When my family took a trip to Israel a few months ago, one of the many highlights for me was taking a boat out on the Sea of Galilee. So many significant events took place here!
Jesus called his disciples from this area.
He walked on water.
The miraculous catch of fish.
But my favorite is when Jesus calmed the storm.
I’ve heard this story taught multiple times. But it’s what happened before and after this miracle that makes it even more powerful to me now that I know the whole context.
Let me lay the foundation of what was going on before Jesus gets in the boat with his disciples. They were all gathered in Capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus’s ministry. The people were flocking to him, bringing their sick to be healed. The crowd was getting a bit out of control and Jesus decides it’s time to move to another location.
But not just any location.
He intentionally says to his disciples, “Let us go to the other side.”
When he says “the other side” he means the other side of the lake.
But the other side of the lake was pagan territory. They didn’t follow the ways of God. They were known for indulging in all kinds of sin. The Jewish people weren’t embraced there. And they couldn’t stay for very long because of restrictions with food and social requirements.
Jesus knew exactly where they were going. It wasn’t just a random decision.
They headed to the Decapolis region for a divine appointment with a demon-possessed man.
Everyone in Capernaum would’ve been able to hear this man screaming from across the lake. He wandered aimlessly in the tombs by the shore because nobody could contain him. He was out of control.
Jesus is making a very bold move to take his disciples across the Sea of Galilee to the other side.
So this is what happens right before an unexpected storm threatens to drown his disciples. Waves of panic rushed through seasoned fishermen as they watched literal waves crash over their ready-to-sink boat.
But Jesus awakens from his sleep (asleep–really??) and calms the storm before their very eyes. The storm didn’t take him by surprise. He was on a mission to get to the other side.
Nothing was going to stop him.
At this point, I wouldn’t have blamed the disciples one bit if they’d turned that boat around and headed back home to Capernaum, to familiar territory.
But Jesus wasn’t finished yet! Someone was waiting for him. Desperately waiting on the other side.
Approaching the shore, the demon possessed man doesn’t skip a beat. He’s waiting for Jesus. He must have heard the buzz spreading about this supernatural man who could heal the sick. This was his only hope. He was at his wit’s end.
Jesus takes control of the situation and casts the demons out of this man. And he not only casts them out, but he ushers them into a herd of pigs, driving them over a cliff into the sea.
The man is immediately set free!
He begs Jesus to let him climb aboard the boat with his disciples. (Wouldn’t that be anyone’s first response?!)
But Jesus firmly and lovingly tells him to stay. To go and tell his own people what Jesus did for him.
This is huge. A demon possessed man—bound up in a prison of despair—is now set free to proclaim the good news. He’s a missionary in the pagan region of Decapolis!
A region on the other side.
Here’s some powerful insights to take away from this and apply to our lives today:
Sometimes Jesus calls us out of our comfort zone and asks us to go to the other side.
While it’s comfortable with the crowd, we are sometimes called to take a risky move.
A move that will feel very uncomfortable. A move that will tempt us to panic.
And yes, a move that might even drive us to feel as if a storm is threatening to drown us.
But instead of getting focused on the storm, maybe we need to shift our focus on the other side.
Who or what is waiting on the other side?
The neighbor across the street.
The co-worker everybody avoids.
That estranged family member who causes conflict.
Or it might be a place Jesus wants you to embrace.
Your child’s school.
A new ministry that needs volunteers.
Whatever the other side is for you, take that leap of faith and go forward. But be prepared for the enemy to attack. Because anytime we make a move toward pointing others to Jesus, the enemy will do whatever he can to stop us.
You might get opposition from others. You might be criticized. Your whole world could be shaken up.
But just like Jesus, may we keep our eyes fixed on the other side. When the waves of doubt and panic threaten to drown us, may we trust Jesus to calm the chaos.
Just like the demon possessed man was changed forever, there are souls who are desperately waiting for the love of Jesus to impact their lives. Waiting for hope. Waiting for good news. Waiting for someone to reach out.
But that isn’t going to happen unless we resolve to go to the other side.
Pray today for God to show you what the other side is for you!
Blessings to you,
Check out my book Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul
Part of my proceeds are donated to WaterStep, a ministry that puts clean water in developing countries.