Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the thirtieth verse of the fourth chaper and continues through to the twentieth verse of the fifth chapter. “And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth: But when it is sown, it growth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples” Mark 4:30-34).
“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?” (Mark 4:35-41).
“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gaderenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, and cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel” (Mark 5:1-20).
Before delving into the words which are found within this particular portion of Scripture I find it absolutely necessary to touch upon something which I addressed in a previous writing. When thinking and speaking about the difference between crowds and multitudes and those great numbers of individuals who might gather themselves together in the name of the Lord Jesus, I am absolutely and completely convinced that large crowds and multitudes does not automatically guarantee that each and every one present among them is a true disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. As you read the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the eleven disciples and certain of those who were at the mount called Olivet when Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven who returned unto the city of Jerusalem. Those who returned from the mount of Olivet unto the city of Jerusalem and were gathered together in an upper room totaled one hundred and twenty individuals. What makes this all the more unique and astonishing is when you think about and consider the fact that within and during the life and ministry of Jesus there would be great multitudes which would gather themselves together before, unto and around Him. You cannot read the gospel narratives of the live and ministry of Jesus and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus spent a considerable amount of time in the midst of great multitudes and crowds which gathered themselves unto Him—perhaps to hear and listen to the words which He spoke, and/or perhaps to witness and behold the great and mighty works He would work among them. There is absolutely no denying the fact that Jesus the Christ was indeed tremendously comfortable in the midst of and among the crowds which gathered themselves unto Him, and there were multiple times when He would heal all those who had come unto Him.
As I sit here this morning and thinking about this particular reality of Jesus ministering and moving among the great crowds and multitudes which gathered themselves unto Him I can’t help but be reminded of two distinct occasions when we actually know the number of those who had not only gathered themselves unto Jesus, but had also tarried with Him while He taught them, and while He worked great works of the Father among them. Within the four gospel narratives you will find and discover that there was on one occasion a total of five thousand men who had gathered themselves before and unto the Lord Jesus as they not only listened to the words which were spoken by Him, but also as they witnessed the works which He would work among them. The gospel authors write and speak about a specific time when the total number of those who had gathered themselves before and unto Him was indeed five thousand people, and how Jesus would command His disciples to have the crowd sit down upon the grass in groups of fifty. ON this particular occasion we find the Lord Jesus Christ taking a certain lad’s lunch which was willingly offered to Him, which consisted of five loaves of bread and two fishes. With this lad’s lunch in His hand Jesus would present it before the Father and would bless it before He began breaking it and distributing it unto the disciples who would in turn give it to the people. Scripture records and reveals how the disciples would continue to feed the multitude until they had all eaten and were full. What’s more, is that Scripture also records how there were twelve baskets of the fragments which were left over—this even after all five thousand had eaten and were filled to the full. It is truly something astonishing and worth thinking about and considering when you read this narrative, for it not only demonstrates Jesus’ ability to minister unto and among the crowds, but it also provides us with the exact number of the multitude which had gathered themselves before and unto Him as they would listen to the words He would teach and would witness and behold the works He would work.
If you move on even further into the four gospel narratives you will find that there was another instance where we learn and discover the number of another multitude which would gather themselves before and unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Upon reading the gospel narratives you will find that there was another instance when the total number of individuals and persons who had gathered themselves unto and before Jesus would total four thousand people. Similar to that which took place before and among the four thousand Jesus would instruct His disciples to have the multitude sit down upon the grass in different groups. Once the entire multitude was seated Jesus would once more be given loaves of bread and fishes and would bless and break that which was given unto Him. On this particular day we find Jesus feeding this large group of multitude, and filling them until they had all eaten and were full. What’s more, is that on this particular occasion there were also baskets of the fragments which were gathered together after the entire multitude and crowd was filled to the full from the miracle Jesus wrought among them as He would feed them that they might not depart from His presence fasting and would possibly faint along the way. Oh it is important for us to truly recognize and understand this particular narrative, for this would be the second time when the Lord Jesus Christ would feed a great multitude of people, and it would be on this occasion we find Jesus having fed in total nine thousand men, women and children who had gathered themselves before and unto Him. When you consider both of these occasions you will find that Jesus had indeed and had in fact fed nine thousand men, women and children through the miracle of multiplication as He would bless that which was given unto Him, as He would break and continue breaking that which was given unto Him, and as He would continue to feed the multitude through the disciples until they were all full.
