Matthew 8: 23 -27
Water is the great liquid asset of our earth. In its absence there would be no life, animal or vegetable, no generation or growth of any species, plant or sentient, no refreshment, herbal or human; no sustenance for any creature whatever. Water is the generous and essential gift bestowed by God to all living things upon our planet. Every drop is a marvel for which we should be grateful. It provides power in various forms. It creates prosperity. It speaks symbolically of divine promise both in the natural sphere and the spiritual realm. It is given for our consumption and our contemplation. Water is one of our chief necessities, and as such it is supremely good. But in our world, disordered by our breach with God, water can also constitute a danger and be used by our Maker as an instrument of judgment. Creation animated by it may also be annihilated by it. Dependent upon it, we may also be destroyed by it. Energy and elements moved by God may become the enemies of wickedness and be deployed in the cause of divine justice and the vindication of his pure righteousness.
Water is a cleansing agent. It removes dirt (bathing). It represents purification (hence baptism). Water as judgment is found in the narrative of the flood commencing in Genesis ch 6 - a devastating occurrence of divine displeasure. Noah’s world is drowned in a prolonged downpour of wrathful rain. The waters rise, the world is ruined, the race is erased from the earth - except “Mr Noah” and his family. Noah finds grace i.e. salvation from doom through the Ark that the Lord has designed for him. In actual fact, “Grace finds Noah” (Alec Motyer). This information as to divine favor toward God’s chosen ones of the former covenant ultimately germinates over time into the full apostolic gospel. Christ is foreshadowed in the deliverance of Noah. “Blessedness there is none, except in the Gospel-ark, which is Christ Jesus. Behold him! Behold him! What is the ark of old to us, but an emblem of his full redemption?” (Henry Law).
The surging, raging, angry danger of water is illustrated in Matthew ch 8 vv 23 -27 when Jesus calmed the furious storm that terrified his disciples as they crossed the lake. It arrived all of a sudden and the waves swept over the boat. These professional fishermen and skilled navigators were reduced to unfamiliar panic. “But Jesus was sleeping” (v24). It did not occur to them that even the passive presence of Jesus spelt absolute safety. They prodded and pleaded with Jesus to awaken: “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” (v25). Their faith was sufficient to call on him but they had no complete comprehension of the status and power of their silent passenger. “You of little faith, why are you so afraid”. Jesus rebukes the small confidence of the disciples. “Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” (v26). Every observer of the teaching of the Old Testament would know that control of the waters and the wind was a divine prerogative. The divinity of the Lord Jesus and his Savior-hood was declared in his dominion over the elements. Every ultimate danger due to alienation from God is removed in him. This will be the case in heaven.
Hebrews hated the chaos and cruelty of the sea. They avoided the sea as much as possible. It would pose no threat in the coming kingdom of God. John’s vision in the Book of Revelation would confirm this welcome truth. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea (21:1). The dread possibility of being swamped and drowned had been forever taken away. The likelihood of falling fatally into water had been entirely removed. The sea before the throne of God is depicted as safely solid - a sea of glass (4:6).