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Great Things

Scripture: Matthew 8:23-27; Text: Matthew 8:27

Matthew, Mark and Luke all record this miracle of our Lord. Only Matthew and Mark used the adjective "great" in their accounts. As to why Luke did not, we cannot say. This we know, it was a great storm, but Luke did not point out the severity of it.

The word "great" is used frequently throughout the Bible. We are told about great: men, multitudes, people, power, seas, slaughters and things. The scriptures tell us that there is a great: Lord (Psalm 48:1), works (Psalm 92:5), light (Isaiah 9:2), commandment (Matthew 22:36), mystery (1 Timothy 3:16), matter (James 3:5), and the storm and calm of this passage.

What does the Bible mean when something is described as "great?" Well it can mean (1) to be large in size, (2) to be important or (3) to be considerable in degrees of quality. However, the basic idea is "megas" from which we get our English word MEGA. If something cost a lot of money, we say mega bucks are involved. If a church is very large, it is called a mega church. Therefore, as it is compared to others of like quality, it is said to be great. So then the storm and calm, as compared to other storms and calms,could be described as great.

In this sermon I want us to consider four great things that are embraced in the passage. Two are obvious and will be easily identified. The other two are not so obvious, but they are there none the less and I believe you will agree with me in my estimation of them. (1) A great storm. (2) A great calm. (3) A great Saviour. (4) A great lesson. Let us look at each for a few moments.

(1.) First, there was a GREAT STORM. Was it really that bad? Yes, the storms on the Sea of Galilee were usually sudden and severe. The lake itself is not that large. It is only thirteen miles long and eight miles wide, but it is deep in the earth. The Jordan valley makes a deep cleft in the surface of the earth and the sea is some 680 feet below sea level. That creates a climate that is warm and most often pleasant. However, on the west side there are hills and valleys. When the cold wind blows through those gullies, it becomes compressed and rushes down on the lake from many different directions. Storms are formed quickly, often in twenty or thirty minutes, and they rage savagely and violently. Visitors on the shore have been driven back two-hundred feet from shore and still drenched with spray. The lake can go from calm to white-capping in a matter of minutes and anyone caught on the lake in such storms is in danger.

Added to the natural danger is the possibility of a greater danger. Some people believe that the storm in this passage was supernatural in origin. They mean that satan might have caused it as he did when the children of Job were killed (Job 1: 19). The idea is that satan wanted to kill Jesus on the sea and thought it an opportune time to do so. He certainly wanted to kill Jesus as was evident from the cries of "Crucify Him, crucify Him" that he put in the hearts of men (John 19:6). How can we know if this was the case? We can't. The Bible does not fill us in on this detail, if it did indeed happen. But there may be a clue imbedded in the passage itself. Jesus is said to have "rebuked" the sea, which means to "muzzle." Did He muzzle the sea like a horse to control it or did He put a muzzle on satan? It does not really matter for He has power over both. It was a GREAT storm in either case.

(2.) Second, we notice there was a GREAT CALM. We would naturally assume that any calm that followed a great storm, would of necessity be a great calm. That is certainly a logical conclusion. But we are not left to draw our own conclusions and debate the issue. God specifically tells us that when the storm was divinely dispersed, there was a great calm. That means that it was not simply a reduction of the forces of nature, but a complete abating of them. In other words, the wind did not drop from seventy miles an hour to five miles an hour. It did not go from whitecapping to ripples on the water. It went from one extreme to the other. From a storm of mighty force, to a calm with such peace that the water as as smooth as glass. Have you ever seen it that way? I have.

Yet there is another fact that we need to consider. There was in this great calm, not only a calm on the water but also a calm within the hearts of the disciples. There was no doubt an external and internal calm. All their fear was driven away and they were made to feel a peace inside. Apparently, the disciples could not sleep in the violence of the waves. We probably could not have slept either, but Jesus did. He was asleep when the storm arose and slept through the storm until they awoke Him. (Verse 25). How could Jesus sleep in the storm when they could not? They were afraid, He was not. He had peace in the security of His sovereign power. When He calmed the storm, then they had peace in the display of His power and the calm outside permeated them. Then the calm reached into their soul (Isaiah 26:3). There was indeed a great CALM.

