My Dad used to say that there was no such thing as minor surgery if you were talking about his surgery. He said, "Surgery can be minor if it is on someone else; but all surgery on me is major."

I believe that reflects a perspective we all have. We will say that someone else's problem is a minor problem; but if we are experiencing the same problem, it is a major problem. We will say that someone else's crisis is a manageable crisis; but if we are experiencing a crisis, it is not a manageable crisis. We will say that someone else's difficult situation has a simple solution; but if we are experiencing the same difficult situation, it is too complex for a simple solution.

Nowhere do we reflect this common perspective more than in our faith in Jesus Christ's ability to help people. Quickly, emphatically, we will tell someone else, "Jesus Christ can help you with any problem or trial that you experience. There is simply nothing that Jesus cannot help you with." Then we will encourage, even insist, that the person place his or her confidence in Jesus' help and power. Yet, when we are struggling with any kind of problem or any form of trial, we do not function on that conviction and confidence. Then, when someone tries to encourage us to depend on Jesus' help and power, we resist their encouragement. Sometimes we are offended by their encouragement.

  1. In the third chapter of the gospel of Luke, we are introduced to the beginning of Jesus' ministry in Palestine.
    1. Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John.
    2. Immediately after his baptism, he spent some time in the wilderness fasting and enduring some special temptations from Satan.
      1. We are told that Jesus returned to Galilee from his wilderness experience "in the power of the Spirit" (Luke 4:14).
      2. The news about what Jesus was teaching and doing literally exploded throughout the district (Luke 4:14).
      3. Jesus' personal popularity zoomed off the charts.

  2. The gospel of Luke immediately stresses Jesus' teaching ministry.
    1. Jesus taught in the synagogues throughout the area and was praised by everyone (Luke 4:15).
      1. Among those synagogues was the synagogue in Nazareth, his home town (Luke 4:16-30).
        1. The lesson that he taught in his home congregation enraged those who attended--which included many people who knew him when he was a child.
        2. They were so upset at what he taught that in the emotion of the moment they were determined to kill him.
        3. A mob took him to a cliff just outside of town intending to throw him off the cliff.
        4. But when they arrived at the cliff, Jesus just turned around and walked through the angry mob as though they were not there.
      2. He went to the city of Capernaum and began teaching in their synagogue on Saturdays (Luke 4:31-37).
        1. The people present were amazed at his lessons and at his teaching style.
        2. One Saturday, a demon possessed man was in attendance.
        3. When he heard and saw Jesus, the demon began shouting at Jesus, "Why are you here? To destroy us? We know who you are--you are the holy one of God."
        4. Jesus rebuked the demonic spirit, made it hush, or ordered it to leave the man.
          1. The spirit threw the man on the floor as it left his body, but it left him unharmed.
          2. Everyone present was astounded.
          3. Immediately they all began to discuss the fact that Jesus had the power to command demonic spirits to obey him, and they did.
        5. Shortly after this, Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law of a high fever (Luke 4:38).
          1. Immediately, she got up and began serving them.
        6. That evening everyone in Capernaum who had sick or diseased people in their family brought their sick to Jesus, and he healed every one of them (Luke 4:40)
        7. One morning after that, Peter, a fisherman, had fished all night with his partners and caught nothing (Luke 5:1-8).
          1. On the sea of Galilee, they netted fish at night because the fish fed on the surface at night; in daylight, the fish went into deep water.
          2. After daylight, Jesus told Peter take his net and drop it in a specific spot.
          3. To be polite, Peter did--and he netted so many fish that the net began to break.
        8. Jesus healed a man of leprosy, a disease that everyone regarded to be incurable (Luke 5:12-15).
        9. He instantly restored a paralyzed man to perfect health; in fact, the man walked away carrying his stretcher (Luke 5:18-25).
        10. A Roman military officer who had a dying servant came to Jesus (Luke 7:2-10).
          1. He was so concerned about his servant that he asked Jesus to heal the servant.
          2. Jesus said that he would go with the man to his house and heal the servant, but the Roman officer said that was not necessary.
          3. He trusted Jesus' power; he said that he knew that Jesus could heal the servant without going to his house--he was not worthy of Jesus entering his house.
          4. And Jesus did! He healed the man long distance without ever seeing or speaking to the man.
        11. Jesus was on a journey and came near the town of Nain (Luke 7:11-17).
          1. As he neared the town, he met a funeral procession.
          2. A widow's only son had died, virtually guaranteeing that she would face a destitute future.
          3. Jesus felt deep compassion for the grieving mother and raised her dead son to life right there on the road as they were going to the cemetery.
        12. Later, he cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2).

