They watched Him get into a boat, and they followed Him. They were fishermen, so they had been getting into boats their entire lives. Just another “boat” day for them, very familiar, very comfortable. They had no idea they would soon be fearing for their lives. Of course they didn’t know. If they had known, they may not have stepped onto that boat at all. They may have decided to stay on the shore, to watch Him from a distance, a safe distance.
“Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake so that the waves swept over the boat.” (Matthew 8:24) I have been in a storm or two in my life, but I’ve never been in a furious storm that hit without warning. There were always signs that a storm was coming…darkening skies, the wind picks up, a little rainfall…signs that something is coming that you may want to watch from a safe distance. The disciples had no such warning. They followed Him into the boat, and then the suddenly of God hit. Suddenly they were in fear for their lives. Keep in mind that these men are fishermen, no doubt accustomed to being on a boat even in stormy weather. So this had to be a storm of some impressive proportions. Big enough to make these rugged, seafaring fishermen run to Jesus, the carpenter…the One taking a nap.
He calmed the storm, the men were amazed, end of story. But it’s in the end of the story that I find a revelation of truth for my life.
These men had been following Jesus, watching His miraculous power to heal (not just once, but many times), and watching the effect He had on literally crowds of people. But it was when He calmed their storm, when He personally touched their lives that they finally asked “Who is this man?”, and learned that He is the One who commands the storm.
Jesus is not content to allow us to stay at a distance. He doesn’t want watchers who have seen Him, He wants followers who know Him. If we are going to know Him as the One who calms the storm, then a storm must come to our lives. If we are to know Him as the One who heals, we will first need to be healed. If we are to know Him as our Provider, we will need to be without provision. Watching Him heal, provide, and calm the storms in other people’s lives isn’t the life of a follower, it is the life of a watcher.