According to Mark 4:36, Jesus made this trip without making any personal preparations. Undoubtedly, the crowd made it inconvenient to go ashore and get provisions. Mark also indicates that there were "other little boats" with them. The owners of these boats had probably been using them to get near to Jesus as He preached. Perhaps they are mentioned to suggest that a large number would later witness the miracle of Jesus stilling the tempest.
As they sailed, the Lord fell asleep. Jesus, although He was the Son of God, was also a man and did grow tired like anyone else. He slept toward the rear of the boat on a pillow (Mark 4:38).
"And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves" (Matt. 8:24). In most regions, it would be unusual for conditions to change this radically so quickly, but not here. The Sea of Galilee is known for its violent storms which come on quickly due to its low elevation and the way in which currents of air blow through the gorges and down the nearby mountains.
The combination of the darkness, the severe tossing of the boat, and the fact that they were taking on water led the disciples to believe that they were in great danger. Certainly their reaction indicates the severity of the storm because several of these men were experienced fisherman who were well acquainted with this body of water. This must have been an extraordinarily terrible tempest to fill them with such terror.
"Lord, save us! We are perishing" (Matt. 8:25). "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" (Mark 4:38). Some of the words indicate the disciples' agitation at Jesus for sleeping at a time like this! Of course, the simple fact that Jesus was still sleeping indicates the extent of His exhaustion.
He immediately responded to them in Matthew 8:26 - "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" In spite of all the miracles they had witnessed up to that point, their faith was still lacking. When one considers the accounts of this event from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it appears that Jesus spoke first to His disciples, then to the water, and then to His disciples again. These men had weak faith or else they would not have been so frightened, knowing that Jesus was on board with them. However, the fact that they did appeal to Jesus for deliverance does show that they had some faith. It is still true today that those who lack in faith are generally afflicted with fear (cf. Matt. 10:28,31; Rev. 21:8).
Jesus commanded the wind and waves to be still, and immediately it was so. The "great calm" that followed showed the perfection of the miracle. Not only did the storm cease at His command, but the stirred up waves were miraculously reduced to a calm body of water.
The disciples marveled and feared exceedingly. They were filled with awe by this demonstration of divine power. Jesus clearly manifested His power over the natural world on this occasion. His ability in this regard should not surprise us. After all, if the Lord could create wind and water by the power of His word, then certainly He can control them verbally (cf. Gen. 1).
"Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" (Matt. 8:27). There are only two possible answers: (1) He was just a man, or (2) He was much more than a man. Truly, Jesus' words and actions indicate that He was (and is) much more than a man (cf. John 20:30,31)! He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
Friends, the winds and sea obey the Lord Jesus--shouldn't we?