Mark 4: Who is this?

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Reading: Mark 4

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!" (Mark 4:35-41)

Reflecting and Thinking
We have described the narratives of chapters 1-4 in several ways-identity stories, confrontation stories, amazing stories. Today's text suggests yet another description-power stories. In the beginning chapters of Mark's gospel, Jesus has power over evil spirits, demons, diseases, sin, leprosy, paralysis, and even nature. It is this latter power that ultimately catches the disciples' attention: "Who is this?" Even the waves obey his commands.
Today's text also introduces the continuing tension in Mark's gospel between fear and faith. These two concepts are interwoven throughout this gospel. "Why are you so afraid? Does that mean you still do not believe?"
Chapter 4 is probably most famous for the amazing words (parables of Jesus) which take up most of the chapter. How many of the themes we have identified can you find in the parables section?

What connection do you see between fear and faith? Can fear and faith dwell side by side in the same human heart? How do fear and faith work out in tension or tandem in your own life? Is it true that the more we believe the less we fear? Explain. Can faith and unfaith dwell side by side in the same human heart? (This is a thought question for now--we will come back to it in a few chapters.)

Heavenly Father, help us grow in faith and deal with fear in our lives. Help us see more clearly not only who Jesus is, but also the power he can wield in our lives because of his identity. Help us see more clearly. In the name of the powerful Jesus, Amen.

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Last updated August 16, 2011