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Bible Study of The Week
THE BOAT AND THE CHURCH
On Lake Isabella, located in the high desert, an hour east of Bakersfield, California, some folks, new to boating, were having a problem. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get their brand new 22 ft. Bayliner boat to perform. It wouldn't plane at all, and it was very sluggish in almost every maneuver, no matter how much power was applied. After about an hour of trying to make it go, they putted over to a nearby marina, thinking someone there could tell them what was wrong. A thorough topside check revealed everything in perfect working order. The engine ran fine, the outdrive went up and down, the prop was the correct size and pitch. So, one of the marina guys jumped in the water to check underneath. He came up choking on water, he was laughing so hard.
What did he find? The trailer!
A couple was touring a shipyard area in a coastal city of Italy when they saw a strange looking craft. They stopped and asked a worker, “Sir, is that a U-boat?” “No," he replied, “shesa belonga to da goverment.”
Luke 8:22-25, “Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." So they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. 24 They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”
Here we have what is known as the account of Jesus calming the sea. And we often refer to these verses, or the parallel account found in Matthew 8 and Mark 5 (Matt 8:23-34, and Mark 5:1-20). But there are some other thoughts that I would like for us to see that perhaps we have never considered from this passage of scripture.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES
The first thing that I would for us to see here is the relationship between Jesus and His disciples. When Jesus was ready to cross over the sea, He didn't leave His disciples behind. He didn't chooses to travel alone. He said, “Let us go to the other side of the lake.” Let US go . . .”
We might also note that as Jesus had planned to cross the sea, He made his plan known to the disciples as well. They were actually a part of His plan.
And you know, Jesus has done the same thing with his other disciples. That's us! He says to us, “
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). He makes His plan known to us as well.
When Jesus made His plan before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), that plan included his disciples. His plan includes us. In our account, Jesus says, “Let us go . . .” In the Great Commission (McClure paraphrase), Jesus says, “Let us go . . .” Jesus insists that we be a part of His plan.
But He also insists that He go with us. Again, He says in Matthew 28:20, “. . . I am with you always . . .” He says, “Let us go . . .”
You see, Jesus has a plan for all of His followers. He won't carry out that plan without first making it known to us. Just as He said to His disciples, “Let us go . . .”, He says to His church, His disciples today, “Let us . . .”
In 1 John 4:7 the apostle says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.”
In Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude . . .”
The familiar passage of Hebrews 10:22-25 reads, “ . . let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
And again in Hebrews 13:15, “Through [Christ] then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”
Romans 13:12-13 says, “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day . . .”
Galatians 5:25-26 says that, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”
We aren't going to accomplish anything worth accomplishing without Jesus and His church. If Jesus and His church isn't in it, don't waste you time. It's not worth doing anyway.
The next thing that Jesus instructs His disciple to do is to get into the boat. Now there are some who might point out that the Scriptures do not record that Jesus told the disciples to get into the boat. And they would be correct. Jesus, as far as we can tell, did not say to His disciples, “Get into the boat.”
But instead, we see that Jesus got into the boat Himself. In a parallel account in Matthew 8:18-27, we read that Jesus, “. . . gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea.” And after dealing with some excuses for some who would not obey His orders (and there are always plenty of people who call themselves disciples who will not obey Him.), . . . But in dealing with these people, He closes by saying, “Follow Me . . .”
Jesus doesn't always put into words everything that He wants us to do. Ultimately, everything that He has told us to do is in the Word. But what I mean is that there are many things that He wants us to do that are not in red letters, if you have the “red-letter edition” of the New Testament. Many times Jesus SHOWS us what He wants us to do.
Paul says in Philippians 3:17, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.”
The Holy Spirit says this concerning the early church, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
In Acts 17:11 we see the reaction of the Bereans. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”
Jesus teaches His disciples by example as well as by direct commands. He told His disciples to follow Him. “Let us go . . .”
GET INTO THE BOAT
The sea that they were going to cross was the Sea of Galilee. Many today would consider it a lake. And this body of water is said to have been from 130 feet to 150 feet deep. Now I don't know how to swim, so I'm going to get into the boat with Jesus. And for those who think that they're pretty good swimmers, I don't know that they were going to try to swim across this Sea either. After all, it was an average of some 7 to 8 miles wide. So in my humble, but expert opinion, the best way to cross was to get into the boat.
