June 27, 2005

Mark 4:35-41 Sermon Notes

Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

Mark 4:35-41
(June 26, 2005, Sermon Notes)

Jesus said that God’s kingdom would grow from a mustard seed into a tree that shelters the world (Mk. 4:30-32). Now Jesus demonstrates that He has the power to overcome all obstacles to that kingdom’s growth.


On the day Jesus tells the parables, He leaves the crowds on the shore to cross, with His followers, to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Those who don’t have Jesus because they want to use Him lose Him, but those who do have Him get to receive more from Him (see Mk. 4:25).

The lesson begins en route. A great wind arises and the waves batter the boat. But Jesus is asleep on a pillow — like Jonah, yet without sin.

The disciples wake Him up. “Don’t you care that we’re being destroyed?” they ask, sounding a bit like the demons who expect Jesus to destroy them (Mk. 1:24). They want Jesus to help them bail. But Jesus rebukes the wind (like the demon in Mk. 1:25) and commands the sea to be peaceful. The “great wind” becomes a “great calm.”

This story echoes several others. In the beginning, God ruled the waters, separating them and causing dry land to appear. At the Exodus, He parted the Red Sea for Israel to cross through, which Ps. 77 describes as a triumph over the waters. Several psalms describe Yahweh as the one who calms the sea (Ps. 65:7, where the sea = Gentile world; 89:9; and esp. 107:23-32).

The same God who made the world and rescued Israel is backing Jesus’ mission. Jesus has His authority. He is the new Adam with dominion over all things, the new David who rules even the Gentiles, and He has the authority to calm the raging nations and advance His kingdom.


Jesus then asks the disciples why they are so fearful and how it is that they have no faith. The problem wasn’t that they called on Him; the problem was that they did so in unbelieving fear. Jesus has sent them on a mission, but they didn’t trust Him to protect them as they carried it out.

Jesus’ sleep isn’t just a demonstration of His trust in God; it’s also a test which exposes the disciples’ lack of faith. As in the Psalms, where God appears to be sleeping (Ps. 44:23) only later to wake up and rescue His people (Ps. 78:65), Jesus sleeps and then rises to help.

That’s what He’ll do later on. When the wicked rage like the storm, He’ll sleep in death. But when He rises, He’ll calm the storm and conquer the nations. Even after that, storms will arise. But Jesus calls us to trust Him and call on Him in faith. (In mercy, He hears and rescues — as He does here — even when we call in unbelieving fear.)

The disciples don’t respond in faith even after the rebuke. The “great wind” replaced by the “great calm” fills them with “great fear” of Jesus. They’re more afraid of Him than they were of the storm, it seems. They wonder who He can be if even the wind and sea obey Him. And Mark leaves us to answer that question.

Posted by John Barach @ 12:26 pm | Discuss (0)

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