Faith for a Storm

Aug 29, 2021

Faith for a Storm

Passage: Matthew 8:23-27

Preacher: Jeff Crotts

Series: Matthew: We Need a King

Category: Sunday Morning


Intro:  JC Ryle is one of my favorite puritan from church history.    

  • Lived, 1816 to 1900.
    • Oxford graduate, 38 years pastoring in rural England, the Bishop of Liverpool.
    • “An iron fist in a velvet glove.”

“Let us mark well this lesson.  If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven.  We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other men.  Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory at the end, ---all this our Savior has promised to give.  But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions.  He loves us too well to promise that.  By affliction He teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn” – J.C. Ryle

Matthew proves this very thing. 

  • Jesus’ disciples suddenly find themselves in a life and death
    • Most surprising, isn’t the shift from serenity to hurricane.
    • But the disciple’s shift in attitude, from following to accusing.


  • “Are we not, are just like them?” 

Our Lord will always test our faith. 

  • God never moves you around but through the storm.

Knowing you have Saving faith is always important but what about whether you have Growing faith. 

  • Not just faith’s Quantity but faith’s Quality.


  • We are saved by faith.
      • Not a work but a gift.
      • Being incapable of saving faith apart from grace.


  • Faith is both a gift to save you and what we exercise to receive grace, yet as not a work (cf. Eph. 2:8-9).
    • We are saved through
    • And once saved, our faith grows through trials.


  • Still, faith is not the end.
    • Your faith is only as good as its object! (aim)
      • Never, “faith in our faith.”
      • Having “faith in yourself!”

Faith is useless without its object. 

  • The end of our faith is Jesus.
    • The target/aim.
    • When we come to Christ / when we walk with Christ.

As a believer your faith is being tested by Jesus. 

  • Testing for two purposes.
    • To ensure faith is genuine.
      • Called to examine ourselves.
      • Faith is saving.


  • The church is filled with “would-be” disciples who are inspired but empty of saving faith.


  • Saving faith (strong or weak) when tested will not break down under pressure.

Like a chemical compound so strong, no amount of heat applied, breaks down its elemental structure. 

  • Being sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  • Kept in the beloved.
  • Held with the Father’s tight grip.

Second, faith is tested to grow. 

  • Our faith grows through fires of testing.
    • Smelted in the forgery.
    • Impurities rise to be removed.
    • Weak areas in our lives, exposed.


  • This is the test of James and 1 Peter.
  • All the testing of Job proved Job had saving and growing faith.


Jesus is growing the faith of the disciples – to withstand more. 

  • Verse 23 begins with Jesus ordering his disciples to get into the boat.
    • On the heels of issuing hard truths, what it means to be his disciple.
      • Away creature comforts.
      • Following Christ is a journey in self-denial.


  • Every older Christians will attest.

In this moment, being Jesus’ disciple meant getting into a boat. 

  • Something normal, Jesus would complicate quickly.
  • Men placed into a situation to test and purge!

Skilled watermen like Peter, James, and John could handle a boat, no problem. 

  • They could handle any nautical challenge.
    • A hyper disaster crashed on top of these men.


When is faith deep enough to face a storm?
     1. When Jesus is your Leader? (vv. 23)

Remember Jesus’ command in verse 18, “…he gave orders to go over to the other side” (v. 18).

  • Mark said, “Let us go across to the other side” (cf. Mk. 4:35).
    • Now evening again, the night before a massive display of healing.
    • “Let’s navigate 6 miles to the other side of the sea.”

Jesus has had a busy ministry. 

  • Healing everyone, casting out demons, and teaching swarms of people.
    • Earlier he taught from a boat (put out from the shore).
    • Now he gets back into the boat.

All major cities on the west side, less populated, Jesus seeks rest on the eastern side. 

  • Though seeking rest, Jesus was traveling into extreme ministry.
  • Demon possessed men, with Legion of demons, in the Gadarenes. 


Matthew makes the case that when life seems predictable it is not. 

  • Heavy ministry, now time for trained watermen to put things in autopilot.
    • Navigate, on cruise control.
    • While Jesus sleeps.

Mark 4:36 explains, “…they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.  And other boats were with him” (cf. Mk. 4:36). 

  • All seems perfunctory and routine.
    • Jesus says, “Let’s go” and they went.
    • Other boats as an escort.

“Is this kind of perfunctory faith deep enough to satisfy Christ?” 

