Master, Master
Based on Series of Sermons on the Repetition of Name and Titles
Preached in PCC Worship Service, 7 July 2013
Part 2 of 2

We are continuing our series of studies on the repetition of names and titles in the Bible. In our previous article, we made some observations on the text in Luke 8:22-25, where we read in verse 24, “And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish.”

In this article, I’ll like to draw our attention to six lessons that we may learn from this passage.

Six Lessons

First, we learn that storms can arise even while we are in the midst of doing the will of the LORD.

While looking at verse 22, I noted that it was the Lord who had instructed His disciples to cross over to the other side of the Lake that evening. The disciples obeyed without question. But while they were on their way to the other side, the storm broke out. Here is a reminder that storms can arise whether we are doing God’s will or whether we are going against God’s will. We must never measure things based simply on our observation of providence.

For example, Job was not living in disobedience to God in any particular area of his life and yet he encountered those very grievous trials. His three friends tried to comfort him but they were poor comforters because they had a wrong understanding of providence and ended up accusing Job of some grievous sins that he was not guilty of. In the same way, the disciples were simply doing what the Lord had commanded them to do when the storm suddenly arose and engulfed them.

Then in contrast to Job and the disciples, we think of Jonah who tried to run away from the will of the LORD and indeed the presence of the LORD. At first, everything seemed to work out well. He arrived at Joppa at just the right time when a ship headed for Tarshish was about to depart. And more remarkably, he had enough money on hand to pay the fare, which must have been quite substantial, considering how far away Tarshish was from Israel. But then while he was sleeping nicely onboard that ship, the LORD hurled a great wind into the sea, which stirred up a mighty tempest that threatened to tear the ship apart. This storm came about as a direct consequence of Jonah’s disobedience.

So we are reminded that storms in our life can arise whether we are living in accordance to God’s will or not, and thus we cannot measure things based on outward providence and circumstances. We need something more than mere observation of providence. We need the Word of God. We can only know whether we are living according to God’s will by examining our lives in the light of His word. And then with the Bible as our lens, we can look at providence and try to understand what is going on around us.

If we are acting contrary to God’s word, then it doesn’t matter whether everything seems to be going on just fine at the moment. We had better repent and turn away from our sins before God sends His storms of chastisement upon us. But if we are living in accordance to God’s word and a storm engulfs us, then we need to trust and wait upon the Lord to preserve and carry us through. And we need to pray for His grace to persevere on and not give up or murmur against His providence or try to use sinful means to escape from the situation.

Remember that our Lord has never promised us that we will not encounter any storms while we are walking in His way and obeying His will. But He has promised us that He will neither leave nor forsake us, and that all things, storms included, will work out for our good if we are His people.

So the first lesson we learn is that storms can arise regardless of whether we are living in obedience or disobedience to God, and we need to examine our lives according to the standard of God’s revealed will.

Second, we are reminded that our Lord experienced all the sinless infirmities of the body including physical exhaustion.

And that is a great consolation and encouragement to us as His people. He understands what it means to be weary and tired, even to the point of exhaustion. Our Lord must have been dead tired to be able to sleep through all that noise and commotion around Him, and all the heaving and pitching and rolling of the boat. And so because of what He experienced, we can go to Him as our merciful and understanding high priest. We can pour out our hearts before Him with freedom and tell Him our troubles without reserve.

Indeed, as the author of Hebrews says, He can be touched by the feeling of our infirmities. He experienced all the same basic and common trials of this life, whether of body and soul, that we experience. And not once did He sin. And because of that, He is able to help us in all our afflictions and experiences of life. What a comfort that ought to bring to our hearts!

The third lesson we can learn from this episode is that it is possible for true believers to be filled with great fear and anxiety at times. True believers can be gripped with great fear and anxiety.

The disciples were greatly alarmed by the storm and for a moment, they became poor theologians. They forgot that they were perfectly safe as long as Christ was with them. They forgot that Christ had taken care of them thus far and that He would continue to do so until the end. It is quite possible and easy for us to forget or leave aside our theology when trials arise.

