Great question. This morning a group of friends and I were taking a look at Jesus’ calming of the waters in Luke 8. One of the guys thought that surely the disciples already knew that Jesus was the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity. So why the question?
We had a great time (invigorating for me) discussing what the historical context was, what Luke may have been doing with it in telling the story and what it means for us today. From a historical perspective, I argued that Jesus is blowing up their categories. The disciples have seen some pretty amazing things so far. They’ve seen Jesus raise the dead, forgive sins, heal the lame, the blind and the demon-possessed. They’ve heard His response to John’s inquiries about Him. They’ve experienced a miraculous catch of fish and witnessed an amazing display of love (Mary’s anointing with oil). And they’ve believed in Him as Messiah, the long-awaited-Genesis 3:15-Seed of the Woman-who would crush the head of the serpent-Messiah. But just like any good Jew of the day, they were fiercely monotheistic. They did not yet have a category for Jesus to be God. They were OT-becoming-NT saints. They were looking forward to God’s salvation.
But one thing that the Jewish nation learned from their Babylonian captivity: there is only one God, and He is a jealous God. He does not share His glory with another (message of Ezekiel). That became their mantra and the thing that held them together as a nation as one Gentile nation after another had dominion over them – Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome (Daniel, 1, 2 Maccabees). In fact in the book of John, anytime Jesus makes a claim to deity, the religious leaders pick up rocks to stone Him. There was no concept of a Trinity at that time.
So Jesus has to blow up some categories, expand their concept of Messiah, reveal Himself as fully God. And that is the progression of Luke’s gospel. The guy who was wrestling with it still didn’t buy my explanation, which is refreshing in a weird sort of way. He’s still wrestling. It’s hard for us to imagine what it’s like not to know what we now know. It’s hard to put ourselves in the disciples shoes pre-resurrection.
Luke’s purpose for including the story is laid out in chapter 1…to give an orderly account of what was seen and heard and believed.
But the piercing question that Jesus first asked a group of guys on a boat in a storm, and He still asks us today is: Where is your faith? You see, Jesus is still in the business of blowing up categories and revealing Himself in unexpected ways. Many of us have trusted Him for eternal life…which seems way out there and will be important in the future sometime. But most of us, in the midst of the storms and crashing waves of our lives, have not learned to turn to Him. He is Lord over all creation. He is God of my circumstances. He wants to be in my day to day. It doesn’t mean He will always calm the storm or even see me safely through this life’s struggles. The point isn’t prolonging my physical existence in this broken shell of a body – the widow’s son that Jesus raised from the dead is physically dead now. The point is living in the kingdom, and living a life that’s eternal. It starts now with a heavenly perspective on my life and circumstances. It’s seeing the world, my world, through God’s eyes and not my own. It’s taking every opportunity to be present with those around me every day. It’s walking by faith, knowing that this world is a shadowland (C.S. Lewis?) and one day we will step into the light. It’s not easy, and there are lots of failures along the way. But each time we fall, Jesus is there prodding us, challenging us, asking us, “So where is your faith?”