This is the last week of our God on Film series. Today, we're looking at the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Dead Men Tell no Tales. Captain Jack Sparrow is our hero, but for a hero, he's not very courageous. So we'll look at how to handle our fears with faith. It's a great message,
This message based on Matthew 8:23-27.
This is the last week in our God on Film series. I’ve honestly had fun doing these, coming up with some themes from some popular new movies, and talking about those themes, and what the Bible has to say about them. If you remember from the first week, we looked at Beauty and the Beast and talked about the kind of transformation that only a relationship with Jesus can bring. Last week we looked at Guardians of the Galaxy and saw that family is not just blood relatives, but those who are there for you, and that church is a family that’s there for you.
This week we’re looking at my favorite new film of the year, Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Men Tell No Tales. This is the fifth of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Now, as in all the Pirates movies, the hero is Johnny Depp, playing Jack Sparrow, excuse me, that’s Captain Jack Sparrow. In this movie, he’s being chased by some deadly ghost pirates who have escaped from Devil’s Triangle. It’s kind of a complicated plot, but he’s running away. And here’s the thing about Captain Jack, if you’ve seen the other movies, you know that Captain Jack is always running away. If a fight is about to break out, he’s the first one to try to slip out the back door. For a hero, he’s not the most courageous person. In fact, most of the time he’s afraid, he runs away.
This week, our topic is going to be fear, and how we handle our fears. Now as we start this, let me ask you, “What are you most afraid of right now?” What scares you the most? What do you lie awake at night worrying about? Today, I want you to think about that fear as we explore how to face our fears with faith.
In your notes, I’ve got a memory verse for you, and it’s found in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” This is a really simple verse, but it’s so powerful that if you really understand this verse, it can help you use your faith to overcome your fears.
Now, something different for this series, in order to help you overcome your fears, we’re not going to look to Pirates of the Caribbean, If you’re a fan, I’m sorry, but I just don’t think that’s going to help you. In fact, it would probably just have you running away from your fears, and honestly, most of us are already pretty good at that. So instead, we’re going to look for God’s perspective, we’re going to look at another fear-filled story that also took place on the water, this one’s from the Bible. We’ll see how a different group of fear filled sailors learned to face their fears with faith, and how you can do the same thing.
Let me set the stage for you. Jesus is exhausted. He’s been preaching to large crowds all day, He’s exhausted, He wants to get away, so He and His disciples get into a boat and head out on the Sea of Galilee to head to place where He may get some quiet, He needs some rest. We’ll see the story in Matthew 8, and we’ll look at 23-24 now, “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.”
Let me ask you, have you ever experienced this? You did something that you thought was the right thing, but that decision lead you right into the middle of a big storm, things got crazy, the waves hit, you thought were going under. That’s what the disciples are feeling here in this story. Maybe that’s where you are today. If not, I bet you’ve been there. And in the middle of your storm, you were crying out, “God, where are you?”
These are the feelings the disciples were facing in this story, so let’s look at the rest of the story, starting in verse 25, “The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown.’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’” Can you imagine the disciple’s response – why am I afraid? Wake up and look around, we’re all going to die, that’s why we’re afraid. Now watch what He does. “Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’” Notice those words, What kind of man is this.
That’s the key question you have to wrestle with in life. Some translations put it just simply, “Who is this man?” And this is the big question you have to wrestle with if you want to overcome your fear. Who is this man? Who do you really believe Jesus is?
I want to spend the rest of our time today looking at four lessons from this story that will help us try to decide Who Jesus really is. Now they’re in your notes, there are fill-ins, I didn’t give them to you this week, I know we haven’t had fill-ins for a while, so pay attention, fill them in, and the first one is Call Out For God’s Help. When you’re afraid, when you feel like you’re going under, the first step is to call out for God’s help.
In our story, the disciples are in a situation where they need help. The storm is raging, the waves are coming over the sides, the boat is filling up with water. What do they do, “The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown.’” They’re desperate, and they call out for help, “Lord Save Us.” When you find yourself in the middle of crisis, when you’re anxious, when you’re afraid, call out to God for help.
Have you done that? Are you in the middle of a storm right now? Do that, call out to God, and ask, “Lord, help me.” Listen, only God’s presence drives away fear. And prayer brings God’s presence to our attention. When we pray, we’re aware that God is there. Now we know in our heads that God is always there, but when we pray we recognize it, it becomes more real.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Essentially, Paul is telling us, don’t worry, pray. But most of the time, when we’re anxious about something, we panic, we don’t pray. Let’s be honest, don’t most of us try everything we can think of on our own first? Why do we do that when we’re told to pray.
