The text before us consists of two pictures which reveal the Lord’s authority over two very different entities. The first picture was revealed to the disciples; the second was revealed to both the disciples and the keepers of the swine. These two pictures, coupled with all that precedes it, steers the reader of Matthew’s gospel to conclude that Jesus is the Christ, the Promised One. All that which is recorded in scripture has been placed there such that God’s will may come to be.
Consider the first picture. “And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves” (v. 24). The word “tempest” is the translation of the Greek word seismos which is translated as “earthquake” in other New Testament scripture. In the instance before us, the sea was disturbed greatly by natural forces as the ground is disturbed by natural forces during earthquakes. In this instance, the natural force that disturbed the waters of the Sea of Galilee would have been the wind. Sudden, violent storms have been recorded in modern times. The fact that Jesus rebuked the wind and the sea in the manner in which He did is revealing. He displayed His authority over the winds and the waves because God the Father wanted this authority which He gave to the Son to be known by them who followed Him. God the Father does not desire that men should be uncertain concerning His Son. The Lord reveals His power and authority such that believers might declare the truth with confidence. It is with boldness that believers are to proclaim that He is “. . . long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9).
In verse 26, Jesus mildly rebukes His disciples with the question: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” The answer to the question is blared out in its phrasing. The disciples were fearful because they possessed little faith.
In verse 25, the disciples awoke the Lord pleading: “Lord save us: we perish.” The disciples called out to Jesus in desperation. They awoke the Lord expecting Him to do something. The something that they expected was not the something which they expected. The Lord rebuked the winds and the sea and there was great calm. They marveled because the winds and the waves obeyed Him.
The scripture does not record the action that the disciples expected Jesus to take. The text before us reveals what God wants us to know. God the Father wants us to know that we are saved, not by what we may do, but, by what the Son has done. We, like the disciples, have cause to marvel because He has paid the price for our iniquities in full. We did nothing other than call upon Him believing that He could save us. He has quieted the waters; He has given us peace with the Father.
The second picture revealing the Lord’s authority (v. 28-34) was witnessed first hand by the disciples and by the keepers of the herd of swine. Both audiences saw two demoniacs rush from a burial area with the intent that “no man might pass that way.” The keepers of the swine would have likely witnessed the demoniacs wildly approach would-be passers-bye on previous occasions. What they saw this time was different. Looking from afar, the keepers noted the interaction between Jesus and the demoniacs. They saw the wild behavior of the two suddenly quiet and the entire herd of swine plunge into the sea and drown. The keepers did not hear the words which came from the lips of the possessed.
The disciples heard the demons ask: “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (v. 29). The disciples heard the request of the devils that they be allowed to enter into the herd of swine. And, the disciples heard Jesus say, “Go.”
The disciples witnessed the acknowledgement by the devils of Jesus’ authority over them. The disciples saw more than a herd of swine plunge into the sea and perish. The disciples witnessed that which God wanted them to witness. God wanted them to know that His Son possesses power over the demonic realm.
It is God’s desire that those who follow His Son should declare the truth to unbelievers with confidence. The Father wants us to know that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His truth. Believers are empowered by the Son who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).
Let us declare the Son in all that we do.