“Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.”
The storm broke “Without warning” and “they were in great danger” but “Jesus was sleeping”. Most of life’s difficulties and problems often come without warning, and God allows these to come upon us to test our faith in Him – “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” . During these periods of our life it often seems as if God is not aware of our trials, it seems as if He is asleep, but He is the God of all knowledge and knows and feels what we are experiencing, and has the power to deliver us from danger and trial. The disciples were now aware that Jesus not only had power over sickness and diseases but also over the power of nature itself – “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” .
“When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake.”
Jesus had dismissed the crowd of people after He had fed them on the mountainside, and had gone up on the mountain to pray to His heavenly Father; Matthew indicates that it was “during the fourth watch of the night” . The Romans divided the night hours into four watches: (1) 6:00-9:00 PM, (2) 9:00 PM–midnight, (3) midnight-3:00 AM, (4) 3:00-6:00 AM: the Jews had only three watches (1) sunset-10:00 PM, (2) 10:00 PM-2:00 AM, (3) 2:00 AM-sunrise [NIV Study Bible] – so this incident took place during the hours of 3:00-6:00 AM, which indicated that the disciples were on the storm-tossed sea for approximately ten hours rowing against a sudden storm “buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it”
“He saw the disciples straining at the oars” – although the boat was in the middle of the lake, Jesus was able to see the dangerous situation that faced the disciples , John states that they had “rowed three or three and a half miles”; the lesson, for the disciples then, and for us today, is that we can never get out of God’s sight and no matter how difficult and lonely the road of life may be, God is watching and is aware of our difficulties and will come to our rescue – “It is I; don’t be afraid” “Take courage…”.
In times of trial and distress we sometimes fail to recognize the presence and work of God in our lives, and like Peter we say “Lord, if it is you” why am I being overwhelmed by the trial that I am going through, like Peter we need to cry “Lord, save me!”. The end result for the disciples was that they saw Jesus’ power over the elements of nature as He stilled the storm, and for us today Jesus can calm the storms of life that cause us to fear and we too can join in the worship that ensued “Truly you are the Son of God” as we recognize the hand of God in our trials and sufferings.