“Are you as prepared for life’s trials; as strong you need to be?”

      2. When Jesus is your Intercessor? (v. 24)

Matthew describes a sudden “hurricane” coming upon their boat. 

  • Verse 24 says a [megalay anamos] “mega-sized hurricane” arose.
    • More than a typical storm these sailors would have seen levels like this, before, navigating 6 miles across.
    • Matthew calls this a “seismos” or a “sea quake” (v. 24).

So fierce, “…the boat was being swamped” (v. 24). 

  • “Waves” literally “falling on top of one another” – “breaking into the boat” – “filling the boat” (cf. Mk 4:37)
    • Extreme weather connected to the Sea of Galilee.
      • It is 13 x 6 miles
      • 700 feet below sea level.
      • Surrounded by mountains reaching 9,200 ft. (Mt. Hermon).
      • Warm thermals clashing with the Basin making sudden turbulence.


  • Weather happens but remember these fishermen were experienced.
  • More than a natural disaster.

I grew up surfing during hurricane season. 

  • You’d want to be out there just before or just after the hurricane came through.
    • Otherwise, Va Beach was tame.
    • One Saturday June morning the water was completely placid and not really worth going out.


  • I was 16 years old surfing with a few friends when suddenly we noticed several fishing boats screaming in at speeds we’d never seen before.


  • Then within minutes we saw a massive dark storm cloud spanning the horizon and coming down.

The next day’s newspaper called this a Wizard of Oz moment. 

  • Hotel signs ripped down etc.
    • The wind whipped and the waves became dangerously choppy.
    • Standing on the beach we tried to use our surfboards as shields with sand cutting into our faces.


  • Our boards were leashed to us and suddenly ripped from our hands flying in the air like

I remember grabbing board and being pushed back across the beach, lifted into the air, and slammed down behind the dunes. 

  • We scrambled to my car with rain dumping a mini-flood.
  • Above us sparks were stream down with power lines clashing each other.


Scene was dramatic but nothing compared to what the disciples were experiencing. 

  • Their boat was “filling” (cf. Mk. 4:37) and they were fighting for their lives.

Verse 24 says, “but [Jesus] was asleep” (v. 24). 

  • Mark 4:36 includes a detail about Jesus’ condition, the disciples had put him in the boat, “just as he was” (v. 36).
    • Christ had to be loaded onto the boat.
    • Do not want miss that Jesus was incapacitated.


  • Jesus was falling out from exhaustion – where his followers literally “took him…just as he was” (cf. Mk. 4:36).
    • Jesus wasn’t in a normal state up for a boat ride.
    • Virtually unconscious.

The contrast between the storm and Jesus is amplified by Matthew saying, “…he was asleep” (v. 25).

  • Meaning he dropped.
  • Mark 4:24 locates Jesus “…in the stern” - “asleep on the cushion.”

I have fallen asleep in the bow of a boat on the Prince William Sound and can attest to the rolling effect being extremely lulling, but this was different! 


“…Just before we see one of His most awesome demonstrations of deity, we see a touching picture of His humanness.  The Lord was bone weary, and He slept so soundly that not even the tossing of the boat, the noise of the wind, or the blowing water in His face awakened Him.  He was soaked to the skin while lying on hard planks with only a cushion for His head.”  [MacArthur]

  • Jesus went to the backseat of the car and literally, “pillowed his head.” Luke 8:23 says, “…as they sailed, he fell asleep.” 
    • Immediately knocked out.
    • Exertion like this creates a shut down.


  • Picturing Jesus’ full humanity.


Kent Hughes: “We see here a remarkable insight into the Incarnation.  Though in a moment Jesus would calm the storm with an extraordinary display of power, he first slept in a weary body…[a] grand display of opposites…”

We know Jesus understands our weaknesses, as he fell weak. 

  • We know Jesus is sympathetic to our pain.
  • Having felt, what we feel.
  • We know he is with us.
  • Sympathetic, high priest.  
  • Leader and Intercessor.

“Is this kind of faith deep enough to satisfy Christ?” 

“Are you as strong as he wants you to be, for what’s coming next?”

      3. When Jesus is your Master? (v. 25)

“So, what did they do, in the storm?” 

  • They did what we would do.
  • They called out to Jesus.
  • They accused Jesus of being uncaring.

In their panic they go and wake Jesus up. 

