Let’s open our Bibles to the eighth chapter of the gospel of Luke as we examine God’s precious Word and another magnificent portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ presented to us by the Spirit-inspired historian Luke.
We come to the eighth chapter of Luke again, and for the second week and the last week, we’re looking at a section in this chapter from verse 22 through verse 25, and the theme is power – power beyond anything man can do. Not power to harness natural forces, but power to stop them. Massive power is exhibited in this passage by Jesus to control wind and water, forces that man has never, ever been able to control. And modern history is as full of devastating hurricanes and tornadoes and destructive winds and waves and floods as ancient history because man, throughout all of the millennia, has achieved virtually no ability to do anything about these powerful forces. And yet in this account given to us by Luke, also given to us by Matthew and Mark, other gospel writers who describe the same event, we see that Jesus has complete power over these forces.
Let’s look again at these verses, and I’ll read them to you so that you have the story in your mind. Verse 22, “Now it came about on one of those days that He and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ And they launched out. But as they were sailing along, He fell asleep; and a fierce gale f wind descended upon the lake, and they began t be swamped and to be in danger.
“And they came to Him and woke Him up, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’
“And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’
“And they were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?’”
Now, the Lord of creation chose the ideal place on the planet for this display of astonishing power. He chose the little lake of Kinnereth, Gennesaret, or modern time Lake Kinneret in the Galilee section of Israel, usually, in the Bible, referred to as the Sea of Galilee, though it’s just a lake – 13 miles at its longest length and 7 or 8 miles at its widest point.
Lake Kinneret, as it is known today, is one of the most fascinating and most studied bodies of water on the Earth. We become sort of superficially familiar with it as the Sea of Galilee, and we know about the fishing boats and about the agriculture around the sea, but we really, for the most part, in kind of going through the stories of the Bible, never come to grips with the amazing properties of this lake which make this story so believable and so important.
As I said a moment ago, it is one of the most studied lakes in the world. It is studied by scientific experts from all over the globe. All you have to do is look on your worldwide web for Lake Kinneret, and you will be flooded with all of the studies that have been done through the years to try to come to grips with the amazing, amazing, unique elements of wind and water that function on this lake.
It is the lowest freshwater lake in the world, 682 feet below sea level; there is no lake lower on the planet. It is only 30 miles east of the Mediterranean Sea, situated in a bowl-shaped valley. To the west are the hills of Galilee, which rise to a height of about 1,500 feet. And so, they are 1,500 feet plus 682 feet above the surface of the lake.
To the north and west, as I said, are those hills of Galilee. To the east of the Sea of Galilee is a plateau. In fact, it’s a plateau that runs for 42 miles down that part of the land of Israel. It is a plateau 16 miles wide, known today as the Golan Heights. It is a no-man’s land. The Israelis have pushed the Arabs back many miles against the countries to the east and away from the Heights, because for so many years they were being shelled in the villages below the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights rise to an elevation of 3,000 feet. So, they are quite high above the surface of the lake, a perfect place to bombard the people in the villages below.
This plateau is sheer at some points and sloped at other points. To the north of the lake are the mountains of southern Lebanon that rise 10,000 feet above the surface of the water. So, there it exists on three sides, surrounded by mountains, from 1,500 feet all the way up to 10,000 feet.
The lake itself is supplied by the snow melt that comes from the Lebanese mountains – Mount Hermon being the most familiar one at 9,200 feet above sea level. The snow melts and sends the clean, clear water down the small Jordan River, and it fills up the lake. But that’s not the only water supply. That whole area is geothermal, and at the north and west part of the lake, there are hot springs, fresh, clear, water bubbling up out of the ground that also supplies the marvelous and unique lake.
Because the water is so pure, 50 percent of all drinking water in Israel comes from that lake, providing wondrously good water for all the inhabitants of Israel, and it’s always been that way.
The lake is amazingly stratified. There are literally three sections of water, three different temperatures that are remarkable. The lake goes to a depth of 150 feet. Go down 50 feet, and the temperature drops to about 59 degrees. Go down another 50 feet, and it drops to under 50 degrees. And those various sections of the lake have their own movements and their own motion which contribute to the surface turbulence to some degree.
Because of the freshness of the lake and the agitation of the lake, it is a wonderful place for algae to flourish. And algae flourishing causes the fish population to flourish so that catching fish in the Sea of Galilee is about as easy as catching them anywhere. I read about a more recent fisherman who caught 600 pounds of fish in a single net haul. Now, that might sound like a lot. There is on record from 1896 a catch of 9,200 pounds of fish brought in by one boat in one day. It is teeming with life. God has put fresh water and plenty of food right in the middle of the Galilee. And, of course, around it is marvelous land, great farmland – as good as any in the world – and slopes on which vineyards can be planted, and it is the land of milk and honey.
