With the Disciples on the Lake of Galilee
“The men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!”— Matthew viii. 27.
“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 iv. 41.
THIS story of the tempest upon the lake is wonderfully full of spiritual interest. Not only does it, literally, show to us the divine power of our blessed Master in lulling the tempest, rendered the more conspicuous by being placed side by side with the human weakness which made him sleep in the ship upon a pillow; but, spiritually, it is a kind of ecclesiastical history, a miniature outline of the story of the church in all ages. Nay, the teaching ends not when you have read the incident in that light, it also contains a suggestive forecast of the story of every man who is making the spiritual voyage in company with Jesus.
Notice, first, how it is a kind of ecclesiastical history. There is Christ in the vessel with his disciples. What is that but a church with its pastor? We see in the church a vessel bearing a rich cargo, steering for a desired haven, and fitted out for fishing on the road, should fair opportunity occur. Her being upon a sea shows her to be here below, subject to trial, suffering, labour and peril. I scarcely know of any apter picture of a church than a ship upon the treacherous Galilean sea with Jesus and his disciples sailing in it. After a while comes a tempest: this we may safely reckon upon. Whatever ship makes a fair voyage, with a favouring wind, the ship of the church never will. She has her calms, but these last not for ever; her sail is sure to be weather-beaten at one time or another, and the occasions are seldom far apart. The vessel which has Jesus for its captain is destined to feel the tempest. Christ has not come to send peace on earth, but a sword: this is his own declaration, and he knows his own intent. Every sail of the good ship which bears the flag of the Lord High Admiral of our fleet must be beaten with the wind, and every plank in her must be tried by the waves. To Christ’s church there are many storms, and some of them of the most terrible character. Of heresy: ah, how near to wrecking has she been with the false doctrines of Gnosticism, Arianism, Popery, and Rationalism! Of persecution she has constant experience; but sometimes exceeding vehement has the tornado been. In the early stages of church history, the Pagan persecutions of Rome followed thick and fast upon each other; and when Giant Pagan had emptied out all his fury there came a worse tyrant, whose magical arts raised hurricanes of wind against the good ship. There sat at Rome a harlot who persecuted the saints exceedingly, being drunken with their blood. Then there raged a cyclone which almost drove the boat out of the water, and drenched and well-nigh drowned her crew: a fierce Euroclydon beat upon the royal vessel, so that the waves threatened to swallow her up quick. Tears and blood covered the saints as with a salt and crimson spray: hers was no pleasure-trip; she went forth like the lifeboat, fashioned for the purpose of outriding the tempest. The true ship of the Lord was, and is, and will be in a storm until the Lord shall come; and then there shall be for it no further wave of trial, but the sea of glass for ever.
Note, again, that, while this tempest was roaring worse and worse, the Lord was in the ship, but he seemed to be asleep. So has it often been. No providence delivered the persecuted: no marvellous manifestations of the Spirit scattered the heresy. The Christ was in the church, but he was in the hinder part, with his head upon a pillow, asleep. You all know the portions of church history which this illustrates. Then came distress: the people in the vessel began to be alarmed; they were afraid that they should utterly perish. And do you wonder at it when the peril was so great? That distress led to prayer. Mighty prayer has often been produced by mighty trial. Oh, how slack has the church been in the presentation of her spiritual offering until the Lord has sent fire upon her, and that fire has seemed to kindle her frankincense, so that it has begun to smoke towards heaven. Prayer was produced by distress, and prayer brought distress to an end. Then uprose the Master, and displayed his power and Godhead. You know how he has done so in reformations and revivals time after time. He has chidden the unbelief of his trembling saints, and then he has hushed the winds and the waves, and there has been a time of halcyon peace for his poor, weather-beaten church; a period free from bloodshed and heresy, an era of progress and peace. The church has a history which has many a time repeated itself. If you take an interest in the navigation of that wondrous vessel which carries Christ and all his chosen, you will never have to complain of want of incidents.
