One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” – Luke 8:22-25 (CEB)
Jesus’ control over the wind and the waves is truly miraculous. This is Jesus’ first nature miracle, so he’s breaking new ground. What I tend to focus on, though, is Jesus’ question to the disciples: “Where is your faith?”
We may wonder if they were really in danger since Jesus was in the boat with them. But many of the disciples were experienced fishermen, and they KNEW what trouble and danger were on the Sea of Galilee. The reality was that the boat WAS filling with water.
We can spiritualize our problems and say that they are only temporary and of this world. Jesus is in the boat with us, so what danger are we actually in? But the reality is that sometimes we are rightfully fearful.
I wonder what faith it is that Jesus wants them to have.
- Faith to let Jesus sleep and trust that the wind and the water would not harm him (them)?
- Faith that Jesus would take care of it when they woke him, so they didn’t need to panic and say that they were going to be destroyed?
- Faith that Jesus would wake up in time?
As I try to understand this passage, I think about other storms in the Bible and how they were calmed. The two that come to mind are Jonah fleeing from God and Paul going to Rome. In each of these cases, the sailors do everything in their power to overcome the storm. They throw everything of value overboard, and even turn to murder: in Jonah’s case because he tells them to throw him overboard, and in Paul’s, so that the prisoners would not escape. It is not until God’s intervention that a solution is found. And in both situations, it is a miracle.
There is no faith shown in the Jonah story. In Acts, the soldiers seem to have faith in Paul. Paul’s faith comes from God speaking to him (we don’t know if Paul inquired of God). Maybe the faith Jesus wants the disciples to have is the ability to wait upon the Lord. But this is the hard thing – knowing what we are supposed to do when we wait upon the Lord. Is it wrong to call out, like the disciples did?
When the disciples call out to Jesus, they don’t call him “Lord.” Instead, they call him “Master.” If you break down the Greek word (επιςτατης) it literally means “one who stands over.” Luke is the only one who uses this name for Jesus, and it is used, with one exception, by the disciples. And when the disciples use it, it is always in times of confusion. Here, they wake Jesus up because he is in charge of them, and they don’t know what else to do.
In this way, it seems that the disciples show more faith than those in the Jonah and Acts stories. Fearing for their lives, they don’t take matters into their own hands – doing anything and everything to save themselves. Instead, after spending time with Jesus, they call out to him to save them.
Maybe Jesus’ question isn’t a reprimand for their lack of faith but a question for them to ponder – which is exactly how they do respond. Even after Jesus rebukes the wind and water, the disciples are still afraid. They are at once full of fear and full of awe – which seems like the right response when you are in the presence of such power. I think this is where their faith is, but maybe they just don’t understand or fully trust yet.
When the disciples ask, “Who is this?” they are moving deeper into faith. As the disciples remember who it is that has control over the wind and the water, they remember Creation, crossing through the Red Sea, crossing the Jordan, and God’s control of the rain in the time of Elijah. In helping the disciples to understand the basis of their faith, Jesus is leading them to find faith and peace even in the midst of fear. May it be the same for us.
 Luke 5:5, 8:24, 8:45, 9:33, 9:49, 17:13