In the Fulness of Time/Part 45
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007|
|Jesus demonstrated His power over nature when He calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee. But why were His disciples so fearful? Why, after all their time together, didn’t they trust Him to save them?|
Authority Over Natural Forces: Stilling the Storm. 8:23-27
The Raging Storm and the Sleeping Messiah 6:23-24
- Matthew 8:23-24 “And when he was entered into a boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the boat was covered with the waves, but he was asleep.”
According to 8:18 Jesus had already commanded them to sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and now, after His interview with three inquiring disciples, they all entered the boat. This was apparently a large fishing boat capable of carrying more than a dozen men. Mark 4:36 notes this larger size by indicating that “there were also with him other little boats.” The total number of these men or boats in the group is not mentioned.
To describe the “great tempest,” Matthew uses seismos megas, “great shaking,” the same word used for an earthquake, while both Mark and Luke point to the “storm of wind” (lailaps anemou) on the lake. Topographically the Sea of Galilee has been described as a great trough between two mountains, so that its natural site becomes a plate for sudden rough rushing winds. It is something therefore, which is expected to happen there periodically. It is pure speculation to think that this storm was caused by satanic forces rather than natural forces, but it is proper to note that the storm presented the opportunity for Christ to show His almighty power over such natural forces. How He could sleep through all the noise and movement of the boat is, in most part, the result of His weariness from a very busy day. After all, He had been teaching, preaching and healing, along with at least three private interviews. Just as He became weary and sat down at the well in John 4:6, so here He is weary and is asleep on a pillow in the rear of the boat.
In His Person He had a true human nature and a true divine as well. Neither nature shared the attributes of the other, yet they were united hypostatically in one Person. But the human remained human and the divine remained divine. Thus it can be said that Jesus truly experienced genuine human physical needs, sleep being one of these basic human needs.
The Fearful Disciples and the Sovereign Lord. 8:25-27
- Matthew 8:25 “And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us, we perish.”
Since there are three expositions of their fear some have claimed contradictions; however, there were a number of disciples aboard the boat, and in their distress one said one thing and another something else. Here in Matthew they called Him, “Lord (kurios) and at the same time said, “We are perishing” (present tense). It is true that they asked to be rescued (soson); nevertheless He chided them for their little faith, because recognition of His Lordship should have reminded them that He was sovereign over the storm!
Mark’s Gospel records the question of one of them, “Teacher (didaskalos) carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:18). This is an accusation of His unconcern. Perhaps the disciple who said this was thinking that their great Teacher, the One Who had often expressed the necessity to love one another as He loved them (John 13:34) should certainly be concerned about them in this situation! To the contrary; He was concerned; and to the question He replied with one of His own, “How is it ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:38).
In the Gospel of Luke yet another title is used of Christ, “Master, master” which is Epistata, epistata, literally referring to one who stands over, as a commander. Again, it is revealing that they should use this designation, which has the idea of authority and command in it, yet they were fearful. They thought they were sinking, but forgot He was the Pilot! To this remark He asked, “Where is your faith?”
- Matthew 8:26 “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea and there was a great calm.”
The four occurrences of the phrase, “O ye of little faith,” was discussed at Matthew 6:30; here the emphasis is on the fact that in spite of the presence of the Lord of the universe, they were fearful of a storm! In Mark Jesus answers their question about His seeming lack of concern with His question, “How is it that ye have no faith?” If they believed that He, their Teacher of love, really meant what He said, surely they would have faith that He would not permit them to perish! It was just as though they had no faith in what He thought about His care for them. Finally, in Luke 8:25 He asked, “Where is your faith?” In this remark the emphasis must reflect on “Epistata, epistata” the double declaration that He is the Master, the One Who stands over them exercising authority and control. If they really had faith in such authority, why would they be afraid? Where, indeed, was that aspect of their faith?
In spite of their little faith, lack of faith and lost faith, Jesus proved His sovereignty over the storm. He “rebuked the winds and the sea,” and as Mark records it, He said, “Peace, be still,” which literally means, “Put a muzzle on it and keep it on” (slopa pephimoso), or as Kenneth Wuest translates it, “Hush up, and stay that way!” “And there was a great calm!”
- Matthew 8:27 “But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
That the men “marvelled” (ethaumasan) is coupled with the fact that they “feared exceedingly” (ephobethesan phobo megan) in Mark 4:41, only this is not fear for their safety; it is reverential fear and awe of the Lord. Two separate reasons are given; first, the sort of Person He is, and second, the authority He has over natural forces. With these men, at least, Jesus has demonstrated successfully that He is the long-expected Messiah/ King. In the fulness of time, He will demonstrate this to the whole world, when He returns to conquer all enemies and literally become the King of the Kingdom of Heaven!