Monday, August 18, 2014

Excitement in the boat, part 28: the boat ride home

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. (Luke 8:37 NASB)

"And He got into a boat and returned."  This little phrase might not seem momentous, but it contains a vital lesson for us. At the beginning of the passage, Jesus had invited the disciples to go for a boat ride. Jesus was the most exciting thing happening in their day, and they were up for anything.  They climbed into the boat and headed out. 

While Jesus was napping in the back, a deadly storm arose and nearly sunk the boat. The disciples, some of whom were professional fishermen, were scared out of their minds. When they awakened Jesus, He commanded the storm to stop, and it did, which frightened them even more. By this time, they were likely exhausted by emotion and the physical effort of trying to save the boat. 

Those disciples may have been ready to head back to shore, but Jesus had a destination in mind and a divine appointment to keep. They sailed on. 

When they arrived at the country of the Garasenes, the narrative changes. Until that point, the disciples were clearly along for the ride. After that, Scripture tells us that Jesus got out of the boat, the demon-possessed man met Jesus, the herdsmen saw Jesus, the townspeople sent Jesus away. There is not another mention of the disciples in this story, nor any indication that they were still there. When Jesus was ready to go home, He "got into a boat", the implication being that this was a different boat than the one in which He arrived. There is no mention of the disciples again until Jesus was enroute to Jairus' house. 

It appears that the disciples, for whatever reason, "dropped Jesus off" at the shore and left him there. Can't you just imagine that conversation? "Hey Jesus, we are just exhausted by the storm. We need to get home, get cleaned up, and get some sleep."  "Jesus, we have had all we can take. We need a break."  We don't know what they said, but Jesus probably said something like, "No problem. I've got this. Catch you later." He let them go, and headed toward the demoniac. 

Jesus didn't need the disciples to handle that legion of demons, but the disciples needed to see Him do it. If they had, perhaps they would have understood His power in the face of evil a little better. Perhaps they'd have had an easier time of it when the crucifixion rolled around. It might have helped them to be faithful. It might have prevented betrayal. Of course, we will never know about those "what-ifs", but you can be sure some things would have been different if they had stayed with Jesus. 

It's easy to look at this story and think that we would never have left Jesus. We would have been so impressed by the calming of the storm that we would have wanted the full experience. Really? Exhausted and battered, possibly injured, we would have wanted to wade into yet another battle? Probably not. 

There is a tendency to think that, once we have survived one of those horrific storms of life, we are done. Maybe that's how the disciples felt. Sometimes the storm is simply a teachable moment that brings us to an oasis of smooth sailing. Sometimes, however, the storm is a teachable moment on the path toward another huge battle (like the one Jesus had with the legion of demons) that will bring a tremendous and decisive victory. Staying the course can take us to something so momentous that it will change our lives completely. Unfortunately, stopping on the other side of the storm will have a life-altering impact, as well. 

There was no way the disciples could have known what would happen, but there is one thing they could have done, and it would have changed everything. They could have stayed with Jesus. They could have waited for Him. 

This waiting and staying is hard. There is no doubt about that. If we want all that Jesus has for us, however, it is not optional. Are you in the midst of a storm? Have you just gotten through a life-storm?  Don't become complacent, thinking the lesson is over at the end of the storm. Don't "take a break" when the storm dies down. Maybe that storm was just a stopping point on the way to something much bigger, something life-changing. The only way to know is to stay close to Jesus, all the way through. 
Link to last night's post:
Our terrorist/terror group of the week is the former ISIS, now the Islamic State. Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To learn more about them and their goal of spreading radical jihad and sharia rule throughout the world, click here: