In the drama that is life, even the followers of Christ at times look at and talk about Jesus Christ as the most peripheral of supporting actors. And to listen to us at times, it sounds like we are accusing Him of total non-support. The disciples of Christ reached that point in the midst of a violent storm at sea, when they awoke Jesus from His very at-ease sleep and said to Him in Mark 4:38,“Teacher, do You not CARE that we are perishing?”
Who doesn’t feel that way, think that way, and even ask that very thing on an increasing basis today in this bloodthirsty age that we call the 21st century? When we see twenty three bodies just the other day hung in a border town of Mexico and the United States, we cry, “Has all human decency been lost, so that now we live in a world of animal savagery?” Whether it is bloodletting on the streets, or bloodletting in the abortatoriums, one can’t help but cry out, “Doesn’t anyone care anymore?”
On top of these horrors is mass starvation of millions worldwide who spend every waking hour trying to get enough food on any given day to keep from starving to death, and yet they die of malnourishment and disease. So it is that Easton Foote expresses it so aptly in his book “How God Helps,” “This is an age of growing skepticism. If our forefathers lived in an age characterized by an exclamation mark, we live in an age characterized by the sign of the question mark.” Teacher, do You care that we are perishing?
Foote goes on, “John Stuart Mill said that God was either good and not powerful, or that He was powerful and not good. If God is love, he argued, then He is not all powerful, else how could He stand to see the agonies of man suffering? If, on the other hand, He is all powerful and does not prevent suffering, how can He be all good?” Not a new argument by any means. Hardly original, but very pointed and commonly asked!
And then Easton Foote goes on to express something even more tragic in our day when he writes:
“THE ASSUMPTION IS THAT THE MAN OF THE SPACE AGE
CAN TAKE CARE OF HIMSELF.”
If you will:
“HE BETTER TAKE CARE OF HIMSELF, FOR IF HE DOES NOT
CARE FOR HIMSELF, WHO IN THE WORLD WILL?”
Such is our day!
There are three Gospels in the New Testament that have the account of this same story of Jesus and His disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, being tossed around mercilessly by a violent storm and a raging sea. This apparently was such a ferocious storm, that the disciples, some of whom were experienced seamen, were nonetheless scared out of their wits. They awoke Jesus from a most restful and peaceful sleep and said to Him with racing hearts as we read in Mark 8:38,
“Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Most of us know the end of the story, how Jesus stood up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a great calm. This was a most majestic moment. The wind was howling around them, and the sea was pouring over the boat. With His hair plastered to His face, soaking wet to the skin, Jesus stood there. The boat was bucking like a rodeo horse, and He turned to the wind and said, “Peace.” Then He turned to the waters and said, “Be Still.”
And immediately there was a great calm. You would not have known that there was a great storm, except for the shredded sails and the drip, drip, drip of the water and the sloshing around up to your knees. The sea became smooth as glass. The disciples were bug-eyed. What manner of man is this?
However, if Jesus would not have done that miracle, but instead would have brought them safely through the storm without quieting it or them, they, I have no doubt, would have said something like:
“LORD, WE WERE SCARED TO DEATH. IF YOU REALLY CARED,
YOU WOULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING TO STOP THE STORM.”
You see, the disciples didn’t realize, nor did they want to realize, nor do we, that God sometimes brings His children into and through storms rather than taking them out of storms every time. Because of His perfect love and wisdom, He seeks not first of all to make us comfortable, but to make us strong and courageous. Level all of the mountains, make all of the rough places smooth, and you then forfeit sturdy legs. Eliminate all crises and you then eliminate the courage to meet them. Where there are no crosses, there are no crowns. (But all of that is a different subject for another teaching.)
Now then, back to the story! The longer the storm raged, the more pressing their fears became. They all stayed as close to each other as possible, and they resembled thunder- struck children cowering under a bed. They would have all crawled up into Jesus’ lap had it not been for the fact that Jesus was asleep. I want us to get those images before us. They would have let Jesus hold them like babies against His shoulder if He would have offered it to them. If it were the 21st century, Jesus would have had to put a yellow warning sign somewhere on that boat that read:
“CAUTION, BABIES ON BOARD.”
There were times, and this was but only one of them, that Jesus Christ did not feel so much like He was their TEACHER, but rather that He was their BABYSITTER. At times it appeared that He should DIAPER them rather than INSTRUCT them. Should he COMFORT them or SPANK them?