What makes this particular reality all the more astonishing and interesting is when you think about and consider the awesome and powerful truth that in the fifteenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul you will find that after Jesus was raised from death to life on the third day He would appear unto and manifested Himself alive unto the eleven apostles—and not just the eleven apostles, but also unto upwards of five hundred men and women at the same time. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this tremendous truth, for it can and will help us understand a powerful principle which I am absolutely convinced we as those who profess to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ need to hear. If and as you journey to the first and opening chapter of the New Testament book of the Acts you will find that when all those disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ had gathered themselves together in the upper room the total number of individuals present in that room was one hundred and twenty. Pause and consider this particular reality—especially in light of the fact that on one occasion Jesus fed five thousand persons, while on another occasion He would feed four thousand people. When the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ were gathered together in the upper room there were only one hundred and twenty persons and souls which were present there in the upper room. What adds even more weight and significance to this is when you think about and consider the criteria the apostle Peter set forth in choosing one from among them who would take the place and office of Judas Iscariot which he had forfeited through treachery, iniquity and wickedness in betraying the Son of the living God. The apostle Peter—when speaking unto those present in the upper room—described how the criteria for that one who would enter and step into the office of Judas would need to be one who accompanied them from the time of John’s baptism unto the time of Jesus’ ascension on the mount called Olivet.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality—especially when you consider the fact that the apostle John writes and records how in Capernaum there were a great many disciples and those who walked with and followed Jesus who were offended with and by the words which He spoke. As you read the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by John you will find that in the synagogue in Capernaum there were many Jews who strove together and against the Lord Jesus Christ because He declared Himself to have come down from heaven—and not only declared that He had come down from heaven, but also that He was the bread of heaven which had come from the Father. What you will read and find in this passage of Scripture is an incredibly awesome and powerful picture of Jews who would strive together and against the Lord Jesus Christ because of the words which He spoke. Not only this, but the apostle John also writes and records how many of the disciples which walked with and followed Jesus would be offended because of the words which He spoke. There were many of the disciples of Jesus which had walked with and followed Him who asked themselves how they could understand the words which He spoke for it was a hard saying. What’s more, is the apostle John writes and records of this particular day in Capernaum how there would be many disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who would turn back and would walk no more with Jesus. Scripture does not reveal just how many turned back and chose to walk no more with Jesus, but we do know that after Jesus observed those who turned back and chose to walk no more with Him He would turn to the disciples and ask them if they too would turn back and choose to walk no more with Him. It would be Simon Peter who would ask where they would go, for He alone had the words of eternal life. Moreover, it would be Simon called Peter who would also emphatically declare that they knew and believed that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God.
Scripture makes it very clear that there was at least one occasion when many of the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ would make the conscious and deliberate decision to turn back and walk no more with Him. Scripture is very clear about that time when Jesus fed a total of five thousand individuals with loaves of bread and fish. Scripture is also very clear that there was a time when Jesus would feed four thousand persons with loaves of bread and fish. What’s more, is the apostle Paul makes it clear that after His resurrection from the dead Jesus would appear unto and manifest Himself alive unto five hundred persons at one time. Pause and think about the tremendous implications of this—particularly when you think about and consider the truth that when those who were at the mount of Olivet returned to the upper room in Jerusalem there were a total of one hundred and twenty men and women. Not only this, but we also learn and discover that the criteria and requirement for that one who would step into the office and role vacated by Judas must needs be one who had accompanied them from the time of John’s baptism all the way up to the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. What an incredibly powerful truth this is when you take the time to think about it, for it brings us face to face with a wonderful and powerful commitment and devotion to Christ that would not only be shared by Justus and Matthias, and not only by the eleven, but I would also dare say by others who were present in that upper room. We know that there were at least thirteen individuals who had walked with and followed Jesus from the time of John’s baptism until the time of the ascension of Jesus Christ at the mount of Olivet. We might even argue that there was a fourteenth person, which would have been Mary the mother of Jesus. We know that there were certain women who would not only walk with the Lord Jesus, but would also minister unto Him and the disciples as they traveled from city to city, from town to town, and from village to village.
The reason I am choosing to highlight and underscore this absolutely awesome truth is when we think about the fact that a little over one percent of the total persons Jesus fed with the loaves of bread and fish were actually present in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost. What’s more, is that less than a quarter of those whom Jesus showed Himself alive after His resurrection would actually be present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many might have begun walking with Jesus from the time of John’s baptism, and yet as time progressed they would somehow for one reason or another grow and become offended with and by the words which He would speak unto and among them. I can’t help but think about the fact that there would undoubtedly have been men and women who might very well have started walking with and following the Lord Jesus from the time of John’s baptism, and yet they would find themselves growing and becoming offended with Him because of the words which He spoke. What’s more is that when John the Baptist was in prison and sent two of his disciples unto Jesus to ask if He was the Christ and the One they were looking for Jesus would send them back with the instruction to declare unto John all those things which they had seen and heard. Not only this, but Jesus would also send these disciples back to John with the emphatic declaration that “Blessed is that one who is not offended by me.” Jesus realized and understood the battle that was warring within the heart and soul of John the Baptist and the danger and temptation of growing offended with the Lord Jesus—perhaps because he did not expect to experience suffering, affliction and opposition, or perhaps even because Jesus would not come and visit Him in prison. In fact, we learn that when Jesus heard how Herod had cast John in prison He departed from that place and would enter into Galilee where He would teach, preach and minister.
