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“Now it came to pass on a certain day, that He went into a ship with His disciples: and He said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed He fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then He arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And He said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for He commandeth even the winds and the water, and they obey Him”—Luke 8:22-25.
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Before our Lord went away He said to His disciples, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.” Many have understood from those words that we as Christians would be able to do greater miracles than He did. If that were what He meant, then the centuries since have proved that His words have failed. So far as the things of nature are concerned there have never been any miracles so great as those which He performed when He was here on earth. Very frequently God has come in, in grace and healed sick ones, and in answer to the prayers of faith, has often wrought most blessedly, but we have never known of anything like that which is recorded here.
The greatest miracle that our Lord performed in regard to the natural world was this one, when He rose up in that boat and commanded the winds to cease and the waves to be still. He manifested His power as Lord of all creation in a way that no one else has ever surpassed or duplicated. His greatest miracle in regard to the human body was the raising of Lazarus. The little child, the daughter of Jairus, had barely closed her eyes when Jesus came and woke her; the son of the widow of Nain had but lately died and his body was being carried to the tomb; but Lazarus had been dead four days and corruption had already begun, when our Lord came to that sepulchre, and in response to His command, Lazarus came forth alive. That was the greatest miracle Jesus ever performed so far as the human body was concerned.
No one else has ever stilled the waves as Jesus did; no one else has ever raised to life one who had been dead four days. Certainly, then, our Lord did not mean that we were to perform miracles like He did, or greater than He did while He was on this earth. It must, therefore, I take it, be in the realm of the spiritual that works are to be wrought which are greater than those our Saviour accomplished when here on earth. No one who came to Him for physical healing was turned away. He opened the eyes of the blind; unstopped the ears of the deaf; loosed the tongue of the dumb; cleansed the lepers; made the lame man to leap as the hart; provided bread in the wilderness for thousands of people; and, in many other ways manifested His mighty power, witnessing to His Messianic claims. But the amazing thing is, that after all His wondrous works and claims, so few received Him in faith and confessed Him as Messiah and trusted Him as Saviour. After those three and one-half wonderful years of His ministry, we read, only a few hundred gave evidence of personal faith in Him. When He rose from the dead there were some five hundred brethren at the last who gathered about Him, and saw for themselves that He was alive again. Where were all the rest who had heard Him preach, and seen His miracles as He went through Judaea, Galilee, Samaria, and Perea, preaching, teaching, and healing the sick? Doubtless here and there, there were individuals who had trusted Him and were not found with that throng at the last, but comparatively few in Israel had owned His claims and definitely committed themselves to Him, by receiving Him as their Redeemer. But think of what has taken place since: On Pentecost three thousand received the message and were baptized in His name; a few days later, we are told, the number of those that believed became about five thousand; then, as the months and years went on, vast numbers of Jews, and later of Gentiles, accepted the testimony of the gospel and were saved through His matchless grace. All down through the centuries since, millions have come to know Him. Within three centuries after the Twelve first went forth to preach, the idolatry of the Roman Empire was practically destroyed. I do not mean that people everywhere had become Christians, but that Christianity had become the dominant religion, and paganism had almost disappeared throughout the land surrounding the Mediterranean. Some lives since have been a marvelous demonstration of the truth of our Lord’s words: “Greater things than these shall ye do, because I go to the Father.”
Let us then consider with some degree of care this wonderful account of our Lord’s authority over nature. While an actual fact, it is also a beautiful parable, a lovely picture, and brings before us the power of our Saviour to give deliverance under the most difficult and pressing circumstances.
We have first of all a definite, divine purpose here in ver. 22. Our Lord was not acting haphazardly. “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that He went into a ship with His disciples: and He said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.” Notice the words, “Let us go over.” He knew what He was about to do; His plans were made, and He was going to the other side of the lake to minister there, and taking His disciples with Him. How suggestive this is! We do not know what dangers and difficulties we have to face and what hidden rocks and shoals are ahead of us as we go through life, but we do know our Saviour, and we may be sure He will carry out His purpose and will see us safely over to the other side.
In the words of the closing verses of that wonderful eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, every believer can say, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
His love will never be satisfied until all His own are at home with the Lord Himself in the glory. Every Christian should be able, therefore, to say, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” It is a great thing to rest on the promises of God, and to know that He who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Christ.
He has already gone to the Father’s house, and yet He abides with us in the power of the Holy Spirit. He is going to take us through all the perplexing circumstances of the voyage of life until we are landed safely on the other side.
I remember the early years of my Christian experience when I knew that the Lord was with me for the moment, but did not know that He was to be with me forever. I would dread what might happen which would separate me, perhaps, forever from the love of God. I felt somewhat like that Irishman who had been converted, and one day the awful thought came to him, “Suppose I fall into sin and I lose it all!” He felt it would be better never to have been converted at all. One day in church the preacher read, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Pat forgot for a moment where he was, and shouted, “Glory to God! Whoever heard of a man drowning with his head that high above water!” So we can praise Him for every evidence of His love and care, knowing He will see us through to the end.
Notice, in the next place, our Lord’s quiet serenity. He was in perfect peace in the midst of the storm. That which caused such distress to His disciples and filled them with terror, did not in the slightest degree disturb His heart. He knew that Satan, the prince of the power of the air, had raised that storm in order to seek to destroy Him before He could go to the cross and accomplish the work of redemption, but there was no possibility of the enemy’s plans being carried out. We are told that “as they sailed He fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.” The angry wind and fierce gale seemed as though they would wreck the little boat, and yet, there lay the blessed Lord, sound asleep. Mark tells us He was asleep on a pillow. I wonder if some kind, loving woman, who had been blessed through His ministry, had not made that pillow for Him and given it to Him. At any rate, there He lay undisturbed; no anxiety, no fear whatever, because He knew that all nature was subject to Him, and as Man here on earth, He rested implicitly in the consciousness of subjection to the Father’s will. Oh, that you and I might enter into the same peace and rest that characterized Him! We may if we take heed to the words: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”