As wonderful as this lake is as a source of water and a source of food, and even a source of transportation, there is a problem with this lake that is well-known to geologists, meteorologists, and scientists all over the world. And it is that problem in the lake that is so frequently studied, and it is the amazing mix of wind and water that occurs there as no other place in the world.
Because the lake is the lowest lake on the planet, because it is in a bowl at the bottom of hills and cliffs and plateaus and mountains that surround it, it is a perfectly situated lake to experience severe and strong wind. From the west come ocean winds over the hills of Galilee, speeded up as they come down, hitting the surface of the water. From the north come the cold winds off the Lebanese mountains – snowcapped mountains. And as those winds come plummeting down the hills, they gain speed. And as they get closer to the lake of Galilee, their forced into ravines. And as they – as the wind is compressed into the ravines, it accelerates its speed immensely.
I remember one time when I was in Chicago, and I was asking people why it’s called the Windy City, and I said, “Is it the wind out on the lake?”
They said, “Not really. It is the wind on the lake compressed between the high rise buildings in the city that creates funnels which accelerate the wind and so it comes flying down the streets between those buildings at a much higher speed than it is on the lake itself.” And that is essentially what ravines and canyons do with wind. And that is the way it is in Galilee.
To the east come the hot sirocco winds off the desert, very much like our Santa Ana Winds, gaining speed and gaining heat as they come across the desert, and then plummeting down the 3,000 foot precipice of the Golan Heights to hit the lake.
Tempests on the lake basically happen every day. The winds come just about every day at around noon and last till about 6:00. So, the wind there is incredibly routine, strong winds coming as a daily experience.
Now, the worst of the winds are the cold winds, because when the cold winds come down, they not only gain speed, coming from afar, they not only are the stronger winds, the scientific data that I read this week indicates that the cold winds are about 50 percent stronger than the warm winds. And as they come down, they collide with the warm air that sits in that semiarid valley. And the collision of the intensely cold wind and the warm wind generates winds that are almost like hurricane or tornado type winds. These winds are known as katabatic winds. They originate when a layer of cold air forms on the mountains with clear skies and low barometric pressure. And then the cold air become denser and heavier; it plummets down; gravity pulls it down. It speeds down, it gets trapped in canyons. It gets funneled down. It accelerates; it hits the lake, hits the warm air, and literally creates what scientists call sheer stress on the surface of the lake that just agitate it in immense fashion. The winds in the summer are less severe than those in the winter.
By the way, according to chronology of the New Testament, when this happened, it was the winter of the year 29 A.D. What that does is stir up storms – severe storms – on the lake. I’ve sailed across the little lake of Galilee, the Sea of Galilee on a number of occasions. And I have experienced the sudden rise of a storm.
I remember Patricia and I were one time on the top deck of a small boat – I would say 60-70 feet in length – but it was a ship made out of steel, and it was able to be in relatively rough water. It was the kind of boat you might assume to see on an ocean, not a little lake, but that kind of boat is very helpful in that particular environment.
I remember being on the top deck to try to avoid the spray and being completely drenched as the waves were breaking across the bow and literally cascading water over our heads over the entire ship. That is a particularly familiar experience to those who sail on that little lake. The water is agitated, as I said, as the air runs at high speed across the surface and agitates it. It is more severe in the winter because of some scientific reason. The three stratified areas in the summer have some way to kind of control the agitation on the surface. The lakes lose that clear stratification in the winter. The lake loses that clear stratification in the winter and becomes more subject to turbulence. And since the winds are greater, the turbulence as well is greater.
So, between December and February, or even as late as April, you can have a very, very threatening, a very terrifying, a very treacherous storm on the little lake of Galilee like really no other little lake anywhere in the world. There are plenty of historical records about the deadliness of those kinds of storms. They are violent. They are really unpredictable. There is a calm, and within just minutes there is, without warning, a raging, raging storm. Some of the storms are extremely severe.
We’ve stayed a number of times in the town of Tiberius. And Tiberius is on the western shore of the lake. And of course the water sort of laps up against a rather high and formidable sea wall you would think; it’s really a lake wall. And the reason the wall is there is to protect the town of Tiberius. There are, along the coastline some large buildings, some large hotels, some restaurants and things like that right along the water. And the waves get very high at times, five to six-foot waves are fairly normal. In 1992, ten-foot waves crashed over the sea wall into downtown Tiberius, causing significant damage to boats and buildings on the shoreline. This from what appears, when you wake up in the morning, as a very, very placid and quiet lake.