But I think I said that the story of the storm upon the lake is an admirable emblem of the spiritual voyage of every man who is bound for the fair havens in company with Jesus. We are with Christ, happy with him, and sailing pleasantly: will this last? Right speedily comes a storm; the ship rocks and reels; she is covered with the waves. It looks as if our poor cockle-shell would sink to the bottom. Yet Jesus is in our hearts, and that is our safety. We are not saved by seamanship, but by having on board the Lord Paramount, who rules all winds and waves, and never yet lost a vessel that bore the cross at its masthead. Sometimes within our hearts he seems to be asleep. We hear not his voice: we see but little of his face: his eyes are closed, and he himself is hidden away out of sight. He has not altogether left us, blessed be his name; but be appears to be asleep. Ah, then the ship rocks again, and we reel again, and we wonder that he still can sleep; then are we driven in great alarm to prayer, to which we ought to have betaken ourselves long before. It may be that we have been busy with ropes and tackle, strengthening the mast, furling the sail, doing all kinds of necessary work, and therefore leaving undone the most necessary work of all, namely, seeking out the Master and telling him the story of our peril. We pray not till we are forced to our knees, sad sinners that we are. The boat will go down! She will go down! And now it is that we also go down to the cabin and begin to wake him up with, “Master, save us: we perish!” Then you know what happens, how the gentle rebuke passes over our spirit and we are humbled; but the grander rebuke is heard by winds and waves, and they arc quieted and sleep at the Master’s feet, and in us and around us there is a great calm. Oh, how profound the peace! How blessed the stillness! We were about to say, “Would God it would last on for ever”; but as yet tranquillity cannot be perpetual. Our perils of waters will be sure to repeat themselves. Often we go down to the sea in ships, and do business in great waters, so that we see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep. Hear how a poet sings the story,—
“Fierce was the wild billow;
Dark was the night;
Oars labour’d heavily;
Foam glimmer’d white;
Trembled the mariners;
Peril was nigh;
Then said the God of God,—
‘Peace! It is I!’
“Ridge of the mountain-wave,
Lower thy crest!
Wail of Euroclydon,
Be thou at rest!
Sorrow can never be,—
Darkness must fly,—
Where saith the Light of Light,
— ‘Peace! It is I!’
Come thou to me:
Soothe thou my voyaging
Over life’s sea!
Thou, when the storm of death
Roars sweeping by,
Whisper, O Truth of Truth!
— ‘Peace! It is I!’”
On this occasion I will not further call your attention to the storm, or to the calm, but I beg you to observe the feelings of the disciples about the whole matter. The text says that “The men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!”
God evidently thinks much of his people’s inward feelings, for they are recorded here, and in many other cases. The report of what these poor fishermen felt is as carefully made as the record of what their Lord and Master said, since this was needful to set forth the intent and purpose of their Lord’s utterances. God often regards the external action as a mere husk, but the feeling of his people is the innermost kernel of their life-story, and he prizes it. Some men practise introspection so much that they grow at last to make a kind of fetish of their inward feeling. This is wrong. Yet there is an error on the other side in which we cease to make conscience of our feelings, and think them to be a matter of no consequence, as if there could be real life without feeling. I will cry up faith as much as any one; but there is no need to depreciate all the other graces, and especially all the emotions, in order to do honour to faith: we may honour the heir, and yet see no reason for slaying all the rest of the seed royal. We must both feel aright and believe aright, and it is sometimes good for us to have a lesson about how to feel towards our Lord Jesus Christ. Though feeling must be secondary to faith, yet it is far from being unimportant.
At this time we shall principally talk about three feelings towards Christ. First, the men marvelled. We will dwell upon that— marvelling at Christ’s work. Secondly, if you will turn to Mark the fourth and the forty-first verse, you will see that Mark describes the feeling of the men as fearing “exceedingly.” That shall be our second head— awe-stricken at his presence. Thirdly, we see them in our text admiring his person; for they said, “What manner of man,” or, more correctly, “What kind of person is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
I. First, then, MARVELLING AT HIS WORK. May I ask you to indulge for a little while the feeling of wonder. You believe in Jesus Christ and you are saved. Salvation comes not by wondering, but by believing; but now, having been saved, having passed from death unto life, and having been preserved for years upon the sea of life in the midst of many tempests, and at this moment enjoying a great calm and restfulness of spirit, I invite you to marvel. What wonderful things Jesus has done for me! It is in my power, if I choose, to waste my time in reading romances, but I care nothing for them, for my own life is to me more romantic than romance; the story of God’s goodness to me is more thrilling than any work of fiction could possibly be. I am speaking to some here who I am sure will join with me in owning that there is a freshness, a novelty, a surprise-power about the dealings of God with us which we do not meet with anywhere else. Well do we sing in our hymn—
“I need not go abroad for joys:
I have a feast at home,”
and we can also add that we need not go abroad for wonders, for we have a perfect museum at home in our own experience. John Bunyan, when he was describing the experience of his pilgrim, said, “Oh, world of wonders! I can say no less.” And so it is. The life of the godly man on the God side of it, as he receives grace from Jesus, is a gallery of heavenly art, an exhibition of divine skill and power, a wonder-land of mercy.
