Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Silencing a Terrifying Storm
JESUS’ day has been filled with activity, including teaching the crowds on the beach and afterward explaining the illustrations privately to his disciples. When evening comes, he says: “Let us cross to the other shore.”
Over on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee is the region called the Decapolis, from the Greek deʹka, meaning “ten,” and poʹlis, meaning “city.” The cities of the Decapolis are a center of Greek culture, although doubtless they are also the home of many Jews. Jesus’ activity in the region, however, is very limited. Even on this visit, as we will see later, he is prevented from staying long.
When Jesus requests that they leave for the other shore, the disciples take him in the boat. Their departure, however, does not go unnoticed. Soon others board their boats to accompany them. It is not very far across. Actually, the Sea of Galilee is just a large lake about 13 miles (21 km) long and a maximum of 7 1/2 miles (12 km) wide.
Jesus is understandably tired. So, soon after they shove off, he lies down in the back of the boat, puts his head on a pillow, and falls fast asleep. Several of the apostles are experienced sailors, having fished extensively on the Sea of Galilee. So they take charge of sailing the boat.
But this is not to be an easy trip. Because of the warmer temperature at the lake’s surface, which is about 700 feet (210 m) below sea level, and the colder air in the nearby mountains, strong winds at times sweep down and create sudden violent windstorms on the lake. This is what now occurs. Soon the waves are dashing against the boat and splashing into it, so that it is close to being swamped. Yet, Jesus continues to sleep!
The experienced seamen work frantically to steer the boat. No doubt they have maneuvered through storms before. But this time they are at the end of their resources. Fearing for their lives, they wake Jesus up. ‘Master, do you not care? We are sinking!’ they exclaim. ‘Save us, we are going to drown!’
Rousing himself, Jesus commands the wind and the sea: ‘Hush! be quiet!’ And the raging wind stops and the sea becomes calm. Turning to his disciples, he asks: ‘Why are you so fearful? Do you not yet have any faith?’
At that, an unusual fear grips the disciples. ‘Who really is this man?’ they ask one another. ‘For he orders even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’
What power Jesus displays! How reassuring it is to know that our King has power over the natural elements and that when his full attention is directed toward our earth during his Kingdom rule, all will dwell in security from terrifying natural calamities!
Sometime after the storm subsides, Jesus and his disciples arrive safely on the eastern shore. Perhaps the other boats were spared the intensity of the storm and safely returned home. Mark 4:35–5:2; Matthew 8:18, 23-28; Luke 8:22-27.
◆ What is the Decapolis, and where is it located?
◆ What physical features are responsible for violent storms on the Sea of Galilee?
◆ When their sailing skills cannot save them, what do the disciples do?
[Full-page picture on page 8]