Knowing the setting of Jesus' miracles, His actions, the disciples remarks and His responses enhance our appreciation for His wonders. Think about the stilling of the storm, found in Mark 4:35-41.
Consider the Sea of Galilee.
- The oversize lake is pear-shaped.
- It is about 14 miles long by 7 miles wide (widest point).
- Experts differ on its depth, some saying 150 feet; others say 200 feet. If Galilee is a 'Sea', it is very shallow, making large, violent waves feasible.
- Elevations are strongly contrasted. Mountains to the east are 2000 feet above sea level. Lake Kinneret (L. Gennersaret, L. Tiberas, Sea of Galilee) is 686 feet below sea level.
- Air masses are strongly contrasted. The mountains host cool, dry air. The Sea of Galilee is semi-tropical (warm, humid).
- The Galilean Sea is surrounded by smaller mountains, forming a channel for air movement.
When air masses move, mountains funel fast winds onto a shallow, low lake, forming violent waves.
Consider the boat.
- The size is unknown. In 1986, a boat was found on the Sea of Galilee. It dated back to our Lord's time period. Considered similar to first century fishing boats, it is 27 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, and slightly deeper than 4 feet. It has positions for four to row.
- The actual boat held at least 13 people (12 disciples + Jesus).
- It had a pillow in it.
- It was big enough for one person to lay down.
- Its sides could not keep violent waves out.
With this information, let's ask questions.
- Is it reasonable to believe a storm can catch veteran boaters unexpectedly? Yes. Recently I heard of a passenger ship on the Mediterranean Sea being swamped. The sophisticated equipment used by experienced seamen can not avert trouble.
- Is it reasonable to believe sailors would be afraid during a storm? Read the reports of the Titanic, or the Edmond Fitzgerald. Experienced sailors know if the weather is too dangerous.
- Could Jesus sleep through a storm? I have two ideas. Consider how tired He was. School teachers know the feeling of 'brain-dead'. Jesus had taught throughout the day. He could be tired sufficiently to sleep through a storm. The second idea is knew the future. He knew the storm would not kill him or the disciples. Did he know in advance the storm could give him a 'teaching moment'? I think he did. This knowledge would remove His fear or apprehension.
The disciples react differently. Are you surprised? Were they worried, or in panic-mode? How would you act if you were in a heavily loaded boat on a pitch-black, windy night with lake waves crashing in faster than you are dipping the water out? Me? Definitely beyond feverish prayer but not passed out. No wonder they asked Jesus, "Don't you care we are dying?"
It is the impending doom that unmasks their condition -- near faithless. Jesus' question literally translated might read, "not yet you possess a conviction or faith?" Fear showed their faith was dinky. It was as if they had no trust, as if Jesus could not protect them.
Suppose a doctor walked into your exam room. He said, "You have cancer." What would you learn about your faith?
The police and a preacher show up at your door. Will your faith be meager or sufficient?
Your mate comes to you and says, "I don't love you any more." will you trust God, or blame Him?