WIND, WAVES, AND WONDER
Holy God, may this day reverberate with the praises to you that I cannot hold back. You deserve nothing less.
Read MATTHEW 8:23–27
Jesus Calms the Storm
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 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.
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you.’1
As I write, coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the globe, causing fear and panic – a natural reaction to uncontrollable crises. This was certainly the experience of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, struck by a violent storm (literally, a great ‘shaking’) (v 24). They cried to Jesus more out of fear than in assurance of faith (v 25). Matthew, unlike Mark and Luke, describes Jesus as chiding the disciples for their little faith before stilling the storm, not afterwards (v 26). They, and we, are challenged to have faith in the midst of crises, not only once they have passed.
The disciples’ behavior was controlled by their fear, because they focused on the crisis at the expense of recognizing God’s power and presence with them. Yet the grace of Jesus is such that he not only answers their desperate prayer but reveals to them that power and presence in the process. Up to now, Matthew has encouraged us to see Jesus’ healings and exorcisms as evidence of his messiahship, but this demonstration of authority over the forces of nature is in a new category altogether. The Hebrew Scriptures attest repeatedly to the power of God Almighty over the winds and the sea: he ‘stilled the storm to a whisper’;2 ‘[rules] over the surging sea’;3 and ‘stilled the roaring of the seas’.4 No wonder the disciples are amazed when Jesus does the same.
Faced with storms, literal or metaphorical, do we recognize the authority and presence of Jesus, God with us? In the Greek, Matthew describes how after Jesus rebuked the storm there came ‘a great calm’, matching the ‘great shaking’ of the storm. The peace that Jesus brings is not merely an absence of chaos: it has its own strength and integrity. Do we seek his peace whatever our circumstances, or only so that our troubles disappear?
Thankfulness helps to displace fear. Give thanks to God often for specific things, especially if you feel fearful.
Dear Jesus, just as you replaced for the disciples the great shaking of the storm with a great calm, replace the storms in my life with that same great calm.
1 Isa 43:5 2 Ps 107:29 3 Ps 89:9 4 Ps 65:7
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