In Matthew 8:23-27 Jesus and the disciples are in the midst of this storm that is violently rocking their boat and it seems that Jesus isn’t even a little bit bothered by it. He’s asleep and when they wake him in their fear and anxiety, he’s not exactly happy about it. This entire scene is chalked full of meaning particularly because of the question that Jesus asks to his disciples – “Why are you afraid?” This part of Matthew is still toward the beginning of Jesus public ministry. He has finished the sermon on the mount and people are amazed at his teaching and the authority with which he teaches. They have also seen miracles and wonders from Jesus at this point.
Jesus gets his disciples in a boat to head across the lake and while they’re heading across this storm comes up and just begins to beat on the boat. Jesus is just sleeping and they wake him up and shout, “Save us we’re going to drown.” What happens next is larger than just Jesus calming a storm – this is Jesus proclaiming himself as the God of the universe. First, he asks the disciples the question, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
The Greek word here translated “afraid” is “deiloi” and it literally means cowardly or timid and specifically is used when describing a lack of faith. So, Jesus isn’t exactly asking why they’re afraid of the storm, is he – he is asking, “in the midst of this storm why are you so faithless and cowardly?” What is Jesus’ question really driving at? Look at all of the context, everything that Jesus has just done in teaching people, healing people, casting out demons, and given all of that the disciples still haven’t quite grasped who this is or what kind of power he holds. He’s not just a prophet, he’s not just a healer, he’s not just a human political Messiah, he is more than all of that. When Jesus asks, “Why are you afraid?” he is saying, “do you still not get it, do you still not understand that I am in control, do you not have faith that even nature bows down before me?”
We are staring out at a new year, all kinds of new opportunities and new possibilities and plenty of things that are probably causing some fear and anxiety within us. When you hear Jesus ask the question, “Why are you afraid?” I pray we hear an invitation to trust in the very God of the universe who is sovereign over all of creation…who controls even the winds and waves. That’s good news for any of us that still find ourselves being a little cowardly or timid due to a lack of faith; if we will take this question of Jesus seriously, it could change our life. If we’ll let him, Jesus will calm those storms and take his rightful place as sovereign Lord of the world and of our lives and he will take us deeper this year than we even imagined possible. AMEN!!
Take a listen to the full sermon online here:
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