Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 8:26d “Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there
was a great calm.”
Due to the panic within the disciples, Jesus sensed a need to speak first to the storm inside their hearts before addressing the storm outside their boat. Once He finished speaking calm to them, He turned His attention to the wind and waves.
Jesus stood. At the cries of His beloved disciples, weariness vanished. It had to yield and dissipate. With love, Jesus cast tiredness aside, arose, and spoke.
Instantly there was “a great calm,” in contrast to the “great tempest” (v. 24). One moment Jesus sleeps like a lamb, proving He is man. The next moment He leaps like a lion, proving He is God. This was not just a miracle. It was a sign, a message, an “in your face” statement. Omnipotent God had come among us. He whom angels call “Holy, holy, holy,” can now be celebrated by people as “here, here, here.” One far above us chose to come near us, to display His power for us.
Doctors heal bodies, engineers fix machines, counselors help the mind, but who can tinker with the weather? Long before Jesus’ day, the Hebrews had already decided this type of activity was a God-thing. “Who is like Thee, O mighty Lord?. . . .Thou dost rule the swelling of the sea; When its waves rise, Thou dost still them” (PS 89:8-9 NAS). The Psalmist tells of a time when a storm lifted waves to heaven and plunged them down to the depths. “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed” (PS 107:28-29 NAS).
This calming of the storm stands as one of Christ’s most awesome miracles. In it He proved Himself Master of not only our hearts, persons, and lives, but also our environment. If this miracle happened–we who know Jesus believe it most assuredly did–it has to rank as an atheist’s worst nightmare. If Jesus controlled the weather, every unbeliever is in serious trouble. Some say it was an astonishing coincidence that the storm happened to lull the instant Jesus spoke. To this, A. T. Robertson well replies, “Some minds are easily satisfied by their own stupidities.”
Jesus, wanting us to have absolutely no doubt as to the Source of this miracle, addressed both wind and waves. Mother Nature usually lets storms die down slowly, but when she heard God’s command, she sped up the process and worked quickly. In storms at sea, after winds die down, billows continue to roll a while. Waves belatedly cease surging and subsiding. “But in this instance winds and waves synchronize in the sublime symphony of a solemn silence” (Hendriksen).
Human beings may not acknowledge the words of their Master, but creation does. Christ spoke, and Mother Nature recognized the voice of her Lord. At His command, wind and waves cowered and heeled, like dogs jerked back by a leash.
Elements can not obey, but did. That which can not hear heard. What can not respond responded. Things which can not stop ceased. Can the mindless wind and waves have a Master? Yes, and if they obey Jesus, we also can and should.
Matt. 8:27 “But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that
even the winds and the sea obey him!”
Mark’s gospel (4:41) tells us they were terrified. The sudden calm was far more frightening than the storm. The disciples had anticipated nothing like this.
They knew Jesus could help, but this surpassed anything they had expected. They were skilled lifelong boatmen, but this went way beyond their nautical experience. These sailors and fishermen had lived and worked on the Sea of Galilee their whole lives, but none of them had ever seen anything remotely similar to this.
While trying to figure out the miracle, they quickly decided the more pressing urgency was to try to figure out the miracle worker. They were soon less enthralled with the calming of the storm than with the One who did it. The twelve promptly realized the One standing by them in the boat was more than a man.
Jesus did not fit in any human category. No ordinary classification has ever seemed appropriate for Him. Jesus takes all our understandings of personhood, and stretches them past the limit. Whatever definitions we choose to use in describing a human being, when we come to Jesus, we have to extend them. If He is merely a man, His life is unexplainable. Only God could do the things He did.
The disciples had thought they were merely in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, but now recognized they had been transported back to Genesis chapter one. They felt they were reading again, “In the beginning, God. . .” The disciples understood they were undergoing, living out, a new, yet unwritten part of the creation account.
Scared almost out of their wits, they knew that in the cloudless sky they saw the lightning of God. In stilled waters they felt the finger of God. In windless air they felt the breath of God blowing. In the silence they heard the thunder of God.
In the hushed wake of this calm, hear five applications which might help us. First, the disciples surely regretted their lack of faith. When all is said and done, we should be as upset at our former fear as we were at Jesus’ supposed sleep. We all need forgiveness for past sins of fear. Christ has been faithful and good. We need to tell Him we are sorry for not having trusted Him more along the journey.
Second, the more the disciples knew about Jesus, the more they respected Him. Familiarity often breeds contempt, but with Jesus the exact opposite is true. We who watch the rich and famous from afar are impressed with their glitz and glamor, but those nearby often repeatedly see flaws and weaknesses in the celebrity. This is not the case with Jesus. To know Him is to love Him. To know Him more is to love Him more. Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.
Third, the disciples realized they had a lot more to learn about Jesus. They maintained a growing consciousness of who and what He was, and never came to the place where they felt they knew all there was to know about Him. More always needed to be ascertained. We too do not fully know Jesus, and have much more yet to learn. We have to discover by grueling experiences the value of the Savior we follow. Storms more violent than ever are brewing, and assuredly coming our direction. Troubles ever more difficult yet await us. Years of difficulties harder than ones we have yet undergone are headed our way. In these trials, our Lord Jesus wants to teach us about Himself and to draw us closer to His bosom.
Fourth, the disciples benefited from their troubles. They did not ask for difficulties, but when hardship did come, they profited by it. I recently heard our Director of Missions, Dr. Mike Haynes, preach a helpful sermon entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Troubles.” His premise was, since we have to go through turmoil, we should determine we will at least gain something from it. Rather than chafe under the yoke and buck against God, lean on Jesus for help, and ask Him to enable us to learn as quickly as possible what lesson He is trying to teach us in this difficulty.
Fifth, the disciples began to expect miracles. Many of us would be shocked if God did something marvelous in our life. For some, the biggest surprise of life would be if God granted in a supernatural way one of our requests. As Leonard Ravenhill says, we have been subnormal so long that if we ever became normal we would think we were abnormal. One reason I enjoy our current missions and ministry revival so much is that in it we are being allowed to see miracles happen on a regular basis. We do not take miracles for granted, but do expect to see them.
We serve a miracle-performing God. The same Lord Jesus who calmed wind and waves in Galilee is still alive and still at work in Springfield. He forgives sin, gives victory over evil, heals broken hearts, emboldens the timid, calls people to missions and ministry. Whatever we need in our own individual lives, Jesus is the answer. He is with us on the storm-tossed sea of our life. Call to Him. Let Him stand up in our boat and rebuke whatever winds or waves are haunting us.