Jesus came to face the most insurmountable storm of all—human guilt.
Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the harrowing drama of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee amidst a mega-storm (Matthew uses two Greek words to describe it “megas” and “seismos”).
The Galilee storm narrative bears uncanny resemblance to the story of Jonah at sea:
Jonah 1:4 (ESV)
4 … there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.
Matthew 8:24 (ESV)
24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves….
Jonah 1:5 (ESV)
5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god.
Matthew 8:25–26 (ESV)
25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”
Jonah 1:5 (ESV)
5 …. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.
Mark 4:38 (ESV)
38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.
Just like the sailors in Jonah’s story, the petrified disciples awaken their sleeper looking for an answer to the storm. The depressed prophet Jonah told the sailors to hurl him overboard as a sacrifice. When they did so, the storm quieted.
But the story of Jesus differs. No one throws Him overboard because the squall on the lake in Galilee was an easy storm to calm. The real tempest lay ahead. Jesus came to face the greatest storm of all—human guilt and shame. Jesus came to face the storm of judgment against human disobedience and rebellion. Jesus Himself explained:
Matthew 12:40–41 (ESV)
40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 … behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
Jesus took on the storm of judgment on your behalf and spent three days and nights in the belly of the earth so that you could be free. He’s the greater Jonah. And that’s the Gospel!