Saturday 05 March 2022

Bible Book:

‘What sort of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’ (v. 27)

Matthew 8:23-27 Saturday 5 March 2022

Psalm 93


Jesus had decided to cross the lake earlier in the chapter, but Matthew places the story we read yesterday of the two would-be followers between the order to set out and Jesus embarking. The Sea of Galilee is, of course, in reality a lake, but a large one; the journey that Jesus and his disciples were making from Capernaum on the western shore to the land of the Gadarenes on the east might have been eight to ten miles. In Matthew’s Gospel, crossing the lake is a symbolic as well as a practical action. Jesus has been seen already as the one who crosses boundaries in touching the leper and offering to go to the centurion’s house and he continues his ministry by crossing into another region.

The story of the stilling of the storm is the first miracle in Matthew's Gospel that shows Jesus’ power over nature. There is a number of echoes in this episode of the story of Jonah in the Old Testament. Like Jonah, Jesus is journeying away from his home without any clear destination in view; like Jonah, Jesus is reliant on others to sail the boat; as with Jonah, the boat runs into a storm that is so terrible the sailors are afraid; like Jonah, Jesus sleeps through the tempest and has to be awakened; like Jonah, Jesus is the only one who can do anything to still the storm.

There are two occasions later in the Gospel when Jesus is asked for a sign and each time he replies that no sign will be given but ‘the sign of Jonah’ (12:39; 16:4). Of course, there are obvious differences in the stories (not least that Jonah was running away from God and his call to preach while Jesus was expanding his mission) but it seems that for Matthew the tale of the prophet who came through the storm to call a people to repentance and to discover that God’s mercy was offered beyond the boundaries of Israel helped to shape his understanding of who Jesus is.

To Ponder:

  • Why do you think Jesus asked those who woke him why they were afraid?
  • The book of Jonah is short (only four chapters) so you might read it through. Do you see any other connections with the gospel story?
  • Those who were with Jesus saw him in a new way after this incident. How would you answer if asked "What sort of man was (or is) Jesus?"
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