Jesus has had a long, tiring day. When evening comes, he says to the disciples: “Let us cross to the other shore,” which is across from the area of Capernaum.
Over on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee is the region of the Gerasenes. This area is also known as the Decapolis. The cities of the Decapolis are a center of Greek culture, though many Jews live there too.
Jesus’ departure from Capernaum does not go unnoticed. There are other boats that at least start to cross the sea. (Mark 4:36) Actually, it is not that far across. The Sea of Galilee is like a large freshwater lake, being about 13 miles (21 km) long and having a maximum width of about 7 miles (12 km). But it is not shallow.
Though Jesus is a perfect man, he is understandably tired from his active ministry. So after they set sail, he lies down in the back of the boat, puts his head on a pillow, and falls asleep.
Several of the apostles are well-qualified to sail the boat, but this is not going to be an easy trip. There are surrounding mountains, and the surface of the Sea of Galilee is often quite warm. At times, colder air in the mountains rushes down and meets the warm surface water, creating sudden, violent windstorms on the sea. This is what now occurs. Soon the waves are dashing against the boat. It begins “to fill up with water and to be in danger.” (Luke 8:23) Still, Jesus remains asleep!
The seamen work frantically to steer the boat, drawing on their past experience at maneuvering through storms. But this time is different. Fearing for their lives, they wake Jesus up and exclaim: “Lord, save us, we are about to perish!” (Matthew 8:25) The disciples are now afraid that they are going to drown!
When Jesus wakes up, he says to the apostles: “Why are you so afraid, you with little faith?” (Matthew 8:26) Then Jesus commands the wind and the sea: “Hush! Be quiet!” (Mark 4:39) The raging wind stops and the sea becomes calm. (Mark and Luke tell of this impressive episode, first emphasizing that Jesus miraculously calms the storm, and then they mention the disciples’ lack of faith.)
Imagine the effect this has on the disciples! They have just seen the sea go from a raging storm to complete calm. An unusual fear grips them. They say to one another: “Who really is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him.” And they come to the other side of the sea safely. (Mark 4:41–5:1) Perhaps the other boats that put to sea have been able to return to the western shore.
How reassuring it is to know that God’s Son has power over the elements! When his full attention is directed toward our earth during his Kingdom rule, all people will dwell in security, for there will be no terrifying natural calamities!