Chapter 16

Two kinds of fear
Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)

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35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 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?” 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. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

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Mark 4:35-36
The setting

It is evening. Jesus, with His disciples on Galilee’s shore, wants to cross to the other side. Leaving the crowd, they make for the other side by boat. Other boats accompany them. Galilee’s sudden windstorms, like whirlwinds, produce near hurricane conditions. Jesus’ disciples will face the same stormy condition as the other boats, but Jesus is in the boat with them. Similarly today, Christian disciples face the same problems and troubles as others, but Jesus is always with those who trust Him, even in frightening situations.[1]

Mark 4:37-38
Facing the storm—sleeping or scared?

The whirlwind hits the lake. The disciples’ boat is swamped and nearly sinking. The Lord of creation, Jesus Christ, sleeps in the stern on a pillow! His panic-stricken disciples wake Him and demand, Do You not care that we are perishing?[2] Although wrong to panic with Jesus present, they are completely right to pour out their fears to Him. Christians should always pray like that.[3] Of course Jesus cares! He is our sovereign God. His timetable for us is perfect. He makes no mistakes!

Mark 4: 39
Simple words and stilled waves

Jesus rises and tells the whirlwind to stop! His simple command to the mountainous waves is Quiet! Be still! The windstorm stops. The waves disappear. All is calm. We all face storms in our lives. Waves of frightening circumstances, caused by ourselves or by others, seem about to overwhelm us—and sometimes we feel literally help-less. Fearful, we lose our peace. But in knowing Jesus personally we know any storm encountered is under His control and will not last a second longer than is necessary for us. Sometimes those storms are sent to remove our self-centred reliance and teach us to trust God more.

Anyone who has asked Jesus for forgiveness, trusting in His death on the cross and in His powerful indwelling resurrection life within, knows they will avoid judgement’s massive storm by that personal faith in Christ. When God judges sins eternally Christians are safely at peace because Jesus bore their sins and punishment on the cross of Calvary! No condemnation remains for such people![4] Eternal peace with God results from that![5]

Mark 4:40-41
Silenced and staggered

The disciples cannot answer Jesus’ questions, Why are you so afraid? and Do you still have no faith? How irrational—for us as well as for them—not to trust fully such a powerful and caring Saviour. Nevertheless Jesus saves them from the storm! He does care! They are rightly staggered in asking, Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him! Reverent and justified fear of who He is replaces the tempest’s terror. Psalms and Proverbs comment The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.[6]

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[1] . Hebrews 13:5-6.
[2] . NKJV translates the Greek better. NIV paraphrases by the words don’t you care if we drown?
[3] . 1 Peter 5:7.
[4] . Romans 8:1.
[5] . Philippians 4:6-7.
[6] . Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10.

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Questions on Chapter 16
Mark 4:35-41 Two kinds of fear.

A. Why are the disciples frightened in the storm? How is life sometimes like a storm? Mark 4:40 2 Corinthians 7:5

B. What difference does it make to the disciples when Jesus calms the storm? How does Jesus do it? Mark 4:39 John 14:27 Romans 5:1 Colossians 1:20

C. What does this passage reveal about the Lord Jesus Christ? Does that encourage you to trust Him? Colossians 1:22-24 2 Peter 1:6 Revelation 5:12