Calming a Storm
- Be amazed at the way Jesus calmed the storm.
- Imagine how the disciples felt during and after the storm.
- Sense that Jesus cares when we're frightened.
- Thank Jesus for being with us when we're afraid.
Like last week, we'll be looking at one of Jesus' "nature miracles," miracles that show his power over the forces of nature in the world. These miracles were not meant merely to show Jesus' superhuman power but also to tell us something about Jesus and the kingdom of God he was announcing:
They show that the ordinary human being called Jesus is also the Son of God who can show God's power in the world.
They demonstrate the kingdom of God that Jesus will usher in---a kingdom in which sickness and death will be destroyed and the powers of evil brought under control.
The Bible story for today displays all of those aspects of Jesus' miracles. Here we have an ordinary human being who is tired and falls asleep in the boat. Here too we have the Son of God who has power over the wind and the waves. And here we have a picture of how God's kingdom will bring under control all the powers that are against us.
Imagine the scene. Jesus is asleep in the stern of the boat where there are some cushions on which he can lay his head. He's human. So he's tired and sleepy, just as we often are at the end of a long day.
Suddenly a violent storm whips up over the lake---not uncommon on the Sea of Galilee. And the boats in those days were small and easily capsized. The disciples, scared witless by the waves crashing over the boat, awaken Jesus.
Jesus' strange response startles us: "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" What? Does Jesus mean we shouldn't be afraid even when danger overtakes us? Isn't that asking a bit much? However harsh his response may seem, it echoes the truth always proclaimed when heaven meets Earth: "Be not afraid!" If we only knew how fully and completely our lives are in the Lord's hands, our fears would vanish.
Thankfully, Jesus didn't turn over and go back to sleep. He got up and shouted into the howling gale and the crashing sea. The gospel account then says he "rebuked them," not because he lost sleep, but because of their "little faith." Jesus expected his disciples, as he expects us, to trust that he can deal with powers that threaten us. This rebuke of the powers of nature displays both Jesus' power and his authority, and without hesitation these elemental forces of nature obey Jesus' command. Immediately all is calm.
The disciples are filled with fear and wonder. "What kind of man is this?" they ask one another, dumbfounded. Who is this ordinary person who falls asleep and then wakes up to quiet the forces of nature? That's the question that reverberates through this session and will reverberate through this quarter. Who is this person who does such great and good deeds?
Over the centuries this story has acquired deep meaning for many believers. The picture of a storm-tossed boat with the cross for a mast became an early Christian symbol for the church (and in our time was adopted by the World Council of Churches). This image expresses the great comfort we have as those who are in the boat with Jesus on the stormy sea of life.