Monday, January 04, 2010

A Great Calm

Matthew 8:26
(26)  And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

(26) καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Τί δειλοί ἐστε, ὀλιγόπιστοι; τότε ἐγερθεὶς ἐπετίμησεν τοῖς ἀνέμοις καὶ τῇ θαλάσσῃ, καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη.

The phrase at the end of this verse struck me as I read through this today.  The word μεγάλη is where we get the prefix mega- from.  We use that all the time to describe the largeness or greatness of something.  For example, a megaphone makes voices (φωνη) loud.

It struck me as a bit odd to see that word modify γαλήνη.  Normally we don't think of calm or stillness as being "great."  It just kind of is there.  We think of waves or storms as being big.  We think of sounds being big.  However, outside of poetry we would generally not speak of a "great silence" or a "great stillness."

However, this comes in contrast to the storm that they dealt with that we meet in verse 24 (σεισμὸς μέγας).  It was indeed great.  I've had two experiences with storms while sailing and that was only on our little local lake and, frankly, it wasn't anything like what was described here.  I can remember windy days in the Tampa Bay area where there were whitecaps on the bay.  That was pretty crazy.  I can also remember a time we stayed at the Outer Banks and it was so stormy that the surf came all the way up to the sand dunes.

Now go from that to a glassy calm on the lake.  I wonder if the water even really settled. Normally after a disturbance the water sort of evens itself out slowly.  My take on this passage is that the lake went from being so choppy that these experienced fishermen were terrified to complete glass.

What does this tell us?  I don't think that this is recorded to tell us that Jesus can handle the storms in our lives, though that is true.  I think that this passage shows us the power of God as sovereign over nature.  It shows us that our days are numbered by God, not by anyone else.  When a storm comes in God certainly could rebuke it with a word.  Sometimes He diverts storms and sometimes He doesn't.  What this passage shows me is that He can do whatever He wants with nature.

This is pretty terrifying (read on through the chapter to see how folks reacted to Jesus displaying His power in casting out demons).  The good news is that we can have fellowship with God because of the atoning death of Jesus on cross.  My prayer is that you would know Him.

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