Jesus Calms Our Storms

Matthew 8:23-27 

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. 27 They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

A storm arises. There is very little that is more terrifying to most people than a storm at sea. And many of the disciples were professional fishermen. They knew how easily even a good boat could capsize or be swamped by the waves. They knew what happened to those on board a boat in this predicament. There would be no way to swim out of the situation, in the dark, in the waves, in the storm. You get swamped in a storm, you drown.


What was Jesus doing? In the middle of the storm, with the wind and the waves roaring and the disciples panicking, Jesus was calmly sleeping on a cushion.


The panic-stricken disciples shouted to Jesus above the roar of the wind and the sound of the waves crashing over the sides of their boat. “Lord, don’t you care that we are about to drown?” In other words, “Hey Jesus, we’re dyin’ here!”


Jesus stands up. Without answering their question about whether Jesus cared for them in their time of deep trouble, he demonstrates how much he cares and speaks a word to the wind and the sea: “Be quiet! Be still!” It’s calm. Jesus brings peace and calm to the terrified and panic-stricken disciples. Yes, maybe that command was meant for them, too!


Notice that Jesus never gets out of the boat. He does not abandon his disciples.


The disciples ask Jesus to save them, but what do they expect? I am pretty sure they didn’t expect the Jesus they had. He had done healings, sure. He had cured the lame and even healed on the Sabbath. He had cast out unclean spirits. But such things are nothing compared to a storm, at least not a storm that might disturb a lake crossing at night. I wonder what they would have done had they known what Jesus could do? I wonder what they would have asked him? Could they muster the faith to trust God as Jesus did? We may never know.

What we do know is that when Jesus did what he did, they are taken by awe and wonder, amazement and fear. They did not have answers, just a question; “Who, then, is this, that even the wind and waves obey him?” Who indeed.


This is not the first time God’s people didn’t comprehend God’s power. The children of God were in the wilderness for 40 years. For 40 years, God provided for them bread from heaven – manna it was called. When they entered into the promised land, the manna was no longer there – now they were to farm the land. They hadn’t farmed in 40 years, so they asked their neighbors, who told them about the gods they worshiped. The children of Israel started to worship these other gods, which made God (Yahweh) very upset – I AM the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods!


And we hear that in the book of Job (38:1-11), in which Job complains to God with all that has fallen upon him. God’s response? “Gird up your loins like a man and let me ask YOU – where were you when I was creating?”


How about us? Do we NOT turn to God because we feel it is outside of His realm of understanding, power, control? When storms arise, it is best to turn to God.


Dr Luke Bouman, former pastor at Valparaiso University writes these words:

“We experience storms in our lives. And even in these storms, Jesus enters and shatters the illusions which give those storms power. Jesus did not sit in judgment over us when the buildings fell on September 11, 2001, instead he suffered with all those who suffered loss. Jesus did not use Katrina to punish New Orleans, but rather entered and died with those who perished there, leading them to new life through muddy baptismal waters.”


I would add that Jesus does not turn his back on what we have experienced so far in 2020. Jesus doesn’t abandon us, but walks with us in the brokenness of the community and our world, offering a word of peace in the midst of the chaos.


The message of the cross is that God is with us, in the midst of the chaos, in the heart of the storms in our lives, our community, our world. God offers peace that surpasses understanding, hope that does not disappoint us, and love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things – a love that never ends.


Again, Luke Bouman writes:

“All of our storms are linked forever to the cross of Christ. All of our storms are less about God using his power to force resolution and more about God forsaking his power to end forever the hold of sin and death on all sides of any debate. And we, for our part, can only shake our heads in awe and wonder at how completely we are loved and grasped by a patient and committed God.

“For there will always be storms that rage; some of them rage around us and some of them rage because of us. And Jesus, the risen Lord, forever calmly walks into the midst of the storm to declare its power null in the wake of his resurrection. Humbled, we are encouraged to stop our circling and posturing and join him in death and resurrection, the only true end to our storms.

“But we have one thing that the disciples on the lake did not have. We do not wonder who it is that stills our storms with death and resurrection. We know that it is Jesus, and we know that Jesus is the living presence of God in our midst. Just so, we experience him in worship, stilling our raging lives with the calming waters of baptism, gently encouraging us to trust through his word, spoken and remembered, and sending us as calm healers by feeding us at his table. The more we experience Jesus in this way, the more we become the body of Christ, and participate in the death and resurrection ourselves as healing agents in this world.” (Rev. Dr. Luke Bouman – Valparaiso University)


Let us pray:

Almighty God, we pray that you still the storms. Yet while the storms still continue, and rise up again and again, remind us again and again that you are with us and never let us go. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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