Matthew 8:23-27 tells the story of Jesus calming a storm. I grew up learning about this story and the aspect of Jesus who controls even the wind and rain, and I always thought that was the main point of those verses, but today I gained new insight about it. Let’s read it together:
“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 NIV
The part of this story that hit me this morning like a ton of bricks is this: Jesus was there, and unafraid. He was so unconcerned by the storm in fact that he was just letting the waves rock him to sleep. But why wasn’t he afraid? It’s not because he knew he had dominion over the earth and nature. It’s because he knew God had work for him to do and he knew what work that was. He knew they weren’t going to drown off the coast of Capernaum. He knew his destiny lay on the cross.
Jesus did indeed have power to control the wind and waves, and he performed a great many miracles in his ministry, these miracles were both the fulfillment of prophecy and his bonafides, but they weren’t the purpose of his ministry. The purpose was the proliferation of the gospel and the good news of redemption. Freedom for captives and the oppressed, recovery of sight to the blind, and good news to the poor. (Luke 4:18 – not necessarily in that order) that was Jesus’s purpose on earth. The idea that Jesus was unafraid of the storm because he knew he could control it is a bit of a reactionary viewpoint that requires Jesus to be awakened and calm the storm in order to make it safely to the other side. It was important for the disciples to know exactly who they were dealing with and in spite of all they saw, they needed constant reaffirmation that yes, this was indeed the messiah, the son of God. So he calmed the storm to calm their fears and prove his identity again, but they would have made it safely across the lake either way, because God, creator of the wind and sea, was never going to allow Jesus and his disciples to drown.
That’s why Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith, though I imagine it was a gentle rebuke. “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” is maybe the closest he comes to saying something like “Do you know who I am?”
When the Holy Spirit gently rebukes me for my lack of faith in hard situations, I often remember that the disciples lived with the corporeal Jesus, heard him audibly speak, watched all his miracles in person and still needed reassurances, and then I cut myself some slack.
The fact is, if you’ve given your life to Jesus, then you belong to him, and you’re saved. That doesn’t mean you don’t travel through storms, but it does mean that you’re not ever alone. Even if it seems like Jesus is sleeping, he is always with you, and he knows the work God has for you. Also, it’s okay to wake him up when you’re scared.
If you read that last paragraph and thought, “I want to never be alone through life’s storms. How do I give my life to Jesus?” you’re in luck! It’s super easy. The Bible tells us: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NIV) so if you’ve come to a place where you believe that Jesus is who the Bible says he is, then all you have to do is pray to God to ask for salvation. Here’s an example of such a prayer: “Heavenly father, I believe your son Jesus came to save the world, I confess I have sinned and need guidance. Please allow me to be a part of your family in heaven and on earth through the sacrifice of my savior Jesus.” You don’t have to say those exact words though, God knows your heart, and understands what you’re asking. If you do decide to do this, the next step would be to seek out other believers and ask for guidance. Head to a church and ask to speak to the pastor, or ask a Christian friend if you can attend church with them.