25 April 2021

Jesus calms the storms: Matthew 8:23-34


1. A physical storm calmed by Jesus

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 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. 27 And the men marvelled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

The Sea of Galilee really can get rough!

Icebreaker: have you ever been caught in rough seas?  What did you feel?

Life is like that sometimes, but Jesus is more powerful.

Question 1: How can life feel like a storm?

Question 2: 

The first step to a lost eternity is “Neglect”, then “Refuse”, then “Despise”.  Drifting is dangerous.

Why is “Neglect” so serious?

Question 3: Do you agree with these suggested steps away from belief and trust in Jesus Christ?

2. A spiritual storm calmed by Jesus

28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men.

Sin is serious: it starts inside and goes on to spread and affect others.

Question 4: What do you make of these men’s condition?

Question 5: How does this spiritual miracle compare with the calming of the storm?

(Mark 7:18-23) Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Look what appears in the same list as murder!

Jesus shows his power and his mercy (v32)

Question 6: Are there any surprising inclusions on this list of sins?

(privately) Question 7: Which one contains your greatest personal temptation to sin?

Question 8: Note that:

  • The most prosperous people (the city dwellers) reject Christ.
  • The most “spiritual” people (the disciples) are rebuked by Christ
  • The most broken people (the demon-possessed men) are made whole by Christ.

Are you surprised that the only two people who appear in any kind of positive light are the demon possessed men?

Question 9: What challenges, inspires or encourages you most personally from this passage?  What do you now need to do?

A Prayer

Dear loving heavenly father, thank you that you are in the storms of life, by our side, with power over all external forces including nature itself.  Thank you for your presence with us, the important lessons you teach us, the warnings you share with us, and the deliverance you give to us.  Help us now in faith to recognise our brokenness and vulnerability before you.  In the power of the Holy Spirit touch our lives and the lives of those we love with your power, your mercy, your forgiveness and your peace, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.