Some moments are what I call ‘photo moments’: an event in your life that’s frozen in your memory; it’s as if you’re looking at a photograph. You can still recall the details clearly even many years later.
I think that for the disciples one such photo moment came out on the lake when a seismic storm broke out (Matthew uses the Greek word ‘seismos’ to indicate the power behind it – this was no small squall – think ‘Perfect Storm’ but without George Clooney.) The boat is in danger of being swamped and Jesus is asleep through it all!
I’m sure that he got his regular 8 hours per night, but this is the only time that the Gospels mention that Jesus sleeps and it’s at the time of the greatest natural emergency. The scene could not be more clear in its setting out of total chaos on the one side and total peace on the other.
Earlier that same day the disciples have seen Jesus healing a leper, then healing someone’s servant at a distance and then a whole crowd of people who are brought to him at Peter’s house. Yet they’re still thinking of him as just a man. The situations he finds himself in, they expect him to deal with them as a man. The healings? Well, they probably figure God is somehow working through him but he’s surely just flesh and bones like them. And then, out there on the lake as they shake him out of his slumber and scream at him to help them he effectively says: ‘Let me show you why you should have faith in me.’
And with a word he muzzled the storm. Everything - - instantly calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’ This was one of those photo moments for them. When their jaws dropped open like a cartoon and even though you’d think the miracles they’d already seen him carry out would be enough to convince them – this power over nature took it to another level.
If Jesus had authority over disease, authority over nature and, as he showed on other occasions, authority over death, their question ‘What manner of man is this?’ was too small a question. With one word he stopped the hurricane, stilled the waves and re-established peace. This event on the lake, it’s not so much about Jesus being able to calm the storms in our lives - it’s more important than that: it’s Jesus saying to them and to us ‘Let me show you why you should have faith in me.’
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