Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Once more Jesus is by the Sea of Galilee and “when he saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart to the other side.”

“And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.”

How Jesus must have longed for rest from the teeming multitudes who always gathered to hear him! Could he find rest on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, where the lonely hills rise steeply from the water’s edge to the great plateau of what we now call Trans-Jordan? It may be that the much-needed rest and quiet would be found there. Let us go thither with him.

It is evening, but that is favourable, for night will fall before they have crossed. They may land unobserved upon the farther shore! But no! that is impossible, for other ships are casting loose to follow him.

The night falls rapidly; more rapidly than usual, for great banks of cloud are gathering over the mountains and gorges towards the north and north-east. Sudden gushes of cold wind leave a troubled path across the sea.

Darkness falls, not a star is seen, the clouds have cast over all a mantle of inky blackness. The wind is moaning fitfully and the waters are lashed into fury by its sudden bursts.

Now, all around, the storm breaks. The rushing wind is full of rain; it raises great, white-capped walls of water in its circling motion.

Not knowing whither they will be dashed, having no control over their boat, the weather-beaten fishermen are filled with dismay at the even more immediate danger of becoming swamped by the tempestuous seas. But astonishment is mingled with their fear. Is it possible that one could sleep in such a storm? Yes! for Jesus is asleep, resting his head on the leather steersman’s seat at the stern of the boat. So great has been his labour, so weary is he with serving others, that his exhausted senses will not respond to the tumult.

Will he not awaken?

At last their fear overpowers their reluctance to arouse him. “Lord, save us: we perish,” they cry.

Did their fear communicate itself to him? Did the seething waves, the half-filled boat, the noisy wind, terrify him? No, he was quite calm.

“Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?”

Was there not ground for fear? Had they thought for one moment they would have known that the work of Jesus was not yet finished. Many things had yet to be fulfilled concerning him. They were safe in his keeping. But the mighty storm had banished all reflection from their minds, and filled them with fear.

Then Jesus arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, saying, “Peace, be still.”

And there came at once a great calm.

In their astonishment they almost feared this One in who dwelt such power. “What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey him?” they say.

In the calm that followed we may well imagine them baling out their half-filled boat, watching for a break in the clouds. Then as the clouds pass they perceive the outline of the hills of the country of the Gadarenes against the deep grey sky. Their boat has been driven almost from the norther shore to the southern end of the sea.

From The Life of Jesus Christ by W.A. Mitchell

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