Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.
Matthew 8:23-27 by Robert Dean
When a storm rocks your soul, what do you do? Hit the panic button or start to recall the promises of God? Listen to this lesson to learn that all of us will be hit with unexpected disasters and frightening experiences from time to time. See that what matters is how we handle them. Learn about three areas of application we can use, including God's essence, His grace, and the faith-rest drill. See how Jesus rebuked the disciples when they were frightened out of their wits during the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Understand how we can rely on Him calming the storm in our soul when we trust in Him.
Series:Matthew (2013)
Duration:49 mins 59 secs

The Power of Jesus; The Faith-Rest Drill
Matthew 8:23-27
Matthew Lesson #051
September 21, 2014

We are starting this next little section in Matthew 8 & 9 that focuses on the credentials of the Messiah. It is so important to understand what is going on in Matthew. It is like anything else, when we stumble into the middle of a conversation or open up a book, or we look at a letter and we start reading in the middle, then we can often misunderstand what is being talked about or what is being said, simply because we haven't read the whole thing and don't understand the framework, the background, the purpose, the intent, whatever it is, of what we are hearing. The same often happens with Scripture. It is a fallacy we see often today because people do not understand hermeneutics, basic principles of interpretation; and that we are to interpret the Bible literally. That does not exclude figures of speech, but we are to understand it literally, understand it in terms of its historical background, its historical context, and in light of the purpose of each author. Like any good literature every epistle and every bit of the Bible has a purpose. The writer chooses under the leadership of God the Holy Spirit what he is going to include and what he is going to exclude in order to substantiate his basic thesis.

And the basic thesis of Matthew is to present Jesus in terms of His messianic credentials from the Old Testament. Matthew quotes from the Old Testament more than any other Gospel writer. He is writing to a Jewish audience some twenty years or so after the crucifixion of Christ to encourage them in their faith, and basically answering the question that yes, Jesus is the Messiah, He came offering the kingdom; you may wonder why the kingdom is not here, and that is because it was rejected by Israel and is postponed. So we are living in an interim period now in the church age that still anticipates the future coming of the kingdom when the King comes the second time at the end of the Tribulation period to establish His kingdom. Matthew is not writing a biography of Jesus, he is writing to substantiate that Jesus is who He claimed to be.

What we see when we look at a little broader perspective of Matthew is after we get out of the birth and infancy descriptions in the first three chapters, starting in chapter four the focus is on the beginning of Jesus ministry. We see His baptism by John the Baptist at the end of chapter three, and in chapter four we have the temptation and calling His disciples. He is arranging this material according to his subject matter, according to a theme. He is not giving us a chronology of events. He is taking events from different periods of Christ's ministry and putting them together as a way of listing certain types of evidence of who He is.

So He calls His disciples and then Matthew has the Sermon on the Mount very early. It probably took place a little later in Jesus' ministry but he puts it early because it was a training message for His disciples. He is going to send His disciples out when we have finished with this section, in Matthew chapter ten, to proclaim the message that John the Baptist has already proclaimed: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". That is a message that is focused on that Jewish audience. They weren't told what the kingdom was because they didn't have to. They knew the Torah; they knew all of the Old Testament prophecies and promises that God would usher in a glorious age in the future for Israel, Jerusalem would be the center of worship for the entire world, and the son of David, called the Messiah, the Anointed One, would rule and reign from His throne in Jerusalem. It was a literal kingdom where Jesus sat on a literal throne in literal Jerusalem. It wasn't some spiritual kingdom that is in heaven where Jesus is somehow ruling from the throne of God.

Jesus now comes on the scene, after the preparation by John the Baptist proclaimed this message. He appears offering Himself to Israel. His message is the same as John's: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". The Israelites had rejected the Law. They were involved with either legalism on the one hand or skepticism on the other hand, and Jesus is saying, "You have to turn back to God". It is a message that is grounded in Deuteronomy chapter 30, the promises of God that after their being scattered among the nations they would turn back to God. That is the key word and what repent means. It doesn't mean to feel sorry for your sins, to get emotional about your sins, to be overwhelmed by your sins; it means simply to turn, to change your mind. So they are to change their mind, they are to refocus, as it were. For some people that would mean they needed to get justified; they needed to trust in God for their salvation. For the vast majority they were already justified. They were in disobedience and needed to turn to God in obedience and to worship Him alone. So this was going to be the message that Jesus gave the disciples. It is the message that they are to take out, so He has to train them in that message, and that is Matthew 5, 6 and 7.

