A Parable Of Every Believer’s Life
“And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
As our Lord Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, a terrible storm arose. The disciples, in the panic of their terror, were filled with unbelief. When they cried out, “Master, carest thou not that we perish,” the Lord Jesus arose, calmly rebuked their unbelief, and, by the mere power of his word, calmed the sea and the storm.
Few, if any, of our Lord’s miracles were so likely to leave his disciples with such an unforgettable, convincing demonstration of his divine omnipotence. At least four of these men were professional fishermen and skilled seamen. In all likelihood, Peter, Andrew, James, and John were very familiar with the Sea of Galilee. They had probably been exposed to its devastating and often fatal storms from their youth. Never, not even in the greatest of our Lord’s other miracles, had they seen such power as he demonstrated here. By the mere word of his mouth, our Savior stopped the storm!
There are many important lessons taught in these verses. We would be wise to ask the Spirit of God to frequently remind us of them.
Parable of Life
Those seven lessons are lessons frequently taught in Holy Scripture. They should be frequently taught to God’s people. They are lessons we all need to be reminded of frequently. Yet, as I read these verses, I see a parable that portrays every believer’s life as he makes his pilgrimage through this world.
When the Son of God enters the hearts of chosen sinners in his sovereign, saving power and grace, he brings us with himself into the church and kingdom of God, he brings us with himself into the ship of grace and salvation. As he does, he casts his eyes and ours across the waters of time to the other side of the sea of life, and says, as, he did to his disciples in our text, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” Read Psalm 107:23-31, and you will see that I have a good, biblical basis for using this parable as a parable of our lives in this world.
“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”
Every believer’s life is a voyage. It is a voyage across a troubled sea to our “desired haven” on the other side. As we embark on this voyage, the Son of God takes us into the good ship Grace and says, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” Death is often spoken of poetically as a passing over, the crossing of a sea or a river. We sing,
“He will keep me `til the river
Rolls its waters at my feet,
Then He’ll bear me safely over,
Where my loved ones I shall meet.”
However, this passing over the sea is not something we shall do someday. It is something we do every day. Living in this world, we are passing over the sea of time unto the other side. We are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
The sea is a fit emblem for our lives and all the varied circumstances of our lives in this world. How quickly we pass across the sea. — “What is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). — “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope” (Job 7:6). — “Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good. They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey” (Job 9:25-26).
I have watched a lot of people die. As I look into the faces of eternity bound sinners day after day, as I am about to preach the gospel to them, I think to myself, “There go the ships, not painted ships upon a painted sea, but immortal souls, rising and falling upon the billows of time, disappearing one by one over the horizon of time into eternity.” Soon, we must all pass over that horizon.
Perhaps, the horizon seems very far away to you. Do not be so foolish. Soon, you will pass from this changing world of time into the unchanging world of eternity. Here all things are temporal and changing. There all things are eternal and unchanging. How will it be for you in that day? How will it be for you in the swelling of the Jordan?
A Voyage Across a Stormy Sea
Second, life in this world is not only comparable to a voyage, but it is a voyage across a stormy sea. — “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full” (v. 37). We must often sail into the tempests of sorrow, affliction, adversity, and grief; but Christ’s presence assures us of safety no matter what the storm may be.
These disciples followed the Master into the ship at his command. It is important to note that fact, because we need to recognize that loyalty and obedience to Christ is often the surest course to trouble. The path of faithfulness is always right through the eye of the storm.
Though our storms are many and varied, basically, all our trials and troubles in this world arise from two sources: (1.) The contrary winds of our circumstances without, and (2.) the waves of sin and unbelief within (Roans 7:14-24; Psalm 73:1-3, 21-28).
A Voyage with Christ
Third, our life in this world is a voyage with Christ. A voyage, yes. A voyage through stormy seas, yes. But, blessed be God, it is a voyage in the company and constant presence, protection, and care of the Son of God, our Savior.
The Lord Jesus does not say, “Go over to the other side and I will meet you there.” He said, “Let us pass over unto the other side.” And, though “there arose a great storm, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was full,” we read that the Lord Jesus “was in the hinder part of the ship.” He was silent; but he was there. So it is with us. Our Lord may appear to be asleep. He may be silent. It may even appear at times, to our feeble, sinful hearts, that He does not care if we perish. But He is always with us!