Here He chose to verbally spank them. All three of the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke have Jesus chiding His disciples for their fear and shrunken faith. We read in Matthew 8:26,
“Why are you timid, you men of little faith?”
We read in Mark 4:40 Jesus asking them,
“Why are you so timid? How is it that you have no faith.”
Apparently their faith was shrinking by the second, for they have gone from little faith to no faith. Then we read in Luke 8:25,
“And He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?”
Their faith has so totally gone into hiding that He challenges them to go hunt for it – where did it go?
Some of Jesus’ most cutting words are leveled at those whose feeble faith has rendered them spiritual wimps and cowards. Is that fair of Him? I mean, after all, given the typhoon- like winds that turned their boat into a helpless cork, shouldn’t the Lord have cut them some slack when they cried out to Him and awakened Him at the same time in Luke 8:24,
“Master, Master, (like Mommy, Mommy, or Daddy, Daddy) we are perishing.”
However, Jesus cuts them no slack whatsoever, for you see our little faith is really an indictment against and a diminishing of God. That is why the Lord chides His disciples then and now for emaciated and shriveled faith when faith counts the most. If you will:
“A WEAK FAITH REFLECTS A WEAK GOD, BUT A STRONG FAITH
REFLECTS A STRONG GOD.”
“GOD WANTS TO SEE HIS GOD-FACE IN OUR GOD-FAITH, BUT HE
CANNOT SEE HIS ALMIGHTY FACE IN OUR WEAK FAITH
WHEN THE FAITH-MIRROR IS TINY AND BLURRED
If you will:
“THE GREAT GOD DEMANDS A GREAT FAITH WHICH ALONE
REFLECTS HIS GREATNESS.”
Listen to it now:
“GOD DOES NOT WANT SIMPLY AN ADEQUATE FAITH IN A
MERELY ADEQUATE GOD, BUT DEMANDS A SUPER-
NATURAL FAITH IN THE SUPERNATURAL GOD.”
A vanishing faith also then ultimately obviously leads to this:
“A NON-EXISTENT FAITH REFLECTS A NON-EXISTENT GOD.”
How would that grab you if you were God? Unbelief is not only downright dishonoring and degrading to the Almighty God, but disbelief dethrones Him from being God at all. That is why God says in Hebrews 11:6,
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes
to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder
of those who seek Him.”
The disciples were acting as if the only real world was the material world, which at this point was in frightening chaos and threatened eminent catastrophe against them. They reflected the material world in their hearts and not the spiritual world. Do you recognize the following creed:
“I BELIEVE IN MATTER AND MATTER ALONE.
MATTER IS THE SOLE FACTOR IN HISTORY.”
Karl Marx bet his life that this creed was true. The disciples’ faces and voices were a recitation of that creed. Yes, you could see it in their faces and hear it in their voices. Quite unlike true faith’s face and voice which says:
“I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, MAKER
OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.”
As Jesus lay there in that heaving boat asleep, we ask, “Why didn’t He awaken during the storm? He was not lying there awake pretending to be asleep. He was really sleeping! You see, as Jesus lay there fast asleep in the heaving boat, He was not picking up on any danger signals. All Jesus knew was, “I’m safe in the arms of Abba, My Father.”
But the disciples were not picking up on the spiritual world which so often we don’t either. They could only pick up on the natural world, and therefore they could only relate to danger. They didn’t seem to sense or feel the presence of Abba’s arms.
AN UNCARING GOD
While the Lord rebukes them for their vanishing faith, the disciples charge the Lord with indifference to their needs and being flat out uncaring. Mark is the only Gospel writer to record their severe indictment when they asked Him in Mark 4:38,
“Teacher, don’t you even care that we are perishing?”
If you will, what they were really saying to Him was this:
“YOU COULD CARE LESS WHETHER WE LIVE OR DIE,
NOW DO YOU?”
“TEACHER, YOU DON’T REALLY GIVE A FLIP WHAT
HAPPENS TO US, ISN’T THAT RIGHT?
As far as they were concerned:
“THE REAL ISSUE FOR THEM HERE WAS NOT THEIR FAITHLESSNESS,
BUT THE LORD’S UNCARINGNESS.”
That, by the way is always the case, namely, that the problem lies with God and not with us. The issue as far as man is concerned is not his own UNBELIEF but God’s INDIFFERENCE.
