The Amazing Power of Jesus
Jesus' Power over the Natural
Matthew 8:23-27
       
When God created man and woman and placed them in the Garden of Eden, they had a wonderful arrangement.  The book of Genesis says that God gave man dominion, or sovereignty, or rule, or kingship over the earth. 
 
Then when man fell into sin, not only did man lose his dominion, the earth lost its glory.
 
What was the result of this?  Just a short list of the results includes sickness, pain, death, difficulty in human relationships, war, sorrow, injustice, lies, famine and natural disaster.  That’s not everything that resulted, but it is a pretty devastating list. 
 
But then the Bible a plan by which redemption comes, not only for man, but for everything that was affected by sin. 
 
And as the pinnacle of that plan, God Himself would come to earth twice.  The first time He would come to redeem man.  The second time He would come to redeem the earth.
 
In the first coming of Jesus, He went to the cross and rose from the grave and purchased the salvation of man. 
 
The second time He comes, we are told He will establish a thousand year millennial kingdom and then following that,, a new heaven and a new earth.
 
And the ultimate plan of God is unchanged.  It is to have mankind living with Him in an environment with
no sorrow, no tears, no pain, no sickness, no death, no disease, no difficulties, no disasters, no demons, all righteous, all holy, all lovely, all beautiful, all glorious forever.  That is the kingdom of God. 
 
That means things aren't always going to be the way they are.  But if they change, God is going to have to do it.  We can't change anything in our environment.  We can try to deal with some of the problems, but we can't eliminate them.  We don't have the power. 
 
So if the earth is going to be changed, and if the environment is going to be altered, and if there is to be a new heaven and a new earth, it's going to have to be done by somebody far superior to any man. 
 
And that's why Jesus came, to show us that power.  I believe that Jesus came into the world to declare once and for all that He was God and that He, as God, the Son had the power to bring the kingdom of God to a cursed earth, that He was the promised king, the promised Messiah, that He could give back the sovereignty to man, that He could restore the earth, that He could eliminate sin. 
 
And one of the primary ways He demonstrated that so it was without argument was through miracles. 
 
There are nine of them recorded in Matthew 8 and 9.  We’ve already looked at the first three.  In those, we saw Jesus power over disease. 
 
The next three show His power over nature.  Eventually we will see Him dealing with the supernatural world with demons and even sin and death are included. 
 
All of them show us the amazing power of Jesus. 
 
verses 23 to 27
 
There are four things I want us to see here.  First of all notice
 
1. The Particulars
 
Now remember the way these miracles are presented. 
 
Matthew records the first three miracles, then there is a response.  We get to see the miracles and then how people reacted to the miracles. 
 
The same thing happens with this series of miracles as well. Three more miracles and then another section on response showing us the different ways the people responded to Christ. 
 
Now remember the last group was fascinated and curious and interested.  They were thrilled with His power and the possibility of going along to see more of it.  But when it came down to the bottom line, they were unwilling to sacrifice what it took to follow Christ in personal riches, relationship and comfort. 
 
And as far as we know, neither of the three followed Christ. 
 
 
Now we move into the second three miracles and he is going to give us, at the end of these three, different response. 
 
Verse 18
 
Then before the boat left the shore we have the events of verses 19-22
 
Now skip to verse 23.
 
Now notice, that even though the three of verses 19-22 didn’t follow Him, others did.  His disciples followed Him.  And so as the little boat left the shore by Capernaum to sail, several other little boats, Mark tells us, went along. 
 
By the way, and we noted this last time, the word "disciples" is a very broad word and it means pupils, learners or followers.
 
This is not, “the disciples” as in the twelve, but rather those who are following Christ.  They may not be “christians” as we understand the word, but they are learning and listening and studying under the teaching of Christ.  How do we know that?
 
Think about what we just saw in verse 21.  One of those who is called a disciple says in effect, I'm not going to follow you until my father dies.  And Jesus says, "You'd better leave the world to take care of its own dead."  In other words, you'd better be about preaching the kingdom of God." 
 
The implication is the guy didn't go.  He just turned around and went home.  So he was called a disciple but he didn't follow Christ. 
In fact, in like manner we can say that those of you sitting in this church are disciples of Terry Tolbert.  You are learners.  You are here, you are listening, you're sitting under the teaching. 
 
Now some of you are enjoying it, some of you are rejecting it, some of you may think it's good, some of you may think it's bad, some of you haven't made your decision yet, but all of you here are exposing yourself to what I say as a disciple or a learner. 
 
There are actually four categories of disciples. 
 
First there are the curious. They followed Jesus, they listened, they were fascinated, they were intrigued, they were enthralled by what He said. 
 
But in John 6, Jesus said, "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood," in other words unless you take all of Me in, unless you're willing to identify with everything I am, unless you're willing to affirm my total lordship in your life you cannot be My disciple.”
 
And it is recorded of this bunch:  "And these disciples walked no more with him."  They were the curious, not the committed. 
 
