When I was in preaching school (Sunset International Bible Institute), I was absolutely captivated by the teachers. Men like Ed Wharton, Gerald Paden, Doyle Gilliam – these great men of God who had such a grasp of biblical knowledge. Lengthy passages of Scripture committed to memory, quoted, exegeted, and wrapped up in a nice bundle for you to take home and mull over in your mind. Certainly there were times when I, like the disciples of Jesus, said to myself, “What manner of man is this!”
Now I realize there is not an exact correlation here; I mean the men I sat and learned from were not exactly calming stormy seas. But that is about as close as I can get to the awe and wonderment and possibly even a bit fear that the disciples experienced on a stormy sea so many years ago. Luke records this event in 8.22-25 of his gospel.
Now, remember the context in which this account is tangled up in. We have just finished discussion of hearing the word; Jesus just presented an object lesson using his brothers and mother about hearing the word. And then Luke launches into this account of Jesus calming the storm. There is a connection.
With the storm around them raging, and the waves crashing upon their boat, swamping it with water, the disciples turn to the only person they know can possibly help…maybe…we think. And He is asleep. Mark paints us the quaint picture by telling us Jesus is “asleep on a cushion.” In the midst of the turmoil and angst, the Master, exhausted from teaching, preaching, and healing (his ministry), he falls asleep. And that when his disciples apparently need him most.
Luke records that they wake him with the words, “Master, Master.” Mark says, “Teacher.” Matthew says, “Lord.” I assume in the jumble of everything it was every man calling out a name for Jesus trying to wake him. They rouse him, and for sometime I have thought that this was a groggy Jesus getting up to rebuke the winds. However, the Greek implies that he was “thoroughly awake.” Hence, the picture I get is that he sat up and spent sometime waking up – put on his sandals, maybe brushed the hair back, cinched up the robe, etc. But he was fully awake when he “arose and rebuked the wind and raging water.”
In an instant, the water is calm. The wind has died down. I imagine the clouds clear up and the sun started shinng again. It is an awesome display from the Master of the universe who created this very sea upon which he slept. Then he asks his disciples a very cutting, penetrating question: “Where is your faith?” It is as if Jesus is asking them, “You have been with me this whole time and have heard the words I have spoken; haven’t you believed them?” And so here it is that the 12 men who should have caught the message after this time, who have heard the word of God, have not really been listening. Yet, all around them, they have testimony from creation that it is his word that is to be heard and obeyed.
This is just what the disciples say: “Who is this?” The KJV says, “What manner of man is this?” Even the winds and the waves sprout ears to hear and heed the voice of the Master who created them. Notice, “they obey Him” (v.25). Thus, Jesus is yet again teaching us the significance of hearing and obeying His voice. In the midst of the storm, who will it be that listens to the voice of Jesus. The disciples show us it was everything except those who should be.
So it is now time for us to decide. When the storm around us rages, when life appears to as though it will collapse upon us, when time comes for us to run to the Master, will it be another repeat episode of the 12 in the boat where we cry out that we perish? Or will it be that, based upon hearing the Master, the word of God, that our cry is one of faith? We know who holds the boat together for He is in the boat with us. We know who controls the storm and that He will not give us more than we can handle. We know the storm obeys his very command. When the time comes, will we likewise obey His word and respond with faith?