I sit here right now thinking about and considering two distinct and powerful truths which must needs be considered—at least briefly—for there are times when the actions of Jesus cannot and will not make sense. In the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we learn and discover how when Jesus heard that Lazarus whom He loved and whom He considered to be a friend was dead, He chose to tarry where He was for another two days. By the time Jesus had actually come to the tomb and grave where the body of Lazarus had been laid he had been dead for four days. Stop and think about the fact that Jesus loved Lazarus—a reality that was evidenced when others witnessed Him weep at the graveside of Lazarus. Consider the fact that Jesus could have come unto Lazarus while he was still alive, and cured him of the sickness that was present within his physical body. Jesus could have come unto Lazarus while he was alive, cured him of his sickness, and kept and prevented him from dying. Instead, that which Jesus did was tarry where He was for another two days, and by the time He made it to Lazarus’ graveside he would have been dead for four days. In the case of John the Baptist we find that Jesus did indeed and did in fact hear that John was imprisoned by Herod, and yet instead of coming to visit him in that prison cell Jesus departed. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of these two scenarios, for it would be these two scenarios that not only point to certain times when the actions of Jesus make no sense to our natural mind. Not only this, but both of these scenarios provide us with a powerful witness into those times when Jesus’ actions—or I might even dare say Jesus’ inaction—can indeed bring us into a dangerous place where we wrestle with offense in our hearts toward Him. We dare not and must not think that there are not times, and that there have not been times within our hearts and lives when the actions and inaction of Jesus has caused us to enter into a dangerous and dark place of wrestling with ourselves whether or not we are going to be offended with Him.
I sit here today thinking about and considering these particular truths and I am brought face to face with the tremendous question of what we do when Jesus hears we are sick, and we know He has the power and authority to heal us, and yet instead of coming unto us when and while we are sick that we might be whole, He chooses to tarry and abide where He is. What do we do and how do we respond in those instances and those occurrences when we find ourselves in a great place of need, and yet Jesus seems to be nowhere to be found, and when Jesus seems to tarry? How do we respond and how do we react when as a result of Jesus’ tarrying and delay that which we feared and that which we were praying against actually takes place? What will we do in those moments when our faith and doubt collide and we find ourselves wrestling with offense within our hearts? Not only this, but we must also ask ourselves what we do and how we respond when we find ourselves in a desperate place of need and instead of Jesus coming unto us He instead chooses to depart. In the case of the death of Lazarus we find Jesus deliberately and intentionally choosing to remain and tarry where He was for another two days, while in the cast of John the Baptist we find Jesus departing from that place. It’s interesting to note that Jesus could have chosen to come unto and visit Lazarus while he was sick and lying on bed just as Jesus could have chosen to visit John the Baptist in prison. Jesus could have chosen to visit Lazarus there in Bethany while he was still alive and the sickness was present within his body and healed him, however, Jesus chose to tarry, to wait, and to remain where He was for another two days. Not only this, but by the time Jesus arrived Lazarus was not only dead, but had been dead for four days. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth and reality, for it calls and brings us to the place where we confront how we respond and how we react when the Lord Jesus chooses to delay and tarry rather than showing up, and as a result that which we feared and that which we were praying against actually happens.
The reason I highlight and mention these two narratives is because they serve as a background and foundation for our own hearts and lives when we think about and consider how committed and how devoted we are to walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. The words we find in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts serve as a powerful statement and declaration of commitment and devotion to walking with and following Christ, for the apostle Peter speaks of those who accompanied them from the time of John’s baptism until the time of the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter emphatically stated the criteria for that one who would be chosen from among them as being one who had faithfully walked with and accompanied them from the time of the baptism of John the Baptist until the time Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father. Oh we dare not and must not miss the words which the apostle Peter spoke on this particular occasion, for it highlights and underscores the tremendous reality of those who were present in the upper room as being a total of one hundred and twenty—one hundred and twenty souls and persons compared to the nine thousand Jesus fed, and compared to the five hundred whom Jesus appeared to after He had been raised from death to life. One hundred and twenty persons and souls were in the upper room in light of the great multitudes and crowds which gathered themselves before and unto the Lord Jesus Christ within and throughout His public ministry. We know of at least two times when the total number of individuals who gathered themselves unto Jesus totaled four thousand persons or more, and yet on the day of Pentecost there were only one hundred and twenty persons who were actually present in the upper room. It is important for us to think about and consider this reality and truth, for it highlights, underscores and emphasizes the stark reality concerning those who would indeed and those who did in fact tarry and abide with the disciples from the time of John’s baptism until the time of the ascension of Jesus the Christ.
Stop and think about the fact that the criteria for that one who would be chosen to step into the office and role vacated by Judas Iscariot would be one who walked with and accompanied them from the time of John’s baptism until and unto the time of the ascension of the Lord Jesus. This would have included Jesus’ suffering, Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus’ burial, and Jesus’ resurrection. The reason I am choosing to focus so heavily upon this is because there are those among us within our Christian circles who get excited when great crowds and great multitudes gather themselves together—even gather themselves together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are those who boast and praise great multitudes and great crowds which turn out at crusades, at revivals, at awakenings, at conferences, at seminars, at meetings, and the like. What’s more, is there are those among us who boast of the great many men and women who might pray what we have commonly known as “the sinner’s prayer.” There are those among us who boast of all those who have made decisions when the preacher and minister calls and invites them to choose if they will walk and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter, however, is that if there is one thing great crowds and multitudes doesn’t demonstrate, prove and reveal it’s how many will actually endure unto the end. We must remember that it was Jesus Himself who emphatically declared that those who endure unto the end will be the ones who are saved. Please do not miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible this truth truly is, for it draws and calls our attention to the fact that great multitudes cannot and do not prove, demonstrate and reveal how many of those present—even those who might make decisions—will be genuine, authentic and committed disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The parable of the sower demonstrates those who hear the word and yet how Satan immediately comes and steals it away. The parable of the sower demonstrates those who hear the word and even receive it with joy, however, because they have no root and depth within themselves they are offended when persecution and suffering rises because of the word. Moreover, this parable of the sower reveals and demonstrates how there are others who will hear the word of the kingdom, and yet the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things chokes the life out of the word, and as a result they become unfruitful.