  3. Now, I want you to pretend with me just a moment: let's suppose that someone who has not heard Jesus teach or seen any of Jesus' miracles walks up to his disciples.
    1. They are standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, as Luke 8:22 states, and Jesus is close by talking to and working with people.
      1. The disciples know Jesus will leave soon, so they stay close to the boat.
    2. Let's suppose that this man asks the disciples, "Is Jesus for real? Does he actually have the power to do all the things people say that he is doing? Or is it just exaggeration? Is it all talk and coincidence?"
      1. The disciples reply:
        1. "You must be kidding! Where have you been?"
        2. All twelve of them begin talking at once.
        3. "We can understand that it is hard for you to believe what you have heard, but we have seen these things with our own eyes."
        4. "He walked through an angry mob that was determined to kill him, and no one even touched him."
        5. "We have seen him cast out so many demons that we have lost count."
        6. "We have seen him heal every single sick person brought to him, and it did not matter what the sickness or disease was or who had it."
        7. "You should have been there the morning that he told Peter where to drop his fishing net--Peter caught so many fish that the net began to break."
        8. "We saw him heal a man of leprosy, and the man's skin was immediately as healthy and clean as it could be."
        9. "We saw him heal a paralyzed man--the man actually walked off carrying his stretcher!"
        10. "We were there when he healed a man long distance--never saw the man, never touched the man, just healed him!"
        11. "We were standing right by him on the road to Nain when he raised a man from the dead--he stopped the funeral procession and raised the man to life!"
        12. "Jesus has the power to do anything--there is nothing that Jesus can't do!"

  4. Now consider what actually happened in Luke 8:22-25.
    1. Jesus said to these twelve disciples, "Get in the boat and let's cross the lake."
    2. So he and the twelve got into the boat and launched it.
      1. As they started, the lake was smooth and the wind was calm.
      2. Jesus was exhausted from all of his people work, so he went to sleep on a cushion.
      3. Sudden, fierce storms could arise on the Sea of Galilee, and one did.
        1. A gale force wind blasted down the lake and instantly churned up white caps that were swamping the boat.
        2. The boat was taking on water so fast that all the disciples were convinced that they were going to die within a matter of minutes.
        3. They woke Jesus up shouting, "We are going to die!"
        4. Jesus woke up, told the wind to be still and the water to be calm, and instantly the lake was as smooth as glass without a puff of wind blowing.
        5. And he turned to the disciples and asked, "Where is your faith?"
        6. And the disciples were terrified, not of the storm that had stopped, but of the man in the boat who stopped the storm.

  5. Why? Why were they suddenly afraid of Jesus? Why were they amazed at his stilling the storm? With all the ways they had witnessed Jesus use his power, why were they amazed that he had stopped a storm?
    1. Why? Because they were in the boat; because it was their storm.
      1. All the miracles they had witnessed--casting out demons, healing sickness and disease, healing a paralytic, healing long distance, raising a man from the dead--those were all someone else's storms.
      2. On all those occasions they were merely spectators.
      3. Not this time--this time it was their life, their death, and their storm.
      4. They had total confidence in Jesus' ability to take care of someone else's storm.
      5. But it was an entirely different issue to believe that Jesus could take care of their storm.
      6. They did not believe that the man who could cure diseases, cast out demons, and raise dead people back to life, could do anything about wind and waves--especially the wind and waves that were threatening their lives.
    2. I am afraid that many of us are just like the twelve.
      1. Someone says to us:
        1. "We are really having family problems right now;" and we say, "Jesus can help you--he really can; please let him."
        2. "I have really made a mess out of my life;" and we say, "It is never too late to let Jesus help you."
        3. "Everything around me is falling apart;" and we say, "Jesus can get you through this."
        4. "I am in the biggest crisis I have ever experienced;" and we say, "No crisis is too big for Jesus."
      2. Then we have family problems, or find our lives in a mess, or see our world falling apart, or have a huge crisis; and we say, "I don't think Jesus can help me with my situation."
    3. I want you to focus on two lessons that come from inside that boat.
      1. Lesson # 1: You can't sink a boat that has Jesus in it.
        1. You can't sink a life that has Jesus in it.
        2. You can't sink a congregation that has Jesus in it.
      2. Lesson # 2: Jesus stills storms, but Jesus does not bail boats.
        1. When Jesus stilled the storm, the boat still had a dangerous amount of water in it.
        2. Jesus stilled the storm, but it says nothing about him bailing the water out of the boat.
        3. Jesus is in charge of storm control; disciples are in charge of bailing out the boat.

When the disciples experienced the direct benefit of Jesus' power in the face of certain tragedy, in fear and awe they asked, "Who is this man?" I assure you, the first time you experience the direct benefit of Jesus' power in the face of certain tragedy, you, too, in fear and awe will ask yourself, "Who is this man?"

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 8 December 1996

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