22 Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. 24 They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”
Luke gives us a hint that his account isn’t strictly chronological by giving us a vague introduction to this story that sets it within a pretty general timeframe. This is something that Jesus reportedly did, but isn’t necessarily right after the previously recorded teachings in this chapter.
I think we often read these accounts as chronological, when they’re more thematic. Luke has focused a lot on the miracles of Jesus and His power over disease, power over the supernatural, and power over nature. This story fits into the overall theme that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the Son of God, and not simply an impoverished Jewish rabbi.
People like to focus on the disciples’ reaction to the storm they encounter. I’m not going to put them down for their reaction. Some of these guys were experienced sailors, so hitting a storm that got Peter, Andrew, James, and John to panic, it must have been a really bad storm. Now, they believed that Jesus was the Messiah, so it was likely they knew He wasn’t going to die in a storm, and Jesus had called them to follow Him, so they weren’t likely to die that night either, but it’s kind of hard to hold onto faith when the boat is filling up with water.
But the reason I’m not going to put them down, is because of what they did. They didn’t turn back. They didn’t give up. They went and woke Jesus up. They figured if anyone could possibly get them out of this mess, it was Him. And really, if we’re in a really bad place in our own lives, we could do a lot worse than going to Jesus and yelling, “Hey! Wake up! I’m dying down here!” In our case, Jesus isn’t really sleeping, but it seems that way to us sometimes.
Of course, there is no guarantee for us that the storm will stop. We may have to go through it to the bitter end. It may actually overwhelm us. It may take our lives.
But the ultimate expression of the power of Christ over this universe happens later in this book, when He demonstrates power over death itself. And in that, we have hope that the disciples didn’t at this point, that though we may die, we will live in Christ forever.
There are things in this world that cause us pain. I’ve seen it happen to others. I’ve gone through some things myself, and there are things I’ve seen happen to other people that I beg God to let pass over my own house, and I pray that I never have to go through those storms.
But we’re not abandoned and we’re not alone. Jesus isn’t sleeping during these storms and He has the power to deliver us even from death. That may not always be a comfort to us in these times, but it is our hope as Christians.