God's Ways in Training His Own for His Service and Testimony: 3

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 10
What a different scene have we here! Not a prophet, who thinks of his own authority rather than of the warning and salvation of his fellow-men, hastening towards judgment and perdition, and who, daring the storm brought on by his disobedience, lays himself and his conscience to sleep. How different is the portion of the gospel referred to above, which describes in an especial way the perfect and uninterrupted service of Him, “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant!” We behold here the greatest of all prophets, of whom Moses testified, the God-man Jesus Christ, Who had left His heavenly glory, the home of every blessing, to exchange it for this world, the home of sin, misery, death, and judgment, to warn rebellious sinners to flee from the wrath to come, and to show them the only way of salvation through faith in Rim, Who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and without Whom “no man cometh unto the Father.”
Another day of His indefatigable service of love in the path of obedience and righteousness approached its end. He (Whose works were so many that, “if they should be written every one,” His bosom disciple, who most likely knew most about them, could but add, “I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written,") had bidden His disciples to cross to the other side of the lake. The multitude surrounding Him is dismissed, and the boat with its precious freight quits the shore. But Satan, “the prince of the power of the air,” also knew of the contents of that little vessel. He would try whether he could sink the fragile little craft, with its cargo so obnoxious to him. For that this storm, so unlike that sent by God in Jonah's case, came not from God, but from Satan, with God's permission (for the glory of His Son, and the sifting of the disciples), appears plain to me, as I hope to show further on.
What a difference between these two storms! In the former, a self-willed servant of God, fast asleep in indifference amidst the tempest caused by his disobedience; here, the obedient Son of God, Whose “meat” it was to do the will of Him who had sent Him, and to do His work. The lowliest and most willing of all servants, amidst the raging storm, sleeping on a pillow in the hinder part of the ship, whilst the furious billows, lashed by the storm, strike the fragile barge, enter and fill it, threatening every moment to send it to the bottom. But in that little ship there was One greater than Jonah. He slept “the sleep of the Just.” Here it is not the reasonable apprehension of a heathen shipmaster rousing the indifferent prophet from his sleep, but the selfish unbelief of the disciples, who thinking only of their own danger, with harsh reproach and rude hand, awake their gracious Master from His well-deserved sleep! Little were they mindful at that moment of Who it was, sleeping so calmly and peacefully amidst the storm, in the hinder part of the ship! How could their boat, were it ever so fragile, sink and they be drowned, with such a Pilot, who was none other than the Greater of heaven and earth, the Son of the living God! Peter had owned Him as such, but how sadly he had forgotten it at that moment. “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” What words, addressed to such a Master!
As to courage of faith, the prophet Jonah was far superior to them, though his eyes had not seen what theirs had seen, nor his ears heard what theirs had heard. Jonah had bidden the mariners to cast him into the sea for doubtless he believed that God, Who had sent him with such a message to Nineveh, was able to deliver him again from the watery grave, to accomplish his mission, after he should have learned what God would teach him. But though Jonah was superior in that respect to the Lord's disciples in the little boat, how incomparably inferior in true grace, meekness, and lowliness, was he to their Master and his, Who placed him into the depths of the sea in the fish's belly, and then again deposited him on the safe shore!
That gracious Master, aroused from His sleep in so rough a manner, now arose in His quiet majesty and power, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” And the wind and the waves are calm, as savage dogs lie down at the bidding of their master. These words of the Lord appear to show clearly that this storm came not from God, but had been brought about by Satan, for in the former case
Jesus would not have rebuked the wind. The cause as well as the intent why this storm was sent appears to be just the opposite to Jonah's case.
“And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it ye have no faith?” The gracious Master does not begin with rebuking His disciples, as we most likely should have done in a similar case. He first rebukes the winds, then His disciples. First He removes the cause of their unbelief, then He reproves their unbelief: first grace, then truth. He dwelt among them full of grace and truth. So it ought to be with us.1
“And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, “what manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Now at last they seem to become conscious again of Who it was that had slept so calmly in the hinder part of the ship, though they had daily heard His mighty words and works.
Christian reader! Do we not but too much resemble those disciples in the ship? Like them we enjoy the peace after the storm, after the Lord, through His wondrous and gracious intervention, has once more strengthened and rebuked our little faith. But where is our peace during the storm? What do we know of the “peace of Christ ruling in our hearts?” (Col. 3:1515And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:15)). What do we know of that peace of which the Lord spoke before He left this world to enter, through the sufferings of the cross, into glory, there to prepare a place for us? How much do we know of this peace amidst the storms of opposition in a hostile world—a peace of which the life of Jesus on earth was the perfect expression? (Psa. 16:8-118I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:8‑11), Acts 2:25-28).2 May the Lord in His infinite grace keep and establish us in this, “His peace,” in days of general earthquake, without and within, when in every sphere of life, be it religious, political, social, commercial or scientific, the storms of scarcely controllable human passions are raging around us, so that it almost seems as if the prince and god of this world had the aim, by overthrowing every divine and human foundation and order, to hurry on professing Christendom with increasing celerity towards open apostasy.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
A beautiful example of such a peace, daring the storm, we behold in the demeanor of the apostle Paul on his voyage to Rome. He, like Jonah, was to go to the capital of the Gentiles with a message of warning and of mercy. He also, like Jonah, had gone his own way, i.e., to Jerusalem, but not from the same selfish motive (though not excusable on that account). He also found himself, so to speak, in the fish's belly, to be prepared for his mission to Rome, as Jonah for his to Nineveh. I shall enter more fully upon this later on.
(Continued from page 181.)