Now there could be someone in this group thinking, “They could have just walked across. After all, in Mathew 14 we have record of Jesus walking across this same body of water. So couldn't they have just walked across?”
I'm sure that if Jesus wanted the disciples to walk across the Sea of Galilee, He could have given them the power to have done that. Of course, they might have gotten to the middle, and Peter might have started to sink like He did in the Matthew 14 account. But all of that aside, the point is this: (This is very deep information. And it's pretty hard for a lot of people to understand.) are you ready? Jesus did not choose to do it that way. And when Jesus has chosen to do something a certain way, you can bank on it. It's the best way to do it.
Jesus told His disciples to, Follow” Him, and He got into the boat. Jesus tells us to “Follow” Him as well.
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.
I'll go with Him through the waters,
I'll go with Him through the waters,
I'll go with Him through the waters,
I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.
Jesus didn't tell His disciples to walk across the water. He led them into the boat. And that is exactly what He did for us. He didn't tell us to follow some miraculous way to get across the water to the other side. He simply told us to get into the boat.
He tells us in 1 Peter 3:18-22, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you - not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience - through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”
Jesus tells us that we will be saved from drowning in our sin only if we follow the example of Noah and his family, who were brought safely through the water by getting into the boat, the ark. And He says that in the same way, we too are to get into the boat that He has given us through baptism. He says that “baptism now saves [us] . . .”
In Acts 2:37, after hearing the first Gospel message, the hearers are convicted of their sin against the Jesus Christ the Lord, who came to save them from their sins. And in this familiar passage, they ask the apostle Peter, “What shall we do?” And in verse 38, Peter answers by telling them to get into the boat. That's not the words he uses. He told them to, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
In Matthew 16, Jesus had told Peter, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:19). Jesus had given Peter the keys to the boat. And Peter uses these keys beginning here on the Day of Pentecost.
In 1 Peter 3, we see that the church is saved through water. And in Acts 2:38 we see that the church will only be saved through water. Romans 6:1-5 says that we can only live through water. It is through the water that we will be saved. We must get into the boat so that we can cross over to the other side. There just isn't any other way.
THE STORMS OF LIFE
The next point that I would like to direct your attention to is the storm. The account says that the storm “came upon them.” As we row our boat toward the other shore. As we direct our boat in the direction of our eternal home, we are going to have storms come upon us.
James says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
There are going to be trials and temptations and setbacks, and disappointments . . . And as far as I know, there are only two ways to avoid these storms of life.
Stay on the shore and never get into the boat
Turn the boat around and go back to where we started our journey
In our lesson, the shore where we started is the world. More specifically, our sinful existence as our old self in this hopeless world. It was before we got into the boat. It is when we had no hope of salvation. But we have left that all behind. We ARE in the boat and we cannot go back. As Peter once said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). So we are going to have to get through the storms.
Let's pose another question this morning. By what power did the disciples get through the storm? Was it their power to perform miracles? Was it their brilliant intellect? Was it because they were real men and could handle anything they came up against? Or was it Jesus?
The only way that they got through the storm alive was because they were with Jesus. They knew that Jesus was their only hope for salvation.
If only we could get a handle on that. Unless we have Jesus, we have no hope. Unless we understand that we don't have any special power to get through the storms, we have no expectation for the future. Without Jesus, we have nothing.
But did you notice this? As we have already said. They KNEW that Jesus was their only hope. They KNEW Jesus. They certainly didn't understand everything about Him, or everything that He told them. But they had a real and personal relationship with Jesus that was realized in trust for Him.
We have been dealing with Ephesians 4 quite a lot lately. And we're going to go there again. Because there's something there for us to see that applies to what we're talking about this morning.
In the context of building up the body of Christ, of equipping the saints for service, the apostle Paul writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:14-15).
As we build up the church and grow in our relationship with God and the Lord Jesus Christ . . . As we become what we ought to become in the Lord, developing a real trust and faith in Jesus as our Lord and only hope, we will not be destroyed by the waves of the storms. It's not because we are strong. It's because he is strong. And as we have shown in our study on Calvinism, we can choose to give up. We can choose to jump ship. But if we stay in the boat and turn to Jesus, He will get us through the storms of life.
