“And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:25-26 ESV).
The day starts out just like any other day. The crowds press and Jesus and His disciples step into a small fishing boat and push off onto the beautiful blue-green waters of the Sea of Galilee, heading for the other side. Jesus leans back and is lulled to sleep by a peaceful breeze and the gentle lapping of the waves on the sides of the boat. All is at peace.
As they get father and farther out, the wind becomes less peaceful and the waves less gentle as they begin to toss the boat to and fro. The apostles look up into angry, gray-green clouds that can only mean one thing to the experienced sailors: storm. Like the fisherman they were, they had dealt with storms before and each of them struggles to do their best to keep the boat upright. But this storm soon proves too much for them. They are soon overcome with waves of fear just as the waves of the sea threaten to overcome their boat. Amazingly, the Savior is still sleeping. They rush to His side and violently shake Him awake. Like the storm, violence overcoming calm. “Save us, Lord” they plead, “we are perishing!”
With inconceivable calm, Jesus rises. With disappointment in His eyes, He first speaks to His disciples, His little children, “Why are you afraid?” When the Master of the Storms is with you, what is there to fear? Then turning to the storm He speaks, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). The Word that spoke all of Creation into existence spoke silence and calmed the storm. “And there was a great calm”. All is at peace.
It is easy to perceive the physical storm here, we have all experienced the storms of nature, but if you look closely, there are actually two storms here. One physical. One spiritual. You can almost feel the power of the physical storm. “The boat was being swamped by the waves” (Matthew 8:24 ESV). The spiritual storm is also familiar. The apostles could not control the storm. Fear washes over them. We often fear what we cannot control.
As there are two storms, there are two rebukes as well. When Jesus awakes, He rebukes the storms in order of importance. First He turns to the disciples and rebukes the storm in their hearts. “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” The disciples were letting fear overcome their faith. It should have been the other way around. With the Lord of Creation actually in the boat with them, what on earth or beyond did they have to fear? So Christ speaks to their hearts, then He calms the waves.
The apostles were human, like us. We, too, experience spiritual storms, storms of faith. There is often a physical storm as a catalyst (we lose a job, or health, or a spouse), creating fear in us, causing us to doubt. Our thoughts are consumed by the storm we are in and we cry to God, “Save us, Lord!” God hears. No matter how the wind howls, God hears. However, like in our story, God often chooses to address our spiritual storm before He calms the storm outside our hearts. He speaks to our faith, “Peace,” He says “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). When our faith in God is strong, physical storms cannot overwhelm us. God will overcome all.