me too!).

And then I started thinking about it, and the Lord opened my eyes as He taught me… Let’s take note of the first thing that Jesus says to the man — “Follow Me…” Think about it. Jesus commanded the disciple to follow Him. He gives us the same command today, and we must make a choice. Will we follow Him? Or will we go our own way?

“Follow Me”, Jesus commands us, and we mustn’t let anything get in the way of this command. We must choose to follow Him, no matter what our circumstances are. If all is well, we must follow Jesus. If it seems as though all hell has broken loose, we must follow Jesus. Our lives depend on obeying this command to follow Jesus.

Now think about this, Jesus is LIFE, and this disciple wanted to leave LIFE, to go and be with his dead father. Yes, this was his father, but his father was dead. Really, there was nothing more that could be done for his father, but there was every reason for him to follow the One in whom there was LIFE.

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

~ John 1:4-5 — NKJV ~

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

~ John 11:25-26 — NKJV ~

Let’s look at the passage of scripture we are studying again…

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

When I read this passage now, I see the harshness of Jesus’ response borne out of love for His disciple. The disciple wanted to leave Christ to bury a dead man first. Think about it… Not only was this disciple putting something else ahead of the Lord, he was putting a dead man ahead of Him!

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if I were dead. But He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

~ Revelation 1:17-18 — NLT ~

Image Credit: http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg
Image Credit:
http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg

This disciple wanted to put a dead man ahead of the One who is the First and the Last. He was going to put a dead man, who had already lived his life — “Yes,” you may say, “but this was the man’s father!” — ahead of the One who holds the keys of death and the grave. Yes, although the dead man was the disciple’s father, he was dead. There was nothing more he could do for his father, because he was no longer among the living. What remained was the disciple, and the choice he made would determine whether he would be among the living or the dead.

Jesus’ statement, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead,” reminds me of one of my favorite passages in Deuteronomy 15, when Moses addresses the people of Israel, giving them the choice between life and death. I believe that this was Jesus’ message to His disciple and to every other man, woman and child who would follow, that they too must make a choice…

15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

~ Deuteronomy 30:15-20 — NLT ~

Don’t you see the choice Jesus gave the young man? “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” We can follow Him and let the dead bury their own dead, or we can leave Him to be with the dead… When He says, “Follow Me,” I can almost hear Him saying, just as Moses said to the children of Israel, “Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” And now, after praying and meditating on this word, it no longer seems as though Jesus is being harsh. This passage is just another example of the wonderful, matchless and unmerited love of Christ for each and every one of us.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers