Last week we saw Jesus teaching in parables for the crowds. He later explained the meanings to his trusted disciples. Today, we see Jesus suggesting they cross the Sea of Galilee.
That day, when evening had come, Yeshua said to them, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So, leaving the crowd behind, they took him just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. CJB
We read in 4:1 that Jesus sat in one of the fishing boats on the shore and taught the crowd. Now, the underlined statement seems to indicate that Jesus was still in the boat when he announced his desire to cross the lake. The small problem is that 4:10 has Jesus speaking in private with his disciples; and again in 4:33-34 we are told that he explained the parables to the disciples. Most likely Mark did those two inserts during Jesus’ teaching from the boat rather than tack them on later.
This kind of thing bothers some people, but we must remember that none of the Gospels are histories, not even in the ancient sense. They are collections of teachings, healings, and examples for all of us to learn from and copy. Yes, they have historical value but that is not what the four authors were about. Mark wants us to experience Jesus in a kind of first-hand way. We can see ourselves standing on the shore listening to the parables of Jesus.
A furious windstorm arose, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was close to being swamped. CJB I haven’t checked all the translations, but most say much the same, that the boat was filling with water and was close to sinking. Yet, the Greek word is gemizo, which means full. We need to take this word as hyperbole, an exaggeration to impress upon us how near to death they all were. Remember, there were several boats in the same condition.
This next verse is almost cartoonish. The disciples are standing in knee deep water, probably bailing water as fast as they can. Jesus is lying in the boat with his head on a pillow. I can’t help but think he must have been under water. But, no, this is some more hyperbole. Yes, the situation was deadly, but the boat was clearly not full of water.
But he was in the stern on a cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, “Rabbi, doesn’t it matter to you that we’re about to be killed?” CJB The question seems so quiet and mild. Why weren’t they screaming their lungs out?
And he woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, “Hush now! Be still!” The wind dropped and everything was very still. Phillips And he said to them, “Why are you cowardly? Do you still not have faith?” They were overwhelmed by fear and said to one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and sea obey him! NET
In Mark’s Gospel, this is nearly the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He only called the disciples in chapter 3; it’s little wonder they were asking, who is this man.
I think Jesus requested the dangerous crossing at night for two reasons: to give his new followers a picture of his power that they would not forget; and to heal the demoniac, another opportunity to show his power. Jesus controls the weather, and he controls the evil ones.
The reading today from Paul speaks to us in the midst of the storm. Paul uses himself as an example—using the royal ‘we’. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. NIV
We may not be beaten and thrown into prison, but if we follow Yeshua the Messiah we are called to purity, understanding, patience, kindness, sincere love and truthful speech by the power of God and His Holy Spirit.
Be righteous and do good.