Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:23–27
In his account, Matthew shows that Jesus is not only Lord over disease and demons, but over nature too. He is Immanuel, God with us, who rebukes the storm over the seas just as God in the Old Testament made the waters calm – see for instance, Psalm 104:7 (“at your rebuke the waters fled”) or Isaiah 50:2 (“by a mere rebuke I dry up the sea”). At his mere word the seas obey, causing the frightened disciples to wonder just who is in the boat with them. They had witnessed him healing the previously incurable diseases, but they hadn’t reckoned on him controlling nature. Being familiar with the references in the Old Testament mentioned above, they would have realized immediately the weight of Jesus’ actions.
The storm was no ordinary storm. This is hinted at by the Greek word seismos, which usually means an earthquake, or literally, a “shaking” (RT France, Matthew, IVP, 1985, p. 161). A force from outside brought chaos; that is, a squall came upon the lake violently and suddenly. Jesus demonstrates his authority by calming it with a rebuke.
Jesus wants us to believe in his power to still the storms in our lives, whether created from outside or from within. Sometimes they appear suddenly, taking us by surprise and perhaps flattening our faith. As we turn to him in fear or faith, asking him to save us, he brings calm and peace, creating order from disorder.
Prayer: Lord, I confess that when I see the waves leaping at my boat, I react with fear. Come and save me, and increase my faith in your goodness and grace.