Mark 4:35-41

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

In this story, Jesus is calming the powers of chaos. For Mark's audience, the storm brought to mind bigger-than-life, mythical, images and stories and songs of antiquity.The chaos dragon lived in the sea and a common belief in the ancient world was that storms in the sea were caused by the sudden rising of the chaos dragon. Storms were a kind of tidal wave caused by the great dragon, a symbol for the cosmic powers of evil.The chaos dragon is in the background of stories in the Old Testament and some of the Psalms. The story of the flood in Genesis reflects the Ancient Near Eastern myths of the chaos dragon. It is a sign of the powers against God. Contemporary movies have developed a large repertoire of signs of the powers of evil.

Jesus' attitude at the beginning of this story is one of exhaustion. He's been teaching all day and is tired. You want to convey that exhaustion in your telling. The implication of the boats being with him is that this was a kind of boat party on the lake. They were all going across the sea with Jesus and his disciples. It was a wonderful evening and everything was hunky dory. The windstorm suddenly changed all of that.

The possibility was very real on the Sea of Galilee that a really bad storm would sink your boat. So the disciples woke up Jesus and told him that they were about to be swamped by the waves. Jesus' sleep implies indifference. That's why they ask him,"Teacher, don't you care if we are about the die?" It doesn't matter whether he was exhausted. To them what matters is that he is indifferent to their situation. This is a frequent experience of God in which God appears to be indifferent to situations of life when we are about to be overwhelmed by the powers of chaos. This story gives a context for the experience of God's seeming indifference to our being overwhelmed.

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