And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
Understanding And Applying the Text
Luke and Mark tell us several smaller boats followed Jesus. Jesus and his disciples were all on a larger ship. Matthew is more concise than Mark and Luke. Matthew only tells us Jesus got into a ship to cross the sea.
This is not a small rowboat as is often depicted in art. First, Matthew tells us it was a ship. He did not say boat. Second, it needed to be a good-sized ship to fit all the disciples. Third, it was large enough to lay down and sleep in the stern.
All three accounts agree Jesus laid down to rest. While he was asleep a storm arose. This was no accident. The Father did not send the storm to place His son in danger. Rather He sent the storm to reveal to the disciples their weak faith. And to reveal once again Jesus’ divinity.
We see both Christ’s humanity and divinity. Jesus’ sleep was natural. When we tire we sleep. That is natural. This was real sleep. And it must have been a deep sleep. The ship was rolling. Water splash in. I imagine Jesus even being wet from the waves.
While the sea appeared dangerous, there was no real danger. The Father watched over His son. The Father protected Him while He slept.
The storm is tossing the ship around. Waves are crashing over the bow, the stern, and sides. The ship is out of control. The disciples, some experienced seamen, were helpless. So what did they do? And why?
They woke Jesus up. Mark says they asked, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Luke says they exclaimed, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”
But Matthew makes it sound like they thought Jesus could actually do something. “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”
All three accounts agree they believed they were about to die. They were desperate. If we put all three accounts together their exclamation was like this. “ Master Master Wake up! We all about to die. Don’t you care? Helps us or we’ll all die.” The help they expected was manual labor. In their mind, they needed more hands-on deck. They did not expect Jesus to command the wind and waves.
Jesus gets up, walks up on deck, and rebukes the storm. Matthew and Luke do not tell us what He said. Mark records it as “Peace! Be still!” I think it was more like, “Hey! Knock it off I’m trying to sleep!” To which the storm goes, “Oops sorry.”
Jesus then turns to His disciples and asks, what are you afraid of? While none of the accounts mention it, it is my belief He went below deck and back to sleep. He acted as if nothing happened. It was a non-event.
But disciples stood there with their mouths open. They ask, what just happened? Matthew was they marveled. Again Matthew is the master of understatement. Mark and Luke are a little more to the point. They were afraid. Mark says, “they were filled with great fear.” Do ya think?
They asked each other, “Who is this? When He says, ‘Hush,’ even the wind and the sea hush. This guy has more authority than we imagined.”
This is a familiar story. We have heard it before. Unfortunately, its familiarity causes us to miss its impact. Like the disciples, we should ask, who is this guy Jesus? He is God incarnate. But we forget what that means. We take it for granted.
In the last few days, great thunderstorms passed through my area. The wind blew and rain fell and the thunder rolled. This was Texas wind. It was Texas-sized rain. Raindrops big enough to knock you down. Thunder loud enough to rattle the windows.
Imagine a man walking out on the porch and yelling, “Knock it off.” Then the rain stopped. The wind ceased. And there was no more lightning and thunder. How would you react? You were safe inside your house. Your life was not in danger as the disciples were. But to say you would marvel would understate your reaction. And yes, you would be afraid. Never had you seen anyone command a storm.
That is Jesus Christ. He commands everything, including storms. He may bless us by taking us to heaven at any time. Or He may bless us by sparing our lives. He is in command. And His love for us is great. We should fear Him. But at the same time, we can rest in His love for us.