The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2


Chapter 25—Christ Stills the Tempest

Jesus had been teaching and healing uninterruptedly all day, and he greatly desired retirement and rest for himself and his disciples. He therefore instructed them to accompany him to the other side of the sea. But before he embarked he was accosted by a scribe who had listened to his words, representing the jewels of truth as being of far greater value than hidden treasure. In the grossness of his darkened mind, the scribe conceived that Jesus designed to enrich his followers with worldly treasure. He therefore eagerly addressed him, as had Judas, saying, “Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” The Saviour read the unworthy thought that actuated his heart, and answered him as he had answered Judas, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.” This Jewish teacher had only his own selfish interest in view when he proposed to follow Jesus. He hoped that the Saviour would soon establish his kingdom on earth, and that the wealth and station which would then accrue to his disciples, were the riches of which Jesus had spoken. But only a mind blinded by avarice and the lust of the world could so have misinterpreted the words of the Saviour. 2SP 305.1

If it were not for the poverty of Christ, and the fact that the poor and humble are ranked beneath his banner, many would connect themselves with him and glorify his name. If he had bestowed honors and riches upon those who became his disciples, how gladly would the proud Pharisees, the chief priests and scribes, have paid him homage. Many in these days would accept the truth if there was no self-denial connected with it. If they could have the world with Christ, they would enlist in his army. But to follow him in his humiliation, with no prospect of an earthly reward thereby, is more than their feeble faith can endure. They turn back crest-fallen, as did the scribe from the rebuke of Jesus. 2SP 306.1

After dismissing the multitude, Jesus and his disciples took ship for the other side of the sea, which was a desert in comparison with the shore that they were leaving; but for this very reason they hoped to find rest from the fatigue of their labors, being removed from the dwellings of men. However, as they were moving off, a number of boats loaded with people followed Jesus, desirous of learning more concerning the doctrine that he taught. 2SP 306.2

The Saviour was wearied from his long and arduous labors, and being now for a time relieved from the claims of the multitude, he stretched himself upon the hard plank of the fishermen's boat and fell asleep. Soon after, the weather, which had been calm and pleasant, changed. The clouds gathered darkly over the sky, and a furious storm, such as frequently visited those parts, burst upon the sea. The sun had set, and the blackness of night settled down upon the water. The angry waves dashed against the ship, threatening every moment to engulf it. First tossed upon the crest of a mountain billow, and then as suddenly plunged into the trough of the sea, the ship was the plaything of the storm. Finally, it was discovered that it had sprung a leak and was fast filling with water. All was now hurry and confusion in the darkness and amid the roaring of the angry waves. The strong and courageous fishermen were skilled in managing their craft; but, experienced as they were to the changing moods of the sea, they knew not what to do in so terrible a gale, and their hearts filled with despair as they perceived that the boat was sinking. 2SP 307.1

They had been so engaged in their efforts to save themselves and keep the ship afloat, that they had forgotten that Jesus was on board. But now, as their courage fails them, and they think themselves lost, they remember that it was he who commanded them to cross the sea. In their agony of fear they turn to him, remembering how he had once saved them in a like peril. They call, “Master! Master!” but the roaring of the tempest drowns their voices, and there is no reply. The waves break over them, and each one threatens them with destruction. 2SP 307.2

Despair seizes them, and they call again; but there is no answer save the shrieking of the angry blast. Has the Master deserted them? Has he walked away upon the foam-capped billows and left them to their fate? They remembered that he had once walked upon the water to come and rescue them from death. Has he now given them up to the fury of the tempest? They search for him distractedly, for they can do no more to save themselves. The storm has so increased that all their efforts to manage the ship are vain; in Jesus is their only hope. Presently a flash of lightning reveals him fast asleep, undisturbed amid the noise and confusion. 2SP 308.1

They rush to him, and bending over his prostrate form, cry out reproachfully, “Master, Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Their hearts are grieved that he should rest so peacefully, while danger and death threaten them, and they have been laboring so hard against the fury of the storm. This despairing cry arouses Jesus from his refreshing sleep. As the disciples rush back to their oars, to make a last effort, Jesus rises to his feet. In his divine majesty he stands in the humble vessel of the fishermen, amid the raging of the tempest, the waves breaking over the bows, and the vivid lightning playing about his calm and fearless countenance. He lifts his hand, so often employed in deeds of mercy, and says to the angry sea, “Peace, be still.” The storm ceases, the heaving billows sink to rest. The clouds roll away, and the stars shine forth; the boat sits motionless upon a quiet sea. Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus rebukes them, saying, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” 2SP 308.2

A sudden hush crept over the disciples. Not a word was spoken; even impulsive Peter did not attempt to express the reverential awe that filled his heart. The boats that had set out to accompany Jesus had been in the same peril with that of the disciples. Fear and finally despair had seized their occupants; but the command of Jesus brought quiet where but a moment before all was tumult. All fear was allayed, for the danger was over. The fury of the storm had driven the boats into close proximity, and all on board beheld the miracle of Jesus. In the hush that followed the stilling of the tempest, they whispered among themselves, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Never was this impressive scene forgotten by those who witnessed it. Never will its wonderful majesty fail to inspire the children of God with reverence and awe. 2SP 309.1

When he was rudely aroused by the terrified fishermen, the Saviour had no fears for himself; his anxiety was for his disciples, who had distrusted him in the time of danger. He reproved their fears, which manifested their unbelief. They should have called upon him at the first appearance of danger, and he would have relieved their anxiety. But in their effort to save themselves they forgot that Jesus was on board. How many, in the trying scenes of life, amid perplexities and danger, fight against the storms of adversity alone, forgetting that there is One who can help them. They trust in their own strength and skill, till, baffled and discouraged, they remember Jesus, and humbly call upon him to save them. Though he sorrowfully reproves their unbelief and self-confidence, he never fails to hear their earnest cry, and give them the help they need. 2SP 309.2

Tossed on the raging billows of the deep, the weary voyager should remember that Jesus was on the sea in a time of like peril; that his voice commanded the terrible storm to cease; that the angry elements obeyed the mandate, and his faithful followers were saved. When the waves break over our sinking bark, and the lightning reveals the foam-capped breakers that threaten us with instant destruction, we may remember in our peril that Jesus is on board. He hears our agonizing cry, and he will never forsake those who put their trust in him. 2SP 310.1

Whether on the land or on the sea, sleeping or waking, if we have the Saviour in our hearts there is no need of fear. The call of faith will always meet with a response. We may be rebuked because we have not sought him at the very beginning of trial, but nevertheless, he will accept our humble petitions, wearied as we are in our efforts to save ourselves. Living faith in the Redeemer will smooth the sea of life, and will deliver us from danger in the way that he knows to be the best. 2SP 310.2