“Still has my life new wonders seen
Of lovingkindness rare;
A monument of grace I stand,
Thy goodness to declare.”
Let us think for a minute or two of the parallel between us and these disciples as to wonderment. Consider first— that the instantaneous and profound calm was contrary to nature. The Galilean lake lies in a deep hollow, much below the level of the ocean; and in the sides of the cliffs and hills which shut it in there are valleys and openings which act as funnels, down which blasts of cold air from the mountains often rush upon a sudden. When the time of storm is really on, the lake of Galilee is not tossed about like an ordinary open sea, but is rent, and torn, and upheaved, and almost hurled out of its bed by down-driving hurricanes and twisting whirlwinds. No sailor knows which way the wind does blow except that it blows all ways at once, and particularly downwards; as if with a direct down-draught from heaven, it blows the vessel into the water, and anon, changing its course, lifts it into the air. Any mariner who is not used to that strange, wild sea would soon lose his head, and despair of life. It is like a boiling cauldron; the spirits of the vasty deep stir it to its bottom. Yet this billowy lake in a moment was turned to glass by the word of Jesus: a fact far more wonderful to witness than to read about. Such a change in the uproarious elements was altogether contrary to nature, and therefore “the men marvelled.”
Now, beloved, look back upon what your life has been. I do not know exactly where you begin your life-story. Some commence in the slime-pits of Sodom, in vice and drunkenness; others begin with wandering on the dark mountains of infidelity, or among the bogs and sloughs of pharisaism and formality. However, it is a miracle that you should have been made to fall at Jesus’s feet, and cry out for mercy through his precious blood. That you should give up all trust and confidence in self, and at the same time should turn away from favourite lusts which you once revelled in, is such a wonder that nobody would have believed it had it been prophesied to them. Certainly you never would have believed it yourself; and yet it has taken place, and other unlooked-for changes have followed it. Why, you have lived since then in a way that would have been once condemned by yourself as utterly absurd. Had an oracle informed you of it you would have ridiculed its forecast. “No,” you would have said, “I shall never be that: I shall never feel that: I shall never do that” And yet, so it has been with you. The boiling cauldron of your nature has been cooled down and quieted, and an obedient calm has succeeded rebellious rage. Is it not so? I can only say that, if your religion has never produced a wonder, I wonder that you believe in it. If there is not something about you through divine grace which quite surprises your own self, I should not be amazed if one of these days you wake up and find that you have been self-deceived. Far above nature are the ways of grace in men, and if you know them they have produced in you what your natural temperament and your worldly surroundings never could have produced. There has been fire where you looked for snow, and cool streams where you expected flames. A growth of good wheat has been seen where nature would have produced nothing but thorns and briars. Where sin abounded grace has much more abounded, and your life has become the theatre of miracles, and the home of wonder.
These men marvelled, next, because the calm was so unexpected by reason. The ship was near going to pieces. A gust of wind threatened to lift her right out of the water, and the next threatened to plunge her to the bottom of the sea. The weary fishers certainly did not look for a calm: there were no signs of such a boon. When they said. “Master, we perish,” I do not know what they thought their Lord would do; but they assuredly never dreamed that he would stand up in the hinder part of the ship, and say, “Winds and waves, what mean ye? Your Master is here. Be still.” That was beyond their nautical experience, and their fathers had never seen such wonders in their day. They could not hope that in a moment they should be in a profound calm.
