3 August, 2021

Lesson for April 28, 2019: Trust Jesus in a Storm (Mark 4:35-41)

by | 22 April, 2019 | 0 comments

Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in issue no. 4 (weeks 17-20; April 28–May 19, 2019) of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.


Lesson Aim: Trust Jesus’ power to protect you.


If Jesus can conquer death (last week’s lesson) then he can certainly calm a storm. And not just figurative, metaphoric, or spiritual storms, but real, physical, honest-to-goodness storms. When sin entered the world, creation experienced a separation from its creator (Genesis 3:17b-19; Romans 8:22). The coming of Jesus into the world began the process of setting things right and restoring creation. When Jesus performed miracles over nature, as in our text today, we witness the beginning of him making all things new (Revelation 21:5).

Prior to our narrative miracle-story text, Jesus had been preaching all day. The genre of his discourse was parables (Mark 4:1-34). But preaching will wear any preacher out, so Jesus was exhausted. At day’s end he instructed his disciples to get into the boat and sail to the other side (which meant across the very northern tip of the Sea of Galilee). Even though Jesus gave the orders to leave, it seemed as though the disciples took charge of Jesus. The text says, “They took him along, just as he was.” How was he? Bone tired. One detail that Mark gives is, “There were also other boats with him.” Did these boats miss the storm somehow? Did they perish at sea? Did they witness this stunning miracle? Perhaps others gave their eye-witness testimony to the calming of the storm. And this will be just the first of three miracle stories (Mark 4:35–5:43).

A Sunday school teacher once asked her class, “What is faith?” A little girl responded, “Faith is believing God without asking any questions.” That answer is not wrong, but it is inadequate. An informed faith contains scores of questions. Questions can stimulate a vigorous faith. Cliché answers to serious questions can make faith anemic and pale. We should notice that the sub-genre of our text is questions. Three are asked in the text, two asked by the disciples and one by Jesus.

The Question of Despair—Don’t you care if we drown?”

While Jesus and the disciples were sailing toward the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, a furious squall came up. This was not uncommon as the cool breeze from the hills combined with the warm moist air from the Sea of Galilee (650 feet below sea level) created tornadic-type winds. The storm was so severe that waves broke over the boat. Interestingly enough, Jesus slept through it. His preaching and ministry had exhausted him. He slept on the rower’s cushion. (This is the only time in the Gospels where we are told that Jesus slept.)

The disciples let Jesus sleep at first, but when desperation turned to despair, they woke him out of his sleep with a most odd question (see Jonah 1:4-6). “Don’t you care if we drown?” These experienced fishermen were scared. Jesus’ sleep displayed his trust in his heavenly father. But the disciples wanted action. Have you ever felt that God was asleep in regard to your situation (Psalm 22:1)? The question of care is most odd. Jesus came all the way from Heaven because he cared. In this instance, Jesus came out of a deep sleep, rebuked (the same word for his rebuking of demons) the wind by speaking to creation, and calmed the storm. The miracle itself took one verse to tell.

The Question of Fear and Faith—Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

In Matthew’s account of this story (Matthew 8:23-27) Jesus asked this question before calming the storm. But Mark has the actual calming first, and then this penetrating question. Matthew’s Jesus is ever the teacher first. Mark’s Jesus is ever the powerful wonder worker first. Matthew’s account spoke of “little” faith. Mark spoke of “no” faith. Clearly Mark is a bit harsher with the disciples. Fear and faith actually go together. The disciples had both. Yet they continued to follow Jesus.

The Question of Identity—Who is this?”

