Calming The Waters

Christus in the storm on the lake; Rembrandt (...

Christus in the storm on the lake; Rembrandt

A Miracle, Or Just Good Timing?

When Jesus calmed the sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41 NIV), because the disciples were afraid they might be drowned, the gospel writers’ reported it as a miracle and to them it was. It wasn’t Jesus’ first miracle but it was the first in which he showed he could ‘control’ nature. Is this still a miracle when we re-consider it today?

Galilee, although called The Sea of Galilee in the gospels is in reality a big lake. A lake that records show is also known to suffer from time to time to squalls, which are localised, often short, unpredictable storms and is probably the kind of storm the boat Jesus and the disciples were caught in on that day.

The Sea of Galilee is over 200 meters, or over 650 feet below sea level, making it the lowest freshwater lake in the world. Only the Dead Sea is lower but is saltwater, not freshwater. Galilee sits low in the Great Rift Valley and when winds are funnelled down the valley they become squalls over the surface of the lake, whipping the water into treacherous waves, that could easily have overturned the boats of the time. The chances are that the boat carrying the disciples was caught in just such a squall and it is also quite possible that as the waves became more violent Jesus would have woken anyway, without the disciples rousing him.

So did Jesus really calm the waters, or did he just get the timing right when he said “Quiet! Be still”?  And if it was simply a matter of timing; did he know when the storm would end or was it just coincidence that he got it right?

If He really did calm the water, then he really did do a miracle. If he knew when the squall would end and so got the timing right, it would still be a miracle that he knew when to speak, although to the Disciples it would look like he calmed the storm.

Suppose that it was just coincidence, or maybe luck, that he got the timing right, Would it still be a miracle? I think it was, because the chance of getting the timing spot on must be tiny. So tiny that to guess, or just happen upon, the exact moment it would end, would be incredible. And wouldn’t you call something so incredible, a miracle?

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