There’s a great storm raging, the waves are battering against the boat and it is being tossed about like a toy by the wind. The sailors are struggling against the storm. Several of them are seasoned sailors who know these waters well but there’s something different about this storm that fills them with dread.
Meanwhile despite the storm, there is one man undisturbed by it. He’s sleeping safe and sound. Jonah has been on the run from God and is trying to get as far away from Nineveh where Yahweh has sent him. The sailors in panic wake him up. “You’ve got to help” they cry out “we need saving.”
When Jesus settles down to sleep through the storm on Galilee, there’s a sense in which we are meant to see echoes of Jonah’s story. Like the prophet of long ago, Jesus has been given a mission and a message. Like Jonah, he is crossing the sea as a passenger, he is sleeping and he is rudely woken up by fearful men seeking help, seeking salvation.
Of course, the parallels stop there on this occasion. Jesus is not on the run from his God and his mission but obediently pursuing it. The storm is not to discipline or punish him and he does not ask to be thrown overboard. Instead he can calm the storm with a word because he is Lord over the sea and the elements.
Jesus will however, like Jonah go down to the depths, to the grave, not here on Galilee but at Calvary. Jonah’s time in the fish points us to the death and resurrection of Jesus. He is the one who is able to save through that death and resurrection. He is the one who can bring peace.
The events on Galilee are a sign pointing to Christ’s power. He will be obeyed not just by sickness and by demons but by Creation itself. Jesus is the Lord of Space and Time and his creation must answer to him and obey. Just as God with a word brought the universe into existence and form out of nothing, so too, now by a word he can command this creation and bring peace and order out of chaos.
Just as Jesus is the one who can calm physical storms on Galilee, so too is he the one who can bring peace to our storm-tossed lives. If you are struggling with fear and anxiety. He is the one that you must turn to.