Lesson 51: Jesus Calmed the Storm
Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25; 26-39
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 51. Our reading for this lesson is going to start in Luke 8:22. Please turn there and we'll read Luke 8:22-25. Are you ready? it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed, he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying. Master, Master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him."
Alright, Luke said "on a certain day" this happened (v.22). It seems Luke used the word "certain" in many expressions, e.g. a certain day, a certain woman, a certain lawyer, etc. But, Mark in ch. 4:35 seems to identify this as the evening of the same day in which we have been discussing, i.e. the day Jesus gave the parables out of the little ship, which was the same day that Jesus' mother and brethren came to see him, which was the same day Jesus healed the devil-possessed man that was dumb and blind and the scribes and Pharisees came from Jerusalem and said Jesus cast out devils by the prince of the devils; we covered this in our last lesson. If this were all the same day; Jesus sure had a busy day. I can understand why Jesus was so exhausted at the end of the day; that he needed to get a way from the crowds or "the press" as Luke called it and that he could fall off to sleep so easily in such an unlikely place. So, try to get the picture here! They took more than one boat but most likely it was Peter and Andrew's boat where Jesus was sleeping, likely the same one that Jesus had used as a pulpit to give the parable of the sower at the edge of the sea earlier that day. Peter and Andrew were probably the co-captains of this little vessel, while James and John commanded another. This also explains why these four disciples may have stood out and were more widely known among the twelve. It was late in the evening, the sun was sinking in the west over those Galilean hills toward Nazareth. But, they were traveling eastward across the lake and thus the sunset would have been behind them. It was probably not all that uncommon for a sudden storm to come up in the evening on hot summer days.
Now, let's get the picture as Mark painted it. Mark 4:35-41. Seven verses in Mark's account. Beginning in Mark 4:35, are you ready? "And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What •manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
O.K. on to Matthew in ch. 8. Matthew 8:18-27. We're going to read 10 verses, beginning in Matt. 8:18. Are you ready? "Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man: hath not where to lay his head. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, 0 ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!"
O.K. in v.23, Matthew said "when he was entered into the ship, his disciples followed him." Thus, I would infer that connects this occasion to verses 18-22 as well. And, I get the picture in v.18 there were just too many people around, "When Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side." Even then, v.19 indicates he had difficulty breaking away from the crowd. One of the scribes wanted to go along. Whether that was one of the scribes from Jerusalem or not we don't know. But, it would be interesting to know. And as I realize how tired Jesus must have been, possibly right after the evening meal in Peter's house; a time when there's usually a built-in urge to hit the couch a few minutes; I can appreciate even more his comments to the scribe (v.20) as he was undoubtedly trying to get away: "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Whether the scribe actually followed Jesus or not we are not informed. As Jesus and the twelve worked their way toward the boat; some may have anticipated that Jesus would speak from the little boat as he had likely done earlier that day. Mark said (v.36) "when they had sent away the multitude." Thus, I suppose that Jesus was not so rude as to get into the little boat and leave with no explanation, as the multitude looked on. Undoubtedly, he explained to them that he would not be speaking to them at that time. And may have promised them another occasion.
And then there's another interesting little dialogue here; tune in v.21 and 22 just a minute. One of Jesus' disciples; possibly not one of the twelve or one who was close to Jesus requested to defer the trip because of his father's death. Possibly the scribe that wanted to go along was still on the scene and Jesus answer may have been as much for the scribe's benefit as for that disciple. To many, I'm sure; Jesus' answer will seem harsh. He said, "let the dead bury their dead." The thought is undoubtedly this: let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead. Thus, following Jesus and obeying God takes priority over our duties and responsibilities in caring for our parents, I infer. But, we should not conclude that this in any way relieve us of that responsibility and it must not be used as an excuse to neglect that obligation. The point of Jesus' statement was undoubtedly a matter of priorities. And, of course, we don't know the actual circumstances; we don't even know the name of that disciple, let alone any extenuating circumstances that may have surrounded the case.
But, right now, let's get back to the little boat, the sun sliding over those western mountains, the storm and Jesus asleep on the little pillow. It would appear that as soon as Jesus hit that pallet in the back of the little ship; he must have faded away into a peaceful nap. Can't you just feel the cool breeze from the water as the sun faded and the wind began to stir? The sea of Galilee is about 600 feet below sea level, i.e. below the surface of the Mediterranean sea. The cooler air began to slide down those mountain slopes as the rays of the sun withdrew and lost their heating effect. Can you visualize the response of the lake surface to the wind turbulence and how quickly the lake began to get choppy? For a storm to come up so violently right after sundown tells us in retrospect that the day ending in Capernaum had been, most likely, a hot and a beautiful sunny day, good hay-making weather we would say in Kentucky. And for you water lovers out there; you can see Jesus' choice for speaking out of the little ship at the water's edge that day was a very natural choice of locations.
