When Christ is in the Boat

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard

“There arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep” (Matthew 8:24).

I ran across a message by Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "Overcoming Fear.” He preached it a scant fifteen days before Hitler came to power in 1933. Bonhoeffer took his text from Matthew 8:23-27, the story of Jesus calming the sea. Jesus was asleep in the boat during the storm. When the disciples woke him, he rebuked them for their lack of faith and then calmed the sea. As Bonhoeffer develops his sermon, he makes the following observation:

“When Christ is in the boat, a storm always comes up. The world tries with all its evil powers to get hold of him, to destroy him along with his disciples; it hates him and rises up against him. Christians surely know this. No one has to go through so much anxiety and fear as do Christians. But this does not surprise us, since Christ is the Crucified One, and there is no way to life for a Chris­tian without being crucified.”

That first sentence really got my attention. We tend to think if Christ is with us, things will go smoothly.


When we talked about this story earlier, I pointed out that Jesus knew all about the storm before they got into the boat. He went to sleep knowing the storm would soon arrive. Bonhoeffer adds the point that we shouldn’t expect an easy ride when we follow Christ. I ran across this quote from Robert Coleman that made me stop and think:

“Following Jesus seemed easy enough at first, but that was because they had not followed him very far."

When Christ is in the boat, a storm always comes up.
Is Christ in your boat today?
Is he traveling with you, walking with you, present with you?


Get ready for trouble.
Jesus can still the storm, but he stirs it up first.

Just a reminder for those hoping for a calm boat ride with Jesus.

O Lord, increase my faith to trust in you even when the waves rise and my little boat is about to sink. Amen.

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Originally published February 27, 2018.

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