“And He said to them, ‘Go!’ And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters” (Matthew 8:32).
I realize this text is highly upsetting to many readers.
Some of you are no doubt wounded and shocked… to see so much good bacon wasted in this way.
I also apologize to all animal lovers – I know how shocking animal sooeeyside can be to some sensitive souls.
Seriously, though, Jesus has forced His disciples (yes, you read that right) to obey Him, and to follow Him into spiritually hostile territory. He had given them no reason why, just His command: “He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea” (Matthew 8:18).
Some disciples said “I’ll go wherever you go.” Others gave reasons why they didn’t want to follow. Still, all his chosen men got into a boat to cross the sea, and later a massive storm descended upon them, overwhelming them and the boat. Except Jesus, who would have slept through it – until they woke Him up. In reply Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith in Him – at which point they are probably confused, “what does faith have to do here – we’re about to lose our lives!” But Jesus gets up and commands the wind and waves to subside into perfect stillness, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
That is the question for all of us who propose to follow Christ. ‘what kind of man is this?’ What kind of man commands us to follow Him, then does so in order that we enter a storm, and thereby come close to losing our lives? At the very least, we lose our calm. What kind of man then rebukes us for a lack of faith when we don’t trust him?
The trip across the sea with Jesus is a model of any difficulty Jesus has led you into, dear believer. You are in the difficulty by way of divine command; as much as a storm is the handiwork of Him who seems asleep in your distress.
Shall we arouse the Lord out of His ‘sleep’ with our unbelief, or tell Him ‘all is well since I know you’re in the boat?’ The choice is yours. You’ll get to the other side either way. But one comes with added blessings.