Luke 8.22-25 is the stilling of the storm. It starts off innocently enough. “Hey, does anybody want to go for a boat ride?” Everybody yells “YAY!” and grabs their water shoes and sunglasses.
“As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.” First of all, I wonder what kind of boat this was where the waves could sweep over the sides, so much that the disciples think they’re going to drown, and somehow Jesus isn’t getting all wet and is sleeping through it all. But it says he was asleep. Whatever. This definitely gives the feeling that he doesn’t care, or isn’t involved. They feel so helpless, hopeless, overwhelmed, desperate, scared, doomed. Everything was wrong, and he was asleep. It was the end, and he was asleep. The point is clear.
So many times I feel as if God is asleep during the storms of my life. Hello? Aren’t you getting all wet? Do you care? Are you going to do anything? Oh, I know this feeling all too well. Here we have an uncomfortable juxtaposition: people in great danger, and God asleep. The assumptions:
1. God has down time where he disengages. Now that’s a scary thought.
2. God doesn’t care. Well, that doesn’t make me feel any better.
What other choices are here? None. Jesus is asleep in the boat, and they are in great danger.
So the disciples woke him up. Can you imagine the discussion about whether to waken him or not? Some of the disciples wanted to be respectful, some were indignant that he was even sleeping, some were downright angry. What were they expecting him to do? Somehow save them? I think it was a request from fear: selfish, physical, relating to circumstances. It was a cry of desperation
“Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” The desperate call on God, so common to humanity: “God, help me.” “God, we’re desperate.” We’re at our end. DO SOMETHING!
“He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters…” We want God to rise up and act on our behalf—to come and meet our need. This is exactly what we expect God to do, not be asleep through our danger. We want Him to rebuke what threatens us.
“The storm subsided and all was calm.” Whoa. The point is clear. God is up to your challenges. It took so long to break down their mindset that he was more than a miracle-working prophet. In the Jewish mindset, it was impossible for God to have a son and to appear in human form, so I’m sure they still didn’t grasp who Jesus truly was. I’m sure they couldn’t cross that line of understanding. Despite all they have seen in his healing miracles, this just shocked them.
“Where is your faith?” he asked. He rebuked them, not for their request or their motive, but for their fear and lack of faith. He doesn’t say that he minded being woken, that he didn’t like their attitude, or that their request had no place. What he minded was their lack of faith.
“In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who IS this?” I have to believe the disciples were petrified. I’ll bet they didn’t move for 30 minutes until, finally, one of them leaned over to the others and said, “Don’t make him mad.” I believe the disciples were more afraid after the storm was calmed than during it. The disciples experienced firsthand the dangerous wonder of being with Jesus. And they were amazed. Who wouldn’t be? Amazing peace, amazing power, amazing control. What he did must not have been what they had in mind, though it clearly answered their request.