Evening had come, and the Lord was tired. Jesus was fully God, but He willingly laid aside the privileges of His divine powers and took on the form of a man when He came to save us (Phil. 2:5-11). That included taking on our human frailties. He leaned on the will of His Father with perfection and the Holy Spirit for His empowerment, just as we are called to do. Jesus truly became one of us and is our example, and on this particular day, He was exhausted.
The massive crowds continued to press around Jesus. There was no escaping them in Capernaum. So the Lord told His disciples, “‘Let’s go to the other side of the lake.’” The disciples left the crowds and they all got into a boat. There were other boats that came along, too, full of His faithful band of friends.
Jesus went to the stern of the boat and laid His head down on a cushion. But then a wind started to blow. It rose and rose into a fierce wind, and soon, a tremendous storm was upon them. Large waves hit the boat and shook it, filling it with water. It was getting dangerous.
When the disciples looked to see what Jesus was doing, they saw that He was fast asleep! Why wasn’t He trying to help them? So they woke Him and said, “‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’”
Jesus woke up to the terrified faces of His disciples, the wild screaming of the wind, and the waves battering and rocking the boat. He rose to His feet, looked out upon the waters, and rebuked the wind and the waves saying, “‘Hush, be still.’” Instantly, the wind slowed to a calm and the rushing waves laid back down in the deep waters. The thundering storm came to perfect rest.
Can you imagine the magnificence of that moment? Can you imagine the surging power and authority behind the strong and confident command of Christ? He was completely certain of His mastery as the Son of the Living God.
For a moment, the Man that the disciples walked with every day was revealed for the mighty Lord that He is, far above the powers of this world, and perfectly able to wield complete control with a simple command.
He turned to His disciples and said, “‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’”
The disciples were in awe. What would you do if your teacher stood up in front of you and showed mastery over the forces of nature? The disciples looked at each other in wonder, and a kind of deep, reverent fear. There was power in this Man that they had not imagined. “‘What kind of Man is this?’” they asked each other, “‘Even the winds and the wave obey Him!’”
The disciples had shown faith in the Lord already. They had chosen to get in the boat with Christ just as it was becoming certain that the most powerful religious leaders of their nation were going to come against Him with a vengeance. But He had called His disciples family. He said they were His brothers and sisters. They belonged to Him, and they had chosen to follow Him all the way.
As a result, much had been given to the disciples. The Spirit gave them eyes to see and ears to hear the glory of what was happening in Jesus. And because they followed that leading, they witnessed something nobody else got to see. They got to watch Christ wield power over nature.
It is interesting to think about what other choices the disciples could have made. They could have walked away from Jesus when the powerful religious leaders from Jerusalem came against Him. They could have been offended that Jesus didn’t go with His family. They could have questioned Jesus about why He was leaving the crowd when there were still people in need. Instead, they obeyed. They got into the boat and headed for the other side of the Galilean Sea.
Jesus had traveled all over Galilee, but this time He was headed for the region of the Gerasenes. It was an area where a lot of Gentiles lived. These people were not a part of the nation of Israel, and the Jews considered them unclean. They wouldn’t even sit down with them to eat.
In the Old Testament, the Lord had commanded the nation of Israel to keep separate from the surrounding nations. God wanted His people to be pure from the idolatry and wickedness that polluted the daily lives of others. But He also spoke to His people about how they should treat foreigners in their own country. Foreigners are usually vulnerable in a land where a different language is spoken and where prejudice and bigotry can be oppressively cruel. But according to the Old Testament, foreigners in Israel had the protection of God.
From the very beginning of the first covenant that God made with Abraham, Israel was supposed to be a blessing to all the nations of the world. They were to act as the priests of the earth, teaching and training the cursed and burdened human race about the ways of the Most High God through their own holy lives. Throughout their long history, they had often stumbled and failed, but now they had met their ultimate failure. They had rejected their Messiah. Now the Lord was going to begin to take salvation to the Gentiles Himself. The nation of Israel had rejected their opportunity to honor the Messiah, but God would not allow that to stop His plans to bring redemption to humanity.
As Jesus and His disciples got in the boat, they sailed away from the Jewish shore and moved towards the region of the Gentiles. Christ was taking his message out to the lost, crossing out from God’s covenant with the nation of Israel through Moses and into a new era…a new covenant. As they went, a fierce and raging storm came against them, but it held no real power. All He had to do was speak, and by His absolute authority, the storm was over.