In recent credit card commercials, the question has been asked, “What’s in your wallet?” Well my friends, today I would like to ask you a question, “Who’s in your boat?” Or better yet, “In whose boat are you found?”
Matthew tells us of an encounter he and his eleven friends had with their Lord. Let’s hear this accountant tell of the experience he had with a group of seasoned fishermen on the Sea of Galilee:
Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:18-27)
Jesus’ men were sincere disciples. They had each made personal commitments to follow him. Though the journey be fun or fierce, they had determined they would not turn back. Therefore, these men had left their jobs, families, homes; they abandoned life as usual. They had become the sold-out ones. They were now known as Jesus’ fellows, Jesus’ disciples, the Twelve. And wherever their Master chose to lead them, they had committed themselves to follow.
Experiencing life with Jesus, these disciples found themselves severely tried. The Jesus journey had taken a troubling turn. Oh, they were certainly “in the center of God’s will,” but now they found themselves in the center of God’s storm. Following Jesus had not made life simpler or easier. No, sailing with Jesus had resulted in being immersed in troubling seas.
Consequently, Jesus’ disciples found themselves filled with terror. On that afternoon, they proved to be light on faith and heavy with fear. Their emotions are all over the place as they conclude they are going down. They were absolutely sure Jesus, his boat, and his men were perishing.
They were terribly wrong, but you could not have convinced these godly fellows of their folly at this particular time. Their assessment was made through fleshly eyes and not through eyes of faith. They had forgotten the promises of Jesus. They had forgotten whose lead they were following. They had forgotten the identity and attributes of the man sleeping in their boat. They had forgotten in whose boat they were sailing.
We are not sure who led the way, but one of the disciples remembered the Master who was with them in the boat. He then led his brothers to go and address the not-so-troubled Jesus. And when they talked with Jesus, what transpired they would never forget.
Jesus easily and powerfully rebuked the wind and the waves.
He then lovingly and powerfully rebuked his fellows. They had fear because they lacked faith. They succumbed to fear because they forgot “what sort of man” was with them in the boat. Jesus was the Sovereign Creator. He was very God of very God. Jesus Christ was the Son of Man who was Ruler of sky, land, and sea. He was the Omnipotent one incapable of defeat. The boat would not go down because it was not Jesus’ will that the vessel sink. Consequently, these men would not perish in the midst of this storm, for they were Jesus’ men sailing in Jesus’ boat.
Oh troubled churchmen and women, do not fret over Christ, his church, and the storms at hand. He never intended smooth sailing, and he promised temptations, trials, tests, and troubles. And what did he promise? He promised his “church would never perish,” for “the gates of hell shall not prevail.” Friends, it has been predetermined that Christ and his bride will thrive and grow forever and ever. Therefore, with a powerful hand of providential might he guides his church in and out of storms. So today, see the storms and recognize they are his storms. And see the sin in your assembly and hate it with a passion. Absolutely, mourn over the church’s sinful dysfunction and repent; revival is always needed. Sure, we ought not tempt the loving disciplinary hand of God. It is true that he allows particular churches to go in and out of business.. And sadly it is in his mysterious will that some assemblies prove to be apostate; these will have their lampstands removed. However, you ought never lose faith and fret over the church that encounters the storms of the Lord. Friends, we are in Jesus’ boat. He is in our boat. He is in our midst. Better yet, we are in his boat, and we are in his midst. Bride of Christ, we are his people. He is not overly concerned and neither should we be. Be diligent. Be repenting. But be not fearful and faithless. Christ and his church will be victorious. We will come out on the other side of the storm.
Christian friends, the same loving admonition can be given to you who are struggling outside the walls of the local church building. What is it that has taken away your breath today? Is it your wayward son or daughter? Have you a spouse struggling with dementia? Are the days of a dear loved one coming to an end? Has the Lord — who makes rich and makes poor — chosen to reassign some of your assets? Are you being taken advantage of in the marketplace or in the courtroom? How about your spouse, has he or she proven to be unfaithful? What is it that ails you? Have you a besetting sin? Christian disciple, what storm has come and interrupted your peaceful venture? Whatever it is, know that Jesus has led you there. Know that Jesus cares. Remember afresh that Jesus is in your boat, or rather, that you are in Jesus’ boat. Then worship and supplicate the one who is Lord of heaven and earth. He has not lost control, and he has plans on utilizing the storm to somehow improve you and his church. And rest assured of this, in the end, sooner or later, Jesus will speak with ease, flex his divine muscle, calm the troubled seas, and encourage your restless heart as well.
Troubled saint, who is in your boat? Whose boat are you in? He is Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is your Heavenly Groom and you are his cherished bride. He will not let you drown.