Scripture Commentary — Matthew 8:23-27
Jesus calms the seas
Matthew 8:23-27 — Jesus calms the seas
- “..followed him…” — The disciples had just heard two wonderful mini-sermons about ‘following’. In verse 19 a scribe had stated that he would ‘follow’ Christ wherever He went. There is no mention as to whether he did or not. Another person requested that he be allowed to bury a family member before coming with Christ. Christ told this disciple to “…Follow me…” Following the Savior, literally and figuratively, requires sacrifice, but eternal life awaits if we do.
- The Sea of Galilee is well-known for its sudden, violent storms
- “..asleep..” — the preceding day had been filled with service, charity, spiritual and physical exertion, and the Savior was deservedly very tired. He had physical needs, and He was probably spiritually weary also.
- How could the Savior be asleep in the midst of a storm that had seasoned fishermen worried for their lives?
- “…save us, we perish…” — these were experienced fishermen, very used to storms. They had probably done all they could before they awoke the Savior. They were learning to rely on Jesus in every way, spiritually and physically. How about us?
- Notice that the disciples did not say, “Lord, save yourself. You are about to perish!” They were still spiritually immature, but eventually they would think of others first.
- “Why are ye fearful?” — they could have responded, “Well, the boat is floundering, we’ve done all we can do, we are about to be drowned!” Even if they had said or thought these things, His question was still pertinent. He was in essence saying, “Do ye not yet know who I am and what I can do?”
- “…little faith…” — this was probably not meant as a denunciation, but reminder that their faith was young and new, BUT I am grateful ye called me for help. Matthew 14:31 gives a demonstration of what ‘little faith’ is (Peter actually stepped out of the boat, but it was by not keeping his focus on the Lord that showed ‘little faith’.) Little faith can and does grow into great faith.
- “…he arose…” — he was not frantic or agitated, He didn’t say in great alarm, “Oh my goodness, why didn’t you call Me sooner?” As in every circumstance, He was in control, prepared, calm. There were no surprises in His life.
- “… the winds and the sea…” — TWO miracles. How, by what mechanism could Christ command the elements and have them obey? In the same way that He commanded, “Let there be light…”, “Let a firmament divide the waters…”, “Let dry land appear…”, or “…in the midst of the light I saw two personages, STANDING ABOVE ME IN THE AIR.” Doctrine and Covenants 101:32-33 tell us that “…in the day when the Lord shall come, He shall reveal all things—things that have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made,…”.
- “…great calm..” — not your average calm, with rolling waves, but glassy smoothness. When the Lord makes a point, He makes a point!
- “…What manner of man…” — they were still learning of Christ’s majesty and power; changing water to wine was one thing, but calming tempestuous water on an open sea? His godly powers were unequaled.
Lessons to be learned from this amazing experience:
- Do we have ‘storms’ in our lives that Jesus can calm?
- What is the Lord’s response to the question, “Carest thou not that we perish?” A beautiful answer can be found in Alma 36:3 — “For I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God, shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.”
- Why do storms arise? Storms help us realize our dependence on the Lord.
- How long do we wait before we call upon Him for help? Until we are about to perish? When the water starts to get choppy? When we see clouds on the horizon? He does expect us to do all we can to confront our challenges, and to avail ourselves of every spiritual resource at our disposal.
- Did He put his disciples at risk? Help usually arrives in our extremities.
- When the disciples beseeched Him, He responded immediately. However, He calmed the disciples first, and then the sea. People first — minister, then administer.
- What if they hadn’t asked? What if we don’t ask?
- Did they truly have ‘little’ faith? Mustard seeds are not very big. Their faith might have been small, but they displayed what faith they had. Alma 32:27 says, “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.”
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