And so we must not think that being overwhelmed at times by fear and anxiety is incompatible with true grace and faith. Yes, a lack of faith and a failure to trust in the Lord and to remember His promises and word, are not good things. The Lord rebuked His disciples for that, which we’ll talk more about later on. But for now, remember that the reality of life in this fallen world is that true believers can sometimes be overcome by a lack of faith, and thus we should not be too harsh on fellow believers when they exhibit weakness or even a lack of faith. Instead, let us be gentle and moderate in our expectations of one another.

In connection to this, we learn a fourth lesson, namely, the importance and preciousness of great faith.

The Lord rebuked His disciples for their lack of faith. They ought to have known better. They had seen His mighty miracles such as the miraculous catch of fish, the healing of the centurion’s slave who was out of sight, the raising of the widow of Nain’s son and so on. They ought not to have panicked for their life when the Lord of life was right in their midst.

God is greatly magnified when His people demonstrate great faith in Him. Faith pleases Him and brings glory to His Name. Think of men like Daniel’s three friends in the fiery furnace or even Daniel himself in the lion’s den. Think of how much honour and glory they brought to their God in the presence of the pagans when they entrusted their very lives to His faithful care and keeping.

O that there will be more of such men of great faith. Men who will be calm in the midst of a storm. Men who can say in the midst of all the commotion and chaos and madness around, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” May our faith be ready for use at a moment’s notice and not be found unprepared, as in the case of the disciples that night.

But understand too that that kind of faith does not come overnight. It requires much prayer and constant meditation on God’s word and communion with the Lord and attendance to the means of grace. And so let us give priority to the things of God, and take active steps to grow our faith in Him. Great faith is precious because it brings much glory to God.

But fifth, we learn the precious lesson that Christ can be woken up by the cries of His disciples. Think about it, the disciples could do to Christ what the violent storm could not do. The Lord was not woken up by the wind and the waves, but He was woken up or more accurately, He was willing to be woken up by the outcry of His distressed people.

Isn’t it comforting to know that? Christ cares for His sheep. His ears are open to their cry. Psalm 34:15 says, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” And again in Psalm 91:15, the Lord says, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.”

Yes, the disciples, in their desperation and fear were crying out to Christ for lack of faith, but they were still crying out to Him. “Master, Master, we perish.” The Lord rebuked their lack of faith but He did not abandon them. Instead He came to their aid by exercising His power to still the storm.

We should do as the disciples did in their cry of earnestness to and affection for the Lord. Always cry to the Lord no matter what the situation. He is pleased to hear the cries of those who are His. The Lord was not moved by the storm, but He was moved by the cries of His people. Again, may that truth bring much encouragement to our hearts.

Sixth, and lastly, we learn the lesson that the awesome power and authority of Christ points us to His uniqueness. The Son of God who spoke the world into existence, who brought the mighty global flood on the earth in the days of Noah, who divided the Red Sea and parted the river Jordan, who calmed the storm in the time of Jonah and so on, is also the one who brought peace to the sea of Galilee by a mere word from His blessed lips.

“Peace be still.” And there was perfect calm. Nothing short of divine power can accomplish this. Christ our Saviour alone has that kind of immense power. Nature obeys His every word. As I mentioned earlier, He is in a category all of His own. There is none like Him, none at all. And this means that it is a great insult to put our Lord in the same category or class with other men or even other great religious leaders and founders like Buddha or Mohammad or Confucius or Gandhi.

Christ is absolutely unique and holy. He is not just another great teacher or prophet or leader or founder of a religion as the world likes to speak of Him. He is THE Son of God and THE Son of Man. Two distinct natures brought together in One Divine person. His awesome power and authority over the forces of nature point us to His absolute uniqueness and holiness.

And the wonderful thing is that He uses and even now is using His great power on behalf of His people. He has undertaken, in the covenant of grace, to save every one of them to the uttermost, and none of them shall ever be lost. All the winds and the waves of this universe cannot tear them out of His almighty hand.

Praise God for His mighty Son, and for sending Him to be the saviour of His people. May the Lord and Master of the storm truly be our Lord and Master as well.

—Linus Chua