That particular day, the Lord called his disciples together and suggested that they travel by boat to the opposite side of the lake. For men living at this time, there was nothing special about this request. They were accustomed to traveling across the lake for various reasons. To the men who had formerly been employed as fisherman, this was an especially enjoyable task. No doubt they were always looking for excuses to get back in a boat. But there may have been others who were not so happy with Jesus’ suggestion. Some of the Lord’s disciples may have been susceptible to sea sickness. Although it would have taken much longer, one of these men may have been more willing to jog around the lake than travel in a boat. We really don’t know how each man was thinking about the Lord’s plan. But we do know that this simple task turned out to be much more than they were expecting.
The disciples followed the Lord’s leading and began the slow journey across the lake. After a period of time, the Lord found a good place in the boat where he lay down and took a nap. But as he slept the weather became violent. The wind began to blow with such power that waves were crashing over the boat and filling it with water! Most boats can handle a little bit of water, but once the level gets to a certain point, even the most seasoned sailors begin to worry.
Luke doesn’t tell us who responded first, he just refers collectively to “they.” He probably uses that term because all of the disciples were worried. Regardless of the amount or lack of sailing experience, “they” were worried. Sloshing through the thigh high water, the disciples made it to the seat on which Jesus was resting. With no hope for their lives, they shook their teacher awake and shouted, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Notice that they had to say his name twice. He must have been in a deep sleep to have slept through all the commotion. But notice also that they were sure that this was the end.
Jesus arose from his sleep and immediately rebuked the wind and waves. To the surprise of his disciples, the wind and waves obeyed his command. A moment ago, the men had been looking for life preservers. Now they were floating in a still boat on a perfectly calm lake. Jesus turned to them and asked them one question: “Where is your faith?” But the men couldn’t answer his question. Their eyes were wide and their mouths hung open. As they looked around they could still see the evidence of their struggle. Water still filled the boat and the sails were torn. But Jesus had calmed the storm. Without responding to his question they simply said these words. “Who can this be? For he commands even the winds and water, and they obey him!”
This event left a mark on the disciples for the rest of their lives. Whenever their children gathered around them for stories, this was one of the tales they had to tell. They had seen it with their own eyes. This rabbi they had been following was no normal man. He was the Son of God who could control the elements. And as the faced various trials of faith, these men realized what Jesus was trying to teach them at that time. He wanted them to trust him. No matter what great difficulty came their way, they could trust him to be in control. That’s probably why these men were so bold in their evangelism. They knew that they were invulnerable in the hands of such a one as the Lord Jesus Christ.
We, too, can learn that same lesson. When we are faced with circumstances that seem insurmountable, to whom do we turn? We can and must place our faith in the Lord Jesus. If the winds and waves obey him, what else can stand in his way? Nothing at all. The sooner we realize that, the better off we will be.