Then at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount Matthew puts these two chapters in here (8 & 9) in order to give the credentials of the Messiah. The first set of miracles that we see in Matthew chapter eight were miracles of healing. They are followed by a brief interlude where Jesus is interrupted by two men who were disciples. And there is a string of these in these sections. Then Jesus leaves Capernaum and is going to cross the Sea of Galilee and then come back, and there are three miracles of power that Matthew brings together. They don't necessarily happen in this order; he is not saying that. He is just marshalling them as evidence. How do we know Jesus was the Messiah? Well, He did these three miracles. Now He is doing these three miracles showing His power. Then He is going to do three more miracles as we come to the end of the section that are miracles that are related to restoration. What is driving Matthew is that we have to understand who Jesus is, because once we understand who He is, embedded within that understanding is a response, and that response is to become a disciple of Jesus; someone who really seeks to learn the Word of God, apply it in their life, and grow to spiritual maturity. That is why Matthew inserts within each of these three different sets of miracles this charge, or something about being a disciple. It leads to the final statement that there is a need for workers and a need for disciples to follow the Lord.

So what we are looking at here as we begin this next section is on the power of Jesus. These are miracles of power, and the first one emphasizes what we call the faith-rest drill. What we see here under the miracles of power are three basic miracles. First of all, Jesus will still the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Second, Jesus will cast out demons from the two demon-possessed men after He crosses over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Then third, He will heal a paralyzed man who is brought to Him in order to demonstrate that He has the power and the authority to forgive sins.   

In this first episode where Jesus stills the storm on the Sea of Galilee He demonstrates His authority and His power over the forces of creation. He is showing that He is the creator God who sustains and controls creation. As such, as the Messiah, He will reverse the damage of sin to the environment, to creation, to nature, when He establishes His kingdom. He is giving foretastes, previews of coming attractions, in all of these different miracles. This is what will happen when the kingdom comes. What is His message? Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. If they are not prepared and ready then He is not going to bring in the kingdom. The people rejected Him, so the kingdom was postponed; none of these things came into being.

In the second miracle of power here, Jesus will demonstrate His authority and power over Satan and the fallen angels; demonstrating that He has the power to deliver the creation from the control of Satan who is called in the Scripture the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2, the God of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the ruler of this world (John 12:31). Jesus will not remove Satan from this world until He returns at the end of the Tribulation. Revelation 19 and 20:1-6 describe the fact that Satan will be thrown into the abyss where he is bound for one thousand years. But until then, as Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5, he goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Jesus demonstrates that He has that authority and power to control Satan and the demons, and He shows this in all of these episodes where He is casting out demons. But if the people don't accept Him, that is not going to happen. Jesus shows that He has the divine prerogative to forgive sins. This will be a hallmark of His messianic reign. Each of these must be understood in terms of that kingdom proclamation.

Let's look at this first episode. Here Jesus demonstrates His authority and power over the forces of creation to show, first of all, that He is the creator God. Colossians 1:16, 17 emphasizes that by Him and through Him all things exist. Secondly, Jesus Christ is the one who sustains and controls creation. He holds the world together; He sustains everything; by Him everything continues, and there is absolutely nothing that human beings can do to ultimately destroy the environment. We may mess it up pretty bad, we may trash it, and there have been peoples down through the centuries that have trashed the environment. It is part of the fact that we are sinners. That is not justifying it but ultimately Jesus Christ is the one who controls and sustains everything. So we are not on a path of environmental self-destruction. 

The third thing that Jesus demonstrates from all of this is that He as Messiah will reverse the damage of sin on creation. The real problem isn't the industrial revolution; the real problem isn't greenhouse gasses; the real problem isn't CO2 in the atmosphere—CO2 is good; that is what makes the plants grow, they feed on CO2. It is Adam's sin that has caused all the environmental problems; it is not man.

