PassageJesus spent the previous few passages outlining how we are to hear and believe. In this passage, he gets into a boat with his disciples, and says, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake” (verse 22 (ESV)). So they get in the boat and set off for the other side of the lake, during which time Jesus falls asleep. But as they sail a storm comes up, the boat starts to fill with water, and verse 23 (NIV) tells us that they were “in great danger.” So the disciples wake Jesus, and tell him that they’re perishing. But Jesus “rebukes” the wind and the waves (which then cease their raging), and asks the disciples, “Where is your faith?” (verse 25 (ESV)).
The disciples, who were just afraid of the storm, are now afraid of Jesus, asking each other, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” (verse 25 (ESV), emphasis added).
ThoughtsWhen I first read the story about Jesus calming the storm, I remember thinking that Jesus was being particularly hard on his disciples. Of course they were afraid! How could they know that Jesus was going to calm the storm? For him to respond to them with, “where is your faith?” seemed overly harsh, to me. Especially when you consider that some of his disciples were fishermen; surely they knew the difference between a little rain and a life-threatening storm; if they were scared, it was probably a pretty bad one.
A turning point came for me when I heard a sermon in which the pastor mentioned that a key phrase in this passage is Jesus saying to the disciples, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” If Jesus said they were going to go to the other side of the lake, they should have believed they were going to make it to the other side of the lake—it is about faith. Even this turning point from the sermon took a while to sink in, for me, because it seemed to me that Jesus saying, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake,” is orders of magnitude different from him saying something like, “you should be saved by faith,” or “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Isn’t it? But then I thought: “Well, that’s kind of the point.” We don’t pick and choose when we’re going to believe God, and when we’re not. We surely don’t get to pick and choose the things He says that are important versus the ones that are not! Jesus told the disciples that they were going to go to the other side of the lake, and then the storm came up, they trusted more in the seeming power of the storm than they did in Jesus’ words.
And this is where I turn to the same point that countless others have made before me, when talking about this story: believing in the power of the storm in our face, instead of in Jesus’ words—“big” or “small”—is exactly what many of us do when we get in trouble. “This thing has happened to me, or is happening to me—surely God can’t save me from that! Surely this is the exception to the rule about trusting Him!” We don’t consciously think in this way (at least I hope we don’t), but when troubles come, the troubles tend to feel more real to us than God or His power does. And however big the problem is, God would be justified in asking us, “Where is your faith?”