Lesson 3: Miracles

‘Tis the set of the sail that decides the goal, and not the storm of life.

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Devotion: Read Mark 4:35-41. Up until now in Mark, Jesus has taught, cast out demons, and healed people. Calming the storm is the first miracle displaying his power over the larger natural world. What does this miracle demonstrate about Jesus’ place in creation? How would you answer the disciples’ question, “who then is this?” (4:41) How does this miracle change how the disciples see Jesus? If they are still envisioning the Messiah to be a political and military leader to overthrow their Roman oppressors, how might they be tempted to interpret this experience? Why does Jesus not perform such miracles in front of the religious leaders to convince them of his status?

Personal Worship Option: Before you read Matthew’s version of this miracle, spend time in prayer, asking God to reveal to you in the reading what you personally need to hear about faith in the midst of storms in your life. When you are open to hearing what this passage what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to you through this passage, read Matthew 8:23-27.

Dig A Little Deeper:

Compare this passage to Luke 8:22-25. How has Luke softened Mark’s story?

4:36 Jesus desires to leave the crowds (4:1). Mark’s comment in 4:34 about explaining parables to the disciples provides an interesting link to this story where a miracle is performed for the benefit of only the disciples.

The fishing boats of this era are designed with low sides to enable fisherman to pull nets into the center. However such a design means they are easily swamped by waves.

4:38 Some suggest the disciples’ cries about perishing reflects both their fear of death and their spiritual state. It may also be symbolic of Israel’s need for God’s New Covenant. Certainly their rebuke of Jesus for not caring is answered by Jesus’ statements about faith in the midst of the storm. How might Jesus’ words “peace, be still” be an appropriate comment for the disciples?  

4:39 The word “rebuked” (Greek “epitimao) is usually associated with casting out demons. This term ties the miracle to the Jewish Bible proclamation that God conquers the sea or sea dragons (Ps 89:10; Job 9:8). How might the meaning of this passage change or be enhanced if it communicates demonic powers are at work in the storm?

4:40 What is the difference between asking “why are you afraid?” once the storm is past, versus asking them the same question in the midst of the storm as Matthew reports (Mt 8:26)?

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