“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’”
– Matthew 8:23-25
As a disciple of Jesus, it’s important to look at how He lived his life and how He approached trials and relationships with others. As we examine His personality and behavior, I think it’s safe to say that He was relaxed. Although His journey took Him to many places and He encountered different people, some of whom were hostile towards His ministry, He was at peace. He wasn’t freaked out, stressed out, or losing sleep over what was going wrong. This is especially true in Matthew 8 — the account of Him sleeping through the storm.
In this particular tale, the disciples are in Genesaret, on the Sea of Galilee. Now, if you’ve been to Israel, you understand that the term “sea” is almost a misnomer when it comes to describing this body of water because it’s really just a big lake, maybe 13 miles or so across. Interestingly, it’s about 600 feet below sea level, so it is very nice; mostly calm and the climate is great. However, because the geography is almost like a bowl, when weather patterns change, it happens very quickly. Some commentaries say that it can feel like the wind is blowing from every direction and that it comes out of nowhere. Besides the rough weather, in Jesus’ day, the cosmology was such that the Jewish people believed that the world looked like a sandwich and that bodies of water literally separated earth from the underworld beneath. In other words, if you jumped into the water and swam down deep enough, you would ultimately enter hell. So this story starts with a bunch of fishermen, who probably couldn’t swim, on the gateway to hell with a violent storm brewing. Fortunately for them, Jesus was in their boat, but what He was doing might surprise you. While the disciples fretted, screamed and thought they were going to die, Jesus was taking a nap. Although at first this seems like cruel indifference, I believe it’s a promise that if we commit to being like Him, we too, can inherit peace and the ability to rest in inclimate weather.
Friend, sleeping in the storm means that you are in sync with the Lord, and relaxing in the midst of the tempest is the fruit of faith! Rest is the result of truly understanding that God has even the worst trial under His control. Because your Savior is in the boat of your life, you can commit your circumstances to Him with full assurance that everything is going to work out; He will always deliver you safely to the other side! Isn’t that wonderful news?
Thank you, Jesus, for your presence in the boat of my life. I am grateful that with you, I can nap in the midst of any storm, no matter how rough.
Do you identify with the disciples in their attitude toward to the storm? When trials come, what happens to the boat of your life?