Read His Words Before Ours!
The sun was setting on another long day of ministry.
I’m Matthew, some call me Levi, Jesus invited me to be His disciple, awakening me to life I’d never known.
Jesus’ teachings are many and some are so deep, I feel like I’ll never comprehend their weighty implications, but one lesson I keep returning to is trust.
Like Asaph’s song we often sing in the temple,
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to Him, and He will hear me.”
Trusting His goodness, His constant presence, that is my ceaseless challenge.
We began the day on Mt. Eremos, a wide plateaued hilltop overlooking the breathtaking Plain of Gennesaret. Jesus had spent the morning preaching boldly with words that both shocked and drew us close with a love you could feel like an embrace.
He never ceases to amaze me.
His words were turning the world upside down, all while He walked among the masses, healing, touching heads, holding the hands of little children.
His love is unmistakable.
When we finally descended, walking the 6 kilometers to Capernaum, I was physically parched and mentally overwhelmed, but the crowds relentlessly followed.
When a Roman centurion approached Jesus, my defenses flew up. This gentile asked Jesus to heal his servant and, amazingly, Jesus healed him without even visiting the sick man! Every moment with the Lord seems like another opportunity to grasp the unobtainable, grappling with truth and wonder like I’ve never experienced.
Asaph’s song echoed, “Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?!”
We finally pressed through the crowds arriving at Peter’s house for welcome rest, but the house was strangely quiet. Peter’s lovely wife rushed towards us, eyes on Jesus alone, “Please, Lord, please, she’s so hot with fever. She’s tossing about and isn’t speaking. I’m afraid…” Her voice dropped to a whisper and tears gathered in her desperate eyes as Peter moved forward to embrace his wife, but Jesus was already moving past her towards her mother’s bed with the same rush of compassion that often moved Him.
Our hearts pounded with emotional tension as life and death hung in the balance. And again, for the umpteenth time that day, just like 100 more days before, the air felt motionless and time seemed to pause in response to the Holy in our midst.
Death didn’t stand a chance against Jesus.
He knelt, holding her hand with that gentle, life-giving grasp I’d seen Him do countless times before. His eyes beckoned her to wake up into calm serenity, and so she did. The color came flooding back into her cheeks, her eyes brightened, and her hand tightened around Jesus’ as she gave a soft laugh, playfully giving a shove to Jesus and casting a glance around all the worried faces surrounding her bedside, “Mercy! Me just laying here and all your bellies growling with hunger! Go on outside and I’ll bring you some refreshment!”
We all laughed, Jesus most of all, head thrown back as He helped her to her feet.
I dashed at the unbidden tears gathering in my own eyes.
Simply to look at Jesus was to know life, inexplicable Life and underneath, unquenchable, matchless, all-powerful love.
Peter began the familiar refrain of praise, “You are the God who works wonders…”
James and John chimed in with Asaph’s response, “You have made known Your might among the peoples.”
The day moved on with furious rushing as more were healed, Jesus preached, and conversations happened endlessly all around us. The sun was setting behind us, stretching out its long red-orange arms across the Sea of Galilee.
Exhaustion was seeping into all of us, but I noted how weary Jesus looked. His feet stumbling over each other as He walked, His shoulders sagging just a bit, and I nodded to Mark who saw the same. Walking onto the cooling sand of the beach, Jesus stepped into one of Peter’s boats and we followed, Thomas and I shoving off as Peter and John reached for the oars, pulling us out into the growing dusk. We were only a few yards from the shore when I turned to ask Jesus a question, only to see His face at perfect peace resting on a pillow. Sleep had found Him and I turned back to the water, reflecting on another day with Jesus.
Suddenly, a violent storm rose up from seemingly nowhere, the wind dashing waves against the boat so violently we were all drenched. The little craft quickly began taking in more water than we could handle tossing out. Amidst flashes of lightening, I managed a glance at the place where Jesus had been sleeping and in a quick shift of emotions, I angrily yelled out with the others, grabbing Jesus’ shoulder, “Lord!! Save us!”.
How could He be sleeping!!
Who could sleep through this nightmare?!
“Jesus! We are going to die!! Don’t you care?!”
A quick shift and Asaph’s song I’d been singing all day, returned with a chilling verse,
“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?”
Storm winds howling, boat tossing, waves recklessly slapping our chilled, exhausted bodies, Jesus called out, “Why are you afraid? You of little faith!”
Despite the noisy storm, I heard every word.
Each stinging like an arrow finding its mark.
Afraid?! Yes! Didn’t I have a right to be?! Look at this storm!
Like lightning flashes, the events of the day paraded in front of my mind’s eye as Jesus looked into my soul. I had claimed Him magnificent as He’d healed, Good Teacher as He taught deep things, gentle love and life itself as He brought back from the brink of death, yet here I was, afraid with little faith.
I stood dumbfounded, caught in my own crisis of faith as Jesus stood, boat sloshing dangerously, thunder echoing, and His voice went out clear, confident, with authority beyond description, “Peace! Be Still!”
And it was over.
The boat no longer rocked.
The seas were stilled.
Thunder and lightning vanished.
Familiar, awed silence flooded the fishing boat with undeniable Holiness as I heard my voice whispering, “Who is this that even the wind and waves obey Him?”
Asaph’s lyrics returned:
“When the waters saw you, O God, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled.
Who is like you, indeed, oh Christ, Oh God, my Refuge!
Forever be my Song in the Night, my anchor in the storm!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!