Today’s text begins with the words, “On that day.” It was the day when Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God all day long through many parables. He used the parable of the sower, a lamp under a bushel basket, the parable of the growing seed, and the parable of the mustard seed. When the evening came, he asked his disciples to go to the other side of the lake by boat. “Leaving the crowd behind,” Jesus probably wanted to take some rest in the boat. He fell to sleep as soon as he got into the boat. There were several other boats following Jesus. These were the people who were amazed by Jesus’ teaching and wanted to hear him more. While they were sailing on the Sea of Galilee, “a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.”
Even today, the people who live around the Sea of Galilee experience these kinds of storms. The Sea of Galilee is 680 feet above sea level and is surrounded by hills. Winds blowing across the land intensify close to the sea, often causing violent and unexpected storms.
Although the disciples of Jesus were seasoned fishermen who spent their lives fishing on this ocean, they still panicked when they saw the strong windstorm and raging waves. We are anxious about hurricane Irma even though we live on land. How much more scared would the disciples be facing this kind of storm in the middle of ocean? I know that many people are anxious about the Irma. I had hard time finding gasoline and water because they were sold out! Some of our church members have left their houses already and some of us are planning to leave either today or tomorrow. I am also aware that some of you and my neighbors are going to stay their homes. We still are not sure the best place to stay when the hurricane arrives our area because Irma keeps changing its direction.
Our Bible says in verse 38, “But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.” Can you believe this? How could Jesus be sleeping in this kind of emergency situation? Don’t you think he should demonstrate some kind of leadership? He can lead a prayer meeting or discuss evacuation plans with his disciples. But he just was sleeping on the cushion on the deck while his disciples were scared to death and yelling, screaming, and scooping out the water from their boat in order to survive. They woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you no care that we are perishing?” But, Jesus was so peaceful, sleeping like an infant baby in a mother’s arm. Jesus seems unaware and unconcerned about the safety of his disciples. What do you think? Do you also think that Jesus is not aware about the situation? Do you think that Jesus doesn’t care about the well being and safety of his disciples? Of course, Jesus knew what was happening. Of course, Jesus cares deeply about the safety of his disciples. The disciples did not know the true identity of Jesus. That’s why they called Jesus as “teacher” instead of ‘Lord’ or ‘Son of God.’
Jesus finally work up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.”
What an amazing story! Even now, I believe that Jesus can say to hurricane Irma, be still, or can command Irma to change its direction to the ocean and disappear. There must be a reason why God does not do that. I believe that God is trying to awaking people in Florida since many of them would not listen to Him nor seek Him otherwise. After calming the storm, Jesus told his disciples, “why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Although Jesus revealed his identity many times before through his teaching and miracles, they still did not know who Jesus was really was. Even though Jesus Christ, the Lord of lords and King of kings was with them in the same boat, they were still scared to death. Their eyes were fixed on their circumstance, the strong wind and raging sea instead of Jesus. That’s why the writer of Hebrews said in 12, “Fix your eyes on Jesus . . .”
Hurricane Irma is on the way to Florida. How are you feeling? We have two options. We can worry and assume that God does know what we are going through or does not care about our well-being, or you and I can resist our fear and put our trust in God. King Solomon said in the Book of Proverbs 3, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” A long time ago, when the Israelites were feeling hopeless, God said to them through prophet Isaiah, ” . . . Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and through the rives, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1-3).
The disciples lived with Jesus, but they underestimated him. They did not see that his power applies to their very own situation. Jesus has been with his people for more than 2000 years, and yet we, like the disciples, underestimate Jesus’ power to handle crisis in our lives. Although we learned so much about Jesus and his teachings, many Christians today do not follow Jesus like they should. The disciples of Jesus did not follow Jesus wholeheartedly, we cannot make same mistake. How would you follow Jesus? Will you follow Jesus as your teacher or your Lord and Savior? To the windstorm and raging waves, Jesus said, “Peace! Be still!” And they listened him. And the disciples were amazed and began to talk to each other, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Let us pray