  • Exhausted from healing and casting out demons, Jesus’ fatigue is explainable.
    • Still, the disciples were incredulous with Jesus.
      • Mark and Luke record accusations against Jesus.
      • They followed Jesus and now going to die for it?


  • Doubting God’s goodness comes in the context of death and loss.
    • Still, these disciples had enough faith to be mad at Jesus.
    • They knew Jesus could do something about the storm.
    • Why they were upset!

The titles they use for Jesus tell where their heads were. 

  • Matthew called Jesus, “Lord” [Master], “Save us Lord” (v. 25).
  • Luke says they cried out, “Chief, chief.”
  • Mark 4:38 says they called Jesus, “Teacher” (cf. Mk 4:38).
    • This highest Jewish title for respect being Rabbi!
      • Coupling with their question, “…do you not care that we are perishing?” is an indictment.
      • Doubting Jesus’ love.


  • Rebuking Jesus for leading them into trouble.
  • He’s cared to teach them and guide them but will not save them!

It is never right to set conditions for our Savior! 

All of Jesus’ mission and message is lost to them, that moment. 

  • We should not be too hard on them.

Hughes: “God knows every wave that falls on us.  He knows the rate of our hearts while the waves fall, our respiration, the innermost thoughts in our minds, our emotions, even our dreams.  In actuality, that tiny boat bearing Christ and his own was the object of the most minute heavenly attention – and would have been even if it had sunk”

Ryle: “What, though our place be hard?  What, though our temptations be great?  It is all nothing, if Christ is on our side, and we are in the ship with Him.”

The disciples had followed Jesus as Leader, Intercessor, and Master/Teacher but was this enough?

Is this kind of faith deep enough to satisfy Christ?  Are you as strong as he wants you to be and needs you to be?

      4. When Jesus is your God? (v. 26)

It would be an understatement to say, Jesus, now has the disciples’ attention. 

Asking, “Why are you afraid” (v. 26). 

  • Mark 4:41 is the context for this question: “…they were filled with great fear…” (cf. Mk. 4:41).

Matthew uses the word, fear [lit. being cowardly or timid] of the storm and more to death.

Mark’s emphasis is different, focusing on the aftermath, “fear” [lit. phobon – terrified] from being in a boat with “God” who controls everything. 

  • Harmonizing all three Gospel accounts, brings out the crux of the issue.
    • They were incredulous with Jesus…
      • Why Jesus labels their “fear” as “being cowards.”
      • Questioning Jesus not worshipping Jesus!
      • “Jesus, why are you just standing there?”


  • Why aren’t you at least, upset too Jesus?


  • They had every reason to be afraid!
    • So, they thought.
    • Jesus turns the tables, “Why are you so timid?”


  • Jesus brings this back to their root problem – they are ignoring their faith!
    • Fear-based and faithless!
      • “Oh you of little faith?” (v. 26).
      • Not quantity of faith but their quality of faith.


  • Not focusing in on Jesus.

Most often, sins like worry, panic, and even sadness, come from when we do not “Turn our eyes upon Jesus, and look full in his wonderful face!”  We might look everywhere else but there!  To Him! 


Now Jesus’ miracle. 

“Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm” (v. 26). 

  • Mark says, Jesus “awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’” (cf. Mk. 4:39). 
  • “Hush!”

Jesus woke up and got right to it – turning chaos into serenity

Jesus did not conjure power from God. 

  • Jesus shows himself as God.
    • Possessing command over the elements.
      • Jesus is Creator ,
        • 1:1 “In the beginning God created…,”
        • John 1:3 “All things were made through him…”,
        • 1:16 “…all things were created through him and for him”).

Psalm 107:24-30 predicts Jesus’ miracle. 

ESV  Psalm 107:24-30 they saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep. 25 For he acommanded and braised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage amelted away in their evil plight;27 they reeled and astaggered like drunken men and bwere at their wits' end.128 aThen they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.29 He amade the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.30 Then they were glad that the waters1 were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

Verse 27 says, “…they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits end…”  Verse 29 says, “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” 

Jesus is LORD over creation – He “rules the raging sea” (Psalm 89:9). 

[Hendrickson] “What’s striking is that not only did the winds quiet down, but the waves did too.  Generally, if winds had died down, waves would have continued to billow.  This was instead, a synchronized sublime symphony of solemn silence, making the surface of the water like a mirror.”

There must have been an eerie silence just after Jesus spoke.

  • Lord over all creation.
    • Over health, death, demons, religion, and weather.
    • That said, this must be more than a lesson in Christology.