So, if the Lord wanted to choose a place to demonstrate His power over wind and wave, He picked the best place. Or better said, when the Lord created the Earth, He created that lake in that place where His Son would be so that He could demonstrate His divine power. This little story shows us that Jesus can do what no one has ever been able to do: control the wind and the water.
Now, we divided the story into three parts, kind of featuring the calm – the calm before the storm; the calm during the storm; and the calm after the storm. Last time we looked at the calm before the storm, and we considered verse 22 and verse 23, “It came about in one of those days” – it was, in fact, the day that Jesus gave the parable of the soils and the parable of the lamp that is in the preceding part of this chapter; the very same day, long day in which Jesus was teaching a massive crowd so big that up by the town of Capernaum, they had gathered and pushed him – pushed him all the way down until they literally pushed him into the water, and He had to get into a boat to do His teaching.
So, He had spent an entire day teaching this crowd. And there was accumulated weariness because He had done that day after day after day after day. And so, at the end of that day, He determined that He needed some quiet and some rest and some refreshment and respite from the intensity of the crowd. And so, He and His disciples got into a boat. And Mark tells us a lot of other little boats went along, and Jesus and His disciples – that “disciples” means the group of people who were learners, students, followers – some of them knew that He was God. Some of them knew He was the Messiah. Some of them were coming to that knowledge; some of them were wondering who He was. But they were all there to learn at various points. And they all got into boats to go with Him. “And He said to them, ‘Let’s go to the other side of the lake.’” The way to avoid the crowd was to take the water and go across the lake. If they tried to walk, the crowd would follow them. They couldn’t really walk away; they had to get in a boat and sail away, and that’s what they did.
And so, they launched out to go to the other side of the lake, maybe a journey of about six miles across the northern tip of the lake. In verse 23, “As they were sailing along, He fell asleep” – exhausted from a human standpoint, literally without any energy left, Jesus went to sleep. And Mark tells us there was a pillow provided for His head, and He was placed in a – perhaps lying on a plank, a place out of the way of those who were sailing the little boat, and He fell asleep with His head on a pillow. This is the calm before the storm. The Son of God, God in human flesh is exhausted physically. And, of course, that’s His human nature. His divine nature, He goes to sleep even though He knows the storm is coming, even though He is the God who created, the God who sustains creation; He is the God of the storm. He knows it’s coming. He’s omniscient, He knows everything, but the storm holds no fear for Him. There’s no necessary preparation to make on His part; He can go to sleep, and at the appropriate moment stop the storm, which He does.
And so, you look at Jesus, and there’s a beautiful calm as He goes deeply asleep. And in the lateness of the day, dusk settles in as they begin their trip. Darkness falls, the moon comes out, everything is quiet. But it is particularly at night that the cold storms of the north come in the winter. In clear skies, as I said, with low barometric pressure, the fury of the storms begin to build, plummeting down the mountains, and arriving at the little lake in the darkness of night. It is likely one of those clear nights, and they’re sailing in the light of the moon.
And we move from the calm before the storm to a second point, the calm during the storm. Look at verse 23, “And a fierce gale of wind descended upon the lake. And they began to be swamped and to be in danger. And they came to Him and woke Him up, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’” All of a sudden, the tranquility is removed and replaced by a deadly storm. A deadly storm. And Luke’s choice of words gives us with just a very, I suppose, typically, biblical brevity, a grip on the severity of this event. Luke calls it a fierce gale, and the Greek word is lailaps, and that is the word for hurricane. You’re talking about very, very strong winds, hurricane-type winds. It’s the word that would be used for whirlwind or tornado.
And then, as if that’s not enough, He adds another word anemos, which is the word for wind. It was a hurricane kind of wind so that fierce gale, the word “hurricane” modifies the kind of wind that it is. And then he says, “It descended,” and that’s very, very accurate because wind did just that; it came down the mountains. “Descended” is from the Greek verb katabainō. Katabinō – kata means down; it came down. The language is true to reality. It is very likely, as I said, when you do your chronology, the winter of the year 29. It is the very time of the year when the winds are the worst, when the cold air furiously funnels through the ravines and the canyons and down the slopes from the north and sometimes from the northeast, plummeting down, gaining speed into the low basin, colliding with the warm air, creating sheer stress on the surface of the water and turning it into a frothing, foaming caldron of water with waves that go from five to ten feet.