But, I suppose as Jesus rested on that mat, the temperature moderated quickly, the wind must have began to inflate those little sails to the point the wake from those little boats undoubtedly began to fan out as the water got choppier and choppier. Luke said, (v.23) "as they sailed, he fell asleep." And then I suppose in a matter of minutes the wind began to whistle through and snap those little sails over head as the water began to slop over the curbing. Those old fishermen must have got a move on trying to lower the sails and service the tackling of the ship. Then as Jesus lay calmly sleeping on his little pallet in the stern of that ship; the conditions must have almost momentarily reached threatening levels, as the sky undoubtedly got very dark, "waves beat into the ship, so it was now full." (Mark 4:37). Anxiety of the disciples kept pace as they began to yell at Jesus. As he arose from sleep, one said: "Lord, save us: we perish." (Matt. 8:25). Another said: "Master, Master, we perish." (Luke 8:23). Then another, undoubtedly with a more calm voice said (Mark 4:38) "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Did they really expect Jesus to do something? Luke simply said that Jesus arose and rebuked the wind and there was a calm. But, Matthew said, "there was a great calm." And we quickly recall Matthew was an eye witness. Mark recorded that Jesus said: "PEACE, be still." and then he added, "the wind ceased, there was a great calm." Matthew says, "the men marveled." But Mark said "they feared exceedingly." Luke said, "they being afraid wondered." Have you seen that reaction before? When you get all involved in a narrow-escape, the adrenalin flows in a stream and SUDDENLY it's all over, everything's alright. Then you find yourself trembling like a leaf, nervous and trying to evaluate and remember what happened. Then, in the midst of all that calm, hardly even awake, Jesus asked: "Where is your faith?" Can you identify with those murmurs, "What manner of man is this?" Even the wind and the sea obey him. Mark quotes Jesus as saying, "How is it that ye have no faith?" But, does this mean they had zero faith? Obviously not! It's a way of indicating a low degree of faith, you see. Otherwise, they would not have come to Jesus pleading, "Lord, save us: we perish." So, Mark's words mean the same as Matthew, "0 ye of little faith?"
Then, no doubt, as all that sudden shock began to wear away; those old sailors began to raise the sails and bail out the water. Work! Work! As they slowly, if even perceptibly, continued their journey eastward in the darkness. Everybody's brain cells were working overtime; while everything else was calm. As the hours went by, those old drenched fishermen may have lowered the nets a time or two to test the mood of the fish in that calm water.
Now, as we approach the bottom line; What does this account of Jesus calming the storm teach us? First off, we learn that Jesus was human in that he got tired and needed rest just like all of us. He had a divine side, YES! But, he was very human also. Secondly, it teaches us that Jesus will protect us if we have faith in Jesus. WHERE IS YOUR FAITH? That would make a great sermon title, wouldn't it! But, of course, we won't preach it right now. But, finally, let me call your attention to the great miracle in itself. It teaches us that Jesus did have and still has power over nature. The natural elements respond to his very thoughts. We see nothing here that even faintly resembles that fakey stuff today that some call miracles.
Alright, we don't know what time it was when they arrived on the east side of the sea of Galilee. Probably in the wee hours of the night. But, everywhere Jesus went, great things happened and the land on the east side of Galilee was no exception. Our text says they arrived in the country of the Gadarenes. No one city or place is mentioned there; but, I put # 15 on your map to indicate the place. Why don't you write on your map real small, "the place of the demoniac man." Demoniac is spelled "D-E-M-0-N-I-A-C." You'll understand the reason for this later. Matthew, Mark and Luke all three gave rather long accounts of this occasion. None of the writers gave any details about the rest of the night; but it was undoubtedly the next morning when they disembarked on to land in the country of the Gadarenes. But, I would like for us to read Luke's account at the end of this lesson just to give you something to think about until our next lesson. So, let's read Luke's account. It begins in v.26 where we just left off in Luke ch. 8. Have you got that? Luke 8:26 beginning and we'll read down through v.39: Let's read, "And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and wore no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there a herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. Now the man, out of whom the devils were departed, besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him." Like I said, every place Jesus went things happened! We'll pick up here in our next lesson. So, have a good day.