Before we get all holier than thou and come down on the disciples for their Christ-demeaning and disgracing question, haven’t we all been there at one time or another? Have you ever said something like, “I don’t think anyone cares about me, and that includes God if you ask me.” And so we read in Psalm 142:4,
“Look to the right and see; for there is no one who regards me;
there is no escape for me; no one cares for my soul.”
And in Luke 10:40 the question of Martha to Christ,
“Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all
the serving alone?
And so the charges are leveled against this uncompassionate, uncaring God. What about the thousands upon thousands that died a few years ago in the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami? What about the six million murdered in the Holocaust? What about my mother who died of cancer? What about my sister who is crippled and has never been able to take a step in her entire life? Sure doesn’t look like God cares that much if any care at all.
The disciples did not charge Him with uncaringness per say, but couched their scathing criticism in a more muted question form. Not everyone is that tempered! During religious emphasis week at a college, some of the young people were holding a service of praise and thanksgiving. They were expressing gratitude to God for their friends, for educational opportunities, and for the overall goodness of God. Among them was a blind boy who was new on campus. He stood up and said, “I’ll tell you what the Lord has done for me. He has put me in a world of beauty, and has taken away my eyes.” As far as he was concerned, God was nothing more or less than an uncaring, unfeeling fiend and robber.
And so it goes throughout the ages. An embittered father who lost three sons in the war was thoroughly convinced that God had murdered His sons. Not only was God to him an uncaring God, but God was a cruel and vicious being. A man lost his young wife through cancer. He pulled down the blinds in his home, refused to allow his friends to console him, and blamed God for the painful and heartbreaking death. In fact, he cursed God publicly, as so many do, and two years later he died of a heart attack.
All of which lead Pascal to write the following words:
“IT IS THE PATHETIC FATE OF GOD TO BE
Nonetheless, God – The Super-Caring God, takes great measures to exercise His great care over us. We read in Psalm 91:11-12,
“For He will give His angels charge over you, to guard you
in all your ways.”
“They will bear you up in their hands, lest you strike you foot
against a stone.”
I would call that very intensive care, as God assigns His angels to care for each of His children. Fact is:
“WHEN IT COMES TO ANGELS, WE ARE ASSIGNED MAJOR-LEAGUE
CAREGIVERS BY OUR CARING LORD.”
Nothing less will do for us. Like mothers who have to many times sweep in and make shoestring catches of Junior before he hits the floor, so the angels of God, our caregivers and caretakers, have to swoop in and grab us before we fall off the cliffs of danger and temptation. How many times they exercise their care and protection over us only they and God know, as we are making unknowingly our headlong dashes to destruction.
JESUS ALONE REALISTICALLY CARES
We forget in all of this one critically all-important fact here, and it is:
“JESUS WAS IN THE BOAT AND IN THE STORM WITH THEM,
AND WAS EXPERIENCING EVERYTHING THEY DID.”
In fact, as we shall see, Jesus Christ is always alone the One Who is in the boat fully with all of us in the midst of all of the storms and the trials on the sea of life. Nobody else!
Let me begin this with this statement:
“YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO GO TO JESUS AND SAY
TO HIM, ‘GET REAL, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.’”
The storm was as real to a calm and collected Jesus, as it was to the terrified disciples.
“NOTHING AND NO ONE IS AS REAL, AND GETS AS
REAL AS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.”
Let’s try at least to see what it means when we think of the old black-slave spiritual:
“NOBODY KNOWS THE TROUBLE I’VE SEEN, NOBODY KNOWS LIKE JESUS.”
Why did they sing that and still do with such passion yet today? They realized something, and that was that Jesus alone suffered in His life and death the very essences of all of the world’s sufferings. All of history’s and humanity’s pathos was all dumped on Him in ways we cannot fathom, and because of that:
“JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY ONE WHO REALISTICALLY CARES,
WHILE THE REST OF US CAN ONLY SAY TO OTHER
SUFFERERS, ‘WE CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE.’”
I have said that many a time to someone or about someone’s suffering, and I did not say it with insensitivity or cruelty when I said, “I can’t imagine what you are going through.” But with Jesus Christ, there is no IMAGINATION, but total, experiential IDENTIFICATION. Why can we say that with utter certainty?
