What if Jesus had not commanded the storm to be still? Well, that would have been catastrophic beyond the boundary of contemplation, and you’ll see why. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s look at the story.
The story of Jesus calming the storm is documented by three of the four writers of the Gospel. Matthew wrote about it (Matthew 8:23-27), Mark wrote about it (Mark 4:35-41), and Dr. Luke wrote about it (Luke 8:22-25). The story goes that Jesus had had a long teaching session. A huge crowd had come listening. He finished his session, left the crowd and instructed his disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side” – the other side being across the Sea of Galilee. They took him in the ministry boat but then a furious storm arose. The Sea of Galilee is located in a depression 200m (700ft) below sea level. Sudden storms ignite from the winds arising on the summits of Mount Hermon and the Eastern Mountains of Lebanon. So the sea was notorious for sudden and violent storms. They were in real danger and the boat began to fill with water. But it wasn’t just the occupants of that boat that were in danger. There were several other boats in the convoy. You see, when Jesus gave the instruction to cross over to the other side “other boats followed.” (Mark 4:36) So there were many souls in danger apart from the disciples. The Greek word used for the storm is “seismos,” from which we got the word “seismic.” It literally means “a shaking” so things were quite rough.
In contradistinction to the violent situation however, Jesus lay peacefully asleep on a cushion on the stern of the boat, like a baby. He was totally oblivious of all that was happening. He was tired, really tired. The disciples rushed to him and shook him up, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re about to die?” That statement was not made because they expected special intervention from him. We know this because when he did calm the storm they were surprised. What they were saying was he seemed nonchalant about imminent death, didn’t seem to care or worry. Like he had resigned himself to death. Who sleeps during a storm? But Jesus got up and rebuked both the wind and the sea. He literally “commanded.” The sense of the use of that word implied a threat, meaning he threatened the sea and the wind. The Amplified Bible translation states, “The wind died down as if it had grown weary.” And so we see Jesus rebuking winds and seas, anthropomorphizing nature. He seemed to attribute human personality to them, rebuking and threatening them like they were human. And the disciples wondered who the heck he was. “Even the wind and the sea obey him.” (Mark 4:41) The unmistakable point made in the calming of the storm was that Jesus is Lord of creation. And that wasn’t the first time he was calming storms. We find other examples in David’s writings. There’s a particular narrative about sailors in danger who cried to the Lord and “he calmed the storm, and the waves grew silent.” (Psalm 107:29)
The critical question from the calming of the storm however is that posed by the disciples after they saw the calming of the storm – Who is this man? It’s a pertinent question. They saw an apparent human exercise lordship over nature. Who indeed is this “man”? That question leads us to the binary nature of Jesus, what theologians refer to as the “hypostatic union.” It’s a technical term used to describe the union of Christ’s humanity and his divinity. In Jesus existed both the limitations of a man and the limitlessness of God. Jesus was limited and unlimited. It’s why he hungered and needed food and yet he referred to himself as the bread of life. (Mark 11:12, John 6:35) It’s why he thirsted and needed water but gave the water of life. (John 19:28, John 4:14) It’s why he died on the cross yet referred to himself as the resurrection and the life. (Matthew 27:50, John 11:25) Jesus is the Man-God in essence. That merger of humanity with divinity would become the template for the incredible merger of humanity with divinity when ordinary humans became part of the Godhead in Christ Jesus. The Church is the body of Christ. That’s a merger of humanity with divinity. The Bible says we’re seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6) The whole purport of this unusual elevation is “so that God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness towards us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7) And so the nature of the Christ was the issue in question in the story of the calming of the sea. This was what Paul was trying to unravel to us in Philippians 2:6-7 (AMP): “Although he existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as one with him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes – the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if he did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied himself [without renouncing or giving up his deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and his rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men he became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man.” Jesus was fully God and fully man.
Also in warning about presumptuousness Paul had written, “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!” (2 Corinthians 5:16 NLT) Peter, James and John caught a glimpse of his divine nature when he took them for a meeting with Elijah and Moses at the Mount of Transfiguration. For the first time that outward manifestation of divinity Paul wrote he gave up manifested. “His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light.” (Matthew 17:1-3 MSG)
So what would have happened if Jesus didn’t calm the storm? The worst that could have happened is that all the disciples would have died. But then Jesus would have woken them up. He is not just the Lord of creation, he is the resurrection and the life. Raising people from the dead was a piece of cake for him. In fact, Jesus felt the disciples were cowardly for being afraid of the storm: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” In the storms of life faith is the key, not anxiety. We must maintain our faith in him who calms storms. Jesus not only stills the tumult of nature, he also stills the tumult of the people. When people rise against you and the mob is incited against you, be it in your family, be it in your business, be it in politics, be it on Facebook or Twitter, be it on the road… Just remember the words of David in Psalm 65: 5-7: “By awesome and wondrous things you answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation…who creates the mountains by his strength, being clothed with power, who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples.” The Psalmist further tells us Jesus has trophies and plaques in his trophy rooms that bear the following inscriptions: “Earth-tamer,” “Ocean-Pouer,” “Mountain-Maker, Hill-Dresser,” “Muzzler of sea storm and wave crash.” That’s quite a collection of titles.
Sometimes, the waves of life threaten to overwhelm us. Sometimes, it all looks so bleak and there seems no hope. Sometimes, we seem helpless and powerless against the denudation of the forces of life. Sometimes, we’re cast adrift on the sea of life, tossed by the tempest of life. Sometimes, those around us, our colleagues can’t even help us, seeing that they are in the same dilemma as ourselves. And sometimes, it all seems over. But there’s somebody in that boat with us. His name is Jesus. All we need to do is rouse his attention, not in fear but in faith. Like David we must tell God, “Rise up! Come to our help, and ransom us for the sake of your steadfast love.” (Psalm 44:26) Do not fear!
If you’ll like to give your life to Jesus, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me Father. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.
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