The storm is so severe, it is life threatening. And this assessment is made by sailors. It is the disciples who are saying, “Lord, Master, we are perishing!” They understood that they were in danger. “The boat was being swamped,” it says.
And again, just to give you a little bit of history, W. M. Thompson wrote a book called The Land and the Book in which he gives fascinating insights into the character of the land of Israel.
In one paragraph, he tells about an occasion when he and some other visitors to Israel were tenting and camping beside the lake. This is what he writes, “On the occasion referred to, we subsequently pitched our tents at the shore and remained for three days and nights exposed to tremendous wind. We had to double pin all the tent ropes and frequently were obliged to hang with our whole weight upon them to keep the quivering tent from being carried up bodily into the air. The whole lake, as we saw it, was lashed into fury. The waves repeatedly rolled up to our tent door, tumbled over the ropes with such violence as to carry away the tent pins. Furthermore, these winds are not only violent, but they came down suddenly and often came when the sky was perfectly clear.”
He says, “I once went to swim near the hot baths, and before I was aware, a wind came rushing over the cliffs with such force that it was with great difficulty that I could even get back to shore.
“Dr. W. M. Christie, who spent many, many years in Galilee, said that during these storms, the winds would blow sometimes from all directions, because once they hit the pocket and the bowl, then they would begin to spin and to whirl.”
He writes, “A company of tourists were standing on the shore at Tiberius and noting the glassy surface of the water and the smallness of the lake, they expressed doubt as to the possibility of such storms as those described in the gospels. Almost immediately the wind sprang up in 20 minutes, the sea was white with foam-crested waves, great billows broke over the towers at the corner of the city walls, and the visitors were compelled to seek shelter from the blinding spray, though they were 200 yards from the shore.”
This happens; it happens. The Bible says it happens, and it happens. And here was a situation that there basically was no remedy for – not in the human realm. They realize what’s going on. In verse 23, the boat begins to be swamped. And they know they are in danger. How severe is the danger? “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Perishing is a sort of a, I guess, prosaic way of saying, “We’re dying.” This storm will kill us.
Now, this perfectly suits the Lord’s purpose, of course, to strengthen the weak faith of His followers. And that’s pretty clear by verse 25, His first comment to them afterwards is, “Where is your faith.”
The Lord allows the storm; the Lord is in the storm; the Lord creates the storm in order to demonstrate that He can be trusted in the storm to increase their faith.
Matthew, by the way, in his account of this event – Matthew 8:24 describes the effect on the lake with interesting Greek words. He calls it a seismos megas – a mega seismic event. Seismos is the word for quake; mega is the word for big or massive. Matthew says it was a water quake, which is a way of describing the violent shaking, agitation, the massive waves generated by hurricane force winds.
And I can remember our experience there – a couple of experiences there, one most notably. That all came within a half-hour from perfect calm.
And so, Luke notes that the boat began to be swamped. Matthew says it this way – Matthew says, “Water was covering the boat.” He says, “The boat was covered with the waves.” Mark says, “Waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.” And then Matthew adds, in the middle of this, “Jesus was still asleep.” And that’s the calm during the storm. Jesus was the eye of the hurricane.
You could say, from a human viewpoint, He must have been very tired. Who could sleep during that? But He could. Does that say something about His weariness and His fatigue? Yes. But it also says something about His tranquility as God. God, by nature, is perfect calm because there is nothing that can ruffle Him, nothing that can concern Him, nothing that can worry Him since He is sovereign over everything. Jesus has His head on a pillow in a sleep of perfect tranquility, perfect calm. He needs no preparation to deal with the storm. At the appropriate moment He will exercise His sovereign, divine, creative power. He is he calm in the storm. Chaos everywhere, pandemonium everywhere. The boat that He’s in and all the other little boats along, bobbing like corks in the surf, people hollering and yelling and scrambling around the decks to keep their balance and not get washed overboard as the water continues to crash into the boats and fill them up. And Jesus is sound asleep in perfect peace. They know they have no human way out, and they are fishermen. This is not the assessment of tourists; this is the assessment of people who were on the water of that lake almost daily.
And in verse 24, “They came to Him and they woke Him up. And they said, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’” They were used to the lake; they knew what level storm they could survive. This they couldn’t survive.
