Luke 8: 22 – 25 Jesus calms the storm
One day Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith?’ he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’
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The miracle we read about here is also recorded by St Matthew (Matthew 8: 23 – 27) and St Mark (Mark 4: 35 – 31). All three accounts are very similar suggesting they come from the same original source.
Several of the disciples had been fishermen by trade. They knew the Sea of Galilee well. It’s subject to unexpected storms, and the water can become very rough, very quickly. The storm described here must have been unusually fierce, because the disciples feared for their lives. They went to Jesus, who was sound asleep, and woke him up with the words, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’
I wonder what they expected him to do? They obviously expected him to save them somehow. It shows a little faith – but faith in what? Faith in Jesus as a leader, perhaps, who would organise them so that the boat wasn’t swamped and came safely through the waves. Or faith in the miracle worker who had healed the sick; perhaps he could somehow miraculously stop water from splashing into the boat.
Oh, I wonder so much what they felt as he stood up, and rebuked the wind and the raging waters!
And then it was calm. The way the story is written it sounds as though peace came virtually immediately, within seconds, because, ‘Where is your faith?’ he asked his disciples. The train of thought between rebuking the elements and rebuking his disciples is unbroken.
It was no coincidence that the wind just happened to drop as Jesus spoke. It takes time for raging waters to abate after a storm, and the account here says “the storm subsided, and all was calm.” Jesus had calmed both wind and waves.
Do I believe this, or is it just a story that has been exaggerated with re-telling prior to inclusion in the gospel narrative? I don’t think I’ve ever asked myself that question before, not with any seriousness, anyway.
My faith doesn’t rest on belief in that story; it rests on the resurrection of Jesus, and on his teaching as to how we should live our lives.
But, actually, yes, I believe that story. It teaches me two things. The first is that Jesus, the Son of Man, showed that he has authority to use the awesome power of God the Father. The second is that my understanding of faith is imperfect.
Partly, I think, this is a failure of imagination. Humans are not very good at imagining the unfamiliar; in fact, sometimes we resist it. For example, I know that one day my mortal body will die. Nothing is more certain! And yet, despite knowing that this is true, I don’t have faith in its truth. I eat, exercise, start projects, all things which maintain me for continued bodily existence. My faith is clearly that I’m going to keep on living!
At the same time, I have faith in Jesus, and I have faith that God’s commandments, to love him and to love my neighbour as myself, are true and good. I want to live by them in this world.
I put my trust in God for what is to come afterwards, and he has given me a great sense of peace.
Through Jesus, you spoke peace into the storm, and the wind and the waves were calmed. Thank you for the peace that you bring into our lives. Please help me to worship Jesus as I should.
In Jesus’ name, Amen