We marvel at the disciples for their lack of faith. They had seen miracle after miracle, had experience after experience. They had walked with him and been taught by him as his dearest friends, his closest allies. Yet in one moment of uncertainty they forgot it all. We marvel, but we shouldn’t. If we are honest with ourselves we know we have done the very same thing. As Hughes says, “Fear comes, and all the reasons for trust depart—all our past experience, all the knowledge God has given us.”
The disciples were afraid. Terrified, even. The wind was howling, the waves pounding. Several of them were fishermen by trade and they knew this water, they knew of colleagues who had been swept away and lost in these sudden, vicious squalls. They knew the situation was fast becoming perilous. Yet Jesus slept, resting contentedly at the bottom of the boat. How could he be so callous? Didn’t he know the danger? Didn’t he care?
Finally they could take it no longer. “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Get up! What’s wrong with you! Jesus awoke. Jesus spoke. Jesus rebuked the storm, told it to get lost, to go away. And like an ant before an elephant, that great storm dissipated and retreated. It was beaten, licked, replaced by a dead calm.
Jesus turned to the disciples and asked a question, just four short words: “Where is your faith?” Where, indeed.
The disciples had the right idea, of course. In their troubles they fled to Jesus. In their uncertainty they cried out to their master. But they came to him in fear and doubt, not in faith. Jesus’s words to them were a rebuke, a gentle scolding. Kent Hughes points out the irony: The great storm had not awoken Jesus. No, it took doubting little men to wake him from his rest. Their fear had led them to doubt his goodness, his kindness, his care for them. After all they had seen, all they had witnessed, all they had experienced, how could they be so silly? How could they remain so naive?
The disciples had assumed that their experience of the storm was the same as his experience of the storm.