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6) Matthew 8 - Jesus stills a tempest
Parallels: Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25

Matthew said in Matthew 8:18: "Now when Jesus saw great crowds around Him, He gave orders to go over to the
other side."  Mark reports (Mark 4:35), "On that day when evening had come, He said to them, 'Let us go across to
the other side.'"  Luke indicated (Luke 8:22), "One day He got into a boat with His disciples, and He said to them,
'Let us go across to the other side of the lake.'"  In order adequately to appreciate this unusual movement by Jesus,
one must assemble clearly all the facts that occurred on that day.  Because these events, of this day, explain why
Jesus would deliberately sail away from obvious popularity.  Jesus' activities on this day may be summarized as
follows:

1) No sooner had Jesus arrived home from His second preaching tour of Galilee (Luke 8:1-3, Mark 3:19-21), than a
crowd gathered, interrupting any possibility of eating.  His own family sought to lock Him up for His own good, since it
seemed to them He was going mad.
Back to Matthew 8 Study Index Page

2) A special committee of scribes from Jerusalem attacked Jesus' miracles attributing His power to Satan (Matthew
12:22-37, Mark 3:22-30).  Although Jesus refuted their charges with unanswerable logic; proving Himself to be
God's Son by deeds that only God's Spirit in Him could do.  Yet, some of the Rabbis demanded a sign from God that
would prove His claims (Matthew 12:38-45).

3) In the midst of these attacks and responses, Jesus' mother and brothers try to interfere (Matthew 12:46-50, Mark
3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21), but Jesus openly refused to let human fleshly ties bind Him.  He claimed a special
relationship to God shared by no man and placed discipleship on a higher plane than any fleshly relationships.

4) Leaving the house where the "very large crowds" and committees had Him cornered, He boarded a boat beside
the shore so as better to handle the crowds (Matthew 13:1-2, Mark 4:1, Luke 8:4).  Because they could not push out
into the water to mob Him, he was able to teach them.

Since the crowds did not go away (Matthew 8:18), Jesus did.
These facts lead to the conclusion that Jesus was not merely departing for awhile to rest, something He could easily
have done at Capernaum.  Apparently, this strategic shift of the scene of His service is intended to accomplish
these results:

1) He needed to separate His disciples for private instruction from the wildly excited but ignorant crowds who were
more interested in having their sick healed and seeing wonders than in understanding His message.  His Apostles
must understand that message.

2) He needed to take the pressure of the increasing attacks of the Jerusalem scribes and Pharisees off the Apostles.

Why bother with all these seemingly "unedifying details" out of the records of Jesus' ministry?  By His actions He
revealed His viewpoint, His way, hence God's way, of dealing with human problems.  To understand Jesus is to have
studied how He Himself put His message into practice.  He had to work out practical problems.  He too must live with
the physical weakness of His human flesh.
HOW could Jesus remain asleep as that boat bucked and plunged into the trough, wallowing through each wave,
threatening to swamp with each successive minute of tempest?  Our Lord was utterly exhausted.

The apostles were about to be tested.  So long as the going was relatively easy and there had been no peril to life
and limb, with only an occasional skirmish with the Pharisees, the discipleship of these men had not been so
severely tested nor so closely bared in its weakest form.  Who were these men?  They had gone with Jesus
whatever the cost.  Now they come to Jesus and they awakened Him, lay before Him their cares.

But they were only half-trusting. "Save us!" is the voice of faith, but "We perish!" is the cry of doubt.  Considering
the desperation of their cries and the pity of Jesus' response, what did the disciples really expect of Him when they
shook Him awake?  It is certain that they did not expect what actually occurred.  Is it possible that they possessed an
unreasoned, undefined, almost blind, desperate hope that Jesus possessed an unlimited power?  Or rather, there
existed in them a belief that coexisted, not with disbelief nor even with unbelief, but with the inability to comprehend
His full nature.  It is certainly true that Jesus' revelation of Himself gradually emerged through what He said and did.   
Each new, unique piece of evidence declared His identity or, better, filled in the outline of His true personality in the
character of the God-Man.
The presence of some faith in these terrified disciples is proved by the fact that these expert sailors who had
wrestled with Galilean storms before, appeal to Jesus who had never handled boats.  How could a former carpenter
be of any help when these knew that all their skill had found a crisis completely beyond their powers?  Their
half-believing, half-fearful appeal is not directed only to the human Jesus, but has some reference to His divine
ability, even if the men themselves are very ignorant of His identity.

They were afraid.  Why?  Because of the human habit of depending completely on their own means and solving
their problems by their own wits alone.  They had tried to battle that storm by themselves and were not depending
upon Him.

They were loyal men.  Now they HAD no other alternative!  He had been merely their last resort, their emergency
exit.  Though He wanted to be their constant companion, sharing and helping with their problems and fears by giving
them answers, inward peace and calm, they had kept Him on the fringe of their lives, holding Him in reserve until
they had tried all else.
Why are ye fearful, o ye of little faith?  Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great
calm.  His words of rebuke: "Peace! Be still!" (Mark 4:39).  One act alone was worth an encyclopedia full of
discussion regarding Jesus' sovereignty over the sea and men's souls.  One magnificent proof immediately cleared
all doubts.

To produce this great wonder, Jesus' word alone was enough.  He needed no special instruments through which His
power was exerted to effect the result (Exodus 14:16 and 21, 2nd Kings 2:14, 2nd Kings 4:29-37).  Rebuke the
winds and sea:  is this simple personification of these natural elements in order to emphasize Jesus' full control over
them, as if they were but domestic animals before their Owner?  And there was a great calm.  This calm is defined
by Mark and Luke by the specific notice:  "the wind ceased and the raging waves ceased."  A multitude of
experiences has taught the disciples to expect a sudden drop of the wind on Lake Tiberius, but this would not
immediately calm the rolling sea.  Yet, contrary to nature, these eyewitnesses testify to the immediacy of the miracle
as a direct result of Jesus' words.  The Sea obeyed Jesus; it did not keep rolling after the wind died.