The Calming of the Storm at Sea (Luke 8:22-25)

The Calming of a Storm at Sea

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let us cross to the other side of the lake.” So they set sail,

23 and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A squall blew over the lake, and they were taking in water and were in danger.

24 They came and woke him saying, “Master, master, we are perishing!” He awakened, rebuked the wind and the waves, and they subsided and there was a calm.

25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” But they were filled with awe and amazed and said to one another, “Who then is this, who commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey him?”


The Boat, a Symbol of the Church

From nearly the beginning, the Church has been seen as the ark (or boat) that carries Christians safely over the turbulent waters of this world, to our ultimate destination – heaven.  Like the boat in this story, the Church, which is the mystical Body of Christ, is sometimes tossed and buffeted by the evils of the world.  Also, like in this story, it is the power and presence of Christ in the Church that subdues the threat and protects her members.,

Jesus Exercises Authority Over Nature

Who then is this, who commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey him?” We’ve reflected before on how the Jews had no expectation that their Messiah would be God incarnate.  But by now, the disciples have seen Jesus cure many illnesses, cleanse a leper, heal a paralytic, restore a withered hand, heal from a distance, and bring a man back to life.  In short he has performed a myriad of miracles that require divine power.  How can His calming of the wind and waves fill His disciples with greater awe than bringing someone back to life?  But this passage isn’t just about Jesus performing the miraculous yet again.

Ordinarily, I don’t like to do what I’m about to do.  I’m going to offer comments on passages that we have yet to read. But, I’ve thought about it, and I’ve prayed about it, and think that this time it’s better to offer a notion of what is to come, rather than to let it pass by and say “did you catch that?”  I’m offering these comments so that we know what we’re looking for in this, and in the next several passages.  Note, however, that scripture can convey many, many meanings in just a few lines.  So when I say “so that we can know what we’re looking for” I mean so that we can be attentive to just one of the messages that the scriptures offer us.

In this pericope Jesus demonstrates His power over nature.  In the next pericope He will demonstrate His power over demons.  Finally, in the last pericope of the chapter He will demonstrate His power over life and death and He will demonstrate his power over illness.  In short, these three pircopes combine to show us that Jesus is all-powerful.  There is no sphere, no realm over which He is not Master.  So, as you read the next two pericopes, be attentive to Jesus’ power.

Is Jesus a cause for fear?  In our reflection on Raising of the Widow’s Son (Luke 7:11-17) we noted that the crowds were seized with fear when Jesus performed his miracle. In that reflection I offered the opinion that fear is the response whenever humans perceive themselves as being in the divine presence.  After all, on a fundamental level, all sinners fear judgment. In the letter to the Hebrews we are told “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).

As you read this pericope and the passages to come, be attentive to fear.  As Jesus exercises His power, it evokes fear for those who witness it.  In verse 25 of today’s pericope we see that it says they were “filled with awe and amazed.”  Note, however that the word for “awe” in this verse is more often translated as “filled with fear”.  I’m not saying that either is a correct, or incorrect, translation.  But I am saying that if we’re looking for a common thread of fear in these three pericopes, then it is present in verse 25 of today’s reading.

But why?  Why should we look for fear as part of the response when people see Jesus exercise power?  It’s not so much that I want to make people out to be afraid of Christ.  Instead it shows that a fearful response on the part of the people announces the divinity of Jesus.


Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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