Jesus Stills the Storms

by Pastor Matthew Norville, Sr.


It is recorded in the gospels that Jesus stilled a literal storm on two different occasions. He may have done it more than twice during his three-and-a-half-year ministry, but only two such occasions are recorded in the Bible.

First Stilling of a Storm

The first time that it is recorded that Jesus stilled a storm is in Matthew, chapter 8, when He and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum, Galilee to Gergesa, Gaulanitis. (The city of Gergesa (GURR-geh-suh) is known today as “Kursi” and is in the part of Israel that is east of the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee that is known today as the “Golan Heights.”)

Jesus had just healed Peter's mother-in-law in Peter's house in Capernaum and many other people that had come to Peter's house to be healed (Matthew 8:14–17). He then entered into a boat with His disciples to depart to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, about one-third of the way down the east side of the sea, at its widest part, opposite the city of Magdala (Matthew 8:18,23).

The Bible says that on their way a great tempest arose in the sea and the boat was covered with the waves. The disciples then woke up Jesus, who was sleeping, and said, “Lord, save us! We perish!” Jesus then said to them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!” (Matthew 8:24–27).

When they got to the other side, the country (countryside) of the Gergesenes (gurr-geh-SEENZ), two people possessed with demons met them. (We don't know if these two people were men, women, boys, girls, or what combination of these comprised these two people because the Bible doesn't tell us.) And they cried out to Jesus, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:28–29).

The demons then asked Jesus that if He was going to cast them out, could they go into a herd of swine that was feeding a good way off from them. And Jesus gave them permission and said, “Go.” Then the demons came out of the two people and went into the herd of swine and the swine ran violently down a steep bank into the Sea of Galilee and perished in the water (Matthew 8:30–32). (We don't know how many swine there were in this herd because the Bible doesn't tell us.)

The people that kept the swine then ran back (east) into the city of Gergesa and told the other people what had happened. Then the people of the city of Gergesa came down to the coast and asked Jesus to leave their coasts (Matthew 8:33–34). Jesus and His disciples then entered back into the boat and went back to Capernaum (Matthew 9:1).

Second Stilling of a Storm

The second time that it is recorded that Jesus stilled a storm is in Mark, chapter 4, and Luke, chapter 8. (Mark 4:35–5:20 and Luke 8:22–39 are two accounts of the same stilling of the storm and Jesus casting demons out of one, naked man.)

On this occasion, Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a southeasternly manner from Capernaum, Galilee to Gadara of the Decapolis. (The city of Gadara (GADD-uh-ruh) is known today as “Umm Qais” and is about 10 kilometers inland (southeast) of the Sea of Galilee and about 20 kilometers south of Gergesa.)

Jesus had spent the latter part of the day sitting in a boat in the Sea of Galilee by the seaside city of Capernaum teaching a great multitude of people who were all on the land (Mark 4:1–34). When it became evening, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us pass over to the other side (of the Sea of Galilee).” The disciples then sent the multitude away and got into the boat with Jesus and launched forth. There were also other little boats with them (Mark 4:35–36; Luke 8:22).

The Bible says that as they sailed, Jesus fell asleep in the back of the boat (the stern) on a pillow. Then there arose a great storm of wind on the sea and the waves beat into the boat so that it was now full of water and the disciples were in jeopardy. The disciples then came to Jesus and woke Him and said, “Master, Master, don't you care that we are perishing?” Jesus then arose and rebuked the wind and the raging water of the sea by saying, “Peace. Be still.” And the wind and the raging water of the sea ceased and there was a great calm (Mark 4:37–39; Luke 8:23–24).

Jesus then said to His disciples, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? Where is your faith?” And they feared exceedingly and wondered and said to one another, “What manner of man is this! For He commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey Him” (Mark 4:40–41; Luke 8:25).

When they got to the country (countryside) of the Gadarenes (gadd-uh-REENZ), a man who lived among the tombs and was possessed with demons and had no clothes on, met them. This man could not be bound with fetters or chains because the demons in the man would just brake them. And he was always, night and day, in the mountains and in the tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones (Mark 5:1–5; Luke 8:26–27).

(The coast of the countryside of Gadara was on the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee, whereas the province of Galilee bordered the west and northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee. That is why the Bible says that the countryside of the Gadarenes was “opposite” (KJV “over against”) Galilee.)

When the demon-possessed man saw Jesus afar off, he ran and fell down before Him and worshipped Him and cried with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.” (He said this because Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out.) (Mark 5:6–8; Luke 8:28–29)

Jesus then asked the demon, “What is thy name?” And the demon answered, “My name is Legion, for we are many” because many demons were entered into the man. And the demon besought Jesus that He would not send all the demons away out of the countryside into the abyss (Mark 5:9–10; Luke 8:30–31).

Since there was a herd of about two thousand swine feeding in the nearby mountains, the demons all besought Jesus that He would allow them to enter into the swine. Jesus then allowed them. And the unclean spirits went out of the man and entered into the swine and the herd of about two thousand swine ran violently down a steep bank into the Sea of Galilee and were drowned (Mark 5:11–13; Luke 8:32–33).