Perhaps one of the greatest things that those who pray “the sinner’s prayer” and those who make “decisions” rather than commitments does not show is whether or not men and will be faithful and will endure unto the end. On two separate occasions Jesus spoke of our carrying the cross, and not only declared that if any man desired to follow Him they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him, but Jesus also declared that those who did not and would not carry and take up their cross would not be and were not worthy of Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible and necessary this truly is, for while there are many who might boast of those who pray “the sinner’s prayer,” I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is something to be said about those who are willing to pray “the sufferer’s prayer.” Oh when I speak about this please do not misunderstand me and think that I am somehow suggesting another prayer which men and women pray in light of and in conjunction with “the sinner’s prayer.” When I speak about those who are willing to pray “the sufferer’s prayer” I am speaking about those who are not only willing to make Jesus Lord over their lives, but those who are willing to deny themselves, those who are willing to take up their cross, and those who are willing to present their bodies as living sacrifices. When I speak about those who are willing to pray “the sufferer’s prayer” I am speaking about those who are willing to endure suffering, endure hardship, endure trials, endure tribulation, endure affliction, endure persecution, endure opposition, and endure tribulation and trials within this life. As I speak about those who are willing to pray “the sufferer’s prayer” I am speaking about those who not only make the decision to follow Christ, but those who make the conscious and deliberate commitment to both walk with and follow Him, and who are willing to endure unto the end.
I cannot escape this particular truth and reality, for it calls and invites us into the awesome and powerful place of whether or not we are those who have made decisions to walk with and follow Christ, and yet we somehow have not truly made a commitment before and unto the Lord Jesus Christ. With all of this being said I would like to highlight and underscore that I am in no way saying that there is no room and there is no place for those who are willing to pray “the sinner’s prayer.” I fully realize that those who are willing to pray such a prayer of repentance might very well do so at their own risk and place themselves in danger of their kinsmen, their brethren, their friends, their family members, and the like. I fully realize that praying “the sinner’s prayer” is something that requires a great amount of courage, bravery and strength to actually do. I am fully aware of the fact that when it comes to praying such a prayer as “the sinner’s prayer” it is not necessarily the easiest thing to do and that it requires something of us to admit we are sinners in need of a Savior and repenting of our sins before a just and holy God who is also gracious and merciful. Even with this being, however, I am convinced that it is far easier to pray such a prayer and make Jesus Savior in our lives as opposed to making Jesus Lord over our lives. What’s more, is I would dare say that it is easier to make Jesus Savior of our lives while at the same time being unwilling to make Him Lord over our lives. As I speak about “the sufferer’s prayer” I am speaking about praying that prayer that positions the authority and the government of the Lord Jesus Christ firmly within, upon and over our hearts and lives. “The sufferer’s prayer” is a prayer that we pray—and not just a prayer that we pray, but a commitment we are willing to make to endure hardship as a good solider of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the apostle Paul who stated that we must through many tribulations enter into the kingdom of heaven, and it was the Lord Jesus who declared that in this world we can and will have many tribulations. It was the apostle Peter who admonished us to not consider the fiery trial of our faith which is to test us as some strange thing that has happened to us, but to actually rejoice in the midst of the suffering we face and experience. In fact, I invite you to consider the following words which are written in the fourth and fifth chapters of the first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto those saints which were scattered and suffering throughout Asia:
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:12-19).
“Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:6-11).
The words which we find in this particular passage of Scripture present us with the tremendous and powerful truth that if we profess to walk with and follow Jesus as His disciples and those who follow Him it is very likely that we can and will experience suffering, persecution, trials, tribulation, opposition, and the like. We must needs recognize and realize that just because we pray “the sinner’s prayer” and just because we choose to make Jesus Savior in our life—that doesn’t mean that Jesus will bring our lives into the place where we can never and will never experience trials, troubles and tribulation. There are those who have preached and taught that walking with and following Jesus can and will cause us to live our best life now here in the flesh, and such individuals have absolutely no room for any form or type of suffering. Such individuals think, feel and believe that making the decision to walk with and follow Jesus somehow causes us to be exempt and immune from all manner of suffering, all manner of affliction, and all manner of persecution. The truth, however, is that even as early as the Sermon on the Mount which Jesus would deliver shortly after He was baptized by John in the Jordan River, and after He had returned from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit after being tempted of the devil, Jesus would call and bring us into the place where we would undoubtedly recognize that we have indeed and have in fact been called into a place of suffering with Him—and not only suffering with Him, but also suffering for Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely wonderful and incredible this truly is, for it calls and brings us face to face with the undeniable reality which the apostle Paul emphatically declared as he stated that we must through many tribulations enter into the kingdom of heaven. What’s more, is I would dare say that those who are perhaps unwilling to endure suffering, hardship, trials, tribulation and trouble within their lives are those who might very well need to consider whether or not they have indeed and have in fact truly made Jesus Lord over their life and Lord in their life.