One of the major implications is that Jesus has the power to calm the storm. This is a radical storm. This was probably not just a normal storm on the Sea of Galilee. The instant He calms it when He says, "Be quiet"—He doesn't say peace, it is not shalom and it is not EIRENE, it is a word that means to be quiet—instantly it became quiet. We all know that it takes a little while for a storm to calm down, but this was radical. Instantly everything was quiet. It was an immediate response to His command as the Lord of the universe. The implication from that is that just as Jesus stilled that physical storm, so He has the ability to bring peace and tranquility and calm instantly into our lives, no matter what the storm of life may be that we face. The issue ultimately is, do we have faith to trust in Him? Faith is not simply a matter of someone ginning up some power within us; faith is not a power. Faith is simply believing and trusting in something; having confidence that something is true, and relying upon it, as we will see. 

This event takes place on the Sea of Galilee. The parallel passages to Matthew chapter eight are found in Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25. Each of those give a little different information, it is all complementary, there are no contradictions in the Scripture, but each one from their vantage point selects from the available data what he wants to include in order to substantiate the kind of points that he is making.

What we see if we look back to Matthew 8:18 is that when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him He gave a command to depart to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He is interrupted there and that is what takes place in vv. 19-22 when two disciples who come to Him with questions, but then they are going to finally get into the boat (v. 23) and they will proceed across the lake.

The Sea of Galilee is quite a large body of water. It is 13 miles long and between five and eight miles in width. They are crossing it diagonally so they are probably travelling a distance close to eight miles as they move across. It is 32 miles in circumference and at its deepest it is approximately 150-160 feet. It is 630 feet below sea level, making it the lowest fresh water lake in the world. In the Scripture it is given a number if different names. It is called the Sea of Kinnereth in Old Testament passages, the Lake of Gennesaret in Luke 5:1, the Sea of Tiberias in John chapter six, and the Sea of Galilee. Calling it a sea is a bit of a misnomer. Sea is a term that refers to a saltwater lake, not a fresh water lake.

Matthew 8:23, 24 NASB "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."

The events here occurred at the end of the day, according to the Gospel of Mark who says, "When evening had come" Jesus had given instructions to depart to the other side in Matthew 8:18, but He is interrupted. Finally they get aboard the vessel and head out. According to Mark this wasn't the only boat that went on to the lake. There were others in the crowd who got on to boats to follow Him. And while they were sailing, according to Luke 8:23, Jesus fell asleep. This indicates His humanity. After a long day of ministry He found that there was a pillow in the stern where He curled up, relaxed and immediately fell asleep.

Was that an accident? Did it just sort of happen that way? I don't think so. I think what happened was that Jesus is fully aware of what is going to happen. It is a teaching moment in the life of His disciples. And He brings the same kind of teaching moments into your life and mine. Suddenly we are hit by an unexpected storm. It may be financial, it may be family related, it may be health related or career related, and all of a sudden everything that we thought would happen and hoped to happen just didn't. It is gone.

I have a friend from college who one day came home and his house had burned to the ground. It so devastated him, a man who should have had some doctrine but didn't, that he has never been the same since. Not only do we have all of our hopes and dreams that some situations can destroy but when we have a situation like that where everything that we have, all of our memories, all of our family treasures, all of our photographs, suddenly are burned up and destroyed we not only lose hopes and dreams but we lose our past. There are things in life that are huge issues that challenge us but there are some that are enormous, and some people just never ever recover from those things. But God is in control of those circumstances; they don't happen to us by chance. One of the things we need to learn when we encounter trauma is that God is in control. It is not that He is blameworthy of those things but He has allowed those things to occur in our life to test us, to train us, to teach us to be dependent upon Him and not to focus our hopes and dreams as the source of meaning and purpose in life. And sometimes the Lord has to take those things away from us to get our attention so that we will focus upon Him and the mission He has given us in this life.

So these storms come up and they shake us to our very core. The word that is used here for tempest is the word from which we get seismograph or seismology. It is the word SEISMOS in the Greek, which means to shake. It is the word that describes earthquakes, a financial shakedown (like an extortion), something that radically shakes a person's life in terms of adversity that we can face.

