How do you imagine Jesus’ tone of voice when He spoke these words to the disciples? Frustrated? Reproachful? When I put myself in the story, I hear His expression as tender. After all, it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). The love that saturates His every word to us is the power that changes us and makes us stronger believers. It’s His ardent devotion to us that causes our faith to grow from glory to glory.
In this story, Jesus addressed His dear friends with gentleness. (His authoritative rebuke, He saved for the winds and the sea.) What, then, did He want the twelve to learn, from His compassionate correction? I believe the lesson was twofold. First, He wanted them to know that there really was no reason to be afraid. Second, He wanted them to understand that He was calling them to a higher place of faith. Today, I want us to take a brief, closer look at both of those messages from His heart.
1) There is no reason to be afraid. The One in the boat with us is Lord over every storm. He has vowed to take perfect care of us. Legitimately frightening circumstances lose their alarming edge when His promises get into the core of us. This doesn’t mean that we will never feel afraid. It does mean that fearful emotions will have a smaller and smaller place in our lives as we become intimately familiar with His heart and His fierce commitment to us.
“Do not fear” is the most repeated directive in Scripture. There’s a reason for this. We need to hear it over and over! Every time we do, His command infuses us with strength. What happens when we lean into words like the following? “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10, NASB). Strength comes into our spirit. Courage arises. Fear leaves. In the deepest part of us, the light comes on. We grasp that He really is with us, closer than our heartbeat. There really is no reason to be afraid.
2) He is calling us to a higher place of faith. The twelve knew what this was like. In this story, they, too were experiencing His call to move up a level. First, through a rhetorical question, He lovingly provoked them to come up higher. Directly afterwards, He modeled the follow-through for them. He stood up and showed them how it’s done. A great calm immediately ensued. The tempest was over.
They were astonished. Jesus’ behavior broke into pieces their previous outlook on life. New information began to shape their thinking. New conclusions began formulating in their heads: Waves can be rebuked and subjugated. Gale-force winds can be completely subdued. Furious storms can be utterly silenced. This is how the Teacher wants us to live too.
Jesus’ confidently expected that these twelve men would grow up into the fearlessness that He envisioned for them. And they did. After completing three years of courage training under Him, they were categorically transformed individuals. We get this glimpse of the results:
“Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13, NASB).
The ones who had been astonished became the astonishing ones. They had been amazed by Jesus; now the rulers and elders and scribes were amazed by them. Furthermore, the ones that had been fearful were now fearless. How did this happen? This verse spells it out for us. They had been with Jesus.
How do we grow into fearlessness? Be with Him. That’s all. Just be with Him. With all your heart and soul and mind and strength, be with Him. He will show you how it’s done.
When you read the Bible, do you imagine yourself in the stories? Do you picture the character’s facial expressions, tone of voice, and reactions?