23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ 26And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. 27They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’ (Matt. 8:23-27 NRSV).
Several issues surround this fantastic story of Jesus. One point I question is his ability to sleep in the middle of a storm that was so powerful that water washed over the boat. I think it is safe to say that Jesus was a very heavy sleeper. As this story unfolds, the disciples plead with Jesus to do something. Jesus’ response was one of amazement that the disciples still didn’t get it. They did not understand that Jesus was the Son of God. The disciples’ response to this miracle is evidence that they had no idea that they were in the presence of the Son of God.
The disciples had witnessed many other miracles before this miracle. Why did they still question Jesus? Why didn’t they simply believe? They met the living God face to face but still doubted. What amazes me is that, despite witnessing this miracle, there would be doubt and actual denial.
I am, sad to say that I am a lot like the disciples. I have experienced the presence of God in my life. I have witnessed his works as I move towards ordination. I have seen him heal my soul and me, who once was spiritually blind, now see. Why do I still continue to doubt?
Although Jesus questioned the faith of the disciples, there is a positive about what the disciples did. They acknowledged and went to the one who could calm the storm. The story does not say, though it implies, that the disciples had no idea how Jesus would help. The only thing they knew was that he was their source of comfort. They knew that he was the one to run to for answers. They, in their doubts, had no idea what Jesus would do or say to help get them out of a bad situation. They simply went to the right place.
This story reflects the fact that storms are racing all around us in our lives. We are flooded with financial issues, day to day worries, and crisis that occur. We only need to turn to that calm presence that is in the boat, so to speak, with us. The God who calms the sea restores and refreshes our souls. He is with us. We must turn to him and ask for His help.
Be Still My Soul
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
by Catharina von Schlegel, 1697-?
Translated by Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897