Now, may I ask you to wonder a little at what the Lord has done for you? Has he not done for you what you never expected? To speak for myself: I never reckoned upon standing here to preach to thousands of God’s people. When I was first brought to Jesus I had no such hope. Why should I be taken from the school and from the desk to lead a part of his flock? I wonder more and more that by his grace I am what I am. Some of you, when you sit at the communion-table, may well feel that the most wonderful thing about it is that you should find a welcome place at the Lord’s own festival. Did some of you expect, a year ago, that you would be here now, on a Thursday night, listening to a talk about Jesus Christ? Why. you hardly know how you did get here. You can scarcely tell the way by which the Lord has led you to be a lover of the gospel. Look at your inner feelings, as well as your outward position: are you not often made the subject of desires, of longings, of groanings, and, on the other hand, of enjoyments, of sweet and precious endearments, of high and gracious expectations, which utterly surprise you as you remember what you used to be? Are you not “like them that dream” when you think over the Lord’s lovingkindness? And if others say that “the Lord has done great things for you,” does not your heart chime in with all its bells, and ring out the joy-notes. “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad”? Come, indulge your wonder. Admire and marvel at the exceeding grace of God towards you in working contrary to nature, and contrary to all reasonable expectations, and bringing you to be his dear and favoured child. Marvels of mercy, wonders of grace, belong unto God Most High.
Besides this, the idea of a storm which should immediately be followed by a great calm was strikingly new to experience. These fishermen of the Galilean lake had never seen it after this fashion before. We read in the Old Testament of some, to whom it was said, “You have not gone this way heretofore”; and certainly the same might have been said to these disciples. “You have been in tempest, but you never in your lives before were one minute in a tempest and the next in a calm.” It must have been enough to make them weep for joy, or, at least it must have led them to hold up their hands in glad astonishment. The deliverance wrought by their Lord was so fresh, so altogether new that marvelling was natural. Well, now, brothers and sisters, to come back to ourselves again— have you not often experienced that which has astounded you by its novelty? Are not God’s mercies new every morning? I address some of you who have been forty or fifty years in the ways of God: do you not find a continual freshness in the manifestations of God’s goodness to you both in providence and grace? Let me ask you, has religious life been to you like mounting a treadmill— monotonous, wearisome, uniform? If so, there is something wrong about you; for while we live near to God, we dwell under new heavens and walk upon a new earth. When a man travels through the Alps on a bright sunshiny day, all things are span new, as though born that morning: that drop of dew on the grass, he never saw before, that drifting cloud has newly arrived upon the scene. Never before has the traveller seen the face of nature radiant with the same smile as that which now delights him. Has it not been so with you in the journey of life? Have not all things become new and remained new since you were born anew? Has not grace been heaped upon grace, so that each new experience has excelled its predecessor? Still have I beheld fresh beauties in my Master’s face, fresh glories in my Master’s word, fresh assurance of his faithfulness in his providence, fresh power in my Master’s Spirit as he has dealt graciously with my soul. I know that it is so with you; and I want you to marvel at it that God should take so much trouble to manifest himself to poor creatures that are not worth his treading on: that he should devise a thousand things most rare and new for such insignificant insects of a day as we are. Glory be to his blessed name, it may well be said of us, “The men marvelled and said, What manner of person is this who dealeth so with his people?” Who is a God like unto thee? What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him?
These three things made the disciples wonder.
There was another. I should think that it was a great marvel to them that a calm was sent so soon after the storm. Man needs time, but God’s word runneth very quickly. Man travels with weary foot; the Lord rides upon a cherub and doth fly, yea, he flies upon the wings of the wind. The particles of air and the drops of water were all in confusion through the tempest, rushing as if chaos had come again, rising in whirlwinds and falling in cataracts; yet they did but see the face of their Maker, and they were still. In one single instant there was a calm. Have not you and I experienced instantaneous workings of divine grace upon our spirits? It may not be so with all, but some of us at the first instant of our faith lost the burden of sin in a moment. Our load was all gone before we knew where we were. The change from sorrow to joy was not wrought in us by degrees, but in a moment the sun leaped above the horizen, and the night of our soul was over. Has it not been so since? We have been in the midst of God’s people as heavy as lead, and without power to enjoy a truth, or to perform a holy act. The hymns seemed a mockery and the prayer an empty form; and yet in a single moment the rod of the Lord has touched the rock and the waters have flowed forth, and by the very means of grace which seemed so dull and powerless, we have been enlivened and comforted. We have blessed the Lord that ever we came to the place. I do not know how it is that we undergo such sudden changes. Yes I do. It is because God works all good things in us, and he is able to accomplish in an instant that which we could not effect in a year. He can in a moment change our prison into a palace, and our ashes into beauty: he can bid us put off our sackcloth and put on the wedding garments of delight. As in the twinkling of an eye this corruptible shall put on incorruption, so in an instant our spiritual death can blossom into heavenly life. This is a great wonder. Go and marvel at what the Lord has so speedily done for you.
