Mark 4: 30-41 (The Parable of the Mustard Seed; Jesus Calms the Storm)

The Parable of the Mustard Seed
30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

Jesus Calms the Storm
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!”

v40 – Now I know why Jesus said so, because Jesus already said “Let us go over to the other side.” (v35). If Jesus said so, they shouldn’t be so afraid.

This event happened in the Sea of Galilee.

v38 – “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion”: Jesus’ true humanity is shown by His sleep on the boat. He became weary, and sometimes caught a bit of sleep wherever He could.

i. Think of all the worries that might have kept Jesus awake. He could worry about the religious and political leaders who plotted against Him. He could worry about His family who thought He was crazy. He could worry about the overwhelming crowds with their overwhelming needs. He could worry about the disciples He chose. He could worry about the future, because He knew what His destiny was. With all these things to worry about, Jesus wasn’t worried. He slept in a rocking boat.

This passage also reminds me the point from the book “Mind Change”, ” … but God ” mindset. Here is we put the right and spiritual perspective like “There is a violent storm here. It is terrifying but Jesus is here. He will protect us or work out something.”. We shall not ignore the real problem (violent storm which can turn the boat) and yet do not worry or anxious because Jesus is here, with us in the same boat.

v39 – “The disciples woke him”: The wind didn’t wake Him, and water splashing over the boat didn’t wake Him. But at the cry of His disciples, He instantly awoke. Jesus is like the mother who sleeps through all kinds of racket, but at the slightest noise from her little baby, she instantly awakes.

f. “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Notice the “we.” Their idea was, “Hey Jesus, You’re in trouble here too. Maybe You had better wake up, get a bucket and start bailing along with us, because we are perishing!”

i. “It was not a request to Him to do anything; but a protest against His apparent indifference.” (Morgan)

ii. The disciples were afraid, but at the same time there were several experienced fishermen among them. They knew they were in jeopardy (Luke 8:23), but probably felt they knew what to do. They worked hard at bailing out the water, at rowing in a certain rhythm, at piloting the boat in a certain direction. They were annoyed that Jesus didn’t help them.

Jesus sleeps, but he never oversleeps. We sleep and easily oversleep.
Jesus sleeps, but not dead.

a. Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? Jesus didn’t say, “Wow, what a storm!” Instead, He asked, “Why is it that you have no faith?” The storm could not disturb Jesus, but the unbelief of His disciples disturbed Him.

i. It was not their fear of the storm that made Jesus say they had no faith. A small boat in a big storm is a scary place, and the initial fear itself isn’t wrong. What the disciples chose to do with the fear made all the difference.

ii. Jesus could say they had no faith because they did not believe His word. They each heard Jesus say, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake” (Mark 4:22). Jesus did not say, “Let’s do the best we can and maybe we’ll all drown.” He promised a safe arrival, and the disciples could have chosen to trust in that promise, but they didn’t. In this sense they had no faith.

iii. Jesus could say they had no faith because they accused Jesus of a lack of care towards them. When they woke Him, they said, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38) When we think Jesus doesn’t care about us, it shows we have no faith, because we don’t believe the truth about Jesus. It takes great faith to trust the sleeping Jesus, to know that He cares and works for us even when it does not seem like it. But this is the kind of trust God wants to build in us.

iv. Jesus could say they had no faith because they forgot the big picture. The disciples should have known that God would not allow the Messiah to perish in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. Could the story of Jesus possibly end with Him drowning in a boat accident on the Sea of Galilee? “Was it reasonable for these men to think that he, who could foresee the future, would take them on board a ship when he foreknew that a storm would wreck them? Would so kind a leader have taken them to sea to drown them? Was it reasonable to think that he who was so favored of God would be left to perish? Would he have gone to sleep if they had really been in danger? Was it reasonable to believe that the King of Israel was about to be drowned, even he whom they knew to be the light of the world? Our unbelief, my brethren, seldom deserves to be reasoned with. Our fears are often intensely silly, and when we get over them, and ourselves look back upon them, we are full of shame that we should have been so foolish. Our Lord kindly censured their unbelief because it was unreasonable.” (Spurgeon)

v. We could put the emphasis: How is it that you have no faith? Of all people, Jesus’ own disciples should have had faith. Would Jesus put the same question to us? “After all I have done in you and for you, how is it that you have no faith?”

c. Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him! The disciples ask a good question: Who can this be? It can only be the Lord, Jehovah, who only has this power and authority. O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness surrounds You. You rule the raging of the sea; when waves rise, You still them. (Psalm 89:8-9)

i. In the span of a few moments, the disciples saw both the complete humanity of Jesus and the fullness of His deity. They saw Jesus for who He is: truly man and truly God.

d. All this shows the abiding care Jesus has for His people. “There are many Christians today who seem to think the boat is going down! I am tired of the wailing of some of my friends who take that view. The boat cannot go down. Jesus is on board.” (Morgan)

v38-40 – The disciples panicked because the storm threatened to destroy them all, and Jesus seemed unaware and unconcerned. Theirs was a physical storm, but storms come in other forms. Think about the storms in your life – the situations that cause you great anxiety. Whatever your difficulty, you have two options: You can worry and assume that Jesus no longer cares, or you can resist fear, putting your trust in him. When you feel like panicking, confess your need for God and then trust him to care for you.

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