There is something truly awesome and powerful about being one who tarried and abode from the baptism of John until and unto the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, for if you endured during those three and a half years and were present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost you experienced the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit when the promise of the Father was sent by Jesus from the right hand of the Father. It’s actually interesting to think about and consider how Matthias and Justus not only tarried and abode with the disciples from the time of John’s baptism until the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, but they were both present in the upper room among the one hundred and twenty on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking with other tongues. Think about and consider someone like Matthias who had endured from the time of John’s baptism until and up to the ascension of Jesus the Christ and would not only experience John’s baptism, but would also experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Scripture is unclear whether or not any of the disciples were indeed baptized by John, however, we know that Andrew was originally one of John’s disciples who would later follow Jesus. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Andrew was indeed and was in fact baptized by John the Baptist, became a disciple of John the Baptist until Jesus called both he and his brother to come after and follow Him. Andrew might very well have been baptized by John the Baptist, tarried with the other disciples and Jesus up the time of His ascension, and would also experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
There is something truly powerful and unique when you think about and consider this, for it forces us to truly look at the level of commitment and the level of devotion that would have been present within the hearts and spirits of those who chose to walk with and follow Jesus. We dare not overlook and misunderstand the awesome and powerful truth surrounding being one of those who tarried from the time of John’s baptism until the time of the ascension of Jesus, for being willing to tarry during those three and a half years—even when and especially as there were many who turned back and walked no more with Jesus—is a tremendous and awesome sign of commitment and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is truly something awesome and powerful to read and consider the words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, for there is something worth noting concerning those who are willing to tarry with, abide with, walk with and follow Jesus from the time of John’s baptism until the time of His ascension unto the right hand of the Father in heaven. There is something absolutely remarkable and astonishing when we think about and consider this, for it brings us into the place where we further understand the truth of those who are willing to endure. Those who tarried from John’s baptism until the time of the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed endure until the day of Pentecost, and would on that day experience the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit as they would be filled and would speak with other tongues. We must needs realize and understand how incredibly significant this truly is, for it invites us to examine our hearts and truly understand and admit whether or not we are willing to be those who will indeed and will in fact endure unto the end. It was Jesus Himself who declared that those who endure to the end will be saved, and it was Jesus Himself who emphatically declared that in this world we can and will have many trials and tribulations.
I fully realize and recognize that what I have presented to you in this writing thus far does not directly correlate to the passage of Scripture which is before us, however, I feel absolutely compelled to call and draw your attention to the fact that there is something incredibly powerful about our willingness to make Jesus Lord over our lives. There is something we must needs realize, recognize and understand when we think about and consider the fact that making Jesus our Savior does not exempt, nor does it make us immune from suffering, and making Jesus our Savior deals directly with our sins and the need for forgiveness. What making Jesus Savior in our lives does not do is actually make Him Lord over our lives, and Lord within our lives, for such a commitment and devotion is entirely and altogether far greater and far more challenging for us. I won’t go so far as to say it is easier to make Jesus Savior in our lives, however, I will say that making the decision to make Jesus Lord within our lives and Lord over our lives is something that requires a full and complete surrender of our hearts, our minds, our will, and everything we think we have and think we are. When we truly make the decision to make Jesus Lord within and Lord over our lives we are inviting the increase of the government that is upon His shoulders to be evidenced and manifested within our hearts and lives. The disciples—just before Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father—asked if He would at that restore the kingdom unto Israel, and yet the truth of the matter is that Jesus never came to restore the kingdom unto Israel. Jesus came to the earth to establish and set up the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth, and by so doing He would establish His government, His dominion and His authority within the hearts and lives of men and women. In all reality, I would dare say the kingdom of heaven is about the government, the authority and the dominion of Jesus being set up and established within our hearts and our lives, as we fully and completely surrender ourselves to that government and authority.
I sit here today thinking about and considering just how absolutely incredible this thought truly is, for it calls and invites us into the place where we are forced to acknowledge whether or not we are those who have truly surrendered ourselves to the lordship of Jesus and have truly been willing to allow Him to have full and complete control within our lives. What’s more, is that there are those who would like to experience the forgiveness of Christ, and yet are not willing to experience the lordship of Christ. There are those who are willing to experience the forgiveness of Christ but are entirely and altogether unwilling to suffer with and suffer for Him within this life. It’s truly astounding to think about the parable of the sower, for within it Jesus describes those who hear the word of the kingdom, receive that word with joy and gladness, and yet because they have no root nor depth within themselves—when persecution arises because of the word they are offended. What’s more, is that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus included in the Beatitudes how we are blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake can and will inherit the kingdom of heaven. What’s more is that Jesus also declared that we are blessed when men revile us, and persecute us, and say all manner of evil against us falsely for His sake. Not only this, but Jesus would also invite us to rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is our reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets which were before us. Perhaps one of the greatest things we must needs acknowledge within our lives is whether or not we are willing to be those who can, will and are ready to suffer with Jesus, and those who are willing to endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ in this life. It was the apostle Paul who instructed and admonished Timothy who was his spiritual son in the faith to endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ, for the apostle Paul knew and recognized that it is in this life we can and shall experience many trials, troubles and tribulations. Consider if you will the words which are found in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the second New Testament epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints concerning the trials, the tribulations and the troubles he experienced within this life:
“I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft, of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed forevermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands” (2 Corinthians 11:16-33).
