Christ on the Sea of GalileePainting by Eugène Delacroix
On Sundays I let an ancient writer or thinker of the Christian movement explain something about a passage of scripture. Today I called upon Peter Chrysologus ("Peter of the Golden Words") to give us his thoughts on one of the passages I used in my post about faith last Thursday.
So Jesus climbed into the boat and his disciples followed him. But then a mighty gale developed on the sea, and the boat was being swamped by the waves. Jesus himself, though, was sleeping. Finally they approached him and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We are about to be killed!”
“Why are you so cowardly, you 'little-faiths'?” Jesus said. Then, now fully awake, he reproached the gusty wind and the sea and there was a mighty stillness.
They were stunned.
“What kind of a man is this," they asked, "so that even wind and sea do his bidding?”
Gospel of Matthew 8.23-27 (my own translation)
Why did Christ himself, who knows all the future, seem so unaware of the present that he gave no thought to the onrushing storm, the moment of its height and the time of its peril? While all the rest were awake, he alone was fast asleep even with utter doom threatening both himself and his dear ones. Why?
It is not a calm sky, beloved, but the storm which tests a pilot’s skill. When the breeze is mild even the poorest sailor can manage the ship. But in the crosswinds of a tempest, we want the best pilot with all his skill.
The disciples’ efforts as seamen had failed, as they could see. The seas attempted to spend their fury against them, and the waves were ready to swallow them. The twisting winds had conspired against them. So they ran in fear to the very Pilot of the world, the Ruler of the universe, the Master of the elements. They begged him to check the billows, banish the danger, save them in their despair.
Peter Chrysologus (c. AD 380–450)