So, in a mixture of hopelessness and hope, in a mixture of terror and faith, in a mixture of panic and trust, they started tugging at Jesus to waken Him. Now, they knew that He had power over demons; they’d seen it. They knew that He had power over disease; they’d seen it. They’d seen Him heal people: blind people, deaf people, dumb people, crippled people. They knew He had power over death. They had seen Him raise the dead; they’ve seen Him break up a funeral. They also knew that He could control fish. It was in the fifth chapter of Luke that He did a miracle of sending all the fish to one spot to jump into the net; they knew that. But could He stop a storm?
As I said last week, everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it because they can’t. He could handle demons; that was obvious. He could handle disease; that was obvious. He could handle death; that was obvious. He could handle animals; that was obvious. But could He handle the immense, unequaled power of wind and water? Well, they really didn’t know. They didn’t have the faith to believe, but they didn’t have anywhere else to turn.
I’m sure they were stunned by His indifference, what appeared to them to be an ability to sleep in the midst of their terrible tragedy. And so they said to Him, “Master, Master, we’re perishing!” Doesn’t this concern You?
You can imagine the pandemonium. Luke says they said, “Master, Master” – Epistatēs means Commander, the person in charge, Leader – You’re our recognized Leader; Master, Master – Epistata, Epistata. Matthew says they said, “Kurios, Kurios” – Lord. Mark says they said, “Didaskalos, Didaskalos” – teacher. And some of the critics say, “Eh, you see, that’s the problem with believing the Bible. One writer says they said, ‘Lord.’ One writer says they said, ‘Master.’ One writer says they said, ‘Teacher.’ And that just shows you that the take a lot of liberty.”
Look, folks, this is not an organized speech. This is pandemonium? What did they say? “Master, Lord, Teacher” – anything, everything. Who said it? Everybody said it. Everybody gave his own speech. This is not a committee that met down in the boat and said, “Now, you will go and say, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” They said everything they could think to say and used every possible title to alert Jesus to their concern and that they were addressing Him.
Matthew 8:26 says they were terrified. He uses the word that means cowardly. That is to say there was nobody who was going to act a hero; there was no direction in which heroism could go. This was beyond human possibility. The storm surprised them, but it didn’t surprise Jesus. It couldn’t surprise the One who knows every time a sparrow hops. It couldn’t surprise the One who numbers the head of every person – that is counting all the hairs that are there. That’s how detailed His knowledge is.
A simple way to understand the knowledge of God is there isn’t anything He doesn’t know. It’s not that He has a great ability to gather information. He doesn’t gather any information; there’s just not anything He doesn’t know. He doesn’t learn it; He just knows it. And He knew about this.
It is kind of interesting, on a human level, that sailors are appealing to a carpenter to get them out of a storm. And particularly a carpenter who probably didn’t even own a boat, since He lived in Nazareth, which is miles away from the lake. But they weren’t looking for a human solution; they knew they had to go to One who had access to divine power.
And so this group of disciples all the way from the apostles who knew He was the Son of God and believed He was the Messiah to those who weren’t sure who He was. At least they know that He had some access to divine power, and perhaps the One who could handle disease and handle demons and handle death, and the One who could control fish can handle a storm. And maybe somebody remembered Psalm 65.
Psalm 65 says, “O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the Earth and of the farthest sea; who establishes the mountains by His strength, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, and the roaring of the waves.” And they remembered that Psalm 65 said, “God has power over the water.”
And maybe somebody remembered Psalm 89:9, “You rule the swelling of the sea; when its waves rise, You still them.”
Well, surely somebody remember Psalm 107. Psalm 107, verse 23, “Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; they have seen the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths” – that’s the swells of the sea – “their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end.” The picture of someone tossing on a ferocious storm on the sea. “So, they cried to the Lord in it trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His sons of men!” Somebody probably remembered Psalm 107, that God is the God who brings the storm and the God who stills the storm.
And so, there is that God in human flesh, the calm in the midst of the storm, the eye of the hurricane, and the only hope to whom they can appeal.
That leads us to the third point, the calm after the storm. They broke into Jesus’ sleep, desperate, with no human resources. They come to Jesus only when they’re desperate. That’s the way it usually is, isn’t it? But that’s okay. The Lord Himself creates that desperation as a part of driving you to Him. If there’s not a desperation, it’s likely you’re not going to come. The Lord Himself created the storm, created the desperation so that they would plead to Him for deliverance and He could put His power on display. It’s okay to come to Him in the storm. It’s okay to come to Him in the desperation; that gives Him opportunity to display His power. In fact, there are times when He even creates the desperation – certainly always it occurs within His purpose, and very often that purpose is to bring us to the end of all human resources so we can cast our care on Him and find His deliverance sufficient.
