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both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, makest me to dwell in safety.'
As they were sailing, and when the darkness of the night must have been come on, “there came down a storm of wind on the lake;" a sudden and most violent tempest arose, so that “ they were filled (that is, their ship was filled) with water". “the waves beat into the ship,” and they in jeopardy,” in the utmost danger of perishing. Though the disciples had put to sea at the divine command, yet they were overtaken by a storm. We learn from this, that, though to those who follow the path of duty, there is a promise that all things will, in some way, work together for their good, there is no promise of absolute exemption from trouble. If we desire, therefore, faithfully to follow Christ, let us not deceive ourselves by expecting what he has never promised. He and his immediate disciples were exposed to a storm, and we are not to look for a constant calm. It is even said that “many are the afflictions of the righteous," and that they “ must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
During this tremendous storm, Jesus, as already noticed, was asleep; he was, according to Mark, “in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow.” This appeared very strange to the disciples, and it also added much to their terror, for they evidently thought that he could not be aware of their situation. They came to him," therefore, "and awoke him.”. According to Mark, they said to him (for various expressions seem to have been used by them), • Master, carest thou not that we perish?” There was, surely, in this, an expression of suspicion of his care and kindness, which, however the trying situation in which they were placed might in some measure palliate, it could not justify. And so it is, frequently, that even his own people, in the perturbation of trouble, entertain, and perhaps express, suspicious thoughts of him, for which they ought to be deeply humbled, and against the recurrence of which they ought to be much on their guard.
According to Luke, the disciples exclaimed, as they awoke Christ, “ Master, Master, we perish!” This was an exclamation of extreme terror. According to Matthew, their procedure drew from our Lord this kind, though sharp rehuke, before he wrought the miracle, “ Why are ye fearful ? 0 ye
of little faith!” Though the following illustration of this passage must have been often given, it is too appro
priate to be omitted. Cæsar, being at sea in a dreadful storm, maintained the most perfect tranquillity himself, while those around him were in dismay. When the pilot's, or rather master's, courage at last forsook him, and he was giving up all for lost, Cæsar addressed him, magnanimously, to this effect: " Why are you afraid? Remember that ye carry Cæsar, and the fortune of Cæsar.” Why are ye fear ful?” said Jesus to his disciples. Had they known and considered all, they would have felt secure; for they carried a far greater person than Cæsar, and a far greater fortune than Cæsar's, if on a subject so divine, we may apply a word so heathenish. They carried “the Prince of the kings of the earth, and the everlasting destiny of men. Jesus had much more to do and suffer, before he was to die; and, bearing him forward to what lay before him, they were, in the meantime at least, perfectly safe. Our Lord here also exposes the true cause of their fear-it was that they had so little faith: for, if they had had all the confidence in his grace and power which they ought to have had, considering what they had already witnessed, they would not now have been thrown into this perturbation. So, all the fears of God's people either arise from want of faith, or are aggravated by it. It becomes them, not only to beware of rash complaints, but to look to him to keep them from unbelief, and to enable them to be of good courage.
Much unnecessary alarm, and much unbelief, as the disciples manifested on this occasion, they nevertheless also manifested some true piety, and even genuine faith; for, you will find from Matthew, that they betook themselves to Christ in earnest prayer, saying, “Lord, save us; we perish.” It has been sometimes said, that if there be earnest prayer anywhere, it is at sea, and especially during a storm; and there can be no doubt that there is then something peculiarly calculated to draw forth the soul in sincere supplication for safety. It is very necessary, however, not to confound the prayer which is the mere cry of nature, with the prayer of genuine, habitual piety, and of faith.' The desire of self-preservation, which has been called the first law of our nature, must not be mistaken for the holy and confidential turning of the soul to God in the time of trouble. Threatening external circumstances are often found to extort passionate supplications for deliverance from those who are altogether in a state of unbelief and impenitence. The cry of nature may, in such circumstances, be followed by deliverance from drowning, or it may not; but it cannot be followed by any spiritual or eternal blessing : whereas, the prayer of faith has the promise of literal deliverance, if it be for God's glory and his people's real good; and, at all events, whatever befall their bodies, it will be followed by the endless salvation of their souls. The
up at this time, was the prayer, though of weak, yet of truly pious persons, of real disciples, and it was the prayer, though of little, yet of some faith. They plainly turned to the true source of safety at this time; they looked only to the Lord; and they seem to have, at last, looked to him with the expectation of deliverance.
How excellent, though brief, a model of prayer do these words furnish to us, when we think of our naturally perishing and helpless state because of sin! Let us go to the Saviour, sensible that such is our state, and fully convinced of his ability and willingness to help us; let us renounce every
other ground of hope, and let us cast ourselves on his mercy, saying, Lord, save us, else we perish.
