Jesus calms the storm, 8:22-25


Jesus and his disciples are sailing on lake Galilee when they are caught by a sudden squall. With the boat about to sink, the disciples cry out to Jesus. Jesus, who Mark tells us is asleep in the stern of the boat, rebukes the storm and then rebukes the disciples' lack of faith. The disciples respond in amazement, wondering at the authority of someone who can command even the wind and the sea. In this story we are again confronted with the authoritative word of Jesus and the requisite response of faith.

The passage

v22. Luke's account of this incident begins with a general "on one occasion", telling us that Jesus embarks with his disciples and sets sail across lake Galilee.

v23. While Jesus is asleep, a violent squall hits the boat and it begins to take on water. It is not unusual for violent squalls to come sweeping out of the desert and swirl down the ravines onto the lake. Jesus and his disciples have struck just such an occasion.

v24. There is value in comparing the different accounts of this incident in the gospels. Matthew has the disciples saying "Lord save us, we are perishing", Mark has "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?", and Luke has "Master, Master, we are perishing". So, Matthew expresses a cry for help, Mark an accusation, and Luke a warning. For Luke, it's as if the disciples are warning Jesus to prepare for an impending dunking. Jesus' response is immediate; he silences the storm, muzzling it. Mark actually has Jesus say "be still". We might say today "shut up". The result is total calm, no wind, and more particularly, no waves.

v25. The sense is that Jesus is somewhat frustrated with his disciples. He has been woken from a sound sleep for no good reason. It is simply not possible for God's messiah and his community to be overcome by hostile powers in the exercise of their mission. The response of the disciples indicates that they still don't understand that Jesus is the messiah set on the task of establishing God's eternal kingdom and that no power, natural or otherwise, can hinder his mission. So, they lack faith because they lack understanding.

The storms of life

In St. Andrew's Anglican church, Cronulla, Australia, there is a beautiful stained glass window depicting the story of Jesus calming the storm at sea. The scene is of the storm-tossed boat, Jesus standing with hand outstretched about to still the storm and the disciples looking on. The disciples who are looking at Jesus are at ease, but the others, looking at the surging sea, are stricken by fear.

My son, when he was young, was always afraid of the dark reedy bottom of a river or bay. If it was a sandy bottom, no problem, but a reedy bottom he wanted out of the boat and onto the land. The Jews were afraid of the sea, its dark menacing deepness. For them the sea was the abyss, the dwelling place of primeval chaos, of hostile satanic powers. This day, on lake Galilee, those hostile powers rose up against Jesus. Those same hostile powers seek to overwhelm us as we sail to our journey's end.

On that day the disciples demonstrated an appalling ignorance such that Jesus had to ask them where their faith had gone. Where is it? What's happened to it? Does Jesus have to ask the same question of us?

In the Lord's prayer we ask "lead us not into temptation." In this request we ask our heavenly Father to stay the hand of hostile powers, powers which seek to overwhelm us such that we are cast adrift from God's eternal love. Life is full of trouble, it is rarely plain sailing. The storms of life are always with us and some will take us out. Yet, no storm, no hostile power, can draw us unwillingly from our Lord's eternal love. Jesus promises to take us to that distant shore and all we have to do is rest on his promise and his power to deliver.

So then, like the disciples in that stained glass window, we can look at the storms, or we can look to Jesus. Know where your security lies.


1. The disciples have obviously put their faith in Jesus, so why is it lacking on this occasion?

2. Why is it not possible to argue from this passage that Jesus will protect us from the difficulties of life? What divine protection can we depend on?

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