Joshua 1:9 tells us, “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Realize that God is with you in this storm. You don’t have to fear it, because God is with you. So the first thing we have to do when we are facing a fear is to Call Out for God’s help.
The second thing we have to do is “Ask God What Am I really afraid of?” In Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s ghost pirates that they’re afraid of. It’s important that you take a minute to identify the real source of your fear. When the storm hit, the disciples were in such a panic that they woke Jesus up. Now notice the first thing that Jesus does. Does He jump into action right away? No. He asks them a simple question, “Why are you so afraid?”
Why do you think Jesus asked that question? Didn’t He know about the storm? Didn’t He know what was going on? Didn’t He care about the disciples? Yes, Jesus knew, and Jesus cared. He asked the question because He knew the real reason they were afraid. They didn’t trust that He was in control. They were afraid, they were panicked, but Jesus was in control.
The real reason they were afraid was they couldn’t control the storm. But Jesus could. Jesus was fully in control. He always was, and He always will be. You don’t have to be afraid when your life feels out of control. Jesus is in control. Now let’s go back to your fear, that fear I asked you about earlier.
Whatever that fear is, I’m betting that ultimately, what’s at the core of that fear, is that you don’t think God is in control of this situation. You don’t trust God with this one. You don’t think He’s in control. Whatever it is, that’s the root cause. Listen, God doesn’t’ want you to live your life in fear. When you trust Jesus, He promises that He’ll replace that fear with His peace. Our next verse is John 14:27, and it says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives [The world can’t give this gift]. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” So to face our fears with faith, first we call out to God, then we discover what we’re really afraid of, the source of our real fear, the concern that God’s not in control of this one.
Then the third step is, Let God Expand My Faith. Jesus wants your faith to grow. God always uses the storms in your life to make you grow stronger. You won’t see it from in the storm. But God will grow you through the storm. God isn’t just interested in getting you through the storm, He wants to use the storm to make you stronger.
Look at what Jesus said to the disciples back in our story, “He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’” You of little faith. Now remember, the disciples had a pretty good reason to be afraid, these weren’t inexperienced fishermen, most of these guys made their living in boats like this one, they knew what was going on. They knew this was dangerous situation. And let me add here, having faith doesn’t mean you deny reality. It doesn’t mean you pretend things are okay when they’re not. It doesn’t mean you’re never afraid. Like the disciples, you may be facing a very serious storm in your life right now. If so, don’t deny it, don’t pretend everything is okay. But call out to God, identify the real source of your stress, and let God expand your faith. There’s one more step…
Make God the leader of your life. Here’s the bottom line, if you want to replace your fear with faith in the middle of the storm, you have to allow Jesus to take control of your life. You have to make Him the leader. You have to believe that He is who He says He is, and then trust Him with your life.
Back to our story, in Matthew 8:26, it says “Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’” If you think about this story, this could almost be funny if it weren’t so serious. These disciples are so afraid they think they’re going to die, so they wake Jesus, hoping He was going to do something about it, but He just gets up, looks around, and says, You have so little faith. Why are you so afraid.
Then He looks and the wind and the waves and He says, be quite, be calm, and then goes back over and goes to sleep. Now I don’t know if that’s really how it happened, but I picture it that way. These disciples are standing there with their mouths literally gaping wide open, and they’re saying what just happened? Who is this guy? Even the wind and waves obey Him. Who is He?
And here’s the thing, they’ve been following him for quite a while, but they still didn’t understand who he really was. But at this moment, it’s like they just now realize that He’s the real deal. He is the Son of God, and they knew that they could trust Him with their life.
Have you come to that realization yet? Do you know who Jesus is? Maybe you’ve been a Christian for most of your life. Maybe you’re like the disciples who have been following Jesus for a long time, but you still haven’t made Jesus the leader over every area of your life. Maybe you’re still worried about your health, maybe you’re still anxious over your finances. Maybe you’re still concerned about your relationships. If there is an area that you’re fearful about right now, it’s because you haven’t made Jesus the leader in that area of your life. But you can do that today.
Maybe you’re here this morning but have never given Jesus control of you life. Maybe you’ve never accepted Him as your Savior. Maybe today, you feel God tugging on your heart. You’ve got fears, and now maybe you’re beginning to realize you don’t have to live that way. John wrote, in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.” So I want to give you an opportunity today, maybe for the first time.
Here s the truth, there is so much in life to make us afraid, but there is so much in our faith to make us unafraid. So whatever your fears are today, trust God with them. Let Him guide you through your storm, He won’t let you drown, the same love that calmed the fears of the disciples can calm your fears today.