No sooner had the disciples made this prayerful application to our Lord, than he interposed for their deliverance. “ Then he arose," that is, he arose from the pillow on which he had been sleeping, “and rebuked the wind, and the raging of the water." Mark records the words he employed. “ He said unto the sea, Peace, be still.” He spoke, probably, to show that the coming calm was of his making: and, the words being accompanied with divine power, the wind and the raging of the water “ceased, and there was a calm;" or, as the other two evangelists express it, “
a great calm.” The miracle was instantaneous and complete: the wind not only ceased, but the waves, instead of continuing, as usual, to be agitated for some time after, and only gradually subsiding, settled immediately; and the surface of the sea became perfectly smooth in a moment. to consider Luke's account as giving all the circumstances he mentions in the exact order of time, then our Lord adverted again, and after the miracle, to the weakness of faith the disciples had discovered; and, surely, the scene they had now witnessed must have re-established their faith. Having, however, noticed this point already, we need not now enlarge on it further.
No wonder that this miracle made a very powerful impression on the disciples. Luke tells us that they were “afraid," and Mark, that “ they feared exceedingly.” This
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must have been a very different kind of fear, however, from what agitated them, when they thought themselves in danger of perishing in the waters: it must have been a reverential fear, a holy awe, suitable to a deliverance at once so gracious and so astonishing. And this is the fear that becomes all who, by pardoning mercy, are delivered from the danger of perishing eternally:—this is the fear of which the Psalmist speaks, when he says that “there is forgiveness with God, that he may be feared,” and the prophet Hosea, when he says that “they shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter day.”
Luke also adds that the disciples “ wondered;" they were amazed at what they had witnessed, “ saying one to another, What manner of man is this? for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.” And well might they thus exclaim, for, it is difficult to conceive any thing more marvellous. But let us now, as their exclamation suggests, consider what manner of man, or rather
person (for there is no word for man in the original), this miracle proved Jesus Christ to be.
1. This miracle proved Jesus to be both God and man, and therefore able to save us from our sins. His humanity was essential to his mediatorial character, more especially, to his being capable of suffering and dying for us: and that he was indeed a man, appeared, as from many other circumstances, so particularly from his being subject to fatigue, and requiring rest—in a word, from his sleeping. But that he was more than man, and more than a prophet—that he was the Messiah, nay, the true God, was proved by the wonderful manner in which he acted on this occasion. The prophets and apostles were careful to disclaim the honour of the miracles they performed; and their miracles were so ordered as to lead the beholder to think of a far higher power than theirs. In dividing the sea, and in the other miracles of Moses, the Lord directed him how to proceed, and bade him take the rod in his hand, so that it was evident he was merely an instrument. The apostles speak of their miracles being done in the name of Christ, and by Christ. Thus, Peter said to the lame
" In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up, and walk;” and to Æneas, “ Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” But, as to Christ's own miracles, he left those who beheld them to conclude that they were his own, in the highest sense. There
* Τις ούτος.
is, indeed, mention of the operation of the Father; but it is in a way which exalts the glory of the Son, as working in the same way.
Thus, we read, in John v. 17: “ Jesus answered, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sab but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”
But, while all Christ's miracles thus proved him to be God as well as man, the miracle before us was more than commonly striking proof of this, as it is declared to be the peculiar prerogative of God to rule the sea and the winds. “ O Lord God of hosts,” says the Psalmist,“ who is a strong God like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.”—“He walketh upon the wings of the wind." “ He commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves:” and “ he maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” God only can rule the sea, and it is altogether vain for any creature to pretend to it. The well-known anecdote of Canute, king of England, has very deservedly obtained a place in history. Some of his flatterers, having exclaimed that every thing was possible to him, he ordered his chair to be placed on the seashore, while the tide was rising, and sat down. As the waters approached, he commanded them to retire, and to obey the voice of him who was lord of the ocean. But, when the sea still advanced towards him, and began to wet him with its billows, he turned to his courtiers, and said to them that every creature in the universe was feeble and impotent, and that power resided in one Being alone, in whose hands were all the elements of nature, and who could say to the ocean,
“ Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther." But the sea did obey the command of the Redeemer; and it is hence for us to acknowledge him as Lord of all. When, on a somewhat similar occasion, * Christ walked on the sea, and calmed its raging billows, the disciples did well when they “ worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God." So let us acknowledge him, and praise him, and trust in him. He is indeed "mighty to save.” As the Psalmist directs, + let us take him who is “the confidence of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon
the sea" “ who stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people"-let us take this glorious * Matt. xiv. 33.
+ Ps. lxv. 5.