“For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to ma a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:6-10).
With these words in mind which were written by the apostle Paul I invite you to consider words which are found within the same epistle and are found in the fourth chapter. Consider if you will the following words found within the fourth chapter beginning to read with the seventh verse:
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:6-18).
It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to these words, for we must needs realize that we have never been promised a life absent trials, nor a life absent troubles, nor even a life absent tribulations. One of the greatest tragedies many within and among our churches face is that men and women have been brought unto the place where they think and believe that following Christ automatically exempts them from facing and experiencing any hardships, any troubles, any tribulations, and even any suffering and persecution in this life. Perhaps one of the greatest questions I am finding myself asking right now is how many men and women among us within our churches and houses of worship are not only willing to endure hardship, tribulation, suffering, persecution and the like, but those who recognize that we have been invited to partake in the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. What’s more is that I am absolutely convinced that there are a number of men women among us within our churches today—particularly and especially here in the Western hemisphere—who will be entirely and altogether shocked when persecution and suffering arises for the sake of the word, for the sake of righteousness, and for the sake of Jesus’ name. There have been a number of freedoms and liberties we have enjoyed and experienced as citizens of this nation, and yet the question I am finding myself is what will happen and how will men and women respond when the ball drops, when everything begins to hit the fan, and suffering and persecution begins to arise among us within our culture and society. There were those who thought that church buildings shutting and being closed was persecution in the midst of a pandemic. There were those who thought and felt that having to worship and fellowship in a virtual environment was somehow a manifestation and means of persecution. Such individuals even dared take to the streets in protest, and dared even threaten legal action against state and local governments for the shutting down of church buildings.
As I continue on this subject and top of the lordship of Jesus Christ I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the passage at hand, for it is within these passages you will find a tremendous demonstration of the authority, the dominion and the government of the kingdom on full display in the life of Jesus. If and as you read the words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark you will encounter the tremendous dominion and authority Jesus has—not only in the spiritual and unseen realm of evil spirits, demons, principalities, and the like, but also in the physical and natural realm as well. I cannot help but read the words found in these two portions of Scripture and see the tremendous authority that is found within the person of Jesus Christ in the physical and natural realm as although He was fast and sound asleep in the midst of a storm which the disciples found themselves in the middle of upon the sea, He would rise from the place He had been lying, would stand up in the midst of the storm, and would speak to the wind and the waves commanding them to be still. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in the final verses of the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark and not encounter the tremendous authority Jesus exercised and put on full display before the disciples as He not only stood up in the midst of the storm, but also spoke to the storm itself and commanded it to be still. Within this particular passage we find Jesus sleeping in the ship on a pillow, rising from that place He had been lying and standing in the midst of the storm, and ultimately speaking to the storm itself. FROM SLEEPING TO STANDING TO SPEAKING! How absolutely incredible it truly is to read this passage of Scripture and encounter the awesome reality that Jesus would indeed and would in fact demonstrate His complete and total trust in the Father as HE was able to sleep in the midst of the storm. There would be many who would choose to focus solely on Jesus’ standing up in the midst of the storm and speaking to the storm as a demonstration of His authority, however, there would be very few who would actually speak of Jesus’ trust and confidence in His Father as He was able to sleep as the storm arose, and even as the storm was still rising.
If you read the words which are found within this passage you will undoubtedly encounter the truth that Jesus would have most likely fallen asleep before the storm would arise on the sea—perhaps even knowing the storm would arise—and would be sound asleep as the storm was raging on all around them. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that Jesus could very well have allowed Himself to fall asleep in the midst of that ship knowing full well a storm was going to be manifested within and upon the sea. Stop and think about the fact that Jesus could very well have known the storm was coming, and yet He had such a quiet trust and confidence in His Father that He was able to fall fast asleep in the midst of the ship. Not only this, but we know that Jesus slept while the storm was raging all around both He and the disciples. It wasn’t until the disciples came unto Jesus and cried out for fear for their lives that Jesus would not only rise from the place He had been sleeping, but would also stand in the midst of the storm, speak to it commanding it to be still, and all would be calm there in the midst of the sea. What makes this all the more astonishing is when you think about and consider the fact that Jesus was able to sleep before the storm came upon and over the sea, and Jesus was still asleep during and in the midst of the storm. I would dare say that Jesus would and could have slept throughout the entire storm without even being awakened by the wind and the waves, and yet it was the cry of His disciples that not only awakened Him, but also caused Him to stand up in the midst of the sea.