Facing a storm is pretty scary, but facing the one who can calm the storm is even scarier. The text says the disciples were terrified (literally, “feared a great fear”). Can Jesus calm the trouble and storms in our lives? Of course. But that is not the point of this text. The storm was a real physical storm. The disciples were awestruck—not by their storms being calmed but by the identity of the one who calmed them. Psalm 89:9 says, “You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them” (English Standard Version). Psalm 107:29 says, “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed” (ESV). All of our questions of faith disappear when we focus clearly on the object of our faith.H


Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on the scope and sequence, ©2018 by Christian Standard Media. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

Image: Detail of Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, an oil painting by Ludolf Bakhuizen (1630–1708). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

<a href="https://christianstandard.com/author/markscott/" target="_self">Mark Scott</a>

Mark Scott

Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. He also serves as minister with Park Plaza Christian Church in Joplin.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Articles


By taking these symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, we announce we believe there really was a Jesus, and he really did die for us and carried all our sins down to a grave . . .

Documentary Highlights Christian Response to Pandemics

Southeast Christian Church’s “Purpose in Pandemics” is a documentary that follows the response of the church to pandemics throughout history. The “Purpose in Pandemics” website also includes a study guide for small groups and individuals.

Used of God

I soaked up Sam Stone’s wit and wisdom during our lunches together. Afterward, I’d take notes about our conversations. After hearing of his passing, inspired by his wordsmithing, I felt compelled to share just a small part of his story.

Sam E. Stone: ‘He Tried to Speak the Truth in Love’

In memory and appreciation of our former editor, Sam E. Stone, who died early this week, we share this 2011 column from Christian Standard’s archives in which Sam discussed four Scripture verses significant to his life.

Elliott Library ‘Cornerstone’ Laid

Three Bibles of historical significance to Cincinnati Christian University were the first books place on the shelves during relocation of the George Mark Elliott Library.

The Death of Evil

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw in minority groups’ struggles for social equality in America a parallel with Israel’s bondage in Egypt. King envisioned God’s goodness would deliver the U.S. from the evil of segregation.

Mark Scott’s Greatest Kingdom Impact

Since I first enrolled at Ozark Christian College, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students.

‘Have We Plans for 1921?’

“All the Standard asks is the opportunity to serve, and it yearns to render in 1921 the greatest, finest, and best service of its history. . . .”

CCLF Concluding Strong First Year in Greater Cincinnati

In its first full year, the Christian Church Leadership Foundation has accomplished much to ensure Christian education and resources would continue to be available to people in the Greater Cincinnati area.

News Briefs for Dec. 9

Items from Timber Lake Christian Church (Moberly, Mo.), Choateville Christian Church (Frankfort, Ky.), Johnson University, and more.

My Counsel for Young Preachers

If I were counseling an aspiring young preacher fresh out of Bible college or seminary, champing at the bit to lead in the church, I would offer these three bits of advice.

My Memories of Marshall Leggett

By Ben Merold
As I think about Marshall Leggett, who passed away on March 2 at age 90, two personal experiences keep coming to my mind . . .

Powell Quintuplets Graduating from High School

When the Powell quintuplets were born in 2001, all of Kentucky celebrated, including Southeast Christian Church, where the Powells are longtime members. Now the quints are 18 and are all headed to the same university.

Reentry: It May Be Harder Than We Think

When the COVID-19 crisis eases, I anticipate that reentry is going to be harder than some people think. Churches, especially, need to prepare for this.

How the Local Church Can Make a Difference in Foster Care

A ministry that serves the foster care system isn’t simple. The situations are complicated and the answers are never easy, but it’s been an incredible honor for Christ’s Church of Oronogo to be invited into families’ stories.

An Altar of Earth

We no longer sacrifice burnt offerings on an altar because Jesus came as the ultimate and final sacrifice for our sins. But we should remember an old command as we come before God to worship him.

Aug. 8 | Which Righteousness?

Having called the Galatians back to the true gospel, defended his own apostleship, and having confronted Peter (i.e., Cephas), Paul begins to argue for the gospel of righteousness.

Aug. 8 | Application

A biblical text normally has a single meaning, but it can have many applications. Consider Galatians 2:20 . . .

Follow Us