Jesus finished the Sermon on the Mount, and then spent most of chapter eight healing people. Now, He has given the command to cross the Sea of Galilee. If there is smooth sailing, it'll be about an 11-mile trip to the southeastern shore.
As career fishermen, many of Jesus' disciples had practically been raised on this sea. Yet this storm was horrifying to them, and they were convinced they were going to die. This tells me that this was the probably the worst one they'd ever experienced.
We encounter situations like this as well. Of course, the storms in our life aren't usually due to weather pressure systems, but to wearisome pressured situations. And there are times when those storms seem so overwhelming that we're convinced they will kill us.
But notice that Jesus doesn't have anxiety in storms. While we toss and turn on the stormy sea, Jesus sleeps soundly. Why? Because of faith. You see, when they woke Him up in a panic, he told them that their anxiety was from a lack of faith.
When we have faith that Jesus has control over the storms, then we will not be stressed in the storms. When we remember that He can make them perfectly calm when necessary, then we will be calm before the wind and waves are calmed.
They made it to the other side in one piece. But when they got out of the boat, they encountered another dangerous situation. You see, the area in which they landed was an area that was off-limits to the locals. It was a place where a couple of men who were demon-possessed lived. In spite of attempts to chain them up, they had broken their shackles in pieces (Mark 5:4). They spend their lives screaming and injuring themselves, as well as anyone else who was unfortunate enough to pass by.
As they came running up to Jesus and His disciples, the men must have been a terrifying sight, right out of a horror movie. And yet, what came out of their mouths wasn't threats of torment, but fear of being tormented.
The demons who inhabited these men knew who Jesus was - the Son of God. And they were afraid of Him.
They begged to be cast into the herd of pigs nearby rather than be banished to the abyss. Then, the pigs promptly drowned in the sea. When the herdsmen reported all of these happenings to the people of the city, they did not beg to be saved, but instead to be rid of Jesus.
Bringing Jesus into your life will always mean deliverance, but it may also cost you something financially. You may be required to lose your herd of pigs. You may be required to quit your job as a bartender, or give up that apartment with your boyfriend. The question is, which decision is the smarter one? Lose the valuables of the world, or lose the priceless gift of eternal life?
Jesus honored the people's wishes. They wanted Him to leave, and so He left. When He returned to Capernaum, some guys brought a friend who was paralyzed, believing that Jesus could heal him.
When Jesus saw the faith of the paralytic's friends, He healed the paralytic. I find that fascinating. Often, people who don't receive healing are told by their friends, "Well, brother, you just don't have enough faith to be healed." Maybe they should consider that it might just be their own lack of faith!
Before Jesus healed the paralyzed man, He first forgave his sin. The religious people in the crowd were offended. They knew that only God can forgive sin. Who did this guy think He was, saying that his sins were forgiven?
But Jesus proved His power to forgive by demonstrating His power to heal. When the paralyzed man got up and walked home, the crowds "were awestruck, and glorified God."
Today, there are many "ministers" who mass-market "miracles." But they are the ones receiving all of the glory for their acts. Miracles like that which bring glory to man are evil, but miracles that cause people to glorify God are good.
Then Jesus encountered a Jew sitting in the tax collector's booth. The Roman Empire had an interesting way of collecting taxes. They would determine the amount of money which should be collected from a certain area, and then auction off the job to the highest bidder. The agreement was that whatever the man could collect above and beyond the determined amount would be his income. Thus, the job of tax-collector had a built-in temptation towards corruption. In the Jewish nation, those Jews who took this job were hated as traitors and thieves.
This man had his life set. He was writing his own ticket of wealthy success. But Jesus said, "Follow Me," and he did. He left everything behind. This is what Jesus is calling each person to: "Abandon what you've established for yourself, and follow Me. I won't promise you earthly riches, but I do promise you a heavenly reward." If that doesn't sound like an appealing appeal, then consider this question:
Mark 8:36 "...What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?"
As it turns out, this tax collector was Matthew, the author of this gospel.
Matthew wasn't the only tax-collector who hung around Jesus. There were many of them. As a matter of fact, there were many other sinners of different kinds hanging out with Him. They felt comfortable with Him. That is a vitally important point in your understanding of Who Jesus is.
You see, Jesus is around the worst of sinners. Often, He is portrayed as a stiff religious figure, but sinners were comfortable having dinner with Him. Jesus didn't drive away sinners, He drew in sinners.
When the religious people gave him trouble about this, He said in effect, "Doctors who want nothing to do with sick people aren't doctors. They're worthless. I'm here to call sinners, not those who think they are righteous because of their religion."
Today, if you are a sinner, Jesus wants to eat with you. He says to everyone,
Rev. 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me."