Mar. 29, 2018

"Where is your faith?"

Luke 8:22-39 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. 24 They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. 28 Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.” 29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. 30 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss.

32 Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission. 33 And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. 35 The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened. 36 Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. 37 And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned. 38 But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.


In today’s text, when the disciples woke Jesus during the storm, they said:  “Master, Master, we are perishing!” After rebuking the wind and calming the storm Jesus said:  “Where is your faith?”  It is a legitimate question and one that perhaps we need to ask ourselves when we are face with situations and circumstances which seem overwhelming. Where is our faith? Do we believe more in the storm that we are facing, in all the natural evidence, in all the opinions of people than we do in the one who created all things. The disciples feared that they would die because of the wind and the waves. Fear, really is the opposite of faith. Fear, is believing more in what we don’t want than in what we do want. So Jesus asks: Where is your faith? Is it in the storm, or is it in Me?

We have faith in Jesus, if we are like the leper in Matthew 8:1-3 where it says:    When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him.  And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.   Surely the Lord is sovereign and even Jesus Himself prayed “not My will but Your will be done.”    There are times when prayers are not answered as we hope. Does that mean that if we prayed believing it must not have been God’s will? I don’t believe that any of us can know for sure, but this I do know, Jesus says:  “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14) He says: “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” (Mark 11:23-24)   I will continue to ask in Jesus name and I will continue to believe. I will do all that I can to know and understand His promises in His word, so that I can truly pray in agreement with His will.    

There is another account in Mark 9:22-24, an account of a desperate father seeking help for his son. He comes to Jesus after the disciples were unable to help him saying:    “If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”    There are times when the storm seems overwhelming, when perhaps we’ve watched and prayed for so long that we are near the end of our faith. Jesus would rather have us be honest, like this father, than to speak words of faith when our heart does not believe. You see, there is a difference between having little faith and having unbelief. It is not the size of our faith that matters. Jesus says: "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6) Small faith can do great things. It is not the size or the amount of our faith that matters, but rather it is the object of our faith. What matters is who we believe in. If the storm is so great that we fear we are perishing we should go to Jesus, not in fear, but rather asking that He give us peace and comfort. In John 16:33 Jesus says:  "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."   In John 14:27 Jesus says:  “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”   Jesus says He has overcome the world. Hebrews 4:14-16 says:  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.   Jesus has indeed overcome the world and every trial and temptation we face. If our faith is wavering, if we need help with our unbelief, everything we need, for every time of need is found at the throne of grace. He will never rebuke us if we come for help believing. Jesus only asks:  “Where is your faith?”

At the end of today’s text, Jesus delivered a man who was hopelessly possessed by many demons. In the end it says:  But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying,  “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.  Like that man, we might prefer to remain with Jesus. Our desire might be to remain in His presence to worship Him and also to be safe and secure with Him. Like him, Jesus tells us to go and describe the great things that God has done. We are to be witnesses of and for Christ. Our testimony may be the very thing which causes faith to overcome fear for someone else. As we proclaim what God has done, others will see Christ. He will become the object of their faith. When Jesus asks “where is Your faith,” the answer always should be, here in You.

Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. I believe. My faith is in You. I know that You have overcome and I have overcome with You, through the cross. As I have peace and comfort, may I also give Your peace and comfort to others, telling them of all that You have done, that they too would have faith and believe in You.   Amen.