Calming a storm, Ludolf Backhuysen 1695
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" (Mark 4:37-40)
Exhausted from ministry, Jesus falls asleep as His experienced fisherman disciples ferry Him across the sea when a tempest threatens to sink the boat. Jesus is so exhausted that the storm hasn't awoken Him by the time the boat is sinking, so His disciples do with a perplexing oxymoron of a question: “Teacher, don't you care if we drown?” After rebuking the nature He created, Jesus rightly rebukes His disciples. If they had faith enough to know that He could actually do something about the storm, then why didn't they have enough faith to trust that He wouldn't prevent them from drowning?
Ironically, Jesus, “more than any other, cares whether they perish in a sense far more ultimate than the immediate threat to their lives” (Elwell, 773), yet the disciples who called Jesus “Lord” (Matthew 8:25) still “question[ed] whether he cared at all for their safety” (Howell, 152). Jesus has been repeatedly pronouncing the arrival and advancement of the Kingdom of God, yet their question might as well have denied Christ's Messiahship, for how could the promised-one possibly die before the completion of His mission? (Howell, 152). To prove to them that His mission could not be thwarted, even by the powers of nature, Christ shows them His authority over it. When this subtle claim of divinity still leaves them questioning “what kind of man is this?,” Jesus provides another display of His divine authority, but this time over the powers of the heavenly realm. We can't be too hard on the disciples since hindsight is twenty-twenty, but one has to wonder if the disciples asked themselves how they could have missed all this when looking back on their response.
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.