Ella Wheeler Wilcox also caught the world’s very limited empathy, when she wrote:
“LAUGH, AND THE WORLD LAUGHS WITH YOU;
WEEP, AND YOU WEEP ALONE;
FOR THE SAD OLD EARTH MUST BORROW ITS MIRTH,
BUT HAS TROUBLE ENOUGH OF ITS OWN.”
“JESUS CHRIST COULD HAVE STRADDLED THIS SIN-SHATTERED,
SADDENED EARTH THAT HE HAD CREATED. BUT INSTEAD, HE
CARED SO MUCH THAT HE ENTERED THAT SAD EARTH AND
BECAME TOTALLY ONE WITH IT AND TOTALLY
ONE WITH US.”
He is the only One Who ever has! As “Divine Love Incarnate“, Jesus was and is every man’s perfect, infinite, love-man. If you will:
“JESUS CHRIST IS INFINITE TENDER LOVING CARE PERSONIFIED.”
So when we read in Mark 5 about the woman with the unstoppable “issue of blood,” it says in Mark 5:27,29:
“After hearing about Jesus, (she) came up in the crowd
behind Him, and touched His garment.”
“And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up, and
she felt in her body that she was healed
of her affliction.”
I mean to say, all she had to do was touch His garment, and tender loving care oozed out of Jesus. She didn’t have to beg Him, or negotiate with Him, or tell Him how awful her suffering was. Tender Loving Care can’t wait to bless!
So caring is Jesus Christ that we read about the summary of His earthly life in Acts 10:38,
“…and how He went about doing good, and healing all that
were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him.”
Tender Loving Care is non-discriminating when it comes to caring.
If you will:
“JESUS CHRIST, THE GOD-MAN, IS HEAVEN’S CARE PACKAGE UNLIMITED.”
Whatever we and all of mankind have to go through, He has gone through it and therefore goes through it and experiences it with us as His own experience. He cares that much and more. And He went through what believers will never have to go through, and that is the agony of Hell for our sins. Hear me:
“IF YOU EVER DOUBT THAT JESUS CARES, GO TO THE CROSS
AND THERE SEE THE MOST LOVING AND CARING PERSON
WHO HAS EVER LIVED AND DIED, AND WHO
IS ALIVE TODAY AND FOREVERMORE.”
TRUE CARE – TOTAL EMPATHY
FIRST, what about poorness, poverty, paltriness? A person says, “What about being poor? I came from a poor family and I am still poor? It looks like I will be poor all of my life. What does Jesus know about poverty? And because He does not know, how can He care?” Wrong, so wrong!!! Oh yes, He knows a lot about poverty, more than anyone on earth will ever know. He identifies with the poor throughout the world, in it as no man before Him, and as no man after Him. Hear it now:
“FOR CHRIST, ALL OF HIS EARTHLY LIFE WAS STARK AND
ABJECT POVERTY, HAVING COME FROM THE ETERNAL
GLORY AND UNFATHOMABLE RICHES OF HEAVEN
TO EARTH’S PITIFUL POVERTY, PALTRINESS
“NO ONE KNOWS THE POVERTY YOU’VE SEEN, NOBODY
KNOWS LIKE JESUS.”
Don’t get totally screwed up and corrupted in your head these days by the false prosperity preachers who would paint a picture for you of a money-bags Jesus Who steps out on to the stage of history from Esquire Magazine with custom-made designer duds.
Furthermore, the words that were written over His head, “Jesus of Nazareth-King of the Jews” were not an accolade and praise for His earthly riches and royalty, but rather were mocking graffiti on a slum-subway loading station wall in Hell.
And even by earthly standards, when it came right down to His earthly life, Jesus was a poor man. We read in Matthew 8:20,
“The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but
the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
And toward the end, He had nothing but the clothes on His back which also were stripped from Him before they crucified Him, and then they buried Him in a borrowed tomb. Listen now:
“JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY ONE WHO REALLY KNOWS
WHO REALLY CARES, TOTALLY EMPATHIZES
WITH THE POOR.”
SECOND, what about sickness, diseases – physically, emotionally, and mentally? Do you and I REALLY know what the Bible says about Jesus on the cross with all of the sicknesses and diseases of all mankind upon Him? Well then, listen to this in Isaiah 53:4,
“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried.”
“SURELY OUR SICKNESSES HE HIMSELF BORE, AND OUR
PAINS HE CARRIED.”
