Does the calming of the sea point to the deity of Christ?

by Luke Wayne
10/3/16

There is an account given in Mark 4:35-41, Matthew 8:23-27, Luke 8:22-25 of Jesus and His disciples traveling by boat across the Sea of Galilee. A violent storm breaks out, and Jesus answers the disciples' cry for help and calms the sea by His own command. This story is, in fact, rooted in Old Testament revelation and testifies powerfully to the deity of Christ.

"On that day, when evening came, He said to them, 'Let us go over to the other side.' Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?' And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?' They became very much afraid and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?'" (Mark 4:35-41).

The disciples recognized that this episode said something extraordinary about Jesus. There is no doubt that they already believed that Jesus was a prophet (Luke 7:16), and they had already spoken to one another about Him as the Messiah (John 1:41). This incident, however, terrified them. In the midst of the storm, they cried out for help, and Jesus commanded the storm to stop. The wind and the waves obeyed Him. The sea and the air submitted to Jesus' own authority. "Who then is this?" they asked. Jesus had cast out demons, healed the sick, and raised the dead, and all of that fit with their idea that Jesus was a prophet and even the Messiah. This, however, said something more to them. This demonstrated that Jesus was someone greater than even one of the great miracle-working prophets of old or the promised Son of David whose coming would correspond with the blind gaining their sight and the lame rising up and walking. They expected great miracles, but this incident said something even more, and the possibility struck them with fear. Psalm 107 tells who it is that sailors call out to in the violent storm and who calms the storm and brings them safely to shore. The Parallels are striking:

"Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, Which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, And were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people, And praise Him at the seat of the elders," (Psalm 107:23-32).

The disciples went down to the sea in a ship and were caught in a deadly storm. They cried out to Jesus. Jesus commanded the waves to be calm and brought them safely to their desired haven. It's no wonder the implications terrified them! Note that the disciples (and the gospel writers) did not think of Jesus as merely a spokesman for God in this situation. They ask, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" They recognized that the wind and waves had obeyed Jesus Himself. Jesus was not crying out an implied "thus saith the Lord." Jesus commanded the storm on His own authority. The biblical implications of this were clear, powerful, and terrifying. The man in the boat with them just did what the Scriptures attribute only to Jehovah God, and in precisely the way they say Jehovah God will do it. In the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament used by the early churches and often quoted by the New Testament writers, Psalm 107:29 even explicitly says, "He ordered the tempest, and it subsided to a breeze, and its waves became silent." Psalm 107 paints a picture precisely like the one painted by the gospel writers, and the parallels make it clear: Jesus is not just a prophet or even a merely human Messiah. Jesus was and is Jehovah God who took on human flesh and dwelt among His people without ceasing to be God.