The day started out a very normal day, a very quiet day. The sun was out, the sky was blue, Jesus is relaxed and goes to sleep, and then all of a sudden within a manner of ten or fifteen minutes this storm comes up that is overwhelming the boat. They are taking in water; they are covered with the waves. There are various descriptions of this given by the other writers. Mark says that the waves beat into the boat so that it began to fill. Luke adds that they were in jeopardy, using a Greek word meaning that they were in danger. And he uses an imperfect tense with the verb, showing that this is a continuous action; it intensifies the situation. The boat begins to rock back and forth violently as it is tossed around, everything is out of control, the disciples are hanging on for dear life to keep from being thrown out, fear grips their souls, panic is setting in, and the Lord is still asleep. So they run to Him and wake Him up.    

Matthew 8:25 NASB "And they came to {Him} and woke Him, saying, 'Save {us,} Lord; we are perishing!'"

If we read the parallel passages we see that Luke calls Him a word that means master or chief. It is the word EPISTATES. Matthew says that they called Him Lord, KURIOS. Mark says that the called Him DIDASKOLOS, teacher. Is this a contradiction in Scripture? No, there are probably seven or eight disciples all crying out different things. So when we compare what these writers are saying we get a full picture of the pandemonium that was taking place as different ones were calling out different things. They challenged Him, asking basically three things. First of all, "Do you not care that we are perishing?" He was just sleeping. Second, according to Matthew 8, "Save us". This is the use of the word SOZO where saved doesn't mean saved from eternal condemnation in the lake of fire. "Lord save us. We are perishing". That is the same word that is used in John 3:16, "will not perish but have everlasting life". But here perishing is not eternal perishing, it is temporal perishing, being overwhelmed by the disaster at hand. Luke tells us, "Master, master, we are perishing", using the same word that Matthew does.     

The Lord takes three actions. First, He arose. He woke up, got up. Second, He points out their lack of faith as the real issue. Matthew 8:26 NASB "He said to them, 'Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?' " They are not trusting in Him. This is an idiom. What He is saying is they don't have any faith. They are in panic. When we are fearful we can't trust Him. We are either trusting in the Lord or we are afraid, one or the other but not both. Faith casts out fear. He is pointing out that their lack of faith is the real issue. This was a faith test. We run into lots of faith tests in life. This was a faith test to see whether they would trust in Him, and the fact that they are fearful and hitting the panic button shows that they are not trusting in Him.

The third thing He does is rebuke the wind. "É Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm." What is interesting about this is that this word rebuke often means to censure somebody, to correct somebody, to voice disapproval. It is a personal kind of term. He almost personalizes the storm when He rebukes it. Matthew doesn't tell us what He says but Mark does, and it is translated in the KJV as "Peace, be still". But it is not the word EIRENE for peace; it is the word that basically means to shut up, to hush, be quiet. And instantly everything became quiet. That is a miracle. There is no residual wave action, it doesn't take a few minutes or so for everything to calm down, it is just instant.

Matthew 8:27 NASB "The men were amazed, and said, 'What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'"

We see the response of the men. They marveled, were astonished; they had never seen anything like this. Here He is in the back of the boat and He just controls everything. That is the point that He is making. As the Messiah He has the authority and the power to control creation, and if He is accepted as the Messiah He will bring in the kingdom and the curse will be partially rolled back—the curse that has plunged creation under this particular curse.

He brings out the real issue here when He says: "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" According to Matthew, He stands up and rebukes the wind and the sea and there is a great calm. In parallel passages in Mark and Luke they emphasize what he said afterwards where He addresses the issue of their faith. So that is the point. Are they trusting in Him?

As we look at this we see that there are basically three doctrines, three areas of application, three areas of instruction that we need to focus upon. The first is, understanding the omnipotence of God. Omnipotence means that God is all-powerful; that God is able to do whatever He intends to do. There is nothing more powerful than God, so He is in control of everything in His creation. Not even sin or Satan can overpower or overwhelm God. So it is always important when we think through a problem, when we face some surprising adversity that is takes time and that we as Christians don't always handle every test perfectly. And some tests cannot be handled that perfectly. We are human beings.

Take the illustration I used earlier. If you were to come home one day were to find that your house had burned to the ground. Your hard drive is fried; you can't access any of your personal information; your insurance papers, everything, had burned to a crisp. Everything is gone. You can say: "Well, God is in control". But as you go forward in life there are going to be things that you have to deal with for years because of that fire. Emotionally that is going to be turbulent, tough, rugged, and there are going to be times when spiritually and emotionally you are just vibrating. One minute you are trusting God; the next second you are not. And it may be six to eight months before you really deal with the consequences. If I walk up to you with my cowboy boots on and kick you in the shin as hard as I can, it takes time for that pain to diminish.

