Luke 8:22-25

Luke 8:22-25 (Matt. 8:23–27; Mark 4:35–41 )

22Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. 24And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”

Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. 25But He said to them, “Where is your faith?”

And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

It is tempting to simply skim through this familiar story in our devotions, thinking we are so familiar with it that God can’t reveal any new application for it to us. Yet we know…

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

And…

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

So, since we trust that God has placed this story into His holy Word for our edification, and we certainly do desire, to be people of God who are complete, let us ask our Lordto make His Word alive in our perception, so that we might be taught by Him through it.

The overarching theme of this story is not really the awesome demonstration of Jesus’ power over nature, but one of faith and trust in God. Although the Sea of Galilee is a small lake (about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide), the weather on it can suddenly become quite violent. A narrow valley about 35 miles long leads from the Mediterranean near Carmel to the western shore of the lake just north of Tiberias. Along the way, it cuts a deep gorge through the mountains and descends from a few hundred feet above sea level to the lake’s surface about 600 feet below sea level. Storms from the ocean sometimes blow down this valley and create cyclonic winds within the bowl shaped area of the lake. Sudden squalls often develop on the lake, and then quickly blow off into the mountains of Bashan (the Golan Heights) to the east of the lake. Thus it is not surprising that although the weather was likely calm when Jesus and His disciples set off, a sudden and violent storm blew up during the course of the few hours it would have taken them to row across to the opposite shore of the lake.

The boat they were in must have been large enough to hold all of them. We don’t know for certain from the story how many came along on this voyage, but it is a fair guess that there were 13 men (possibly more) aboard. We have spoken before about the tradition in ancient Hebrew storytelling of not reporting events in a purely chronological order. It is therefore risky to try to place this event into any time context within the greater narratives of the written gospels. Mark and Luke place this story of the storm on the lake after the calling of all 12 apostles. Matthew reports his own calling after the calming of the storm. Nevertheless, all 12 apostles may have been present aboard the boat along with Jesus.

The fishing boat discovered in the mud of the lake in 1986, dating from the time of Jesus’ ministry, is just under 30 feet long, with a beam of just under 8 feet. Such fishing boats were built with a shallow draft and little freeboard so that they could be brought up close to the shore and their loads of fish could be unloaded easily. A strong storm on the lake could surely have caused such a boat to founder and sink. So, it is clear that even on this small lake, sudden powerful storms could indeed threaten the lives of those voyaging on it in the common vessels of the day. The fear we see in the disciples as we read this story was real, and well-justified.

Although, as we have seen, the gospel narratives and other ancient histories sometimes stray from a strict chronological order, it is likely that this storm on the Sea of Galilee took place before Jesus’ teaching at Caesarea Philippi regarding His coming death and resurrection…

Matthew 8:31

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Thus when His disciples woke Him saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!,” they clearly expected Jesus to die with them in the storm. The fear of Jesus’ disciples when this storm arose is quite understandable from a purely human, naturalistic point of view. So why did Jesus rebuke them so strongly after He calmed the storm?

They knew, and should have remembered that Jesus could wield miraculous power at will. While remaining cautious about reading too much into the chronological order of the narrative, consider the miracles that Luke reports Jesus had already worked in their presence…

·       Cast out an unclean spirit – Luke 4:31-37

·       Healed Peter’s mother-in-law – Luke 4:38-39

·       Healed many on the Sabbath – Luke 4:40-41

·       Brought a miraculous catch of fish – Luke 5:5-9

·       Cleansed a leper – Luke 5:12-14

·       Healed and forgave a paralytic – Luke 5:20-26

·       Healed man’s withered hand – Luke 6:6-11

·       Healed a great multitude – Luke 6:17-19

·       Healed the centurion’s servant – Luke 7:1-10

·       Raised the widow of Nain’s son from the dead – Luke 7:11-17

Small wonder then that Jesus rebuked them saying, “Where is your faith?,” after calming the storm. But take careful note – Jesus did, indeed, calm the storm beforeHe rebuked them for their lack of faith. This is an encouragement for us as well. Recall Jesus’ admonition against worry in the Sermon on the Mount…

Matthew 6 31-34

31“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Recall, also, Solomon’s exhortation to trust in the Lord…

Proverbs 3:5-6

5Trust in the LORD with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

6In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

The Word of God contains many accounts of God’s intervention to protect and rescue those who trust in Him. Here are just a few examples…

·       The rescue of Lot out of Sodom – Genesis 19

·       The preservation of Joseph and Israel – Genesis 37-50

·       Rescue of Israel out of Egypt – Exodus 1-15

·       Defense of Hezekiah’s Jerusalem from Assyrian siege – 2 Kings 19

·       Preservation of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath – 1 Kings 17

·       Preservation of the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace – Daniel 3

·       Protection of Daniel in the lion’s den – Daniel 6

·       Protection of the Hebrew nation against Haman’s plot  – Esther

Of course the list could go on and on. The point is that God is faithful to protect and preserve those who place their trust in Him…

The total trust that God desires from us comes easily to a young child. When we come into the world we are almost totally helpless. We really have no choice but to trust the adults surrounding us to provide for and nurture us. We accept without question the things we are taught, because we really have no knowledge base of our own against which to compare them. Blessed indeed is the child whose parents are worthy of such trust.

Only later, after we have found out that someone has deceived us, or in some way abused our trust, do we lose this innocence, and build up defenses surrounding our hearts. For most, the older we get, the harder it becomes for us to truly trust someone.

God, of course, is entirely trustworthy. We must somehow unlearn the habit of distrust we build around ourselves, and place ourselves entirely at His mercy, knowing He may be trusted with our entire being. It is this childlike trust and faith which God desires from us.

In response to His disciples’ question “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus answered…

Matthew 18:2-5

2Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

This is the nature of the faith Jesus spoke of after He rebuked the wind and the waves of the storm, when He said, “Where is your faith?”

Unfortunately, I fear that they were so awestruck at the demonstration of His power in calming the storm, the lesson in trust was largely lost on them…

Luke 8:25b

And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

1 thought on “Luke 8:22-25”

  1. CORRECTION – The version of the notes for this passage posted right after we studied it said that there were likely 13 men at least in the boat, because all 3 synoptic gospels report this story after the calling of all 12. That was completely wrong. Matthew does not report the calling of Matthew himself (also called Levi) until afterward. This error has been corrected in the body of this post.

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