The Lake of Tiberias in Galilee is subject to sudden fierce and unpredictable storms. My mother experienced this once when she was on a pilgrimage tour and they went on a boat trip. A sudden storm blew up. It caused a huge amount of damage in the towns on the edge of the lake. A boat journey that should have taken half an hour took 2 – 3 hours. It was scary, but my mother was fearless. She found it very exciting. It was one of the highlights of the pilgrimage for her, as she felt that she had experienced what the disciples had been through.
Jesus and his disciples took much the same journey. Jesus was tired and fell asleep in the boat. Even the storm didn’t wake him, when it came upon them, the little sail boat tossed about by the wind, and the waves splashing into the boat and weighing it down with water. They were in great danger of drowning in the waters.
For some people, this is a reality. There was an account on Radio 4 this week of a Christian Iranian family trying to reach the UK. They made several attempts to arrive here, including trying to cross the English channel in a dinghy. There was no storm, but it was so cold they suffered from hypothermia, and on the second attempt they came too close to a large ferry. They eventually made it in the back of a lorry.
And sometimes life feels like we are tossed about in a small boat in a stormy sea. Sometimes life feels that dangerous. It is a metaphor of how difficult life can be.
The disciples were panicking. Some of them are fishermen, experienced in sailing on these waters, experts in handling the fishing boats that made a living on the lake. But even they were struggling.
Sometimes we find ourselves out of our depth, having to handle challenges that are beyond us. It makes us anxious, worried, depressed. We can’t see any way forward; there is no solution in sight to all our problems.
In the end, the disciples go and shake Jesus to wake him up, calling out to him, “we are perishing!” Jesus wakes up. Luke the Evangelist tells us that Jesus “rebuked the wind and the raging waves” – it’s as if he is telling them off, as if they have consciousness.
And then he turns to the disciples and tells them off. “Where is your faith?” he asks.
When we are in trouble, Jesus asks us to keep faith. Sometimes taking one small step can start to resolve all the problems. Sometimes, we need to change the way we see things, and then the way forward becomes clearer. But keep faith. Trust in Jesus. Ask him to help you. There is no need to panic, no need to be anxious. Only Trust.
The disciples are amazed that Jesus has power over the winds and water. They are slowly coming to realise how extraordinary Jesus is.
This story opens a window for us to see Jesus more clearly, as the Son of God, present at Creation and with power over nature. It also shows us Jesus who cares about us when we are in trouble and will help us get through our difficulties. And it shows us Jesus who calls on us to have faith in him and keep faithful.