The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Matthew 8:23-27...
And when Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?"Storms were common on the Sea of Galilee. This "sea" is small, only 13 miles north to south and 8 miles west to east. The Sea of Galilee is actually 680 feet below sea level, giving it a warm and often gentle climate. However, there are dangers. On the west side of the Sea of Galilee, the side on which Capernaum was situated, there are hills with valleys and gullies. When a cold wind comes from the west these valleys and gullies act like funnels. The wind can rush down these hills, on which Jesus often taught thousands of people, and cause violent storms on the lake. This storm in Matthew 8 is called a "seisms" which is the word for earthquake. The waves were so high that the boat was hidden by the high waves cresting over it.
The amazing thing is that in the midst of this cataclysmic storm, Jesus was asleep in the boat. It reminds me of a poster I had over my bed when I was a teenager: "Sleep in peace; God is awake." Jesus could sleep in peace, in any situation, because his Father in heaven was awake. And we can do the same.
The disciples, however, were not sleeping in peace. They were wide awake and terrified. But they went to the right person with their fear. They woke Jesus and said, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
Jesus had a gentle rebuke for the disciples, one that was often on his lips, "You of little faith." And he asked them, "Why are you so afraid?"
That's a good question. Perhaps you are facing some situation right now that causes you to be filled with fear. Jesus asks you the same question, "Why are you so afraid?" What is your answer?
Jesus understands the things that cause us fear. He faced the greatest fear of all time when he went to the cross. He faced the fear, yes, of knowing he was going to undergo the most excruciating death ever invented by human beings. But even more than that, Jesus faced the fear of feeling separated from his Father. If Jesus faced the greatest fear of all time then he can help us to face our fears and overcome them.
We can overcome our fears every time we realize that our heavenly Father has things under control--and Jesus can calm every storm.
When Jesus calmed that storm on the Sea of Galilee his disciples asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"
Have you ever seen Jesus calm a storm in your life that made you realize he really is God, that he really is real? I know I have.
The story is told of a little village school in the hill country of Scotland where a teacher had been telling her students this very same story of Jesus calming the sea. Shortly afterwards a terrible blizzard suddenly hit that village and the surrounding region. The school had to shut down and get all the children home. That teacher had to drag some of her children through the storm. And in the midst of that situation one little boy said, "We could be doing with that chap Jesus here now."
Perhaps you are feeling the same as that little boy today. If so, call out to Jesus. He will be there for you and he will calm the storm.