And then Jesus said, "Will you also go away?"   And Peter says, "To whom shall we go?  You and you alone have the words of eternal life."  And then he says this:  "But we believe and are sure that You are the Son of God."  In other words it says many of His disciples walked no more with Him, but Peter said, "We believe and are sure."  He says, "We're not the kind of disciples that are curious.   We're sure.  So there were the curious.  They came and went.
 
Then there were the convinced.  These were the disciples who were intellectually convinced.  Nicodemus is a classic illustration of a man who began there.  He hung around.  He listened to what Jesus said.  He saw what Jesus did and he came to Him by night and said, "I think that you're from God."  Intellectually convinced, but it doesn't say necessarily that in the fullest sense he believed.
 
And then there are the clandestine, the secret disciples like Joseph of Arimathea who kept it a secret but believe quietly. 
 
And then there are the committed, the bold, the open, who follow Jesus. 
 
All those categories are possible.  So when it says disciples you've got men like Peter in the crowd.  You’ve got some like Nicodemus.  Judas is there.  Joseph of Arimathea.  They are all classified as disciples.
 
Now notice what happens.  Remember, we are looking at the particulars of this group of miracles. 
 
Verse 24
 
And so there they are. These are the followers of Jesus in all these little boats.  It's night, it's dark and suddenly a great tempest arose. 
 
By the way, that’s a storm.  The word tempest in the Greek means an earthquake.  We get the word seismograph from it.  It means a great quaking or a great shaking. 
 
Now we don't know whether He just shook the sea or He shook the earth under the sea, but God decided it was time to move and I just think that like you would do with a big bowl full of water, God began to shake the earth and when you shake the earth the water reacts. 
 
And aqs things are getting all shook up, Mark and Luke use a different word to describe what is happening and their word indicates it was a whirlwind or a storm. 
 
So you have an earthquake and upheaval, a whirlwind, and a storm.  And just reading between the lines I assume this is not some usual , every-day storm.  It is significant enough that the passengers with Jesus thought they were going to die. 
 
They may have seen a lot of storms, they had been on that little lake lots of times when the wind had blown, they were seasoned boat owners and fishermen, this is not their first rodeo.  But they had never experienced anything like this. 
 
And I love the next line, the end of verse 24, "But He was asleep." 
 
The sea is raging, the storm is howling, the wind is whipping around,  the little boat is tossed like a cork on the ocean, it's filling up with water, and the creator of the world is asleep.  And I have an idea He slept well. 
 
Don’t miss His faith in that scene.  He peacefully sleeps entrusting His well-being to the faithfulness of a God Who never sleeps. 
 
And as the storm increases, and having down everything they could do, verse 25 tells us they came to Jesus. 
 
There we move from the particulars to
 
2. The Panic
 
Verse 25
 
In the midst of their panic, these disciples awoke Him and if you pull all the gospel accounts together, they said a whole lot of short, exclamatory statements.  “Save us!”  Don’t you care what’s going on?”  We’re drowning!”  “Wake up!”
 
Now I might just point out to you that when the captain of your boat asks an ex-carpenter what to do in the storm you know you're in a lot of trouble.  Jesus hadn't even lived on the coast.  He lived in Nazareth, which was inland.  And the fact that they turned to Jesus is extremely interesting. 
 
Why bother Jesus with a sailing question?  What could He do?  How could He help these sailors?
 
I don’t know if they are convinced that He is God at this point, but hey are sure hoping He is!
 
But watch this:  they were right where God wanted them.  Sometimes God has to bring us to desperation to get our attention, doesn't He?  They had run out of human solutions; they had run out of human answers; they wanted a divine answer.  That was their hope, that the miracle worker who could handle sickness maybe could handle the sea.
 
The scene couldn't be more dramatic.  They broke in on Jesus' sleep.  They come to Him in desperation. 
 
They are like the sea captain who didn't believe there was a God and then he got washed overboard and began to cry out for God.  They hauled him in and said, "I thought you didn't believe in God."  He said, "Well if there isn't a God there ought to be one for times like that." 
 
There are a lot of people who only cry to God from their foxhole.  We get sickness in our family or disease or death, or we lose our job or we have problems with our wife or husband or children and we begin to cry out to God in our desperation. 
 
And the reply is a classic.
 
verse 26
 
What kind of question is that?  Look around you.  It's the middle of the night.  There's a storm here like we've never seen.  The boat is full of water.  Why are we fearful?  And by the way the word fearful is the Greek word for cowardly.  And by the way, in Revelation 21:8 the same root word is used in the list of sinners who will not enter the kingdom.  The fearful and the abominable and it's the same word, the fearful, the cowardly, those with no faith. 
 
And Mark makes it even worse.  Matthew says, “Oh ye of little faith," Mark says, "Why do you have no faith?" 
 
I would suggest the two things that will get you through any storm are faith in God’s love and faith in God’s power. 
Why those two?  If you know God cares about you and can handle the situation, you can make it.  That's all you need to know.  God loves me and God has the power to deliver me. 
 
They were questioning whether He cared, and they were questioning whether He was able, and He says, "Oh ye of little faith."  What do you have to see?  He had performed miracle upon miracle upon miracle.  They had just witnessed three that very day. 
 
