There have always been a few things about the story in Matthew chapter 8 when Jesus calms the storm that troubled me. Many sermons have been preached about it, as the story is actually told in more than one gospel. But a few things jumped out at me after the Lead Pastor at Shiloh UMC, located in Delhi, Cincinnati, preached about a different storm on the first Sunday in May.
The first thing that strikes me about Matthew's account, is that it comes right in the middle of a chapter where Matthew is recounting several stories about Jesus healing many. He starts with the man with leprosy, but Jesus tells him not to tell anyone (v. 4). Then he heals the Centurion's servant - the Centurion that had so much faith he told Jesus - "Hey, you don't even have to come to my house, if you just say it, I believe you and that's enough for me." (v. 5-13) Whoa - that's a little more than mustard seed faith, wouldn't you say?
Next, he heads for Peter's house and finds Peter's mother-in-law very ill, touches her, and she gets up and starts fixing grub (v. 14). All that day and night people are coming by bringing their demon possessed people for Jesus to drive out the demons (v. 16). Sounds exhausting. And like something that would attract attention. Which it did, because Jesus finally looked around at the big crowd, and told the guys they were crossing the lake so get the boat.
Then there's the references to following Jesus, while some of the disciples are getting busy getting that boat. One of the teacher's approaches Jesus (v. 19) and tells him that he'll follow Jesus wherever He goes, and Jesus gives one of His famous replies, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.". Then another disciple comes up to Jesus and says, "Hey man, I'd love to follow you, but could you wait here because my dad died and I need to bury him." Jesus replies, "Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead." (v. 22).
I think He's pretty serious about this following stuff.
He doesn't pull any punches.
It's you're in or your out.
Either you're all in, or your out.
Then he gets in the boat with His disciples and promptly falls asleep. Well, look at His day up until now. We don't know HOW many people he actually healed that day; we do know one of them required a long distance healing. Since I've never healed anyone, I can only speculate that when you have energy/life flowing out of you into each person you encounter, standing up all this time, has to be extremely draining. So who can blame Him for falling asleep? He's worked a full day.
Then comes this storm (v.24) - presumably out of nowhere. Jesus is with experienced fishermen. Deadliest Catch has nothing on these guys. They know this lake as well as Sig knows the North Pacific . But the storm was so furious that waves were whipping up inside the boat, and the disciples were doing everything they knew, and were still afraid.
And Jesus is still asleep.
Why don't you think the storm woke Jesus?
He hadn't taken his Ambien or Lunesta.
He hadn't been drinking heavily - he'd been healing heavily.
I think He was asleep because He wasn't worried about the storm. Storms are going to come. Our gut reaction is to do something, try to fix it, change the situation. - which is what the disciples did when they woke up Jesus.
But sometimes maybe we just need to ride out the storm, trusting that if the storm hasn't upset Jesus, then He can handle the storm.
Which of course, Jesus does. He shakes his head at his faithless disciples, stands up, and yells at the storm. In Mark's gospel He said, "Silence! Be still!" (4:39) and the water became calm. It's always thought that he was talking to the storm, because that's what the disciples thought, since they muttered to each other, "Who is this man that even the winds and waves obey Him?"
But what if those words are also for us?
Maybe Jesus knows there will come storms in our lives, storms when we feel like we are going to drown.
We just need to look at Jesus. Jesus can handle anything that life throws our way.
Maybe His words "Silence! Be Still!" are also for us, as in, "Hey, don't worry, I've got it all under control. You might feel like everything is spinning out of control and you're going to sink, but I'm right here - I've got it covered."
Sometimes you might even feel like Jesus is sleeping through your crisis. But that doesn't change the fact, that when you remain faithful, He will step in at just the right moment.
He loves you that much. He isn't going to let you drown. During the storm, I think my favorite place to be is where Jesus is - tucked safely next to Him, while the storm passes by.