We need “fix” our eyes upon Jesus (Heb. 12:2) and upon the crown of life (James 1:12) that is waiting upon the other side. It's easy to talk about our faith in Jesus and His wonderful power when things are going great. But when we really get down, when we think that we've hit rock-bottom and just don't know what we are going to do, we call on Jesus through prayer and faithfulness to get us through the storms. I can't speak for you, but I've been there on more than one occasion, “Master, Master, I'm going to drown!”
Satan would love to destroy us. He would love to see us give up and give in. That's just what He's trying to do! As we look at this account here in Luke 8, someone has pointed out, “Satan, the prince of the power of the air,” had the Son of God and those who would one day become His apostles all in one place. Do you think for a minute that he wasn't going to seize this opportunity? If he could destroy them here, it would mean the loss of every human soul. But Satan, as always, didn't consider the power of Jesus (Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.). Satan could not defeat the Lord Jesus then and he can't defeat Him now.
If we jump ship, we leave the church behind. And we can't make it without the church. And if we get out of the boat, we leave Jesus. We are but hopeless sinners without Jesus and His church. We need to stay in the boat and let Jesus take us through the storms.
Jesus is Omnipotent! He has power over all things! He can calm the storms and the wind. He can calm the sea. And He can also calm the storms that are raging in our hearts. He can give us peace that will overcome all of the storms of life.
The Boy Who Lost His Boat
Tom carried his new boat to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string. How smoothly the boat sailed! Tom sat in the warm sunshine, admiring the little boat that he had built. Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Tom tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. The little boat raced downstream.
Tom ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could. But his little boat soon slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for the boat. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tom sadly went home.
A few days later, on the way home from school, Tom spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see -- sure enough -- it was his!
Tom hurried to the store manager: "Sir, that's my boat in your window! I made it!"
"Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you'll have to buy it for one dollar."
Tom ran home and counted all his money. Exactly one dollar! When he reached the store, he rushed to the counter. "Here's the money for my boat." As he left the store, Tom hugged his boat and said, "Now you're twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you."
A gathering of friends at an English estate nearly turned to tragedy when one of the children strayed into deep water. The gardener heard the cries for help, plunged in, and rescued the drowning child. That youngster's name was Winston Churchill. His grateful parents asked the gardener what they could do to reward him. He hesitated, then said, "I wish my son could go to college someday and become a doctor." "We'll see to it," Churchill's parents promised.
Years later, while Sir Winston was prime minister of England, he was stricken with pneumonia. The country's best physician was summoned. His name was Dr. Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered and developed penicillin. He was also the son of that gardener who had saved young Winston from drowning. Later Churchill remarked, "Rarely has one man owed his life twice to the same person." (Ron Hutchcraft, Wake Up Calls, Moody, 1990, p. 22.)
The scriptures tell us that God has created us. He formed us in the womb (Jer. 1:5). David says in Psalm 139, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” But the Bible also tells us that we all have sinned (Rom. 1:23). We were all lost. Yet Jesus came so that He might “save us” from our sins. 1 Corinthians 6:20, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Acts 20:28 says that Christ “purchased” with His own blood. 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us that we “were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
The question this morning is this, “Are we going to place our faith in Jesus and allow Him to take us through the storms of life? Are we going to stay in the boat and let Jesus take us to the other side, that we might spend eternity with Him? Are we going to follow Jesus?
We've already talked about getting into the boat. Through faith, we have to do what Jesus tells us to do. We must repent of our sins and be immersed to have them washed away. We have to get into the boat to be saved. Are you aboard?
If you are, then the question is this, “How are you dealing with the storms of life?” Are you trying to handle them without Jesus, or is Jesus the captain of your ship?
A famous preacher closes his message with this invitation. And I hope that he doesn't mind me borrowing it this morning. He said, “I can see by the eye of faith and hope, the old ship of Zion. It's tied up at the wharf, the gangplank is down, the decision is given . . .” So there's only one thing to say as we close this lesson, “All aboard!” (Taken from an invitation given by Ed Bousman at the 2009 Hillsboro Family Camp)
As preached at the Church of Christ at Madison, March 6, 2011
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