He Said to the Wind,

by Spiros Zodhiates

(Dr. Zodhiates continues his exegesis of the Gospel of Matthew.)

[Verse 8:23] We don't know if the two who offered excuses for not immediately following the Lord (cf. vv. 19-21) were among the "disciples [who] followed him" (v. 23) onto the ship. In verse 18, we read that when Jesus saw the multitudes gathered, He "gave commandment to depart unto the other side."

[24] The disciples who did enter the ship with Him soon found themselves in a precarious situation:

"And, behold, there arose a great storm [seisms {4578}, shaking] in the sea, so that the ship was covered with the waves: but He was sleeping [ektheuden, the imperfect tense of kathedo  {2518}, to sleep; from kat {2596}, an intensive; and hedo  {n.f.}, to sleep, metaphorically to rest, be still; used of the mind or heart, to be at ease or content] (a.t.).

We derive our English words "seismic" and "seismology," the study of earthquakes, from seisms a word used in the New Testament to describe upheavals on earth (Matt. 24:7; 27:54; 28:2; Acts 16:26; Rev. 6:12; 8:5; 11:13; 16:18) and in heaven (Heb. 12:26; Rev. 11:19). This is the first time the word seisms is used in the New Testament. In Matthew 24:7 Jesus predicted that earthquakes would increase randomly-"in divers [kat, according to] places"-prior to His return in glory. Earthquakes accompanied the giving of the Mosaic Law at Sinai (Ex. 19:18), the death (Matt. 27:54) and resurrection (Matt. 28:2) of our Lord, and the freeing of Paul and Silas from jail (Acts 16:26). They will accompany other judgments at the end of the age (Zech. 14:5; Rev. 16:18).

This shaking occurred either under the sea or in the sea, and huge waves pounded and overflowed the boat until it was in danger of sinking. It is interesting that the disciples were following Him when this happened. Obedience to Christ does not guarantee freedom from trouble or danger, but it does give us opportunities to trust Him in the storm.

Jesus' reaction to all this is amazing. He was enjoying a sound sleep, totally oblivious to the violent storm around him.

[25] Not so the disciples at this point, who were alert but panic-stricken:

"And his disciples came to [from prosérchomai {4334}, from prs {4314}, towards; and érchomai {2064}, to come] him and awoke [from egero  {1453}, to raise] him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish [from apllumi {622}]."

A violent storm often causes people to think God has abandoned them. The disciples' cry reflected that terror. The verb apllumi, to perish, which is often juxtaposed with so zo  (4982), to save, defines both physical (Matt. 8:25; 14:30; 16:25; 27:40, 42, 49, etc.) and spiritual death (Matt. 1:21; Acts 2:40; Rom. 5:9, etc.). Although they were bewildered and terrified, the disciples-with the exception of Judas-were in danger only of losing their physical lives. But they could be confident of their eternal destinies in the midst of this violent storm.

[26] Jesus' response to their fears was a powerful rebuke to their two enemies.

"And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful [from deils {1169}, either the adjective "cowardly" or the noun "coward"], O ye of little faith [from oligpistos {3640} from olgos {3641}, small; and pists {4102}, belief, faith]? Then he arose, and rebuked [from epitimo  {2008}] the winds and the sea; and there was a great [from mégas {3173}] calm [gale ne  {1055}, tranquil, serene state]."

These are not very flattering terms. "Cowards" will be the first group thrown into the lake of fire at the end of the millennial age (Rev. 21:8). Moreover, Jesus asked His disciples, "Why are you cowards, little-faith[ed]?" (a.t.). He implied that they had no legitimate excuse for cowardice and lack of faith when they were with the Master, in spite of the storm and His inactivity.

The adjective deils occurs only in Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:40, and Revelation 21:8. In the latter reference, the "fearful" are cast into the lake of fire and brimstone along with the unbelieving, abominable, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars. These persons have such hard hearts that they are named by their dominant, habitual sins. They are not guilty of single instances of these offenses; rather, the offenses have consumed their souls.

"Little faith" does not mean no faith. Later, Jesus said that it takes only a grain of mustard seed of faith to move mountains (Matt. 17:20). However, faith is not something we can muster up on our own. It not only is a gift of God (Gal. 5:22; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 1:29), but it is cultivated by the "husbandman" (geo rgs [1092], farmer; here, the Father; John 15:1) who prunes His choice vines. Since timidity is contrary to faith, we should repent of this with all the power God has given us. Paul told us, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear [from deila {1167}]; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).

Although Jesus called the disciples fearful here, He graciously did something to create courage and faith in their hearts. He rebuked the winds and the sea, possibly addressing the angels that stirred them up (Rev. 7:1), much like He addressed Satan while looking at Peter. The Lord showed that He was God, the creator and sustainer of the universe (Col. 1:16. 17), the power over chaos and the restorer of peace.

[27] The disciples' response? Amazement!

"But the men marveled [from thaumzo  {2296}, to admire, to wonder at a thama {2295}, a marvel, wonder, miracle], "saying, What kind [potaps {4217}, what kind, what sort of; Mark 4:41 and Luke 8:25 both substitute the equivalent ts {5101}] is this that even the winds and sea obey [from hupakoo  {5219}] Him? (a.t.)

The Greek text shows that the question is much broader than the English versions indicate. None of the three Synoptic Gospels has the words "of man." The disciples were not asking the restricted question, "What manner of man is this?" but rather and more universally, "What kind of being is this? What are we dealing with here?" In their astonishment, they did not know whether they were in the presence of a Spirit-filled man, an angel, or a God. It did not make sense to them that a man could command the wind and sea. Surely, this was the domain of the sovereign God! What kind of being [cf. monogene s {3439} in John 3:16] is this?

Jesus Christ's sovereign command produced obedience, as it always does. This was the decree of God, a command of reality, and not some ethical advisory that the sea and wind could potentially reject.

Dr. Zodhiates is president emeritus of AMG International and publisher emeritus of Pulpit Helps.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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