Matthew 8:23-34 The Storm, The Possessed Men

Jesus got in the boat first, his disciples followed. A violent, brutal storm hit, and the reaction of the disciples tells us it was of a magnitude they had never seen before. These were professional fishermen, and yet this storm terrified them. Jesus was sleeping, because he was human, and was wearied form his travels. (Here we see were the “Son of Man” laid his head, whatever brief opportunity he had.) The storm was not coincidence. The disciples had a very real fear- their boat was filling with water and sinking. They woke Jesus, because none of them knew what to do. They were afraid of dying. He woke and called them “You of little faith.”  Of little faith, because they did not trust God, of little faith because they did not understand who Jesus was, of little faith, because their faith only lasted from the shore to the storm. Jesus said get in the boat, and they followed, but when things got tough, they were not so sure anymore. Jesus had not told them about this giant storm sinking the boat. With every wave their faith diminished. Yet, Jesus was not worried. He stood up and calmed the storm, and in doing so, revealed himself. Still, the disciples struggled to understand! They would witness more.

Matthew has mentioned demon possession before, but this one he wants us to pay careful attention to. This possession was different, more powerful than seen before. If we consider that Jesus crossed the lake with the intent of confronting these demons, it is not surprising that they met opposition in the storm. The two possessed men were violent, and terrified the people.  Notice that they came out to meet Jesus. They knew who he was, and called him Son of God, a messianic title. Their question “What do you want with us?” indicates they knew he had come to confront them. They make a reference to an appointed time, a day of judgment. They feared him, and pleaded with him, that he permit them to go into a herd of pigs. Note the authority of Christ. He did so permit. The pigs ran down the bank and drowned themselves. There could be no question of to the reality of the possession. It was a disturbing scene. Instead of praising Jesus for the healing of two men, and the expulsion of evil, the herders ran and told the town, and the town, seeing the drowned pigs, pleaded with Jesus to leave.

In our own lives, we are willing to trust God as long as things are going well. When events unexpectedly go bad, our faith can be terribly shaken. We need to hold onto our faith especially in times of trouble, when our boats our filling with water. It is not wrong to be afraid. Fear is a recognition of danger, and an important emotional response that God himself designed, but faith is greater than fear. The authority of God is greater than all things. Think about the townspeople, who out of fear asked Jesus to leave their land. There is no occasion on which to ask Christ to leave, but how quickly people can blame God for anything, even the evil of the world. As followers, we must go where Jesus leads us. We can expect to meet storms caused by enemies of Christ, and witness spiritual warfare- but we must know, that he is with us always.

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