But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. — Luke 8:23-24
In January of the year 1854, Hudson Taylor was sailing to China to begin his missionary work when the Dumfries, the ship he was on, came into serious trouble. The wind had died down and a strong current was carrying them toward dangerous reefs off the northern shore of Papua, New Guinea. The crew of the vessel did everything they could, but the situation became desperate and it seemed certain the Dumfries would crash onto the deadly rocks.
When the captain relayed this information to the young missionary, Taylor suggested that the four Christians on board go to their cabins and pray that God would send a wind enabling the ship to sail away from the reefs. After just a brief time of prayer in his cabin, Taylor received a settled assurance in his spirit that the wind would come and the ship would be saved. He went back up on deck and suggested to the first officer that the mainsail be let down because a wind would be coming shortly. The officer scoffed at this suggestion of an inexperienced passenger, saying derisively, “I would rather see a wind than hear of it!” As he spoke, he glanced up at the topmost sail . . . and to his astonishment, saw that it was beginning to flutter in the breeze. Within just a few moments, a stiff wind was blowing and the ship’s crew was able to steer the vessel safely out to sea.(1)
Today’s text records how Jesus calmed a fierce storm on the Sea of Galilee by rebuking the wind. In Hudson Taylor’s experience, God created a wind to enable a ship to sail to safety.
Jesus’ disciples no doubt had been in severe storms during their years of fishing on the Sea of Galilee, but they never had seen a storm stilled by a command. The parallel account to our text, found in Matthew 8:27, says that they “marvelled.” No wonder! And it is no wonder the first officer on the Dumfries was astonished when he observed the topsail above him begin to move in the wind. Never before had he seen wind summoned by a simple prayer. The fact is, we serve an amazing God! Both events demonstrate God’s complete and absolute sovereignty over the forces of nature.
In our recognition and awe of the power of God, however, we might overlook a significant detail in these two accounts: in both cases, the divine intervention took place in response to a need and a cry for help.
At times we too may find ourselves in crisis situations where we see no solution. We may wonder where God is or if He really cares. He does! Just as Jesus responded to the disciples and to Hudson Taylor, He will respond when we call on Him. We do not always know how He will undertake but we can be assured that He will. His miracles are clear evidence of not only His ability but also of His willingness. We can trust Him!
This portion of Scripture addresses Jesus calming the storm (verses 22-25), healing the man possessed with devils (verses 26-39), and healing the woman with the issue of blood and Jairus’ daughter (verses 40-56). These miracles are included in all three Synoptic Gospels — Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
The Sea of Galilee was a familiar place for Jesus and His disciples. Jesus lived in Capernaum, which is located on the lake, and sailing on its waters was a common mode of transportation for those in the vicinity. Several of Jesus’ disciples had made their living fishing on the Sea of Galilee. They were all acquainted with the unpredictability of this body of water, and how suddenly a storm could arise without warning.
Although it is referred to as the “Sea of Galilee,” this body of water is actually quite small and more like a lake. It is located 680 feet below sea level and is surrounded by hills that reach as high as 2,000 feet. The sudden storms that arise are a result of the temperature difference between the lake and the mountains — the air in the mountains is often cool and dry, while the climate around the lake is mostly semi-tropical. The difference in height between the mountains and the lake itself causes pressure changes, resulting in strong winds and storms. The lake is also relatively shallow, allowing more turbulence than in deeper water. Small boats caught in the middle of one of these storms are in imminent danger.
When the fierce storm in our text occurred on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus and His disciples were headed to the country of the Gadarenes — the Gentile region surrounding the town of Gadara, which is located on the southern tip of the lake. The parallel account in Matthew 8:28 mentions two men possessed with demons, but Luke chose to focus on one of the men, possibly because he was the one who fell down before Jesus and cried out.
The “tombs” (verse 27) may have referred to either a burial ground or caves, several of which have been discovered in that region. The demons who possessed the man enabled him to have extraordinary strength; he could break chains, and it was impossible to confine him (verse 29). The man said his name was “Legion,” referring to the many demons that possessed him. A legion of Roman soldiers numbered three to six thousand, indicating the severity of the man’s possession.
Since the swine were being herded, this clearly was a Gentile area, as swine were an abomination to the Jews. The destructive nature of the demons was demonstrated in the violent way the swine reacted when the demons entered into them (verse 33).
Verses 40-56 describe two miracles Jesus performed in a single episode. When Jesus returned from the region of the Gadarenes, He was met by a man named Jairus whose young daughter was very ill and at the point of death. Since Jairus was a ruler in one of the synagogues and Jesus often taught in the synagogues, it is possible that they were already familiar with each other. Jesus agreed to go to his home, but the crowd thronged Him, making it difficult to progress toward His destination.
The woman with the issue of blood had been ceremonially unclean for twelve years according to Jewish Law (see Leviticus 15:19) and thus was not permitted to come near people, but she was desperate enough to ignore the Law. Jesus’ question, “Who touched me?” required that the woman acknowledge what had happened. This was not only for her benefit, but also a testimony to the crowd of Jesus’ healing power.
Verses 49-56 continue the account of Jairus and his daughter. As a result of the delay and thronging crowd, Jairus’ daughter had passed away before Jesus could get there. When Jesus inferred that the young girl was not dead but only sleeping, the people scorned Him. However, Jesus demonstrated His power and divinity when He raised the girl from the dead, providing a witness to both her parents and the scorners.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The ministry of the Son of Man
C. The climax of the ministry of the Son of Man
3. The authentication of the Son of Man
f. The stilling of the storm (8:22-25)
g. The healing of the demoniac (8:26-39)
(1) The setting (8:26-27)
(2) The miracle (8:28-32)
(3) The result (8:33-39)
h. The healing of Jairus’ daughter (8:40-56)
(1) The request of Jairus (8:40-42)
(2) The patient faith of Jairus (8:43-48)
(3) The reward of Jairus (8:49-56)
When the storms of life come our way, we can rest assured that the Master of the wind and waves will bring us through when we cry out to Him!
1 Vance Christie, Timeless Stories: God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians, pgs.66-67.