So, they awaken Him. He hears their desperate pandemonium; He hears their cries, their pleas. This is so wonderful. In verse 24, “Being aroused, He woke up, He rebuked the wind and the surging waves.” What does that mean “He rebuked them”?
Well, Mark says exactly what Jesus said. Do you remember this, Mark 4:39? “Peace. Be still.” That’s two sentences. “Peace.” Actually, it’s, “Shh! Be still.” There’s no histrionics here, no theatrics. He didn’t have to go down in the hold of the ship and work up the power. He didn’t have to go somebody and ask for it. With no effort, He woke up and said, “Shh! Be still.”
And the wind and the sea recognized the voice of their Creator and they responded. The same way disease responded when He rebuked it. The same way demons responded when He rebuked them. The same way death responded when it yielded up its victim. The same way fish responded when He commanded them to go to a certain place. The wind stopped instantly, and the waves stopped.
Critics have said, “Ah, but the winds come fast and they leave fast.”
But the waves don’t. If the wind stopped, the waves would go on for hours, while all those turbulent movements of water worked their way to the shore, hit the shore, and bounced back with further turbulence until hours would go by before there would be a calm. In this case – listen to this – “He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.” The wind stopped immediately, and the water didn’t finish its course to the shore; it just flattened out. Dead still. And Mark says, “It was a great calm.”
Let me tell you something, if you didn’t know anything about Jesus except that one account, you would know enough to know who He is. That’s all you need to know. So, when you come along and you hear this patronizing nonsense that Jesus was a well-meaning teacher, or a well-intentioned religious leader, but not God, that’s a lie. You don’t need any more than this to know who He was. It’s the testimony of Matthew; it’s the testimony of Mark; it’s the testimony of Luke.
Furthermore, in verse 25, it’s the testimony of all of those that were there, who said, “Who then is this that commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” And Luke makes sure that you get affirmation from all of those people that were there. The lake instantly became like a mirror.
Luke’s readers – some of Luke’s readers would have been taught, because it was part of the Greek-Roman idolatry, that the gods had power over the wind and the water. That’s part of Greek-Roman mythology. And there were some Romans who claimed to have that power; some of the Caesars did: Caligula did, Xerxes did, Apollonius did, and others. And that was all fantasy. There was never any verification for that, obviously no proof of that, no demonstration of that. But here was one who really had the power. This, then, flies in the face of what some of the readers of Luke’s Gospel would think. There is an inarguable display of power, while claims by Caesars and self-appointed gods and gods of mythology could never be verified. Here is verifiable testimony, with many eyewitnesses. The supernatural power of Jesus, in a split second, stopped millions of horsepower of wind, millions of horsepower of surging water. And Luke’s point is, “This is God.” Luke doesn’t say, “He prayed and asked God to do it; He did it Himself.” This is all you’d need to know that Jesus is God. And that’s enough. If you know He’s God, then you have to believe everything He said as God. And that then scoops up the whole Scripture to which He gave affirmation.
Luke tells us Jesus is the Son of God by prophecies fulfilled at His birth. He tells us that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Messiah by virtue of the uniqueness of His virgin birth. Luke gives evidence that He is the Son of God by His genealogy, by His victory over Satan, by His teaching, by His miracles, by His power over creation.
And remember what I told you last time, the promise of the Old Testament is that God is going to send His Son the Messiah, the King, the Ruler, and He’s going to renew the Earth, and He’s going to bring a glorious kingdom, and it’s going to be something like it once was in the garden of Eden. And when the Messiah comes, He’s going to – He’s going to bring healing and disease will be diminished. He’s going to bring life, and death will be diminished, and He’s going to recreate the Earth and bring peace, and joy, and tranquility. He’s going to eliminate natural disasters.
All those things are a part of the Old Testament prophecies of the kingdom. So, whoever the King is, He’s going to have to have the ability to do that, the ability to conquer disease, the ability to conquer death, the ability to conquer the forces of nature. Also going to have to be able bring in righteousness and peace and justice. All of these things are true and characteristic of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Can He bring a golden age to the world? Can He bring a glorious kingdom of wholeness and health and conquering over disease? Of course He can; He’s shown that He can do that. Can He bring a glorious kingdom, a golden age when people live for centuries instead of decades? Of course He can; He shows that He has power over death. Can He control the forces of nature and make them benign and beneficial and only that? Of course He can; He shows us He can control the wind and the water. He has complete power over everything in His creation. Can He control the demons? Can He take Satan and all His hosts and bind them for a thousand years so that they have no access to His glorious millennial kingdom? Of course He can; He already demonstrated His triumph over Satan and His temptation, and He will someday bind Him and ultimately cat Him into the lake of fire. All of these are evidences of the messiahship of Jesus, the deity of Jesus.