And then to think that it should have been so perfect. When a storm subsides, the sea is generally angry for hours, if not for days. A great wind at Dover yesterday would make the Channel rough for some time. But when our Lord Jesus makes a calm the sea forgets her raging and smiles at once: in fact, “he maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” The winds hush all their fury and are quiet in an instant when he bids them rest. And oh, when the Lord gives joy and peace and blessedness to his people, he does not do it by halves. “When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?” There is no such thing as a half blessing for a child of God. The Lord gives him fulness of peace— “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.” He causes him to enjoy quiet through believing, and lie enables him to rejoice in tribulation also; for tribulation worketh blessing to the souls of men.
I feel that I cannot speak as I could wish, but I shall finish this division of the discourse by saying that one point of wonder was that the calm was wrought so evidently by the Master’s word. He spake and it was done. He poured no oil upon the waters; his will was revealed in a word, and that will was law. Not an atom of matter dares to move if the divine fiat forbids: the sovereignty of Jesus is supreme, and his word is with power.
Now, dear friend, I know that there must have been very much that is wonderful in your life as a Christian; but do not think yourself the only partaker of such wonderment. Let us all sit down, and enquire each one, “Whence is this to me? Why me, Lord? How can such great grace be shown to me; and how can the Son of God stoop to look at me and take me into marriage union with himself, and promise that I shall live because he lives, that I shall reign because lie reigns?” Sit down, I say, and believingly marvel, and marvel, and marvel, and never leave off marvelling. And let me drop one little word into your ear. Is there something that you want of God concerning which unbelief has said that it is too wonderful to be expected? Let that be the reason why you shall expect it. There is nothing to a Christian so probable as the unexpected, and there is nothing which God is so likely to do for us as that which is above all we ask or even think. God is at home in wonder-land. If what you want is a common-place thing, perhaps it may not come; but if it strikes you as a marvel, you are in a fit state of heart to honour God for it, and you are likely to receive it. Do not think that because between you and heaven, if you reach it, there will be a giant’s causeway of marvels, therefore you will never get there; but, on the contrary, conclude that the God who began to save you by so great a miracle as the gift and death of his own dear Son, will go on to perfect your salvation even if he have to fling into the sea a thousand heavens to make stepping-stones for you to tread upon ere you can reach his presence. “He that spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Therefore expect wonders. These men marvelled: expect to keep on marvelling till you get to heaven, and to keep on marvelling when you are in heaven, and throughout eternity. Wonder will be a principal ingredient of our adoration in heaven: we
“Shall sing with wonder and surprise
His loving-kindness in the skies.”
I have been somewhat long on this first head, I will therefore give you a little, and only a little, upon the second.
II. Let us now see how the disciples were AWE-STRICKEN AT OUR LORD’S PRESENCE. Mark says that “the men feared greatly.” They feared greatly because they found themselves in the presence of one who had stilled the winds and the waves. Brothers and sisters, it is well to cultivate that holy familiarity which comes from nearness to Jesus, and yet we ought always to be humbled by a sense of that nearness. Permit me to remind the boldest believer that our loving Lord is still God over all. He is to be honoured and reverenced, worshipped and adored, by all who draw near to him. However much he is our brother, he says, “Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye do well, for so I am.” He is all the greater because of his condescension to us. and we are bound to recognize this.
