Jesus Stills the Storm






             Joseph Francis Alward  
                © Copyright 2001 


In this article I describe how Mark may have used Jonah, Isaiah, Psalm, and Proverbs to create a tale of Jesus calming the furious squall at sea threatening his disciples. 


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  In Jonah, a violent storm threatens a ship on which Jonah sleeps, so Mark made a violent storm threaten a ship on which Jesus sleeps.  In Jonah, the apprehensive sailors waken Jonah and question his cavalier attitude toward the danger, so Mark made his boat's captain apprehensive also, and had him, too, waken Jesus and question him about his seeming lack of concern.  The miraculous calming of the sea in Jonah causes the men fear the Lord, so Mark has the miraculous calming of his sea make the disciples fear Jesus, too. (Jonah 1:4-16, Mark 4:37-41)



 Old Testament Antecedents

Mark 4

[S]uch a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid …(Jonah 1:4)




That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." (Mark 4:35)


Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. (36)


A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. (37)

Passengers are surprised Jonah sleeps as the storm threatens the boat. Scripture teaches that sleep comes easy to those who are confident in the Lord’s protection.


But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep? (Jonah 1:5-6)

Then you will go on your way in safety…when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster… for the LORD will be your confidence (Proverbs 3:23-26)


Passengers are surprised Jesus sleeps as the storm threatens the boat.


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?" (38)

(Mark may have given the cushion to Jesus to suggest that his sleep was “sweet.”)

The Lord rules the seas.


[He] brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm…(Psalm 107:29-30)


O God our Savior…who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves…(Psalm 65:5-7)


You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them (Psalm 89:9)


When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. (Isaiah 43:1)


The Lord has the power to control the seas, so Mark gave Jesus a similar power.


He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (39)

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  (Isaiah 12:2)


For the LORD…will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever (Psalm 37:28)

[F]or he…protects the way of his faithful ones. (Proverbs 2:8)


When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. (Psalm 56:3-4)

He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (40)

After the sailors saw the power of Jonah’s god, they became fearful of the Lord.


[T]he raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD (Jonah 1:15-16)



Disciples were fearful of he who had god-like powers.


They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this?” (41)



The wind obeys the Lord.


Praise the LORD …stormy winds that do his bidding,
(Psalm 148:7-8)


Mark has the wind obey the command of Jesus.


“Even the wind and the waves obey him!"  (41)


After the Lord stilled the storm, the sailors arrived safely at their destination.


They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.  (Psalm 107:30)


After Jesus calms the seas, the sailors arrive safely at their destination.


They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. (Mark 5:1)




Other articles about Mark’s gospel:

  David and Jesus
  Jesus Walks on Water
  Loaves and Fishes
  Wicked Tenants Parables

  Mark's Wicked Tenants Parable