“I was afraid and hid your talent in the ground” (Matthew 25:25).
“Why did you fear? Where is your faith?” (Matthew 8:26).
The storm was raging, the sea was crashing about them, the boat was going down and they were going to die.
The disciples decided it was high time to awaken Jesus. He needed to do something.
Exactly, what they had in mind for Him to do, they did not say.
“Lord, save us! We’re going to die!”
Do something He did.
The Lord began by rebuking the disciples. And He did this while the storm was still at its fury. “Why did you fear? Where is your faith?”
Is that one question or two?
Then, Jesus rebuked the sea and the winds. Imagine that. People who consider themselves scientific and scoff at believers praying for rain and such know that such a thing (Jesus rebuking the storm) is just so much foolishness.
But there it is.
The sea calmed down, the storm dissipated, and the disciples were left to consider what that little episode said about Jesus.
“What kind of man is this–even the winds and the sea obey Him!”
Ah, great question. Reflecting on that should occupy the better part of the next year, I’d think.
Once they finished considering what this says of Jesus, the Lord’s apostles would do well to reflect on what this business says about them.
We note that the Lord did not rebuke the disciples for a lack of faith, only that it was misplaced. They had plenty of faith–but it was confidence in good weather, faith in strong boats, and certainty of their own seamanship.
But when the weather turned bad, the boat was being swamped, and their seamanship was stymied, they were up the creek. Sunk, both literally and figuratively.
Some have pointed out that the suddenness of this storm indicates a satanic origin. Maybe so, maybe not. Hard to know. But for our purposes, that’s irrelevant.
Whether trouble is from the devil himself or just something that happens in a fallen world, our response should always be the same: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“You believe in God; believe also in Me” (John 14:1).
Faith is a huge deal in Scripture, to believers, and in the mind of our Lord.
He has set everything up so that the lives of believers operate by faith.
“The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
And that’s the problem. We do not like to live by faith. We want all the answers, all the evidence, and all the supplies before we will act. We want to have extra money in the bank and then we will tithe. We want everyone on board and then we will believe in Jesus and confess Him. We want no loose ends, no dangling conditions that could rise up and sabotage the works. We want to serve Christ, but not by faith.
But that is not going to happen. He has set things up so that we must live by faith. Otherwise, we will not come to Him at all.
How much faith?
Evidently, a small amount of faith is all that is required. Huge faith is not needed to turn things around. Our Lord said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can (do miracles)” (Luke 17:6). That’s a huge promise for something so small.
We have learned that small things can carry great power. The atom, when split, can do amazing things.
If our faith is misplaced, we end up being swamped by our fears.
People today live by so many fears. Christians, too, sad to say.
Fear of failure. Fear of public opinion. Fear of financial ruin. Fear of being found out. Fear of disease. Fear of death. Fear of rejection.
Fear of the boss, of the highway patrol, of the IRS, the collection agency, the results from the X-rays, the collapse of the economy. Fear of being unfriended.
The list is endless.
Regarding each of those phobias, our Lord Jesus Christ has a question for His disciples: “Why do you fear; where is your faith?”
I’m not sure whether that’s two questions or two sides of the same question. It is a truth that when we do not use our faith, we will fear. The two are deadly enemies and will not coexist. Not for long anyway.
When we see Him in glory and our earthly record is reviewed (if it is; I have no knowledge of this one way or the other), He will surely say to us, “Why did you fear? Where was your faith?”
Pastors often live in fear of deacons, of search committees, and being revealed to be the sinners that we are. We live in fear of making huge mistakes, of embarrassing ourselves in the pulpit, of people finding out how normal we are and how dysfunctional our family is.
Christians live in fear of a thousand things: speaking in public, witnessing to our neighbor, financial failure if we tithe, having our biblical ignorance discovered, being confronted by Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, and the uncertain future. We are afraid of the smug know-it-all down the street possibly being right, of the atheist having a point, and of our missing some key element in the Christian life–failing to dot that i or cross that t– that will send us to hell.
The Lord is disgusted by our fears. Displeased, unhappy, and dissatisfied. He can take a doubt far better than He can our fears.
Our Lord sees fears as what they are: votes of no confidence in Himself.
Our fears insult Him. Our fears feed off one another and grow exponentially.
We must make a choice to believe our fears or to have faith in Jesus Christ.
“He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Therefore, we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my Helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
I will not be afraid.
Why do we fear death? Where is our faith?
Death is the biggie. Nothing strikes terror into the heart of Christ’s followers more than thoughts of their own demise.
It is worth noting that Scripture addresses this subject perhaps more than any other fear.
Here are three insights (and instructions) from Holy Scripture on this subject….
–“Now, since the children have flesh and blood in common, He also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death–that is, the devil–and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
—“I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me…. When I saw (Jesus), I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me, and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look–I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:12-18).
–-“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?….Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (I Corinthians 15:55-57)
God is not pleased when His people panic at the thought of their coming death. “To be absent from the body is to be present and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5).
We either believe Jesus or we do not. But if we do, we should live like it.
Boldness is a huge theme in Scripture. Bold living, bold preaching, and even bold (confident) dying.
Where is our faith? Where indeed?
The song says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”
It’s not that we do not have faith. We place our faith in our cars, airplanes, family doctors, and the chef at our favorite restaurant. We literally live by faith in the tire manufacturer, the pharmaceutical companies (“open wide and swallow!”), and the chemical plant up the river (that they are not poisoning the water we drink).
Whether that faith is well-founded and well placed is another question altogether.
What we are not allowed is the pseudo-scientific cop-out that says, “You Christians do everything by faith, but I live by science.” Give me a break. Every person on this planet lives by faith–that the earth will keep spinning and not go careening off into the wild black yonder, that the sun will go on shining, and that the moon will not suddenly decide to get closer to the earth it adores so much.
Jesus Christ alone is worthy of all faith.
No one else comes remotely close. There is no way to say that stronger or I would.
It’s Jesus or nothing.
When the Apostle Peter was confronted by just this dilemma (if you turn away from Jesus, where do you go?), he got it right. “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).