Whenever Jesus is near, the feeling of holy awe and solemn dread will steal over true disciples. I am afraid of that way of being so familiar with Christ as to talk of him as “dear Jesus,” and “dear Lord,” as if he were some Jack or Harry that we might pat on the back whenever we liked. No, no. This will never do. It is not such language as men would use to their prince: let them not thus address the King of kings. However favoured we may be. we are but dust and ashes, and our spirit must be chastened with reverence.
When Jesus is near us we ought to fear exceedingly because we have doubted him. If you had been suspicious of a dear friend, and had indulged hard thoughts about him, and on a sudden you found yourself sitting in the same room with him, you would feel awkward, especially if you understood that he knew what you had said and thought. Oh, you will feel ashamed of yourself, my brother, if Jesus shall draw near to you. The wisest thing you can do in such a case is to say, “My Master, my Lord, since thou dost favour me with thy presence I will first fall at thy feet, and confess that I did doubt thee, that I did think that the stormy wind would swallow up the vessel, and that the waves would devour both thee and me. Forgive me, Master, forgive me for having thought so ill of thee.” Whenever we are near to Christ, one of the first feelings should be that of great humiliation. Let us fall at his feet, and confess how ill we have thought of him.
Brethren, we have been so foolish as to fear his creatures, paying to them a sort of worship of fear, as if they had more power to harm than Jesus had to help. We clothe wind and sea with attributes which belong to God only; and look upon our trials as if they tried the Lord too, and vanquished him because they vanquish us. Are we not because of this smitten with dread in the presence of the Christ?
And then the next feeling should be,— since he has come to me, this Mighty One who has wrought such marvels for me, let me try to order myself aright in his presence. I notice whenever the Lord Jesus Christ is very present in this congregation how carefully everybody sings. I notice about tune, time, and tone a difference from the singing which is usual, and even from that singing which comes of having an acquired skill in music. Though it may seem a trifle, yet I cannot help observing that when people come to the communion-table as a matter of routine they frequently behave roughly, walking noisily and looking about, or else they sit like statues, with a chill propriety of posture and vacancy of countenance; but you will notice that fellowship with Jesus affects the glance of the eye, the thoughts of the soul, and consequently the movements of the body. When a man is truly conscious that Jesus, the Wonder-worker, is near, he fears exceedingly. If ever you say to Jesus, “Thou knowest that I love thee,” mind you put “Lord” before it,— “Lord, thou knowest all things”; for he is your Lord still. Where Jesus is, there is godly fear, which is by no means the same as slavish fear. Every true child has a reverence for his father. Every true daughter has a loving respect for her mother. So is it with us towards our Lord Jesus. We owe so much to him, and he is so great and so good, and we are so little and so sinful, that there must be a blessed sense of holy awe whenever we come before him. Indulge it. Indulge it now. You know how John puts it: “When I saw him I fell at his feet as dead.” Why, that is the man who leaned his head on the bosom of Christ. Yes, that is the man who fell at his feet as dead. If your head has never leaned upon the bosom of the Lord, I should not wonder if you can hold it up in his presence; but when it has once lain there in confiding love, reposing upon boundless mercy, then that head of yours will lie in the dust uncrowned if God has honoured it; for it will be your delight to cast your crown at his feet, and give him all the glory. O, reign for ever, King of kings, and Lord of lords! Conquer me, my Lord; subdue me perfectly. Make dust of me beneath thy feet, if thou shalt be but the tenth of an inch the higher for my downcasting. Oh, my Master, and my Lord, with joy I would shrink to nothing before thee, that thou mayest be all in all. May this be your feeling and mine. The men feared exceedingly; let us fear also, after a believing sort.
III. Now to close; the third thing is ADMIRING THE PERSON OF JESUS; for these men who marvelled, and who feared exceedingly, admired the person of him who had set them free from the storm, saying, “What manner of person is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Come, let us admire and adore the nature of Christ which is altogether beyond our comprehension. The winds and the sea obeyed him, though he had slept like other men. When his head was that of an infant the crown of the universe was about his brow. When he was in the carpenter’s shop he was still the Creator of all worlds. When he went to die upon the tree, a myriad of angels would have come to rescue him if he had but willed it. Even in his humiliation he was still the Son of the Highest, God over all, blessed for ever. Now that he is. exalted in heaven, do not forget the other side of the question; believe that he is just as much man now as when he was here— as truly a brother of our race as he is God over all, blessed for evermore.