He was healing the people possessed with demons, He was casting out spirits with a word, He was healing all that were sick.  They had seen a plethora of miracles and they're saying, "Don't you care?" 
 
If they didn't think He had the power to deal with it they were dumb as rocks.  Isn't it amazing how we can see the demonstration of God and then when the circumstance becomes ours we forget His power altogether. 
 
We sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and ‘VIcotyr in Jesus” and talk about how big God is and all this power and as soon as something tough happens in our life we begin to question God's love and God's power. Oh you of little faith.
 
Trace sometime in your Bible study the concept of little faith.  Basically what it means is distrust in God's ability.  You don't believe God can provide.  You don't believe it, so instead you worry, you get anxious, you panic, you fear, you're cowardly, you don't believe that God can take care of you.  Either you don't believe He cares, or you don't believe He can one of the two or both. 
 
Well, sure He cares.  He just can't do anything. 
 
Or He’s powerful, but He doesn’t care about me. 
 
But if He cares and He can, then what’s the problem?   
 
And by the way even if they were drowning they shouldn't have been afraid, because that would have been in His will and He would have delivered them from there into His Father's kingdom. 
 
They had nothing to fear and yet they were filled with panic.
 
Thirdly, don’t miss
 
3. The Power
 
Verse 26
 
Mark says, "He stood up and said, 'Silence.'  And instantly not just a calm but a great calm, a total calm. 
 
Now think about this:  even if you stop the wind the sea will continue to ripple until the waves have run their course.  He said, "Silence."  Or as one commentator translates it hush and the sea became as glass.  The waves stopped, the wind stopped and it was still. 
 
Now folks that's power.  It's impossible to measure the power of the wind that was existing in that kind of a storm because we don't know how far that storm extended, but just in a normal storm there are millions upon millions of units of horsepower generated in a storm through the wind.
And even more through the rain if that was involved.  No one could even measure the power of the earthquake, and Jesus stopped it in its tracks with a word.
 
And that is Matthew's message to us.  This is the one who can conquer disease.  This is the one who can handle nature and later He'll tell us He is the one who controls the demons. He is the one who forgives sin.  He is the one who raises the dead.  And He is the one who lives in your life. 
 
They had witnessed nothing less than or other than the very power of God.  And what did they do in reaction?  Notice
 
4.  The Praise
 
verse 27
 
Now watch this:  In Matthew 8:26, Jesus asks them why they are afraid and the indication is the question is asked before He calmed the storm.  The word for afraid there, according to the Greek dictionary is our word for “timid” (NAS). 
 
Then in Mark’s account of the story in chapter 4, verse 41 tells us after Jesus stopped the storm and everything is over with, they were “very much afraid”, KJV says, “Exceedingly fearful”.  And the word there is our word for a phobia.  It means to put to flight or be struck or iezed with fear. 
 
Why?  The only thing more fearful than being in a storm is realizing you're standing in the presence of the living God. 
What an awesome experience to know that God is in your boat.  That was far more terrifying than any storm. 
 
When Job saw God through the circumstances of his life he said, "I have heard of You with my ears, but now I've seen you with my eyes and I hate myself and repent in dust and ashes." 
 
When Isaiah saw God he said, "I'm a man of unclean lips."  I have a dirty mouth. 
 
When Daniel saw God, he began to shake and quiver and he fell into a heap into the dirt and his mouth was frozen in dumbness in the presence of God. 
 
When Peter saw God in the occasion of the fishing of the sea, he said, "Depart from me for I am a sinful man, oh Lord." 
 
When the apostle Paul saw God in the form of a resurrected glorious Jesus Christ he fell on his face in the dirt and he was blind. 
 
These disciples knew that God was in the boat and the thought of that was terrifying.  They were in the presence of God.
 
By the way, the next time they were in a boat with Jesus and He calmed a storm is recorded for us in Matthew 14.  And this time when it was all over with, verse 33 says those who were in the boat, “came and worshipped Him saying, 'It is the truth.  You are the Son of God."  It’s as if all doubt is removed and they are convinced.  Obviously Jesus is the Son of God.  Even the winds and the sea obey Him.
 
Let me ask you a question.  Is He the one who can reverse the curse?  Does He have the power to change the earth?  Does He have the power to restore the kingdom?  The answer is yes. 
 
The songwriter has written,
 
"We sing the mighty power of God, who bade the mountains rise, who spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies.  We sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day, the moon shines too at His command and all the stars obey.  Lord how Thy wonders are displayed, where ere we turn our eyes, when ere we view the ground we tread or gaze upon the skies.  There's not a plant or flower below but makes Thy glories known, and clouds arise and tempest blow by order from Thy throne." 
 
And then he closes with this verse.  "On Thee each moment we depend, if Thou withdraw we die.  O may we ‘nare that God offend, who is forever nigh." 
 
Listen the same Jesus Christ that stilled the sea is the one that takes care of you this evening. 
 
He loves you and He is able to take care of you.  The question is will you trust Him?
 
Let’s pray.
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