Matthew 26 and 27 convey the story of Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion. I was just reading these two chapters last week and was struck by all the chaos surrounding Christ in those final hours of his life. An angry mob was screaming for his death. His disciples scattered in fear and terror. Peter, the rock, stung by the reality of his denial, found himself a broken man. Caesar’s wife- disturbed by a dream- tried to persuade her husband to distance himself from this drama. The world was coming unhinged.
And where was Jesus? Standing quietly in the center of it all- Bearing the weight of his destiny, the sting of a thorny crown upon his head, and staring at the road of sorrow that lie ahead.
My mind wandered back to the time when Jesus and his disciples were on a boat. A storm raging all around, the disciples were convinced they would drown. Fear gripped them as a furious squall rose up, and they cried out to Jesus.
Where was he? Wasn’t he aware of the gravity of the situation? Lives were at stake. Hope was awash in the swirl of violent waves. Where was Jesus? Sleeping.
The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be Still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Sometimes Jesus calms the storm. Sometimes he is simply the calm in the midst of the storm. Either way, I believe he would say to us when the winds of uncertainty, fear, and trouble blow through our lives, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Christ prayed three times that God would change his destiny. Three times he cried out for a different way. And each time he relinquished his will and surrendered to that of his Father. Death and separation from God was terrifying to Jesus, and if there could be an easier way to atone for the sins of the world, he would have gladly traded his cup in for a new one. But deep down he knew that there could be no other way. There could be no other sacrifice. His death was our only hope. And as he stood in the midst of the chaos and confusion, his heart was at peace because he knew this was not the end. Victory was just beyond his death. He was at peace with his destiny. And he was the calm in eye of the storm.
God knows the purpose for each storm we experience. Sometimes he hears our cries and speaks to the wind and rain and saves us from capsizing. Other times he remains quiet. He doesn’t stop the storm, but allows it to fully envelop our lives- and in some cases- bring death. He hasn’t left us, and he isn’t intending evil or harm to us, but he knows what we have yet to know. He sees the victory after death. He knows the path to freedom, peace, and true faith will only come through the pain of persecution, sorrow, and death.
And he never leaves us. He never turns his face from us. He is right there in the middle of all the chaos. He is the calm in our storm.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and you pass through the rivers will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”