Authority over Sea and Storm

One day, after teaching the multitude, Jesus set out to cross the Sea of Galilee. But a violent storm descended suddenly, frightening the disciples. Storms were common enough on that body of water, and several of the men were fishermen familiar with its moods. Their terror indicated this was an especially severe storm.

At the end of the story, the dumbfounded disciples ask - “Who is this man?” What precipitated the storm was the statement by Jesus: “Let us go over to the other side”; that is, to the vicinity of Gerasenes - (Mark 4:35-41, 5:1-20).

In the story, the disciples address Jesus as a “teacher,” indicating they do not yet understand who he is. They viewed him as little more than another “rabbi.”

But in their reaction to the storm - in their great fear - they awakened Jesus. But he charged them with having no faith, though he saved them all the same. Yet, ironically, they became even more fearful after he had calmed the storm.


A passage in Jonah is echoed in the story. When Jesus “rebuked” the storm and commanded the wind to desist, he used the same language employed by him previously to rebuke demons - (“He rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet and come out of him”). And he was sound asleep in the middle of the storm just as Jonah was in his day:

  • (Jonah 1:4-17) – “But Yahweh sent out a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea so that the ship was like to be broken. Then THE MARINERS WERE AFRAID and cried every man unto his god; and they cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it. But Jonah was gone down into the innermost parts of the ship, and HE LAY FAST ASLEEP.”

Christ’s words and actions also reflect a passage from the eighty-ninth Psalm. The fact that Jesus was authorized to exercise the power of God over natural forces should have clarified to the disciples just who and what he was. And as the “chosen one” of Yahweh, he and his disciples were perfectly safe despite the raging storm:

  • I have solemnized a covenant for my chosen one. I have sworn to David, my servant. To times everlasting will I establish your seed… O, Yahweh, God of hosts, who is mighty like you… YOU RULE OVER THE SWELLING SEA. When its rolling waves lift themselves, YOU DO BID THEM BE STILL” - (Psalm 89:3-9).

In the ancient mind, the sea was associated with chaos. But no opposition to Jesus could succeed until his mission was finished, not even natural forces.

This “opposition” arose after he had instructed the disciples to proceed to the other side of the lake. In the passage, the storm’s “reaction” to his determination to cross over the lake was virtually instantaneous.


Not only did the wind cease at his command, the sea also became calm. This demonstrated the miraculous nature of the deed. Winds may suddenly subside, but a body of water with its surface stirred by a storm takes time to return to a peaceful state.

Next, Jesus questioned his disciples, “How is it that you have no faith.” Apparently, by this time, he expected them to have acquired at least some faith, yet even this tremendous ‘nature miracle’ failed to produce real faith. Instead, it caused them to raise the question - “WHO IS THIS MAN?”

As powerful as this miracle was, by itself, it did not answer the question. Nevertheless, even though they requested his help from fear and not faith, he responded by delivering them from immediate danger.



The Word Made Flesh

Language of the New Testament