The journey begins, 1:1-5:43
6. The powers defeated, 4:35-5:43
i] Nature - calming the seaSynopsis
Leaving the crowd on the beach, Jesus and his disciples embark and head for the east side of the lake. On the way, they encounter a raging storm as wind, funnelling down the ravines onto the lake, whips up the sea. The boat begins to take water, and so the disciples wake Jesus who, at that moment, was fast asleep in the stern. "Don't you care if we drown", they cried. Jesus then stills the storm, commenting "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" The disciples, overwhelmed with fear, exclaim "what kind of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey his commands?", Cassirer.
Jesus is Lord over the powers of darkness, which reality a disciple will experience through faith.
i] Context: See 1:1-8. This incident falls within the later Galilean ministry of Jesus. It is part of a set of stories which demonstrate Jesus' victory over powers hostile to God, 4:35-5:43. In fact, it serves as part of an artistically packaged set stories. The kingdom parables announce the catastrophic eruption of the reign of God in Jesus, and now Mark describes the exercise of Jesus' authority over the powers of the deep (leviathan / Satan), demon possession, sickness and death. In these stories we are confronted with Jesus' word of power over dark forces, a word that interplays with the human response of faith.
ii] Structure: Jesus stills the storm.
This episode / pericope adopts the standard form of a healing / miracle story, here particularly a nature miracle. Instead of the disciples asking for help they accuse Jesus and then Jesus, having stilled the storm, rebukes the disciples, who in-turn respond in amazement.
The stilling of the storm does more than just tell us that Jesus is Lord over nature. The roaring sea corresponds with the rage of the demoniac in the next story, 5:1-20, as does the calm of the sea with the demoniac's calm after the demon is cast out. So, what we have in this story is Jesus subduing the evil powers of darkness.
It was commonly believed that such powers dwell in the deep, in the waters of the sea. The great leviathan represents this power of darkness. So, this incident represents a satanic attack upon Jesus; the howling wind, the waves breaking into the boat, represent Satan reaching out to frustrate, even end Jesus' mission. Yet, the reign of God is Jesus has begun, and Jesus, the messiah, is on a divine mission, and no earthly, or spiritual power, can stand in his way. These powers may rant and rave, but they cannot frustrate the dawning kingdom.
Mark would have us face this reality; he would have us take note of the failure of Jesus' first disciples and their lack of faith; he would have us understand that Jesus is Lord over the powers of darkness.
Matt.8:23-27, Lk.8:22-25. There is obvious alignment with the story of Jonah, particularly v37-39. Either Mark flavours his received tradition to draw out this alignment, or it is part of his received tradition. See Marcus on Mark's Jonah typology, Book 1, p336-8.
Alignment is evident between Luke and Mark for this and the next two episodes, cf., Lk.8:22-56. The accounts evidence the vivid details of an eyewitness account. This does not mean that they were present, just that the tradition they draw from has preserved the substantial elements of personal observation.
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes Jesus calms the storm.
Text - 4:35
Jesus stills the storm, v35-41. Jesus has been preaching beside the sea of Galilee. Following his usual practice of furthering his gospel ministry, the team sets sail for the Eastern shore of the lake. Evening sailing was usually much safer, certainly safer than the afternoons when the wind often increases. On this occasion, a storm hit, and the boat was about to be swamped. The disciples, many of them experienced fisherman, were afraid of the severity of the storm. They woke Jesus and virtually accused him of not caring about their fate. Jesus responds by stilling the storm. He actually "rebukes" the storm, commanding it to be silent. This is exactly the way he treats the demonic powers. Powers have threatened Jesus and his disciples, and Jesus responds by muzzling them with a word of authority. Having rebuked the wind, Jesus rebukes the disciples with two questions which they answer themselves in their exclamation, "who is this?"
en + dat. "-" - on [that day]. Temporal use of the preposition.
genomenhV (ginomai) gen. aor. part. "when [evening] came" - [evening] having become, come into being, been born. The genitive participle with the genitive noun "evening" forms a genitive absolute construction, usually taken as temporal, as NIV. "Evening" means "sunset".
legei (legw) pres. "he said" - A historic present, used for narrative style, here to indicate transition to a new episode.
autoiV dat. pro. "to his disciples" - to them. Dative of indirect object.
dielqwmen (diercomai) aor. subj. "let's go over" - let us go through, pass through. Hortatory subjunctive. Here obviously "let us cross over".
eiV + acc. "to [the other side]" - to, into. Spatial, expressing direction toward and arrival at. The country east of Lake Galilee; "to the eastern side of the lake."
