The first fear they had was a fear of the storm– which attests to just what kind of storm it was they were facing. You see, they were experienced fisherman. They knew the water, they knew the weather signals, and from the accounts we see that none of them protested going out on the sea that night.
Furthermore, the length of time it took them to wake Jesus testifies to just how bad the storm was. I mean, they had a miracle worker on board– now, it’s true that later they express wonder that He could do anything with the wind and waves, so perhaps they thought His miracles were land-based– but they knew that God was with Him. I believe that they waited so long because they thought that they could handle this storm with their experience and under their own power, only approaching Christ when they ran out of options. I mean, their boat was taking on water!
After Jesus calmed the storm, their fear changed to that of knowing how weak their faith was. I see this in how Jesus responded. In Mark and Luke, Jesus calms the storm and then asks them about their faith. In Matthew, however, Jesus calms the storm after asking them about their faith. Rather than a contradiction, I see this as an eyewitness account of something that happened virtually at the same time. Jesus talks to the waves and then His disciples as almost one thought. It was as if the storm was a test– and either how long they waited before waking Him or if they would awaken him was the question.
Jesus tells us that we fear the wrong people. In Matthew 10:28 He tells us not to fear those that can kill the body but are not able to kill the soul, but to fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul. We tend to fear the former and not the latter– but to an extreme. We don’t just fear what someone might do, we fear what they might say, or worse: We fear what someone might think.
Instead of fearing the Creator of the Universe and what He will think of what we choose to do and say, we fear what some person whose life expectancy is averaging 80 years on this Earth– and what they will think of us.
There is great promise in the Word of God that if we fear Him, if we follow Him, if we are ones that seek after Him, He is able to protect us and to keep us secure until our final breath on this Earth.
This isn’t a guarantee that we will never see problems. It’s not a statement that says that we’ll never have anything bad happen to us or that we will not be killed. What it is saying is that God is faithful to keep us and use us in His plan, and nothing can happen to us out of His watchful care and not for His purpose.