Matthew 8:23-27 and Matthew 11:2-15
If you could ask God any question, and you knew that you would get an immediate and direct answer, what would it be?
If we were to spend some time asking people about that, I think we would get all sorts of answers. People would want to know about the sickness in their lives or the lives of loved ones. They would want to know about the injustices in the world. They would want to know how to get through a particular difficulty. We all have questions for God.
If we want to know how God answers questions, we need to look to Jesus. When we want to know who God is, we look to the person of Jesus, the embodiment of God.
In Matthew 8, Jesus told the disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee with him. Soon, the boat is caught in a storm and water is coming inside. These experienced sailors are convinced this is the end. Jesus, meanwhile, is asleep in the boat. They wake him up and ask him to save them. When he reminds them that they have forgotten their faith, he calms the winds and the waves until they are as smooth as glass. The disciples are amazed. When they were in trouble they called out to Jesus, and he changed the situation.
A few chapters later in Matthew 11, John the Baptist is in prison. He gets word that Jesus is nearby, and he sends his own disciples to Jesus with a question, “Are you the who is one to come, or should we expect another?” (v.3) This is a remarkable question considering that this is the same person who stood on the banks of the Jordan River and proclaimed, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.” (John 1:29) Jesus does not rebuke John but tells him to look at the way the Kingdom of God is on the move. Unlike the disciples’ situation, Jesus does not fix John’s predicament. John remains in jail. In fact, it is only going to get worse for John. When John was in trouble he called out to Jesus, but he did not change the situation.
In both cases, the ones asking the question were doing exactly what God asked them to do. They were in a difficult situation, and they wanted to know how to move forward. Why Jesus takes these very different approaches to their questions is more than we have time to discuss here. What is important to remember is that no matter the situation, Jesus tells his followers not to look at the difficulties around them, but rather to look to the blessings they have been given. They are encouraged to look to the way that God has provided for them so far. Each situation shows us that Jesus does not leave us, nor does He forsake us—even when we don’t understand our situations.
I am always struck by Jesus’ promise: “In this life, you will have trouble.” (John 16:33). That certainly flies in the face of any name-it-claim-it theology, doesn’t it? Life is going to be hard. There will be difficult times. But he doesn’t stop there. Jesus goes on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The promise here is not that “someday” Jesus will overcome the world. Rather, the emphasis is on the fact that the Kingdom of God has come near. Jesus is with us, no matter what. As the saying goes, “Sometimes He calms the storm, and sometimes he calms his child.”