When we hit certain things in life it takes time for things to stabilize. We are not machines; we are not computers. We don't just turn around and say, "Okay, Isaiah 40:31, I'm not going to be fearful; I'm just going to trust God", and it just stabilizes right away. It takes time, primarily because if that fire test occurred in your life it was because that fire test was going to rick you to your soul. It might not ever happen in my life. What happens in my life might be a financial disaster; it might be a health crisis, something like that, because God tends to tailor our tests for the areas where we are the weakest. So that exhibits itself, and that takes time. The way to handle this is to go to the attributes of God and work our way through them, and think about how they apply. In this case it is God's omnipotence; He is more powerful than the storms of life.

Many passages in Scripture emphasize this.

Psalm 62:11 NASB "Once God has spoken; Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God." It is part of His core essence.

Psalm 79:11 NASB "Let the groaning of the prisoner come before You; According to the greatness of Your power preserve those who are doomed to die." In other words, for those that may be surrounded by death God is the one who preserves us by His power.

Psalm 65:6 NASB "Who establishes the mountains by His strength, Being girded with might." Everything that we look at in the creation is from the omnipotence of God. So nothing that comes within the creation can be greater than the power of God.

Psalm 63:1, 2 NASB "O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory."

Romans 1:20 NASB "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

The second major doctrine that comes out of this is God's grace. Christ is demonstrating His graciousness to deliver the disciples from the horrible storm that occurred. This is God's grace. It is His unmerited favor in our lives, and in God's grace He has provided the solution for every problem in our life. The root problem of all the other problems is sin, and He solved the greatest problem we will ever face at the cross. So if Jesus Christ can solve our problem of sin then it is nothing for Him to solve all the other problems. Whatever problems you are facing in life it is not as great as that horrible sin penalty that Christ solved.

So storms, adversity, loss, all of the things that we face in life are the consequences of Adam's original sin. Jesus solved that problem, so He can get us through the little bumps and grinds and speed bumps that we see in our life.

The third major doctrine that comes out of this is the faith-rest drill. It involves three things. First of all, we claim a promise. That means we have to have a promise in our head so that we have something to grab hold of. When Jesus went through His temptation in Matthew chapter four He wasn't just saying, well there is a theological principle here according to Chafer vol. 3. He is quoting specific Scripture. We claim a promise, grab hold on it and mix it with faith. And we think it through in terms of what is this verse saying? We take a verse like "Casting all your cares upon Him because He cares for you". What does that mean? You go to 1 Peter 5:7 and then look at the previous verse where it says that we are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. How do we do that? By casting our cares upon Him because He cares for us. He is telling us how we demonstrate humility or grace orientation. So we have to look at the context, read the verses and think them through. As we do that we arrive at certain doctrinal conclusions about how God cares for us, and how He can take care of us and provide for us.

When we look at Scripture, especially in the area of fear—the problem here and the core problem we all face—we have to God to God because He is the only one who can solve the fear problem. In Genesis 3:10 we find that the first emotion expressed by Adam and Eve as a result of the fall was fear. When they heard God they were afraid. This is kind of what happened here with the disciples. When Jesus does this, as one of the parallel passages tells us, they were afraid. Matthew says they marveled. Fear was there as they realized the power of Jesus. Every human being is born fearful because we are sinners. That is the core emotional sin of our sin nature.

1 John 4:18 NASB "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." The Bible juxtaposes love with fear, not love and hate. That seems strange to us. We think the opposite of love is hate, but biblically the opposite of love is fear. In our normal status living on the sin nature, we are fearful. It is only when we come face to face with the love of God, and that is real in our life, that the fear is conquered.

Isaiah 41:10 NASB "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, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."  

We need to memorize promises like that so that when we wake up in the middle of the night and realize that we failed to do something and something might happen, and suddenly we are gripped with fear and panic, we can claim those promises.

If we worry we can claim promises like Philippians 4:6, 7 NASB "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."