WHEN THE CRIES OF THE DISCIPLES AWAKEN THE MASTER! WHEN THE CRIES OF THE DISCIPLES AWAKEN A SLEEPING CHRIST! I have to admit that I absolutely love the fact that this narrative describes Jesus as sleeping in the midst of the storm, for within it—not only do we find a demonstration of the authority and power of Christ to speak to storms and command them to be silenced and still, but we also find a powerful description of the trust and confidence Jesus had in His Father. There is not a doubt in my mind Jesus would and could have slept through and slept in the midst of the storm, for He had full trust and full confidence in the love, in the affection, in the care, in the protection and in the provision of the Father. Oh it says something about someone who is able to sleep in the midst of a storm that is raging all around them as they have placed full and complete trust and confidence in the Father for their protection and their well-being. Jesus was indeed able to sleep in the midst of the storm—not because the storm wasn’t present, but because of His trust and confidence in the love and protection of His Father. Pause for a moment and think about the great confidence and trust that would have had to have been present within the heart of Jesus to be able to sleep in the storm. What’s more, is that this particular reality is seen and evidenced in Jesus’ words to the disciples, for John Mark writes and records how after Jesus spoke to the storm He then spoke to His disciples and asked them why they doubted, and why they had so little faith. Perhaps the question we must needs ask ourselves is was and would faith have been demonstrated in the midst of this storm in speaking to the storm, or in sleeping in the midst of the storm. I am absolutely and completely convinced that Jesus’ sleeping in the midst of the storm was a mighty and powerful demonstration of the faith that was present within His heart before His Father who was in heaven, and it was the authority that was found within that same heart that would cause Jesus to stand in the midst of the storm, speak to the storm, and command all to be still and be calm and at peace.
I absolutely love what is written and recorded within this passage of Scripture, for it calls and invites us into the place where we are able to witness and behold the faith, the trust and the confidence of Jesus by and through His ability to sleep in the midst of the storm. It’s important to note that Jesus was in the same ship with the disciples, and the same storm which was raging all around the disciples was raging all around Jesus Himself. The difference between Jesus and the disciples was that Jesus had an unwavering trust, confidence, and perhaps even faith in His Father to protect Him, which enabled Him to be able to sleep as the storm was raging all around both He and the disciples. Oh there is something about being able to sleep in the midst of the storm, for although the storm might be raging all around us there is this peace and calm present within us. I would dare say that Jesus was able to speak and command peace and calm in the midst of the storm because of the peace and the calm that was present within His heart and life. Jesus would speak to the wind and the waves and command all to be completely still because deep within the depths of His heart and soul all was completely still. It’s interesting to note that in the Beatitudes Jesus spoke of those who are “peacemakers” rather than those who are peacekeepers. There is a drastic and fundamental difference between being those who attempt to merely keep the peace, and those who are actually able to bring peace. What we find within the fourth and fifth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark is not only Jesus’ ability to bring peace in the midst of the storm because of the peace that was found within Him, but we also find Jesus being able to bring peace into the life of that man from the Gadarenes. That peace, that quietness, that calmness, that rest, that stillness that was found within the heart and mind of Jesus was evidenced and manifested in His ability to not only bring and speak peace in the midst of the storm, but also bring peace, rest, calm and stillness to this man from the Gadarenes.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of these two passages of Scripture, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that Jesus was indeed and was in fact able to bring peace and speak peace in the midst of the storm because He Himself was at complete peace before the Father who was in heaven. Jesus Himself and such a peace, such a stillness, such a calmness within His heart and mind that when the storm arose in the midst of the sea—not only was He able to sleep in the midst of the storm, but He was able to speak to the storm and command it to be still. Oh how truly remarkable and captivating it is to think about and consider the fact that the peace and the stillness that was present within the heart and mind of Jesus would not only be manifested in His ability to sleep in the midst of the storm, but it would also be manifested and evidenced in His ability to speak to the storm. What’s more, is that not only do we find Jesus speaking to the storm, but we also find Jesus speaking to the Legion that was present within this man from the Gadarenes. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible and tremendous this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful and powerful truth that when we think and speak about Jesus the Christ we must needs speak about the great peace, the great rest, the great quietness, the great confidence, and the great trust He had before and with the Father in heaven. Jesus could and could bring and speak peace into the midst of the storm, and Jesus could indeed speak and bring peace within the heart and soul of this man from the Gadarenes because of the peace, because of the calmness, and because of the authority that was found within Him. What’s more, is I would dare say that both of these passages bring us face to face with the collision of the peace of Christ and the authority of Christ as both would be manifested in the physical realm and then in the spiritual and supernatural realm.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is absolutely captivating to think and consider the fact that in both the case of the storm that rose up on the sea, as well as the man from the Gadarenes we find the peace of Christ and the authority of Christ being manifested at the same time. In the physical and natural realm of the storm that arose upon the sea we find the peace of Christ as demonstrated and manifested in His ability to sleep in the midst of the storm, as well as His ability to bring and speak peace in the midst of that storm. Jesus was able to speak and bring peace into that storm because of the peace and the stillness that was present within Himself, as well as the authority that was found within Him. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when we think about the concept of peacemakers as mentioned in the Beatitudes we must needs realize and understand that directly linked and connected to peacemakers is the undeniable and awesome reality of the authority the Father has entrusted us with, for it takes and requires a certain level of authority to not merely keep peace in the midst of our situations and circumstances, but also to make, create and bring peace into them. Jesus could speak, bring and command peace to be manifested in the midst of the storm because of the peace that was present within His heart and mind. This peace, this calm, this rest, this quietness, this trust and confidence that was present within the heart and life of Jesus would be manifested together with the authority that was present within Him, and not only was He able to speak and bring peace and stillness to the storm, but He was also able to bring peace, rest, quietness, deliverance, and freedom to the man from the Gadarenes. Oh I absolutely love how we have two different scenarios playing out within the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark, and in both scenarios and situations we find the Prince of peace bring peace in the midst of the storm, as well as peace in the midst of the heart, mind and life of one who was possessed with a legion of unclean spirits. Stop and think about the fact that Jesus would not only speak to a storm and command it to be still, but Jesus would also speak to a legion of demons which John Mark described as being at a very minimum of two thousand.
