Were They Really in Great Danger?

The situation:  Jesus and his disciples are in a boat, sailing across a lake, and a storm comes up.  The disciples are afraid of drowning, so they wake Jesus.  Jesus calms the storm, and they cross safely.

As I was reading this, I was reminded again of the teaching I’ve received previously about this passage.  Perhaps you’ve heard the same:  The reason Jesus questioned the disciples about their faith is that he had previously declared that they were going to go over to the other side of the lake.  Since Jesus said this is where they were going, he expected them to believe that they would get there.  A storm that comes up before arriving at the destination Jesus had indicated is not really a problem because Jesus said they were going across.

Having faith in this case means believing that Jesus will do what he said he would do.

The main thing that stood out to me this time when I read this passage, though, was a little phrase in the middle of the story.  Luke mentions that, as the squall came up and the boat was being swamped, “…they were in great danger” (8:23).  Now, Luke is writing about the past.  At the time when he is writing the story, he already knows the outcome.  So why does he say that they were in danger?  They weren’t really, right?  They were right where God wanted them to be.  For us looking back on the situation, if we believe that God was going to be faithful to get them across the lake, then don’t we have to conclude there was no actual danger to them?  There was only the appearance of danger.

Perhaps that is all that Luke meant – that most times when you find yourself in a squall in the middle of a lake, there is danger.  But that explanation seems to miss the main point of the story – that Jesus’ declaration about crossing the lake meant that no power in the universe could stop that from happening.  So I’m wondering if this maybe gives us some insight into Luke himself.  Maybe, even as he’s writing this story, he’s having trouble believing it himself?  Maybe for him, this is one of those things you write down, and then spend time pondering it and meditating on it.  It may not be until later that you fully accept what you’ve written.

Maybe if Luke were to rewrite this passage now, he would say, “A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, but there was no real danger — one way or another, Jesus was going to get them across the lake.”  What do you think?

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