By Mike Willis
Each of the synoptic gospels relates the miracle which Jesus performed when He calmed the sea of Galilee (Matt. 8:23-28; Mk. 4:35-41; Lk. 8:22-25). This is one of the most impressive miracles which Jesus performed.
Jesus had taught the people by parables (Mk. 4:35). He planned to cross the Sea of Galilee to go the country of the Gadarene demoniac, whom He healed later that day. Luke’s account reads as follows:
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this? For he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
Lessons From the Miracle
1. The nature of Jesus. Both the humanity and the deity of Jesus are observed in this incident. The humanity of Jesus is seen in the reference to Him sleeping, for of God it is said, “Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” The deity of Jesus is manifested by His ability to calm the stormy sea.
2. Jesus was calm in the midst of the storm. While the storm beat down upon the lake, Jesus lay in the back of the boat asleep. He was at peace with Himself and His Father. “In Him we behold here the exact reverse of Jonah (Jon. i. 5, 6); the fugitive prophet asleep in the midst of a like danger out of a dead conscience, the Savior out of a pure conscience – Jonah by his presence making the danger, Jesus yielding a pledge and assurance of deliverance from it” (R.C. Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord, p. 89).
In contrast to His calmness and peace, we see the agitation in the hearts of the disciples. After calming the storm, Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?” His question demonstrates that their agitation was an evidence of an absence of faith.
None of the disciples of Christ are exempt from trials and life threatening circumstances. God has never promised us that our lives would be without storms and troubles. In these troubles, sometimes the disciples of Christ die. Jesus never promised us that the troubles of life would not cause some of us to die. Nevertheless, He expressed that their agitation and turmoil were a result of an absence or deficiency in faith.
This kind of agitation is similar to that mentioned in Matthew 6 in which a man worries about food, clothing, and shelter. Both cases manifest a man who is not trusting the providence of God and His provisions for us. If, in the providence of God, I must face the storm and even if that storm causes my death, my God is stiff providing for me and taking care of me. I must learn to trust God amid the storms of life. Job manifested this kind of trust when he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job. 13:15).
3. The fisherman turned to the Carpenter. Peter, James, and John were in the boat with Jesus. These men were fishermen by trade, experienced in handling a boat. If one were going to experience bad weather in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, Peter, James and John would be the kind of men who would be best prepared to handle a boat in the storm. Nevertheless, when the storm hit and their boating experience was unable to cope with the storm, these experienced boaters turned to Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth for help. Why would fishermen turn to a carpenter for help in managing a boat in the midst of a storm?
Obviously, the disciples recognized that Jesus was able to do something to help them which they could not do for themselves. Although they were surprised by what He did, their turning in desperation to Jesus for help manifested a degree of faith in Jesus.
4. Jesus controlled the winds and the waves. Jesus was able to speak a word and calm the elements of nature. The omnipotence of God enables Him to control the seas. “Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them” (Psa. 89:9). An ordinary man cannot control the waves of the sea. This miracle by Jesus demonstrates His omnipotence and control over nature. The deity of Christ is proven by miracles such as this.
There has never been a modern miracle worker attempt to do what Jesus did. He may try to heal a man who is partially blind so that he can see better, to enable a man partially deaf to hear better, to have someone cough up a tumor, and some other “miracle” which one can never verify. However, there is no modem miracle worker who could dare stand before tho blowing winds and raging sea and demonstrate his ability to perform a miracle by saying, “Peace, be still.”
May this miracle of Jesus impress us once more with His divine care for us, His ability to help us in any desperate circumstance, and our need to trust in God. Him whom we serve is indeed able to come to our help and meet our most desperate need. In closing, I quote the words of the familiar hymn “Master, The Tempest Is Raging.”
Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’er-shadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh,
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threatening
A grave in the angry deep?
Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today,
The depths of my sad heart are troubled –
O waken and save, I pray;
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master
O hasten and take control;
Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest,
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast,
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more,
And with joy I shall make the best harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.
The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies,
They all shall sweetly obey thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will
Peace, peace, be still!
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 6, pp. 162, 181
March 21, 1985