Matthew 8:23-27 (NIV) 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. 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?” 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!”
Jesus lived His life like no person had ever lived before. He lived in such close communion with the Father that he never worried or feared. He knew exactly what the Father’s plan was at any given moment, because He constantly listened to His voice. He never did anything on a whim, but always acted in complete obedience to the Father’s will.
It was the same way that morning. Jesus wasn’t just going to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He was following God’s explicit direction to go because there was a demon-tormented man over there who needed to be set free. So Jesus gave the command, and His disciples followed Him onto the boat, and set sail.
Even if Jesus noticed the gathering clouds over the lake that presaged one of the frequent storms that tended to swoop down over the water from the nearby hills, He paid them no attention. He knew that any storm that did arise was ultimately no threat, because God had called Him to deliver the man on the other side, and God would ensure that He got safely there.
His disciples, though, had no such confidence. They tended to focus on externals, like the deep water, and the increasing wind that was starting to push the waves over the sides of the boat. Some of the men in the boat had lived and worked on the Sea for years, and knew of many lives that had been lost to those treacherous waves. They grew more and more afraid as each moment passed, and the wind and waves continued to increase.
They were amazed that Jesus could continue to calmly sleep through all of the tossing and the drenching spray. Some today blame exhaustion for Jesus’ deep sleep, but it was actually faith. Jesus knew before they ever set sail that they would make it safely to the other side.
No one was sure what they expected Jesus to do about the storm, but they knew that the storm had already out-mastered them. So they woke Him with the news that they were all going to drown, and a plea to do something, anything that might help.
Jesus was frankly disgusted with their lack of faith. This storm was a simple challenge. Why were they so afraid? It wasn’t His time to die, and if it wasn’t His time, then it wasn’t their time either. After chiding them, He stood up and spoke peace to the wind and the waves. Immediately the storm stilled.
Jesus laid back down again, but if anything, the disciples were more freaked out than ever. They had seen Jesus do amazing things, but for Him to be able to command the wind and the waves…that was beyond incredible!
Some have read this bit of history as teaching that if we cry out to Jesus, that He will calm any storms that enter our lives. And then they are troubled when they pray in the middle of some fearful storm, and the storm keeps raging. The real lesson to be learned is that if Jesus is in the boat, we don’t have to fear the storms that do arise. It teaches us that we need to have the same faith and calmness that Jesus had – “the peace of God that transcends all understanding,” based in an assurance that we are acting in complete obedience to God’s plan. That peace will guard us during the greatest possible storm. And that kind of faith will ultimately deliver us to heaven’s gate, even if the storm continues to blow.
Father, thank You for this assurance. Forgive me for sometimes getting my eyes so focused on the storm that I forget to keep my eyes on You, and my ears tuned to Your voice. Help me to have the same faith and trust in You that Jesus had, born of and sustained by a clear understanding of Your will for my life at every moment. Amen.