THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW VOLUME 2 CHAPTER 17

SECTION 3: THE CREDENTIALS OF JESUS THE KING
CHAPTER 17

THE SECOND GROUP OF MIRACLES
OR
THE MIRACLE OF CROSSING OVER FAITH

Scripture To Consider:
“Now when Jesus got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest [storm] arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But Jesus was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!'”

“But Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then Jesus arose and rebuked the winds and the sea. And there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?'” Matthew 8.23-27

Something To Consider:
In the first group of miracles, Jesus is seen to have power to cure bodily disease. In the second group of miracles He is shown to have power over the forces of nature, and as we will see in our next Scripture to consider, He has power over unclean spirits, and even power to forgive sins.

Storms were common on the surface of this little lake which Jesus often crossed with His disciples; just as storms are frequent in the lives of all Christ’s followers. To accompany the Master does not exempt us from struggles, sudden tempest of temptations, darkened storm filled skies, and waves of unwanted circumstances beyond our control.

Yet, this was no usual storm. Even the seasoned veteran fishermen of Galilee were fearful. With the King on board their boat, they should have felt secure. Just as for us as true believers and true followers of Jesus, we too should at any given moment of distress; we too should feel secure as we are safely in the ark of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus was calm and untroubled, though the boat was covered with the waves; but He was asleep. From our hindsight perspective it appeared foolish for His disciples to be afraid; but it was wise to come to the Master with their fears. Therefore, they awoke Him saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” No statement could be more true of the human race! Without Jesus Christ the world is perishing and will continue to do so until He returns in great power and glory.

We can be certain that when He comes again, that He will bring us the eternal relief we require if we have cried out to Him in our hour of spiritual need. We can also be certain that He may need to rebuke us as He did His early followers if we are found lacking true faith in Him. And yet, stronger faith might lessen our fear for the next round of trials, or waves of tests, or flood of temptation.

Jesus asked His disciples, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then, when He had rebuked His disciples, He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. Surely this King, who is the Ruler of all nature, can deliver from all possible perils those who put their trust in Him.

Such experiences must have strengthened the faith of His early followers; but the first effect upon the eyewitnesses was deep wonder. They marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” And yet, these same disciples upon Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, finally answered their own question and were willing to lay down their lives in defense of that answer.

Are we willing to do the same? Will the same ever be required of us? Will we be found faithfully enduring to the end of these end times or to the end of our lives? Will we have finally obtained the crossing over faith that can only be obtained by those who truly are following after Jesus while willingly denying themselves?

More Scripture To Consider:
“When Jesus had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before our time?'”

“Now a good way off from there was a herd of many swine feeding. So the demons begged Him, saying, ‘If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Go.’ So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.”

“Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.” Matthew 8.28-34

Something Else To Consider:
Jesus had just shown His power over the forces of nature. He now exhibits His authority over the unseen world of spirits. He crossed to the east side of the lake; and according to Matthew, “There met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.” These men were not merely insane, they were demoniacs.

Men who are slaves of passion, of lust, of appetite, of envy, and of greed, like the Gadarenes among the tombs or among the city, dwell in places of uncleanness and spiritual death, and endanger all who come near them. The demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God and they dreaded His power and His divine authority.

They realized that Jesus would deliver the men they were tormenting; therefore, they requested that they might enter a herd of swine which was seen feeding at some distance. When permission was granted, Matthew records; “Suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.”

It often has been asked why Jesus allowed such a destruction of personal property. It might be difficult to answer were it not that all the miracles of our Lord were living parables, intended to teach spiritual truths. On the very surface of this narrative, it is evident that the destruction of the swine was related to the deliverance of the two men. They were helped to realize that their condition had been desperate, and their deliverance was real.

This miracle revealed to them the power of Christ and led them to trust in Him. Most of all it is evident that the destruction of the swine was an arresting message to the men of the neighboring city, both of their possible danger from evil spirits and of the deliverance which Jesus could give from all tyrannies of suffering and of sin. But also, according to Matthew’s account, “And when they saw Him [Jesus] they begged Him to depart from their region.”

There are many today who fear that the presence of Jesus may cause them some loss of personal property, personal pleasure, personal habit, or at least that Jesus may rebuke them for their sin. Many regard the King not with loving reverence, but only with fear and dread. How is it that we regard Jesus? Is He our King, our Lord, our Savior? Or will He be our judge come to condemn us due to our sin and rejection of His rule over our lives?

