Mark 4:35-41 – The Disciples’ First Test (pt. 3)

Part 1
Part 2

Mark 4:35-41 –

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

III. Contrasting Responses to the Storm (v. 38)

Here in verse 38 Mark gives us two contrasting responses to this storm.  First, we have the response of Jesus.  “He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.”   There are two things that we need to notice about Jesus sleeping here.  First of all, here we see Jesus’ humanity and the doctrine of the Incarnation.  This was a small boat with not a lot of room to stretch out, and yet he was so tired from his day of strenuous ministry that he fell sound asleep.  Secondly, he is not afraid.  He falls asleep with no worries, and the storm that arises around him does not even worry him enough to wake him up. I want to be able to sleep like Jesus.  This means that I must work hard like Jesus did, and I must intuitively trust in the Father like Jesus did.  This is something that we are working on together as a family.  Every night we pray with my daughter, and we thank God for protecting us while we sleep.   This is certainly the attitude that Jesus has here.

The second response that Mark records is the response of the disciples, and this response is far different from the response of Jesus.  Mark tells us that “they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’”  As I look at this response I almost don’t know where to start, except to say that it is very similar to the way that all of us would have responded.  Quite frankly, the disciples responded to this storm by asking Jesus one of the most ridiculous questions in the entire bible.  They literally question whether or not Jesus even cared about them.  There is no softening this up, or explaining away this question.  With this question they were rebuking Jesus.

I wan to take a minute here and point something out.  Each of the Gospel writers records a slightly different response here.  Matthew says that the disciples said to Jesus, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”  (Matt 8:25)  Luke records that the disciples said, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (Luke 8:24)  These two accounts sound a lot different from Mark’s account.  So why the difference?  Some say that it is because this account never really happened, and the gospel writers just couldn’t get their story straight.  But if you ask me, that is a dumb theory.  If this story was made up then don’t you think that the guys who made it up would have been very careful to get their story straight?  I think that there is a much simpler and better explanation.  The Gospel writers record different words from the disciples because there were 12 panicked guys crying out at the same time.  Everyone one of them was probably screaming something different.  I find it highly unlikely that they all collaborated, chose one representative, and then woke Jesus up with a unified response.  There is no way that it happened like this; these guys were sacred out of their minds.  Additionally, Mark got his information from Peter, and it anyone was going to bluntly rebuke Jesus it would have been Peter.  So it may be that what we have here in Mark’s account are the words of Peter.

Therefore, in this passage we have account of how the disciples reacted, and what we see is that the disciples responded in fear and with self-centeredness.  They were afraid of the storm, and their only concern was whether or not they would make it.  This fear clouded their thinking so severely that they questioned whether or not Jesus even cared about them.  What a contrast to Jesus’ trust in the Father.  But before we are too tough on the disciples we need to remember a few things:

  1. They were terrified.
  2. They did turn to Jesus – even though their response was not the right one, they did turn to Jesus.  Remember these were experienced fisherman asking a carpenter for help.
  3. We would have done the same thing!  In fact, many times we do.  We get in the midst of a storm and we let fear and self-centeredness cloud our thinking.  We loose sight of the fact that God is in control of all things, and He is using our circumstances for our good.

As we look the contrast between Jesus’ response and the disciples’ response it should cause us to look at our own lives.  What kind of storm are you going through right now?  How are you responding?  What does your response reveal about your faith?