And so, this is the calm after the storm. When the storm was going on – Matthew 8:26 – before Jesus stopped the storm, Jesus started moving toward the lesson He wanted to teach. He said to His disciples – Matthew 8:26 – “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” To which somebody would probably say, “Why do you think we’re afraid? Look around You.”
Mark puts it this way: Jesus said, “How is that you have no faith?” Well, which one did He say? He said both. He turned this way and said, “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” He turned that way and said, “How is it that you’re afraid? Why are you guys in such fear?”
And then once He stilled the storm, verse 25 says, “He said to them, ‘Where’s your faith?’” Where’s your faith?
I’m sure they were hanging their heads. That was embarrassing; that was shameful. “We saw Him raise the dead; we saw Him control the fish; we saw Him cast out demons; we saw Him heal all those people; this is embarrassing.”
“Where’s your faith? Couldn’t you believe Me for this?”
“Well, you know, I mean dealing with demons and disease and death and fish – I mean that’s one thing, but wind and waves?”
And there was another personal component, now, you’ve got to remember. This is the first time that a miracle involved them quite so personally. Follow that? “Oh, He healed that blind guy; that’s wonderful. Oh, He healed that deaf person, mmm. Whoa, look how He delivered the man with demons; this is powerful.” But it wasn’t them. Now their lives are at stake. A little harder to be coldly, objectively theological - right? - and just say, “Well, we’ve certainly seen the other things; He can do this,” while you’re gasping for air as you go down. That becomes a little more difficult.
And somebody says, “Well, there’s a shipwreck in Acts 27.” And do you remember the shipwreck in Acts 27 involved the apostle Paul - remember that? You can read it later today. Read that twenty-seventh chapter; it’s really a fabulous chapter. Paul is being taken on a ship to Rome to be tried by the Roman government. His ministry is essentially coming to its culmination. He’s going to be put in prison. He’s headed there, and a fierce storm breaks out on the Mediterranean. A northeast cold wind comes down, and the ship can’t bear up in the storm. They have to pull down the sails; they have to – the really tie down the rudder so that it doesn’t just go in circles. They just have to go where the wind takes them. They just go with the blowing wind, and they know they’re headed toward the Syrtis, which was the graveyard of ships on North Africa; that’s the way the wind is going. They’re going to crash on the rocks. They’re all going to die, and there are several hundred of them in the boat. It’s terrible despair. And Paul stands up and says, “All right, everybody, let’s have dinner. We’ve got to eat because you’re losing strength.” And they’re jettisoning all the cargo possible so that the boat rises higher above the water and doesn’t get washed in – filled with water. And they’re just trying to survive; they all think they’re going to die, and Paul says, “Let’s eat; nobody’s going to die. And an angel of the Lord appeared unto me and says we’re all going to be spared, but you might have to swim a little bit, so you need some nourishment.
And you say, “Well, how can Paul be so objective? How can Paul, in the middle of that situation, have such a different attitude than these disciples?”
Answer is before that shipwreck, Paul had many, many, many times when he was on the brink of death, and the Lord stepped in and delivered him. And this was just another one. Well, the disciples hadn’t had that. So, in deference to them – let’s give them a little space here – there had never been a situation where their lives were at stake. It doesn’t necessary excuse the fact that they should have sort of taken their experiences to the logical conclusion, that if the Lord can control all those other things, He can control the weather, and the wind and the waves, but sort of in defense of them they hadn’t ever been personally delivered from death. The apostle Paul had many times been so delivered. And so for him, it was just another novel experience. His faith was already strengthened.
So, in the middle of the storm, the Lord is saying to them, “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith? How is it that you have no faith?” And then He says, “Shh! Be still.” And in the calm He says, “Where’s your faith?”
I tell you what; they had a lesson that day to trust the Lord in the most deadly storm. They were moved to another level of faith. Oh, their faith wasn’t perfected yet. There were times when they displayed weak faith in the future, but remember now, there’s a spectrum of people there whose faith runs that spectrum. For some of them, this was enough. They saw the proof; they saw that Jesus could handle the storm.
This rescue, then, allowed Him to put His power on display, to put His deity on display to demonstrate that He is God the Creator, but more than that, to demonstrate His care and protection as Psalm 107 says, “Over those who are His.”