We don’t even slightly begin to understand this, and thank God we never will need to. Fevers, asthma, allergies, pneumonia, bronchitis, cancers, tonsillitis, appendicitis, glaucoma, tumors, multiple sclerosis, malaria, meningitis, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy, aids, epilepsy, and on and on it goes ad infinitum.
The disease catalog on Calvary was unending. What disease does Jesus have doctor? The doctor’s answer, “I have never seen anything like this. It would seem that His blood test shows every bad blood factor known to medical science.” There were no wonder drugs to pull Him through. There was no universal antibiotic that would kill the rampant and universal infections and viruses. Nothing in the world of modern medical science would have cured Him. Jesus was sick unto death and died! Listen:
“JESUS DIED OF EVERY SIN AND EVERY SICKNESS KNOWN AND
UNKNOWN TO MAN.”
It was not a slow decline into sicknesses for Jesus Christ, but rather, it was the full blast of every sickness known to and unknown to man that saturated Him and took Him in three hours. Every sickness that came upon Him was a sickness unto death. He not only became all of our sins, but He became all of our sicknesses, for He came to suffer and die for our sins and all of their horrid results, that we might be cleansed and made whole.
No wonder that He was shockingly unrecognizable on the cross as we read in Isaiah 52:14,
“So His appearance was marred more than any man, and His
form more than (all) the sons of men.”
MORE THAN ALL THE SONS OF MEN! Yes, every disease and resulting decay and disfigurement made Him a horrible sight to behold. The kind that would not only make children but adults run away from Calvary. It was merciful for those there that the darkness hid Him from them.
So it is that we are able to read about our Lord and Savior, and Him alone in Hebrews 4:15 KJV,
“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with
the feeling of our infirmities.”
“JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN REALLY NOT ONLY
SYMPATHIZE, BUT TOTALLY AND REALLY EMPATHIZE
WITH EVERY KIND OF DISEASED SUFFERER
IN THE WORLD.”
What are we saying? When we read in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus is TOUCHED with the feeling of our infirmities, it does not mean that He is touched in a surface or partial way. Rather, the Greek word there means that He experiences “THE EXACT FEELINGS THAT WE ARE FEELING.” And that is why:
“JESUS CHRIST ALONE REALISTICALLY CARES FOR EACH
THIRD, someone asks, “I was born to a single mother. I am what many still call today an illegitimate child. What does Jesus know about illegitimacy, what does He care?” Listen now, I think that we can be very certain that for 33 years – behind His back and some to His face – Jesus was called sneeringly an illegitimate child.
Many in His earthly walk, and many still today, did not and do not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. In many modern seminaries today the virgin birth is nothing more than a bull session at a coffee break. As matter of fact, then as well as now, for many there wasn’t anything legitimate about Jesus Christ at all.
From the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life, God did not spoil His Son, but brought Him up the hard way. Anyone who thinks that Jesus had it easy fails the New Testament miserably. Never forget that no matter what we are going through, Jesus Christ REALLY cares, and in fact, is the only one who can and does REALISTICALLY care about and for every illegitimate child in the world all at once.
So we read in the Bible that no matter what the care or concern is:
“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” I Peter 5:7 KJV
Over and over again, we read about Jesus looking at the masses of humanity, and we are told again and again that HE HAD COMPASSION ON THEM. The meaning of the word COMPASSION is:
“TO SUFFER (PASSION) WITH (COM) THEM.”
So let us do what the Psalmist tells us to do in Psalm 55:22, and you and I will find it true each and every time,
“Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”
A broken-hearted wife says, “I have been betrayed by my husband who was my best friend. Does Jesus really care?” Oh my yes, when it comes to betrayal, JESUS FULLY AND REALLY CARES. A young man says, “Since I became a Christian, my family has turned their backs on me. Does Jesus really care?” On yes indeed, when it comes to family pain and rejection, JESUS FULLY AND REALLY CARES. A teenager says, “My parents are constantly accusing and blaming me for things that I didn’t do. Does Jesus really care?” To be sure, for when it comes to bearing guilt that was not His own, JESUS FULLY AND REALLY CARES.
The old yet timeless hymn puts it all best:
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song,
as the burdens press, and the cares distress, and the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark with a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades, does He care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed to resist some temptation strong,
when for my deep grief I find no relief, tho my tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said good bye to the dearest on earth to me,
and my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks—Is it aught to Him? Does He see?
O yes, He cares—I know He cares! His heart is touched with my grief;
when the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.