Mark 4:35-41 (ESV)
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Mark has arranged the Jesus’ tradition in blocks. We have seen how he has put together a number of conflict stories (Chapters 2+3) together with a number of parables (4:1-34). We now find Mark putting together a number of miracle stories. ((4:35-5:43)
In this story Jesus’ disciples take him onto a boat. In 1986 a 1st century fishing boat was discovered on an archeological dig. The depth of the boat is 1.25 metres. These boats which presumably is the same type as that which Jesus and the desciples used is particularly vulnerable to high waves flooding it.
Jesus falls asleep in the boat as a wind storm strikes. We do not know whether Jesus was asleep due to exhaustion or due to a firm trust in the father’s omnipotence.
The disciples awoke Jesus out of fear of their safety, although we see that after the miracle the disciples are fearful at the power which Jesus exhibits.(v41)
The commentaries of France and Guillech draw out the parallels/contrasts between Jonah and Jesus.
A Great Windstorm (λαῖλαψ μεγάλη ἀνέμου ) Mark 4:37( and Jonah 1:4 and LXX Jeremiah 32:32 λαῖλαψ μεγάλη . Also of note is story which comes from the 12 patriarchs which, influenced by the Jonah story, was probably written in 1st century BC. It is the story of Jacob’ ship which is symbolic of Israel.
61 And again, after seven days, I saw our father Jacob standing by the sea of Jamnia, and we were with him. 2 And behold, there came a ship sailing by, without sailors or pilot; and there was written upon the ship, The Ship of Jacob. 3 And our father said to us: Come, let us embark on our ship. 4 And when he had gone on board, there arose a vehement storm, and a mighty tempest of wind; and our father, who was holding the helm, departed from us. 5 And we, being tost with the tempest, were borne along over the sea; and the ship was filled with water, (and was) pounded by mighty waves, until it was broken up. 6 And Joseph fled away upon a little boat, ⌈and we were all divided upon nine Planks⌉, and Levi and Judah were together. 7 And we were all scattered unto the ends of the earth. 8 Then Levi, girt about with sackcloth, prayed for us all unto the Lord. 9 And when the storm ceased, the ship reached the land ⌈as it were⌉ in peace. And, lo, our father came, and we all rejoiced with one accord.
( indicates that the word or words so enclosed or printed are supplied for the sake of clearness.
⌈ The use of these brackets means that the words so enclosed are omitted by A.
Charles, Robert Henry (Hrsg.): Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004, S. 2:338
It may be that these stories influenced the way this miracle has been portrayed by Mark. Jonah fell asleep in a storm when he was fleeing God’s mission. In contrast Jesus sleeps as somehow who is doing God’s will. Jonah prays to God, wheras Jesus addresses the wind and waves.
It is difficult to know to what extent, if any, the disciples’ cry has been altered. The captain’s rebuke of Jonah was followed by a request that he pray to his God for help (Jonah 1:6). The disciples’ rebuke may too have at least implied a “Do something!” in an earlier form of the story. Perhaps they simply wanted him to share in their concern or help them by prayer in keeping with the Jonah story and similar rescue stories in Judaism (Str-B, 1:489–90). In any case, the resulting awe and question in 4:41 do indicate that Jesus acted contrary to their expectations. And as the story now stands, the disciples’ cry sets the stage for Jesus’ rebuke of their fear and lack of faith in 4:40. Their cry, therefore, does not come as a request but as an expression of despair and anger aimed at their “Master” (διδάσκαλε) who apparently cared little about them. Jesus’ rebuke in 4:40 now sets the tone of the disciples’ cry in 4:38.
Str-B H. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, 4 vols. (Munich: Beck’sche, 1926–28)
Guelich, Robert A.: Word Biblical Commentary : Mark 1-8:26. Dallas : Word, Incorporated, 2002 (Word Biblical Commentary 34A), S. 266
Who indeed is this that the wind and sea obey him?” The answer has two dimensions. First, the parallel with Jonah shows him to be greater than Jonah (cf. Matt 12:41; Luke 11:32). Instead of praying to God, he personally addressed the wind and the sea
Guelich, Robert A.: Word Biblical Commentary : Mark 1-8:26. Dallas : Word, Incorporated, 2002 (Word Biblical Commentary 34A), S. 267
Jesus has power. He is a greater sign than the sign of Jonah. Jesus is not only a great teacher but he has great power.