Week of Jan. 10

Your "In the Boat with Jesus" Testimony

Read: Genesis 20-22; Luke 8

“He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?’”
Luke 8:25, ESV


The heart of Luke 8 may be found in a single question that Luke presents to us on the lips of the disciples. The question is: “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” I believe that this query rests on the foundational principle of Jesus’ Divine sovereignty. Luke writes to show people that Jesus is Lord over nature, the demonic, and over sickness and death; therefore, he is God. This reality begs the question: Is he Lord over our lives? If so, then living in faithful allegiance to him will be our decision each day. Let’s consider the depth of our commitment to Christ.

Let’s See What the Bible Says

I am going to ask you to trust me for a bit. I am not being critical of much devotional or Bible study material that we read today, but I do find that many popular things that we read do not contain the full power of the word of God. I have discovered throughout a lifetime of ministry that I benefit most when I interpret and apply a passage based upon its context. In our case today, Luke has carried forward an important question that was raised in chapter 7.

If you will take a moment to review 7:49, then you will see that the Pharisees were questioning Jesus’ authority to forgive sins. Forgiveness was something only God could do, so Luke was developing a Christological theme (i.e., that Jesus is God’s Messiah). Luke has been developing this theme by showing that Jesus heals the sick (7:1-10) and raises the dead (7:11-17), things that only God does. Jesus is indeed a prophet, but he also is much more than a prophet because he has the authority to heal and forgive sins (7:36-50). We may look more confidently at Luke’s aim in chapter 8 now that we have some context to build upon. I want us to see what the gospel writer has to say to us!

We all must answer Luke’s question: “Who is Jesus?” Well, the kingdom of God had been announced (8:1), we see that Jesus does what the prophets said the Messiah would do by casting out demons and healing (8:2), and there's the fact that God’s grace was showered upon those who were normally overlooked in society (8:3). Our minds should conclude that Jesus is the Messiah, but the issue is still our individual hearts!

Allow me to highlight several things that may move our hearts. First, Luke records that Jesus was asleep in the boat (8:23). This detail might seem to be inconsequential unless we are considering Jesus’ humanity. He faced real dangers, like we face in life, and proves that he understands and overcomes all that life may bring to us (8:23, “in danger”). Secondly, I am encouraged to see that his disciples were, as yet, still uncertain who Jesus was and his power over the elements of nature (8:24, “Master, Master”). They were standing on more than a swamped boat. Their faith was resting on shaky ground (8:25). So, what was it going to be? Their situation required them to make a choice about whether they would follow Jesus. Thirdly, Jesus delivered them from the violence of nature, showing his mastery over it. Jesus cares enough about us to guide us through the struggles we face in life, too. I need him each day. How about you?

Friends, that was amazing, but that was not the ultimate point then, nor is it now. Isn’t the goal for Jesus to demonstrate mastery over our sinful nature? I believe that it is! The Christological question for us is: “Who is this Jesus in whom we have placed our Christian faith?” Luke writes to show us that He is God (cf. Psalm 65:7; 1-4:7; 107:29). The challenge is to develop our faith to trust him with all of our fears. This requires spiritual formation.

Let’s Deepen Our Walk

I often supplemented my income as a young pastor by helping church members to cut, bale, and haul their hay. I recall a time when a sixth-grade boy and I were caught in the field when a severe thunderstorm rose up. We raced to an old tin metal hay barn to ride out the storm. It was a pretty violent storm with much wind, rain and lightning, so much so that the young man asked me, “Brother Larry, are we going to die?” He wanted to know if God would be able to rescue us. I was hardly more than 23-years-old at the time, and this was the first real pastoral test that I faced. It was a big one!

Frankly, I was terribly frightened. I had to respond to a faith question by examining my own faith in Christ’s ability to calm my fears and carry us through that storm. I asked the young man to bow his head, and I prayed with every bit of faith that I could muster for the Lord to protect us. Guess what? Come on, you already know “what” because I am here today to type this sentence! Seriously, God used that encounter to call me to stand in faith and not to shrink in my fear (8:50). That was my "in the boat with Jesus" encounter that helped to grow my Christian life.

Here is the point about being formed spiritually. I did not say that I was unafraid. I simply determined to reach out to God in faith with my fear and trembling (cf. 8:44, 47). Look, you may be caught in an entirely different storm—financial crisis, cancer, chronic depression, or overwhelming grief. Sometimes, we struggle our way to God, hoping for the miracle. God provides us with so much more. “More” is “Messiah Jesus” who calms the storm in our hearts as we weather the storms of life. Trust him!

Let's Think and Discuss

1. Take time to write down in 2-3 sentences your answer to the question, “Who is Jesus to me?” Now, apply that belief to a very real struggle that you are facing. Resolve to trust him through it all.

2. For families: Help your child(ren) to learn how to trust Jesus in some of the daily struggles they face. Ask your child(ren) to share what he or she fears the most. Maybe she is afraid of the dark. Maybe he is afraid of moving to a new house. Maybe they are afraid that they or a family member will get sick and die. Maybe they fear not having any friends at school. When we tell Jesus our fears, he listens and brings peace. Pray with your child about his or her fears. Ask Jesus to remove the fear and let them experience Christ's peace. Watch to see what happens next as God answers prayer.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock