From Matthew 8:

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

What did they expect him to do? Clearly, they expected that He could save them. So why were they do surprised by this?

4 Answers 4


His disciples simply lacked faith in Him being the Christ. As Jesus said "O ye of little faith" in verse 26.

It took miracles to get His disciples to have full confidence and faith in who He said He was. Some believed with less miracles such as Nathanael.

Gospel of John Chapter 1

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

Some it took seeing Him after His resurrection.

Gospel of John Chapter 20

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

  • That’s true. That being said, what do you think that they were expecting Jesus to do here? On the one hand, they asked Him to save them, but then they acted all shocked when He actually did. Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 17:10
  • 1
    It seems they expected Him to do something but not so much as to control the weather itself. We can only ponder. In their moment of panic, they cried for help and expected Him to do something, and maybe that is all they expected. Something.
    – GFFG
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 17:53

Let us look at these in parallel renderings of the event...

Matt 8:38 - The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

Mark 4:38 - Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Luke 8:24 - The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

Of the three Gospels, only Matthew mentions the disciples asking Jesus to save them. The other Gospels simply explain the disciples waking Jesus up while they panic.

It’s quite possible that the other two Gospels are closer to what happened; particularly since all the Gospels report that they were amazed at Jesus’ calming the storm.

If Matthew is what really happened we could only speculate about what they expected Jesus to do.

  • Interesting point... out of curiosity, what did they mean by the “don’t you care” question? Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 17:38
  • I take it as their amazement that Jesus could sleep through the storm Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 18:31

They expected from Him a prayer to God, as from a righteous man, not seeing in Him yet the God, who had the same authority as God the Father.

But the Lord Jesus Christ acted pedagogically when He rebuked and calmed down the wind and waves without prayer, on His own divine authority to demonstrate this very authority.

That's why the translation you provide is wrong, the disciples did not ask "who is that man", but "what sort of [being, person] is He, that even wind and waves are listening to Him": "οἱ δὲ ἄνθρωποι ἐθαύμασαν λέγοντες, Ποταπός ἐστιν οὗτος ὅτι καὶ οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ ἡ θάλασσα αὐτῷ ὑπακούουσιν;" - "The humans were bewildered saying, what sort of [person] He is that even winds and the see listen to Him" (Matthew 8:27), there is written "humans", not "disciples", because the emphasis is on humans bewildered at seeing somebody supra-human, and so, "what kind of man" is a wrong rendering.

Now, who is this supra-human? What is the logical continuation of the inquiry? What is the answer of this question, for this is not a rhetorical question to be sure?

Of course, immediately will come to mind the Psalm 89:9 "You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them", and the disciples, surely, by the rule of exclusion, would and must have concluded that since no man an no angel can calm down the wind and the sea, and since the only one to do so is God, as David sings in Psalm 89:9, then the only answer will be that Jesus Christ is God, who holds the same authority as the Father and needs not prayers, but acts what He wishes Sovereignly, as God.

  • Another typically Good answer from the well-informed. +1.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 22:55
  • @Dottard Thanks! That's encouraging from you! Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 5:59

Here we see the experienced fishermen being put to test at their own game. If you read the footnote of NET translation, you’ll see the information about the 1986 discovery of the 1st century boat. The size of it to accommodate 13 people at-least would be quite big. It is also ironic that they’ve given up on all their experiences and maneuvering skills just to ask the carpenter to help. They got more than what they asked. They wanted to be saved from drowning but not to calm the seas. Also, the earliest gospel writer being Mark, he is showing the ‘God’ nature of Jesus to calm the storm and seas. See Ps 197:28-30

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