When the people that fed the swine saw what was done (the demons all cast out of the man and the demons entering into the herd of swine and the swine running down the bank into the sea and drowning), they fled, and went and told it in the city (which was about 10 kilometers southeast of where they were) and in the countryside. The people of Gadara then went out to see what was done. When they came to Jesus and found the man the demons were cast out of sitting at the feet of Jesus clothed, and in his right mind, they were afraid and besought Jesus to depart out of their coasts (Mark 5:14–17; Luke 8:34–37).

(Jesus' exorcism of the demons out of this man did not take place in the city limits of Gadara proper. The exorcism took place about 10 kilometers northwest of the city, in the countryside of Gadara, that bordered the Sea of Galilee.)

Jesus and His disciples then got into the boat to return to Capernaum. But the man that had been possessed with the demons asked Jesus if he could go with Him. Howbeit, Jesus did not allow him to, but said unto him, “Go home to thine own house and to thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee and hath had compassion on thee.” And the man departed, and began to publish throughout the whole city of Gadara and in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him. And all men did marvel. Jesus and His disciples then left and went back to Capernaum (Mark 5:18–21; Luke 8:37–40).

Differences Between the Trip to Gergesa (Matthew 8:18–34) and the Trip to Gadara (Mark 4:35–5:20; Luke 8:22–39)
Trip to Gergesa Trip to Gadara
Jesus had just finished healing Peter's mother-in-law and many other people at Peter's house and Jesus had just had a brief conversation with a scribe and a disciple. Jesus had just finished teaching out of a boat on the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus and His disciples traveled to Gergesa, Gaulanitis. Jesus and His disciples traveled to Gadara of the Decapolis.
Gergesa was across the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum about one-third of the way down the east coast of the sea, opposite Magdala. Gadara was across the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum on the southeast coast of the sea, opposite Capernaum.
They traveled in a boat by themselves. They traveled in a boat with other little boats with them.
When the disciples woke up Jesus He first said, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea. When the disciples woke up Jesus He first arose and rebuked the wind and the raging water of the sea. Then He said to His disciples, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? Where is your faith?”
When Jesus and His disciples arrived at the shore, two, possessed people met them. When Jesus and His disciples arrived at the shore, one, naked, possessed man met them.
The demons in the two people said, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” The demon in the one, naked man said, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.”
Jesus did not ask the demons in the two people what their names were. Jesus did ask the demon in the one, naked man what his name was and the demon said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” (The reason that the Bible sometimes mentions one demon in this man and sometimes it mentions many demons in this man is because one of the demons in the man was in authority over all the other demons and sometimes did the speaking for them.)
After the demons were cast out, the two people did not ask to go with Jesus. After the demons were cast out, the one man (who was now clothed) did ask to go with Jesus.
The two people did not publish “what great things the Lord had done for them” in Decapolis because Gergesa is not in Decapolis. The one man did publish “what great things the Lord had done for him” in Decapolis because Gadara is in Decapolis.

The Problem with the Modern Translations

Most, if not all, of the modern Bible translations are translated from corrupted manuscripts. These are manuscripts that have been altered from the original manuscripts that are the actual Word of God. As a result of this, some of the words have been changed.

The original manuscripts have “the country of the Gergesenes” in Matthew, chapter 8. The original manuscripts have “the country of the Gadarenes” in Mark, chapter 5, and Luke, chapter 8.

But in many of the modern translations, which are translated from corrupted manuscripts, they change the words.

The word “Gergesenes” in Matthew 8:28 is sometimes changed to “Gadarenes.”

The word “Gadarenes” in Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26 is sometimes changed to “Gerasenes” (gair-uh-SEENZ). (Neither the Gerasenes (the people of Gerasa (GAIR-uh-suh)), nor the city of Gerasa, is mentioned in the Bible.)

The city of Gadara proper was was 10 kilometers southeast of the coast of the Sea of Galilee and the countryside of it bordered the sea.

The city of Gerasa proper was 60 kilometers southeast of the Sea of Galilee and the countryside of it did not stretch to the coast of the Sea of Galilee, and therefore, had no coastline.

In addition to these changes of these words, many of the modern Bible translations have footnotes that say that some manuscripts have a different word than the one that they chose to use for their translation. And so the result is—if you try to go by the Bible translations that are translated from the corrupted manuscripts—that you can't figure out where and when Jesus went in Matthew, chapter 8, or Mark, chapter 5, and Luke, chapter 8! (Did He go to Gergesa? And if so, when? Did He go to Gadara? And if so, when? Did He go to Gerasa? And if so, when?)

These two different trips occurred at two different times in Jesus' ministry. The first one was fairly early in His ministry shortly after the Sermon on the Mount. The second one was some months later.

Jesus Will Still the “Storms” in Our Lives

These two stories of Jesus stilling the storms also have reference to the “storms” in our lives. Not only will Jesus still a literal storm for us, but He will still whatever turmoil is going on in our lives. All we have to do is live according to His Word and believe Him to do it and He will do it!

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This page last updated July 21, 2021.