How I pray that God will teach me and teach you to believe him. Did not our Savior say, “Lo, I am with you alway”? Did He not promise, “I will never leave thee” (Hebrews 13:5)?
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10).
“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 43:2).
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
A Voyage Marked by Miracles
Fourth, ours is a voyage marked by miracles. — “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (v. 39). The charismatics talk about miracles. We experience them. They put on a show of sham tomfoolery; but God’s saints are men and women whose biographies are histories of God’s miraculous works. The redemption of our souls was accomplished by the miracle of God the Son assuming our nature, being made sin for us, dying in our place, and rising from the dead as our Surety. The new birth is a wonder of miraculous grace, accomplished by Christ himself invading our spiritually dead souls by his Spirit and taking up permanent residence in our hearts.
“It took a miracle to put the world in place.
It took a miracle to hang the stars in space.
But when God saved my soul,
Cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace!”
And, soon, our blessed Savior will perform another miracle, called the resurrection.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-58)
Still, there is more, much more to consider. It is upon the dark background of our great troubles that our Lord most clearly displays his wondrous power and grace. It is in the fiery furnace of adversity that we know the preserving power of His presence. It is only in the lions’ den that we see the Lord’s dominion over the lions. The Lord God who is with us and for us is the God who is able to deliver us. He is God alone. He is God indeed!
A Voyage Free of Fear
Fifth, our voyage with Christ across the stormy sea of life is a voyage that ought to be free of fear. The voyage we are on is a perfectly safe voyage. — “And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (v. 40)
The disciples’ fear arose from their unbelief. Fear is the rank weed of nature that grows wild in the soil of unbelief. These poor disciples were so much like us. They should have been perfectly calm. They were on the Master’s business. They were in the Master’s presence. They had repeatedly seen and experienced the Master’s power. They should have most reasonably looked to Christ; but they didn’t. Instead of looking to the Lord God omnipotent, they looked at the terrible storm, their own weakness, and the apparent frailty of their ship.
Let us take the Lord’s gentle rebuke personally. I try to apply it to myself. I hope God will enable you to do the same. Our greatest difficulties, our greatest temptations, our greatest falls are always the result of unbelief. Yet, unbelief on the part of one who has experienced the saving power and grace of God in Christ is the most absurd and unreasonable thing in the world.
“Why are we so fearful? How is it that we have no faith?’ Our Savior is the sovereign God of providence, wise, good, and omnipotent. He is too wise to err, too good to do wrong, and too strong to fail.
And He is in the boat with us. Yes, the Son of God is in the little boat of your heart and mine (Colossians 1:27; 1 John 4:4). The Lord Jesus Christ is in the boat of his Church (Deuteronomy 23:14; Psalms 46:5; (Revelation 2:1). The Church of God, the true Church, is safe. She will pass over this sea. She will be brought to her desired haven. She will reach the other side. Not one passenger aboard the good ship Grace will be lost at sea.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is in the boat of Holy Scripture. His Word is forever settled in heaven. It cannot be broken. All the shifting winds of pseudo-science and waves of unscholarly criticism will not sink the Vessel. We have no reason to fear the carpings of reprobate men. The Word of God abides forever. When their laughter is turned to weeping and their criticisms burn as fire in their souls, the Word of God will still be forever settled in heaven!
Our Lord Jesus Christ is in the boat of Providence. Not only is He in the boat, He is at the helm. We do not trust providence, or worship providence (We are not Deists.); but the Lord God almighty whom we do trust and worship is the God of providence; and we rejoice to know it.
The Lord Jesus Christ, who is with us, has the whole world in His hands. All power in heaven and earth is given unto him. He holds the reins of universal dominion. This omnipotent God bids us cast our care upon him with these assuring words, “For he careth for you!” He says to us, “Be not afraid, only believe.”
A Call to Faith
Are you yet without Christ? Has God brought you into deep waters and begun to cause you to reel to and fro like a drunken man by reason of your soul’s trouble? Is the storm of God’s wrath beating your little boat? May the Spirit of God make this parable a call to faith in your soul. Cry out from your soul to Christ, the Master. Appeal to his great compassion, — “Carest thou not that I perish?” May the Son of God arise and speak peace to your troubled heart. If he will speak by His Spirit, His word of grace will bring great calm; and he will bring you to your desired haven.
“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!...The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD” (Psalm 107:23-31, 42-43).
Believe him, only believe him, and you will see the glory of God (John 11:40).
Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com