I conclude this writing by calling and drawing your attention to the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and how He was indeed and was in fact the ultimate peacemaker—not only because of the peace, the rest, the quietness and the trust that was found within His heart and mind, but also because of the authority that was present within Him as well. It is truly something unique and powerful to think about and consider that in both the case of the storm upon the sea and the man from the Gadarenes that within the person of Jesus—not only do we see the peace and calm that was present and manifested within Himself, but we also see the authority as well. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that which is presented before us in these two passages of Scripture for they call and invite us into the place where we not only acknowledge the peace and the stillness that is found within the person of Jesus, but also the authority that is found. It is absolutely astounding and remarkable to watch Jesus in both of these scenarios—scenarios which might have produced and caused fear within the hearts of others—and step into them will full confidence and trust, with full peace and rest, and with will authority, power and control. We know the disciples were fearful in the midst of the storm, however, Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear as to their thoughts and emotions when they were met with this man who was possessed, tormented and oppressed by a legion of unclean spirits. We know from reading this passage of Scripture that Jesus was absolutely unmoved and unshaken by this man who had the unclean spirit and that Jesus exercised full and complete control over this particular event. How absolutely remarkable and astounding it is that Jesus had just stood up in the middle of a storm and commanded it to be at peace and to be still, and now we find Jesus stepping on to the shore and being immediately confronted with a man who had an unclean spirit. Jesus was entirely and altogether unwavering as He stood in the midst of the storm, and now as He stepped on to the shore and encountered this man from the Gadarenes Jesus continued to be unshakeable and unmovable.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found here, for although the disciples were themselves fearful in the midst of the storm—not only was Jesus able to sleep in the midst of the storm, but Jesus was also able to stand up in the midst of the storm and command it to be still and to be at peace. When Jesus and the disciples arrived to the other side of the shore and were approached by this man from the Gadarenes we find Jesus continuing this trust, this confidence, this peace, this stillness, as well as this authority and dominion within Him as He would exercise the government of heaven on the shores of the sea. There on the shores of the sea Jesus would command the Legion to depart from this man, and would bring this particular man into the place where he was seated, clothed and in his right mind. Oh how absolutely remarkable and astounding this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that Jesus was able to step up and step into the middle of a storm and command it to be still, and Jesus was able to step on to the shore line and command this evil spirit to depart from this man. What a truly remarkable and powerful truth it is to think and consider that Jesus would bring peace and calm in the midst of the sea, and Jesus would and could bring peace on the shore. The same peace and authority Jesus exercised in the midst of the sea Jesus would also exercise there on the shore of the sea as He would completely deliver and set free this man from that which oppressed and tormented him. How absolutely glorious and wonderful this truly is to think about the fact that Jesus was able to step out of the boat and on to the shore—perhaps even knowing that He would be met by this man from the Gadarenes—and while the disciples themselves might have been fearful, Jesus Himself was completely still, and peaceful, and walked in full authority and power.
We have a great need to recognize and understand that which is found in this passage of Scripture for we as the disciples and followers of Jesus have been called and invited to be peacemakers—those who are able to step into a situation and not merely keep the peace, but introduce peace. Jesus stood in the midst of the storm and brought peace into the rage and chaos that was swirling round about He and the disciples. Jesus stepped on to the shore and brought peace and stillness into the heart, the mind, and life of this man from the Gadarenes. If and when we think and speak about our invitation to be peacemakers we must needs realize and understand that our being peacemakers is a strong and powerful indicator that we must needs be those who are able to walk in quietness, in stillness, in trust, in confidence, and with great peace, calm and stillness within our hearts and spirits. What’s more, is there is a certain authority that is needed when we think about being peacemakers, for there is a tremendous need for authority that can and will allow us to be vessels and instruments in the hand of God to bring peace into those situations and circumstances we face. Regardless of whether we might face storms, or whether we might indeed face spirits, we are called to be those who are able to bring peace into those situations we encounter and experience. UNFORSEEN STORMS, UNCLEAN SPIRITS! PEACEMAKERS—STEPPING UP IN THE MIDST OF UNFORSEEN STORMS AND STEPPING ON TO THE SHORE WITH UNCLEAN SPIRITS! Oh that we would realize, recognize and understand that this is simply a part and portion of those situations and scenarios in which we have been called to bring peace into. We might not always experience storms, and we might not always experience spirits, however, we might very well experience, face and encounter those situations and circumstances that desperately need the peace and stillness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the authority that is found within the person of Jesus. Oh that we would be those individuals who would indeed and would in fact be peacemakers—those who are able to stand up in the midst of unforeseen storms and command the wind and the waves to be still, and those who are able to step on to the shores of the sea and confront unclean spirits and command them to depart. Oh that we would be those who are raised up in this generation as peacemakers within the kingdom—those who walk in the authority and peace of the person of Jesus Christ as we move in and under the authority of the Holy Spirit.