Mark 4:35-41


Mark 4:35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." (Buls: On that day, when evening had come, He said to them: "Let's cross over to the other side.")

"On that day" when He spoke the many parables. Jesus speaks here indicating His human nature, "Let us go..." They were on the west side of the Sea of Galilee and were about to pass over to the other side. Only Mark notes that this happened when evening had come.

Mark 4:36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. (Buls: And, after they had left the crowd, they took Him along in the boat just as He was, and other boats were with Him.)

In this verse only Mark notes that they left a large crowd, that they took Him "just as He was," and that other boats were with Him. What does "just as He was" mean? It is similar to "tired as he was" in John 4:6. Possibly they went quickly without any sumptuous preparation.

Though Jesus was the sinless Son of God, He took all our weaknesses and infirmities on Himself. And the disciples did not fuss over Him.

As noted above, only Mark notes that there were other boats. What became of them?

Ylvisaker: They who were in the other boats also noticed this and asked in surprise: 'What manner of man is this etc.'
Fahling: But these other little ships were probably soon scattered or frightened back on account of an approaching storm.
We do not know.

Mark 4:37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. (Buls: And a great windstorm arose which resulted in the waves beating against the boat so that it was nearly swamped.)

The first verb is present tense, the other two are aorists. The storm came up gradually. The great calm was immediate.

"Furious squall" or "great windstorm" is something like a hurricane squall. No wonder the waves were beating against the boat and that it was nearly swamped.

The result clause shows the dire circumstance. The boat was filling with water. The weight of 13 men in a boat which was filling with water must have been frightening.

Mark 4:38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" (Buls: Now He was in the stern, sleeping on a pillow. And so they woke Him and said to Him: "Master, you care, don't you, that we're perishing?")

"Cushion" or "pillow" was something that just happened to be in the boat. The word in ancient Greek means simply a part of the boat made of wood.

Hendriksen: The word 'sleeping' at the very end of the sentence, creates a dramatic effect, a most striking contrast. . . . neither the roaring of the wind nor the dashing and splashing of the billows nor even the rolling and pitching of the rapidly filling boat was able to awaken Him.

Jesus truly trusted His Father.

Hendriksen: There is a variety in the reports concerning the cries of the fear-stricken men. Matthew has 'So they came to him and woke him up, saying Lord, save us, we're perishing;' Luke: 'Master, we're perishing:' Mark: 'Master, don't you care that we're perishing?' It is reasonable to suppose that in a situation of terrified distress this disciple would cry one thing, another something else.
Lenski: It has a tone of reproach, but this is softened by the implication that it is unbelievable that Jesus should not care." True. "The disciples had no right to fear, even if they perished in the waves.
Compare this with the answer of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:17-18: "If our God whom we serve can save us from the furnace with its flaming fire and from your hands, He will save us, King. But if He doesn't you should know, King, we won't serve your gods or worship the golden statue you set up."

Read Psalm 46, especially verses 2 and 3: "We're not afraid even when the earth quakes, the mountains topple into the sea, even when its waters roar and foam, and the mountains shake in the middle of it."

They feared. This is not commendable. But they sought help from the right person. That is commendable.

Mark 4:39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (Buls: And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: "Be quiet, be muzzled." Now the wind died down and as a result there was a remarkable calm.)

Ylvisaker: Every disturbance in the realm of nature is a result of sin and therefore displeasing to god. The revolt in nature is a result of the interrupted harmony in the domain of the spirit. A groan of pain is heard in the kingdom of creation, Romans 8:22.

The word for "rebuked" is found in all three Synoptics. The wind was causing the disturbance of the sea. He speaks first to the wind. He is saying: "Be lastingly muzzled."

Hendriksen: Not only the winds immediately quiet down, but so do even the waves. Generally, it is well-known, after the winds have perceptibly diminished, the billows will continue to roll for a while . . . But in this instance winds and waves synchronize in the sublime symphony of a solemn silence.

Only Mark records Jesus' words.

Lenski: All three synoptists record the calm, and they all use the significant "they died down" to show instant obedience to the mighty command.

The great storm must have been awesome. Equally awesome must have been the sudden calm.

Mark 4:40 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (Buls: And He said to them: "Why are you such cowards? How is it that you are not yet trusting Me?")

Jesus censures them on two counts: Their cowardliness and their lack of faith. Both are sin. Even if Jesus had not been present they should not have been afraid. Our sympathy for the disciples shows that we are like they were but it is still sin. But Jesus did not rebuke them for their reproachful words, but rather for their lack of faith.

Stoeckhardt notes that the mighty Persian King, Xerxes, in his arrogance had the waters of the Hellespont whipped because his ships were destroyed. But we have the King who orders the sea and it obeys. Well said.

Mark 4:41 They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" (Buls: As a result they feared very much and said to each other repeatedly: "Who this is this man that even the wind and the sea obey Him?")

For the third time in this pericope we have the form of "great." There was a great storm, a great calm and now a great fear.

Very likely "Who is this?" was said very softly and in a whisper.

All they saw was a man. But what He did God alone can do. Though they had been with Him for a long time, they are deeply impressed by His person, both human and divine. In all ages the Arians deny the divinity of Jesus and the Docetists deny His humanity. Both divinity and humanity are very pronounced in this text. Always preach the God-Man who came to seek and to save that which was lost.

Stoeckhardt: This man Jesus is the almighty God and with His human voice quiets the raging sea. Jesus is an almighty man also in His state of humiliation as He walked here on earth. Yes, while He was asleep in this frail ship with His disciples He was ruling heaven and earth, land and sea, with His strong arm even though He was concealing this divine majesty in the form of a servant.
Luther: It also happens today that it appears as if the Lord does not see us, and had entirely forgotten about us, as He does here in the ship, and sleeps. He lets the waves overwhelm the ship, He lets the devil and the world rage against the Christians so that it appears that we will certainly sink and drown. In His own time, however, the Lord awakes and shows His might, rebukes the littleness of our faith, the fear and fright of His disciples, listens to our pitiful cries, and 'stills the noise of the people.' Ps. 65:7.
Stoeckhardt: Finally all restlessness of our times will subside and there will be a great calm. Yes, 'We expect the fullness of joy and blessed quietness in the heavenly garden, to which our thoughts are directed.'
Scripture pictures heaven as a sea of glass, Revelation 4:6. But in this life we can expect the sea and the waves roaring, Luke 21:25.

From this text the early church derived the allegory of the church as a ship, storm-tossed on the sea of life. But don't allegorize the text when you preach it. Preach it just as it is. Many of your hearers are crying: "Lord I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief!"


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series B Mark-John, Sundays after Pentecost, Gospel Texts, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1981, pp. 16-18

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