And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:26)
Jesus’ calming of the storm is a story found in all of the synoptic gospels, and it is a story that is almost universally misunderstood by many Christians. Nearly every sermon I’ve heard on this story from Jesus’ earthly ministry gets turned into a “Jesus can calm the storms of your life” message. The story becomes a metaphor: The seas represent one’s life, the storm represents the troubles coming into your life, and Jesus is presented as one who can rebuke your troubles and calm your life and bring you ‘peace that passes understanding.’ The application then of this message is an exhortation to have more faith. If only we had more faith in Jesus, then the storms in our life (pick a particularly trying personal situation) would be calmed (or something along those lines).
As applications go, it’s not awful or heretical, but it completely misses the point of the passage! This is a real story of a real storm that Jesus really rebukes. To treat this as a metaphor for problems in our lives is to trivialize the story (to the point of ignoring its redemptive-historical context) and to mishandle the text of sacred Scripture. The problem with this particular application is that it’s far too personal. You might ask, “Aren’t applications supposed to be personal?” Yes, to an extent. One might make this application in personal bible study, but as a preached sermon, the point is to teach the passage, and I don’t think Jesus had in mind “calming the storms of your life” when he rebuked the winds and the waves!