Therefore, many without speaking a word make their request known for Jesus to depart from their region of influence, region of business, school, home, family, from their lives, and even from their nations. And as they make their requests known, their own spiritual destruction is fierce and forever.

More Scripture To Consider:
“So Jesus got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. And behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’ And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, ‘This Man blasphemes!'”

But Jesus knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Arise and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ – then He said to the paralytic, ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitude saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.” Matthew 9.1-8

Something More To Consider:
Jesus had shown that He was able to deliver from the dominion of unclean spirits. He now shows that He has power to forgive sin. The occasion was the healing of a man who was sick of the palsy. This disease was more pitiful than mere paralysis. The control of the muscles was lost, but there were sudden violent expressions of pain, which became more frequent and more agonizing until the poor sufferer found relief in death.

The paralytic whom Jesus healed was suffering from the far more terrible malady of sin, of which his disease was the dreadful symbol and possibly the result. Therefore, Jesus considered the deeper need and said to the sick of the palsy, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” And behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” They were quite right; Jesus was guilty of blasphemy and worthy of death, unless He Himself was divine!

That He was divine He proved, first, by reading the thoughts of His enemies, and secondly, by His curing the sufferer of his disease. Neither pronouncing pardon for sin, nor securing instant relief from palsy lies within the power of man. He who could perform the latter had the right to do the former. Therefore, Jesus said to the sick of the palsy, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

The cure was immediate. The demonstration was complete. The man arose and departed to his house. The effect upon the multitudes was mingled with both fear and joy. They were afraid as they found themselves in the presence of a divine King, but they rejoiced that He possessed the right and the authority to grant forgiveness of sins. For all who submit to His will, fear passes into gratitude and praise.

A Few Final Words:
All three of the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, record the stilling of the storm and the calming of the waves episode. Mark and Luke record an added statement of Jesus before launching out onto the Sea of Galilee. Mark’s exact recorded words of Jesus are, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” Mark also tells us there were other little ships following, indicating a group following Jesus.

All three accounts reveal Jesus was asleep when the storm suddenly arose and the enormous waves driven by the high winds crashed upon the small vessels, threatening their very existence. Therefore, when Jesus arose, He rebuked the wind, and He rebuked the raging of the water and waves. And they ceased and there was a great calm.

How many times, in our own lives, in our own families, in our own nation’s existence, has the lying-in wait enemy of our souls violently and suddenly crashed down upon us with unfavorable news, undeniable so-called facts, unsuspected danger, and threatened destruction? And yet, in the midst of appearing collapse and chaos, God’s people have cried out unto Jesus Christ, who simply and yet ever so powerfully commands the situations and circumstances that are beyond our control, and He declares, “Peace, be still!”

Have we heard the words of Jesus declare to us, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” We have all probably heard Jesus ask, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” But have we heard the calming voice of Jesus declare, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” In reality, that is what Jesus is declaring throughout the gospels.

We read or we hear read the eyewitness accounts of multiple healings by Jesus, the opening of blinded eyes both physically and spiritually, His exercising authority over nature, deliverance of demonic spirits, the curing of leprosy, and even the raising of the dead. And yet, have we claimed for ourselves the miracle of His crossing over faith?

Have we grasped the eternal perspective that everything this life offers, or everything this life takes away, is spiritually preparing us for our crossing over into our eternity experience? If we believe that Jesus has the authority on earth to forgive sins, and that He has the power to keep us until our time on earth has expired, then we are within reach of the miracle of obtaining the required crossing over faith of our Scripture to consider.

In Closing:
And yet, I speak not of a mystery, but of the reality of overcoming and enduring to the end faith that Jesus commands every believer to possess in order to receive salvation. For according to Jesus, “He [or she] who endures to the end, the same shall be saved.” That is not some overly radical concept conceived by a mindset hell-bent on establishing a rule of law based entirely on works. This is a biblical concept established by Jesus Himself and based on the entirety of Scripture. This indeed must be considered something more to consider, according to Jesus!

Let’s Pray:
Our Father in heaven, thank You for the biblical understanding of our need to endure unto the end of our lives or unto the end of this age. May we be found in these end times truly looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our crossing over faith. In Him Always, Amen!

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