Again 1 Peter says, “Cast your care on Him; He cares for you.” And know this, that our sovereign Lord is more than a teacher; He is God almighty. He controls all the forces of nature, and He is a protector of His people, and nothing will happen to you that’s outside His purpose.
This doesn’t mean that Christians never drown, or that Christians never die; they do, but not until it fits within the purpose of God. As long as He wants you to do what the psalmist said, to praise Him and proclaim His name, He will preserve your life. And He will still your storms. He will rescue when trouble overwhelms you.
In fact, you’ve got to remember this, folks, He not only stops the storms, He starts them. He does. Sometimes He starts the storms to chasten you. Sometimes He starts the storms just to increase your faith.
I thought about that. Jonah ended up in a storm because He was disobedient. Remember that? If He’d of gone to Nineveh like he was told, he would never have had a storm. So, He was disobedient. He got in a storm by being disobedient. The disciples got in a storm by being obedient. Jesus said, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.”
And they said, “Okay.” And because they were obedient, they got in a storm. Now, being in a storm doesn’t necessarily mean you’re disobedient. You can be in a storm that’s a chastening storm, or you can be in a storm that’s a strengthening storm. In the case of the disciples, the Lord put Him in a storm so that He could deliver them from the storm so that He could increase their ability to trust Him in the storm. And the worse the storm, the greater the level of trust. The Lord is there in your storms.
One more critical point in close, verse 25. This is the storm after the calms. Verse 25, “They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?’” They were – notice – fearful and amazed. They were – fearful means panicked. As I’ve said before, what’s worse than having a storm outside your boat is having the Creator of the universe in your boat. That is frightening, because you now know God is there, and God sees you for what you are. This was terrifying. We covered all that in the fifth chapter, when Peter, who knew the Lord had commanded the fish, looked at Jesus and said, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I’m a sinful man.” Immediately frightening intimidation that the Creator – the Holy Creator of the universe is in your boat. And they literally went into fear, terror, the trauma of being in the presence of Holy God. Panic sets in.
And that’s going to happen in the next three miracles. Remember? I told you that. In verse 37, when the people saw Jesus heal the demon-possessed man, the end of verse 37, “They were gripped with great fear.” In verse 47, when the woman was healed, she was so frightened that “she came trembling and fell down before Jesus.” And after the dead girl was raised by Jesus, verse 56, “Her parents were” – literally – “astonished, amazed” – and it has the idea of fear. It’s frightening to be in the presence of God. There was a holy terror that gripped their hearts.
So, on the one hand, they could see their faith increased that Jesus had the power to deliver them from the storm, that in fact Jesus had divine power. At the same time that they felt good about the divine power, they felt bad about their sinfulness.
And so, when the Lord delivers you from a storm, it has a two-fold effect. On the one hand, you see the power of God which increases your faith. On the other hand, you know that the Lord sees your weakness and your sin, which increases your remorse. Their terror was verbalized in verse 25, “They said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?’” It’s a rhetorical question. They knew the answer. Luke doesn’t give an answer; no answer is needed. “Who then is this that controls the winds and the water?” Answer, God. Everybody knew that. God.
On another occasion a little later in the lake, Matthew 14 records it when Peter walked on water. The storm was stilled by Jesus again on that occasion. And do you know what the response of the disciples was? Matthew 14:33, “You are the Son of God!” Obvious. Obvious.
Here then is another presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ in all His divine glory as the Controller of all the natural forces of the universe. Here then is not only that picture of Him and His power, but His compassion and care over those who are His as He delivers them and rescues them from a storm – a storm not so much to chasten them, because they were doing what He asked, but a storm to allow Him to put His power on display so their faith in Him would even be greater. Believe me, He cares for you. You’ve got God in your boat; that’s all you need. What’s to fear? And if He brings the storm, the intention of the storm may be to chasten if you’re disobedient; if you’re not, it is to increase your ability to trust Him because, down the way, you’re going to need that level of trust for something He has planned for you. Let’s pray.
Father, as we close this incident, it is indelibly etched in the stone of our memories this amazing occasion. And we thank You, Father, for taking us there and making us a part of it. And now may we grasp its truths that our Savior is God, the Creator, the Controller, the Consummator of all creation, the One who can bring the kingdom. And He is the compassionate, loving Deliverer and Rescuer and Savior of His people for whom He cares, and His purpose is to increase our faith, that with stronger faith we may have greater service to render to Him. Thank You for this privilege, in His name we pray, amen.
This article is also available and sold as a booklet.