Why calm the storm?

jesus_calms_stormMatthew (8:23-27), Mark (4:35-41), and Luke (8:22-25) all describe Jesus’ calming of a storm. Luke’s version says:

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 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.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Our natural response to this event is to use it as a metaphor for Jesus’ presence in our lives when we face difficulties and troubles. This is true; Jesus is with us, He is the good shepherd (John 10:11). However, I propose that He made have had an even bigger purpose, a larger truth to reveal, when calming the storm.

Let’s begin with James 1. In verses 2-8, James talks specifically about trials and the testing of our faith. This sounds suspiciously like Jesus’ storm-calming miracle.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Here, James compares our doubt, or lack of faith, to both:

  • a stormy wave and
  • being double-minded.

Perhaps Jesus calmed the storm to show that faith in Him enables us to be single-minded, at peace.

Let’s contrast peaceful times and turbulent periods. For me, my peace is washed away by a never-ending current of mistakes I’ve made, responsibilities I have, fears I allow to provoke me into panic. It is a torrent of thoughts. My turbulent times are marked by an absolute lack of single-mindedness. I am peaceful, however, when I rest in the care of my Shepherd, my God.

I think that Jesus pointed to His Father, our adoptive Father as believers in Jesus, with this miracle. I think He was demonstrating that God’s sovereignty (definition: supreme power or authority) is the basis for defeating the storm. God is in control. When we trust in this, at the exclusion of our doubts and fears, the storm is calmed.

“This is what the Lord says—
    Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
    apart from me there is no God.
Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.
    Let him declare and lay out before me
what has happened since I established my ancient people,
    and what is yet to come—
    yes, let them foretell what will come.
Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
    Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
    No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isiah 44:6-8)

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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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