Jesus Calms the Seas
Of course there is great peace in this story – the idea that there is a Savior who cares enough for and about us to calm the waves that we view as threatening and overwhelming.
But I believe there is more we can learn from it, too. The apostles were men who knew the sea, its waves, tides, and movement better than perhaps anyone else, except for the Creator of those waves, tides, and movements. Peter and Andrew, brothers, were fishermen by trade. (Mark 1:16), as were James and John (Mark 1:19). They saw a myriad of miracles performed by Jesus – lepers cleansed and proclaimed clean, the man with palsy was healed and took up his bed and walked, evil spirits cast out of people, Peter’s own mother healed from a fever that threatened to take her life – the list goes on and on.
So here they are – 12 men on board a rather large ship, with a man they’ve witnessed doing countless miracles in a short amount of time. The winds arise, water is pouring over the side of the ship filling it with water, and they are frightened. Men of the sea, who have spent their lives up to this point submitting their lives to the unpredictable nature of the sea, are frightened to the point they think they are going to die.
When you think of them as being sailors, familiar with the sea and all her moods, it seems strange that the storm is something they would be afraid of. But perhaps they were more used to avoiding storms than encountering one head on, as this one was. It was so ferocious that the waves were coming into the boat. It seems that they did what any reasonable person would in a similar frightening situation – they panicked.
The Fear Is Real
We are like the disciples who follow Jesus – in this case, onto a boat. They don’t know where they’re going; they only know that this is who they’re supposed to follow and be with. Imagine their surprise when a storm arises. “But Master, this is NOT supposed to happen! We followed you! How is it possible that bad things can happen?” As the storm worsens, their fear deepens, until finally, “Lord, why aren’t you paying any attention? You MUST save us.”
Was there ever any chance they were going to die? Probably not, not with Jesus on board with them. So what made them lose perspective to the point where fear overtook logic and reason?
Have you ever gone through instances in which you have felt Jesus is asleep in the back of your boat, totally oblivious to the storm going on in your life?
Jesus makes no apologies for leading them on a boat where they would encounter a storm. He also makes no effort to steer them through the storm. Instead, he calms the storm for them. These men, former fishers with great knowledge of the sea, its currents and moods, they understood how to navigate around storms. What they had never encountered before was someone who not only understood the waves, but could exercise complete control over them. They were sailors who could harness the wind, but the Master could control not only the wind, but the waves and the storm.
They had enough faith to ask Him for help. They knew there was something about Him that could control what they could not. Yet when the waves are still again, Jesus asks them why they lacked faith. What did He really mean by that? Was it not faith that led them to ask Him for help?
In Part 2 we’ll discuss some possible answers to those questions.