Summary: The disciples here become more aware of the awesome power & authority of their Lord. Jesus exercises unparalleled display of His authority over nature in the midst of fear & uncertainty.
MATTHEW 8: 23-27 [THE MESSIAH REVEALED SERIES]
STILLING THE STORM
[Psalm 89: 1-9]
The story of the “Stilling of the Storm” begins the second set of three miracle stories (8:23–27, 28–34; 9:1–6). Matthew has completed his transition from three miracles of healing [demonstrating Jesus’ authority over sin, disease, and demons,] to three miracles of power; first over nature, then over evil spirits and last over sin and its consequences. This second group of miracles in chapters 8 and 9 reveals Christ as the Prince of Peace in three areas: the natural world, the supernatural world and the moral world. He stills the tempest, casts out demons and forgives sin, thus quieting nature, spirit and conscience.
All three synoptic Gospels (Mk 4:35-41; Lk. 8:22-25) record this Stilling the Storm. Jesus had just rebuked the impetuous scribe and the half-hearted disciple, now He rebukes the storms of nature and His fearful crew.
The disciples here become more aware of the awesome power and authority of their Lord. Evidently even when they awaken Him they did not expect to see Jesus’ unparalleled display of power over nature. He exercises such authority over nature in the midst of fear and uncertainty (CIT).
I. Setting Sail, 23.
II. Sudden Storm, 24-25.
III. Sovereign Stilling, 26-27.
After deciding who was ready and willing to follow Jesus to the other side, Jesus closest disciples follow Him into the boat in verse 23. “When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.”
Having filtered out the curious and uncommitted from among His disciples by clarifying the price they would pay, Jesus got into the fishing boat made ready according to His previous instructions (8:18). Jesus’ leadership is seen in Him getting in the boat first and His disciples commitment is seen in their willingness to follow Jesus no matter the cost. His disciples were not merely the twelve. Mark mentions (4:36) that other boats followed along also.
They followed Jesus not knowing what to expect except the opportunity to hear His Word, witness His work, and enjoy His companionship. They did not know what the future held, but were going to learn who holds the future.
II. A SUDDEN STORM, 24-25.
Crossing to the other side with Jesus was not going to be easy sailing as we learn in verse 24. “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.”
The Sea of Galilee is an unusual body of water. The pear-shaped lake is small - eight miles wide and 13 miles from North to South but it is 150 feet deep and is 680 feet below sea level. Water gushing down from the mountain plateau including 9,200 ft. Mt. Herman, cut deep ravines. These ravines act like great funnels drawing violent wind down from the heights onto the lake without warning. Behold, indicates the suddenness of this storm.
All day long there had not been a breath of air. The sultry heat was like that of a furnace steaming the air up. A cool breeze then toward evening is pulled off the mountains into the vacuum created by the super heated air vacating the surface. Faster and faster the displacement takes place until it becomes a gale shooting down the ravines and rushing across the lake. The whipping turbulence catches up the water and waves begin to mount up. White- headed waves crash against the small boat then the wild whistling blast forms billows that as our text says covered the boat with waves. Suddenly storms could stir the water into violent 20 foot waves.
[Waves, which in recent times have been recorded at higher than twenty-five feet. As you surfers know, waves are measured from the back, so we’re talking about a face of perhaps forty feet.]
The intensity of the wind stirred the sea until the whole boat shook as if experiencing an earthquake. The Greek word used here translated great storm is seismus megas where our English words seismograph, a machine for measuring earthquakes, and seismology, the study of earthquakes, are derived.
It was a great seaquake. The severity of the storm is seen even in veteran seamen such as Peter, Andrew, James, and John who demonstrated by their frantic bailing out of water a fear as if they were about to die (8:25). One can only imagine the terror these men experienced as the boat was tossed on and trashed by the waves, taking on volumes of water and began to sink (Mk 4:37, Lk. 8:23).
[As the boat is covered (imperfect tense) with the waves] even the professional seamen panicked, yet our Lord lay undisturbed in sleep on a cushion at the rear of the boat (Mk. 4:38). How can He rest [“kept on sleeping” (imperfect)] while the fishing craft is pitching and rocking like a toy and tossed like a stick by a raging nature? His calm slumber is contrasted with the rage of the storm and the alarm of crew. These verses speak volumes as to the humanity and divinity of Jesus.