afenteV (afihmi) aor. part. "leaving" - [and] sending away, letting go, going away, releasing [the crowd]. Attendant circumstance participle, expressing action accompanying the main verb "they take", but possibly adverbial, temporal. Sometimes given the sense "dismiss", although, Mark does not use the word this way. Taylor notes the alternate reading and argues that it is a Greek correction of the original Aramaic. They are leaving the crowd on the beach where they had been standing while Jesus spoke to them from the stern of the boat.
wJV "just as" - [they take him] as [he was]. Comparative. The intended sense of this phrase is unclear. Jesus is in the boat and so it is the disciples who leave the crowd and get in the boat/s. Sweet suggests "without going ashore to make preparations."
en + dat. "in" - in [the boat]. Local, expressing space.
autou pro. "him" - [and other boats were with] him, it. Genitive after the prepositionmeta, "with", expressing association. Either with Jesus, or with the boat. No further mention is made of the other boats, but it is obviously one of those interesting pieces of the original setting preserved in the oral tradition.
lailay (ay apoV) "[furious] squall" - [and there came about a large, fierce] storm, whirlwind, hurricane, squall. Nominative subject of ginetai; "a fierce gust of wind", BAGD.
anemou (oV) gen. "-" - of wind. The genitive is adjectival, possibly idiomatic, of material, identifying what the great squall is made of, namely "wind", but best treated as attributed, "a violent wind"; "a violent gale sprung up", Cassirer.
eiV + acc. "[broke] over" - [and the waves were throwing = breaking over] to, into [the boat]. Spatial, indicating the direction of the action and arrival at. Here in the sense, "the waves were breaking into the boat."
wJste + inf. "so that" - so that. Introducing a consecutive clause expressing result; the result being that they were nearly swamped.
hdh adv. "-" - already [the boat to be filled]. The storm was such that the boat was "already" swamped; "it was about to sink", CEV. The accusative "boat" serves as the subject of the infinitive "to be filled", which infinitive stands with wJste; "the boat was already at the point of filling up = sinking."
autoV pro. "Jesus" - [and] he. Unnecessary use of the personal pronoun; Semitic form.
kaqeudwn (kaqeudw) pres. part. "sleeping" - [he was] sleeping. The present participle with the imperfect verb to-be forms a periphrastic imperfect construction, possibly indicating durative action, "he was sound-asleep in the stern"; "he was sleeping on a cushion in the stern [of the boat]", Moffatt.
en + dat. "in" - in [the stern]. Local, expressing space.
epi + acc. "on" - upon. Spacial; "upon".
to proskefalaion (on) "a cushion" - a cushion. The article implies only one cushion. Possibly a rowers leather seat, although there would be more than one, or possibly a cushion for a guest who would normally be placed in the stern of the boat.
egeirousin (egeirw) pres. "woke" - [and] they raise, lift up = rouse [him]. As with legousin, "they say", historic / narrative present translated in the past tense.
autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - [and they say] to him. Dative of indirect object.
soi dat. pro. "[don't] you [care]" - [teacher, does it not matter to] you. Dative of direct object after the verb melei, "it is a concern to" / interest. "Teacher, don't you care that we are all about to drown? Hurry! Do something", Junkins.
oJti "if" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Jesus was not caring about, namely "that we are perishing."
apollumeqa (apollumi) pres. mid. "we drown" - we are perishing, ruined. The words are a rebuke, but notice how they are softened in Matthew and Luke. "Is it of no concern to you that we are perishing / drowning?"; "Teacher, are we to drown, for all you care", Moffatt.
diegerqeiV (diegeirw) aor. pas. part. "he got up" - having been woken out of a sleep, aroused completely. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "he rebuked", but it may be treated as adverbial, temporal, "after he got up.". Although most illustrations have Jesus now standing up in the back of the boat, blond hair blowing in the wind, arms outstretched like Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments (minus the staff), "got up" is better rendered "he awoke." It is very unlikely that Jesus would be foolish enough to stand up in a small sailing boat during a storm. "And he woke up", Moffatt.
epetimhsen (epitimaw) aor. + dat. "rebuked" - he spoke sternly to = he rebuked, warned sternly. As God rebukes the wilds of nature, so Jesus rebukes the wind, speaking as its master. Possibly "he checked the wind", Moffatt.
tw/ anemw/ (oV) dat. "the wind" - the wind. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to rebuke."
th/ qalassh/ (a) "to the waves" - [and he spoke] to the sea, lake. Dative of indirect object.