Scholars are wrong to simplify this Matthew’s sole point.

  • Jesus Lordship is on display, but we must look to him by faith for this to mean anything to our lives!
    • Not operating in fear but faith!
    • Deep and growing faith.

Back to Mark’s emphasis in Mark 4:40:

  • Jesus second question clarifies the reason why they were afraid.

“Have you still no faith?” (v. 40). 


  • Luke 8:25 asks it this way, “Where is your faith?” [Lit. “Where is the faith of you?”].
    • Jesus isn’t questioning whether they are believers.
    • But why they didn’t access the faith they already had.

[Carson] Jesus’ [second] rebuke is therefore not against skepticism of his ability, nor against the fear that the disciples, like others, might drown.  Rather, they failed to see that the one so obviously raised up by God to accomplish the messianic work could not possibly have died in a storm while that work remained undone. 


The disciples did not see the bigger picture.

The disciples followed Jesus as a Leader, Intercessor, Master/Teacher, as God very God. 

  • A lot of people still say, “Jesus is God!”
  • “Are they necessarily strong in their faith?”

“Is their faith deep enough to satisfy Christ?” 

“Are you as strong as he wants you to be?”

      5. When Jesus is your Savior? (v. 27)

The disciples were following Jesus as Leader, Intercessor, Teacher, and they were grasping that “Jesus is God”

But while thinking in these realities, “…[they] marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (v. 27). 

Mark 4:41 says, “…they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” (cf. Mark 4:41). 

  • They marveled at Jesus while they knew he could save them.
    • Their faith was not as strong as it would need to be.
      • Untargeted, under-exercised, unfocused.
      • When tested, they fell down like children.
      • Jesus held up the mirror.


  • They let out a sincere cry was for physical safety.
    • “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”


  • I have cried to the Lord for physical saving, haven’t you?
    • Not what Jesus is trying to pull out of them.
      • Jesus wanted poise.
      • Poised faith that is solid.
      • Being the rock in the storm.

“Is this our experience?” 

  • Though faith is a gift, not a work, nevertheless, it takes hard work to have strong faith.
    • Poised in the storm!


  • “What does this look like?”
      • Devotional praying.
      • Preparing yourself with God.


  • Poised when something hard drops into your life.


Jesus will sleep on you! 

  • “Does that mean he is not there?”
    • No, he’s as close as the hull of the boat.
    • And he is conscious,
      • Both causing your trial.
      • While not acting on your terms.


  • Not acting as a cause-and-effect, but as Your Savior!
    • Whom you trusted.
    • Whom you will trust!


They needed to take another step (in their faith)! 

  • There’s a reason, God in the boat, is not comforting them.
  • They needed to ponder, “God is in our Boat, what will this mean?”

“What is the root of our deepest fears with God?” 

  • Our sin.
    • Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful [Lit. Phoberon] thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
      • No matter your storm outside, you have a storm inside.
      • A storm only one Savior can say, “Peace! Be still!” 

There is a parallel Old Testament version Matthew’s account. 

    • Jesus compares himself to Jonah saying, “…something greater than Jonah is here” (Matt. 12:41).


  • Jonah pictures Jesus and saving grace.

Remember Jonah running from God’s will fled Nineveh.  Cf. Jonah 1:4 ff. 

4 But athe LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened bto break up.5 Then the mariners were afraid, and aeach cried out to his god. And bthey hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.6 So the captain came and said to him, "What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, acall out to your god! cPerhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish."7 And they said to one another, "Come, let us acast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.8 Then they said to him, "Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?"9 And he said to them, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear athe LORD, the God of heaven, bwho made the sea and the dry land."10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, "What is this that you have done!" For the men knew that ahe was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.11 Then they said to him, "What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?" For the sea grew more and more tempestuous.12 He said to them, "Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, afor I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you."13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard1 to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.14 Therefore they called out to the LORD, "O LORD, let us not perish for this man's life, and alay not on us innocent blood, bfor you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you."15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, aand the sea ceased from its raging.

God demands a sacrifice for sin! 

“When will the storm of your life quiet down and become still?” 

  • Peace instead of panic?


  • Stop accusing Christ of not caring about your life?

See --- the greater Jonah.

Who hurled himself into the tempest/storm caused by your SIN.

Who absorbed God’s wrath in your place! --- Cry out to him but cry out by FAITH!




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