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God’s Word for You

Luke 8:24-25 We’re Drowning

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, March 16, 2018

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Teacher, Teacher, we’re drowning!”

Perhaps with some irony, the word Luke uses for “woke” is diegeiro (διεγείρω), which is also a word used to describe the sea when it “wakes up” and becomes furious with high, rough waves. The disciples woke their Lord, and said “Teacher! Teacher!” Luke’s term is epistata (ἐπιστάτα, ἐπιστάτα), where Matthew remembers it as kyrie, “Lord” (Matthew 8:25). Mark, probably quoting Peter, says didaskale, which is also “Teacher!” (Mark 4:38). Matthew was remembering what they said in the boat. Mark translates the word for his Roman audience. Luke uses the word Theophilus would recognize. Epistate is used in Classical Greek for the special tutor who instructs an advanced student. We might even use the word “professor,” but somehow that sounds weird in the context of Jesus calming the storm.

“We’re drowning!” is a single Greek word which is so immediate that we understand just what their emotions were. The disciples knew that they were lost. They had nowhere else to turn.

He woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; the storm suddenly ended, and all was calm.  25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. They were afraid and amazed, and asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him!”

There is a wonderful painting of this scene hanging in the office of our church secretary. Jesus is standing with his arms extended, still in the act of commanding the sea and wind, and yet the sea is as still as glass, and the clouds are already breaking in the sky.

Jesus’ power over these elements did not simply stop the storm. It broke the bond of the physical universe. For a storm to dissipate naturally, it takes many hours for the waves to subside. Any child who has pulled up the bathtub mat too quickly knows that you just can’t stop the waves from crashing again and again as the water surges, but that’s just what happened here. “All was calm.”

Jesus traded his own “waking up” (diegeiro) to end the sea’s “waking up” (diegeiro). Luke’s irony is beautiful, but almost impossible to express in translation; English simply doesn’t have the same terms.

The Lord’s question, “Where is your faith?” doesn’t deny that they had faith; he simply wonders what they’ve done with it. In an instant, he shamed them and encouraged them. They were cut to the heart, and yet there he was, the one who had done something that they would never forget; the one who had saved them. They were still feeling the waves of fear crashing against them for many long minutes (maybe hours) after the waves of the sea had obediently ceased. And they wondered, “Who is this?”

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this event, and all three of them stop with the question, “Who is this?” They knew, but now they were exposed to what we would call a whole new Jesus. They had glimpsed the true meaning of Almighty. This was the man who could turn to them suddenly and say, “I am God,” and yet, he never had to. He showed them without making any claims, so that they didn’t fear Jesus; they loved him. They were drawn to him. They trusted him to take care of them, no matter what. And so can we.

We will once again turn briefly to Paul’s Letter to the Colossians for the remainder of Lent.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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