siwpa (siwpaw) pres. imp. "Quiet" - keep silence, still. Imperative, "be silent." Calvin says that Jesus, in addressing the sea, serves "to show that the power of his voice reached the elements, which were devoid of feeling." Cranfield sees no demonic power behind the wind that is driving the sea. Yet, given that the story is tied to Jesus' overcoming of the "legion", it is likely that we are dealing with something more than just Jesus' mastery over nature. If this is the case, it is very unlikely that he would have uttered a rather pathetic "hush", NJB.
pefimwso (fimow) perf. pas. imp. "be still" - be muzzled, silenced. A very rare perfect imperative - only 4 in the NT; used for stylistic emphasis. The construction gives an emphatic sense to "be still", and so reinforces the sense that Jesus is instructing the dark powers of the underworld - he uses the same word when silencing an evil spirit, cf., 1:25. It's "be still (get back in your box!) and stay that way."
ekopasen (kopazw) aor. "died down" - [and the wind] ceased, dropped. Note the ring of an eyewitness account in the vivid brevity of this story. "The wind dropped and there was a great calm."
galhnh (h) "[it was completely] calm" - [and there became a great] calm. Taylor notes that the long vowels in the Greek serve to promote "an atmosphere of complete peace."
autoiV dat. pro. "to his disciples" - [and he said] to them. Dative of indirect object.
tiv "why" - why. Interrogative pronoun.
deiloi adj. "afraid" - [are you] cowardly, afraid, fearful, timid. Predicate adjective.
ouJtwV "-" - thus. The comparative textual variant expresses manner; "why are you afraid like this", Moffatt.
oupw "[do you] still [have] no [faith]?" - [do you have] not yet. Variant pwV ouk, giving the sense "how is it that you do not have faith. The text is disturbed here with words either alternating or being left out. The NIV follows "do you not yet have faith?" Either way, by this time, the disciples should have learned something of Jesus' mission and so be able to trust him. So, rather than Phillips "what has happened to your faith?", the sense is probably "have you still no faith?", NJB.
pistin (iV ewV) "faith" - reliance upon, trust, faith? "Faith" in the sense of reliance on Christ, that he is both willing and able to resist the powers of darkness. There is debate over the intended focus of this faith. Many commentators see the faith as focused on God, his fatherly care, not in Jesus' mission, cf., Taylor. Yet, the episode describes the disciples' fear of being swamped by the storm. Jesus is the messiah, inaugurating the kingdom of God. Can nature, or more particularly the powers of darkness, resist the dawning of the new age? The Reed Sea could not stand in the way of Israel, nor the river Jordan, and certainly a storm on lake Galilee is unlikely to overcome the mission of the messiah, the Israel of God.
The disciples have not yet worked out who Jesus is and as consequence, are afraid and without faith. Although the crowds hear only riddles (parables), the disciples hear the clear truth. Yet, at this stage, they do not fully understand that Jesus "is the Christ, the Son of God". They do not understand that Jesus is ushering in the kingdom of God with power and authority, and that no force can stand against this heavenly man and his mission.
efobhqhsan (fobeomai) aor. pas. "they were terrified" - [and] they were afraid, feared [a great fear]. The addition of "a great fear" in the Greek is added for emphasis, "they feared a great fear." The word can move toward "respect", "sheer awe swept over them", Phillips.
elegon (legw) imperf. "asked" - [and] they were saying. Here possibly an inceptive imperfect where the emphasis is on the beginning of the action, "they began to say to one another", Taylor.
allhlouV pro. "each other" - [toward] one another. Discussion emerged within the group.
ara "-" - [who] then, therefore [is this]. Drawing a logical conclusion; "in light of all that has happened then, who is this man?"
oJti "-" - that [and = even]. Possibly serving to introduce a dependent statement of perception expressing the content of their musings, that which prompts the question "who is this?" Zerwick suggests that it is causal in that it gives the reason why the question is put, see #420. Decker suggests that it is epexegetic, specifying who "this" is. "Who can this be seeing that both the wind and the waves obey him."
oJ anemoV (oV) "wind" - the wind. Nominative subject of the verb "to obey." Not "spirit."
hJ qalassa (a) "waves" - [and] the sea, lake. Nominative subject of the verb "to obey." Obviously "waves", as NIV.
uJpakouei (uJpakouw) pres. "obey" - obey. It is the "wind" and the "sea / waves" which obey, although Mark has used a singular verb. He may have a singular sense in mind, that together they obey. Who is this that both the wind and the sea = nature obey him? The answer is usually, he is God, but of course, someone like Moses, even the messiah, is the correct conclusion. The disciples obviously, at this stage in Jesus' ministry, do not know the answer to the question, which is why they ask it, and it is why they are still without faith.
autw/ dat. pro. "him" - him. Dative of direct object after the verb uJpakouw, "to obey."