It is a familiar bible narrative: the one where Jesus stills a storm. Here’s one telling of it from the gospel of Matthew 8:23-27.
When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He *said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
If we were to place ourselves in the shoes of the disciples, I would imagine we too would have a similar response. Amazement. After all, it isn’t every day that you are personally caught in a ‘great storm’ that instantaneously became ‘perfectly calm’ at the voice and the command of a person. “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” seems a perfectly legitimate question.
This should not be amazing when we realise who Jesus is. Jesus is the One through whom the universe was created, and the One who continues to sustain all creation. In other words, Jesus is the God who is Lord over all creation. Should we then be surprised that creation obeys Him?
But here’s a thought that the Lord impressed upon me recently. What is not amazing is that the winds and sea obey Him. What is amazing is that we don’t. We human beings, who are created by God, in His image, do not obey Him. We think we are wiser than our Creator. We think we can live our lives apart from our Creator. We pay Him lip service. Or we deny His very existence. We go so far as to mock, ridicule, insult and blaspheme His holy name. It boggles the mind.
What is not amazing is that the winds and sea obey Him. What is amazing is that we don’t.
The scandal of Christianity goes further than that. For these very creatures who have turned their backs to God, God loved so deeply, God came. God came to reconcile this broken relationship between God and man. Good Friday tells of how God incarnated in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our rebellion against our Creator. Some 2000 years ago, the most visible demonstration of the love of God for His creation was once and for all time, etched into the pages of human history.
God did this in order to wipe away our rebellion, transform our hearts, and bring us back into loving obedience to Him. This is the Christian message. This is the gospel (which means good news). But in what way is this good news, one may ask. Let me submit that all the ills and evils of our world today are directly related to our disobedience towards God first and foremost, and then consequently acted out against our fellow man. After all, if we cannot even obey the God who created us all, how shall we treat those whom He has created in His image?
Jesus summed up His message in two commandments: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Amazing things happen when we live this out. And if Jesus is really who He says He is, then our response to Him must be that of obedience.