Let us now give our hearts to admiration of him in his complex nature which is beyond comprehension. He is my next of kin, and yet my God, at once my Redeemer and my Lord. We may each one cry with Job, “I know that my next of kin liveth, and that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms devour this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Because he lives as my kinsman— there is the sweetness of it; and because he is my God— there is the glory of it; he is both tenderly compassionate for my infirmities, and gloriously able to overcome them. He is a complete Saviour because he is both human and divine. Come, my soul, bow down in wonder that ever God should send such a Saviour as this to thee. A person asked me the other day whether I had seen a book entitled “Sixteen Saviours.” I answered,— “No, I have not, and I do not want to know of sixteen saviours; I am perfectly satisfied with one.” If all who dwell in heaven and earth could be made into saviours, and the whole were put together, you might blow them away as a child blows away thistle-down; but there is this one Saviour, the Son of man and yet the mighty God, and he cannot be moved. Joy then, my brethren, and rejoice in the nature of your blessed Lord. Next, rejoice in his power which has no limit, so that even the winds and the waves obey him. The winds— can they have a master? The waves that cast their spray upon the face of princes, can they own a sovereign? Yes, the most fickle of elements, the most unruly of forces, are all under the power of Jesus. Joy and rejoice in this. Little as well as great— yon Atlantic that divides the world, and that little drop in the basin of Gennesaret— are alike in the hand of Jesus. The power of God is seen in a falling mountain when it crushes a, village; but it is as truly present when the seeds are scattered from the pod of the gorse, or a rose-leaf falls upon the garden walk. God is seen when an angel flashes from heaven to earth, and is he not seen when a bee flits from flower to flower? Jesus is the master of the little as well as of the great, yea, King of all things; and I joy this moment to think that even the wicked actions of ungodly men, though they are not deprived of their sinfulness, so as to make the men the less responsible, are, nevertheless, overruled by that great Lord of ours, who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will. In the front I see Jesus leading the van of providence. Behind he guards the rear. On the heights I see Jesus reigning King of kings and Lord of lords: in the deeps I mark the terror of his justice as he binds the dragon with his chain. Let the universal cry of “Hallelujah” rise unto the Son of God, world without end.
Sit down and admire and adore his unlimited power, and then conclude by paying homage to that sovereignty of his which brooks no question; for the winds and waves did not only perform his will, but, as if they were waking into life and rising into intelligent knowledge of him, they are said to obey him; from which I gather that Christ is not only the forceful master of unintelligent agencies, but that he is the sovereign master of things that can obey him; and he will be obeyed. Ah, you may bite at him, and hiss at him; but as the viper broke his teeth against the file, yet hurt it not, so shall the ungodly exercise all their craft and all their strength, and the end shall be shame and confusion of face to them. The kingdom of our Lord and Master is by some thought to be a long way off, and his cause is half despaired of by faint-hearted men; but he that sitteth in the heavens laughs at the impatience of saints as well as at the impiety of sinners, for he knows that all is well. Out of seeming evil he produces good, and from that good a better still, and better still in infinite progression. All things move towards his eternal coronation. As once every atom of history converged to his cross, so does it to-day project itself towards his crown: the Lord Jesus cometh to his well-earned throne as surely as he came to the shameful cross. He cometh, and when he cometh it shall be as when he rose in the ship and rebuked the winds, and the men marvelled; for all storms of raging passion, conflicting opinion, and fierce warfare shall be hushed, and he shall be admired in his saints, and glorified in all them that believe; while even unbelievers shall marvel at him and say, “What manner of person is this, that even earth and hell obey him, and all things are subject to his sovereign power!” Happy are the eyes that shall see him in that day with joy. Happy are the men who shall sit at the right hand of the Coming One. Oh, beloved, your eyes and mine shall see it if we have first looked to the Redeemer upon the cross and found salvation in him. Courage, brethren; let the waves dash and the winds howl. The Lord of hosts is with us: the God of Jacob is our refuge. All is safe because of his presence, and all shall end gloriously because of his manifestation. The Lord bless you, in tempest and in calm, for Christ’s sake. Amen.