(3.) Third, there was a GREAT SAVIOUR. Although there is nothing said about Jesus being a great Saviour, certainly none of us would deny it. God knew that He did not need to call His Son a great Saviour, there was ample evidence to manifest it. Anyone who could stop the wind and waves, is great in my book. No mere mortal could have done so. In every storm and natural calamity, many have wished for such power, but none posessed it. Kings and presidents have power, but nothing like this. When you compare Jesus to Alexander the Great, who was the truly great One? Jesus of course!

The Bible does refer to Jesus as great in Titus 2:13. He is called "...the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." The conjunction "and" helps us to understand that He is both GOD and SAVIOUR. So then Jesus is a great God and our great Saviour. (1) He is great in His person and (2)great in His power and (3)great in His accomplishments. Jesus is greater than all and has a greater name (Philippians 2:9).

Of all who have ever lived on the earth, none has so profoundly affected the course of the world as He did. No one has touched more lives that He has. No one has given such wisdom and truth to his followers as He has. Therefore, we do not have to read the words of this passage and see the word "great" as an adjective for Christ. Everything we read and know and feel, declares He is a great SAVIOUR.

(4.) Fourth and finally, there are GREAT LESSONS to be learned. Any part of the word of God is of great importance to the people of God, because there are great lessons contained therein. This passage is no different. Let me briefly share three of them with you.

This passage is designed to reveal the great power of Jesus Christ. It is essential that we understand He has great power. His power is certainly beyond our comprehension, nevertheless, we need to ponder it. Everything we hope for is dependent upon His power. We trust Him for blessings, if He does not have power, how will He grant them? We trust Him for salvation from sin's penalty, if He does not have power, how could He accomplish it? We trust Him to raise us from the dead and carry us to heaven, how will he be able to do that, if He does not have power? But He does have power, that is clearly seen in the passage. He said all power was given to Him (Matthew 28:18), that we know from this passage. Whether a storm or death, His power is sufficient (Romans 1:4).

This passage is designed to reveal that He helps those in need. How many times have we needed His help? The number of times is too great to calculate, but we feel that need repeatedly each day. Is it all an illusion, do we only imagine that He is able to help us? No, this passage tells us His disciples were afraid and came to Him asking for help. He arose and calmed the storm and sea. They could not accomplish that on their own, but He could and did. No, my friends, we are not day dreaming when we believe in His helping hand. All of us can attest to blessings of our own. We rejoice that Jesus saved them from drowning, but thank God Jesus has saved us from hell and many disasterous situations in life (Hebrews 4:15-16). He is both ready and able, to help us in times of need (1 Peter 5:7).

This passage is designed to reveal that he is able to calm our troubled souls. Have you ever felt afraid? Of course you have, we all have. The differences we experienced were probably the variety of things which caused the fear. Some may be afraid of the storm, as they were, while others are afraid of the dark. One may be afraid of hearing the results of medical tests, another of failure in their job. The source of the fear is not the real issue, the fact is that the same Saviour can calm all our fears. He is able now, as then, to bring a great calm to us. But for us to feel this calm, we need to exercise our God given faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Keep in mind that the disciples were afraid and when Jesus spoke He first questioned their faith. If you do not trust His love, and grace, and power; how can you feel this calm? Will we ever feel peace, if we are not willing to trust that He will take care of us? (Matthew 10:30-31). No matter what the problem, He is able to solve it. Seek His presence, obey His words and trust Him with all your heart.

So much more could be said, but the whole could never be completely told. This sermon is intended to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and encourage you to study the word of God to learn and be blessed. If you do not, you will deprive yourself of a great blessing. There are many great things found in the Bible, may God bless you as you search its sacred pages. Search the scriptures and you will be blessed to see Jesus and the great things He has done.

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This page last updated on June 7, 2014