- Go together where he wants to go
Having spent a day telling parables to a ‘very large crowd’ – teaching from a boat (Mark 4:1, 33-34) – Jesus asked his disciples to take the vessel across to the opposite side of the lake (Mark 4:35-36).
They couldn’t help but notice how tired he was, and accommodated him ‘just as he was’ by providing a ‘cushion’ on which he could curl up and drop into a deep slumber (Mark 4:38).
Among the many parables that he had taught that day had been one about how ‘the kingdom of God … sprouts and grows’ like ‘scatter[ed] seed’ in ‘the ground’ while the Sower ‘sleeps and rises night and day’ (Mark 4:26-27) – ‘first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear’ – until ‘the grain is ripe’ at harvest time, ‘when’ the Sower ‘at once’ becomes the Reaper, and ‘puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come’ (Mark 4:28-29).
- Call on him together when problems arise
The disciples’ problem was that they didn’t yet recognize the Sower, nor had they recognized another character in his first parables of that day: ‘Satan immediately comes’ (long before harvest) ‘and takes away the word that is sown in them’ (Mark 4:15). And what method does the enemy use straightaway?
Mark unfolds the drama by using the adjective ‘great’ three times in his written account of the next events. His Greek word megas cropped up in my youth in such things as a ‘megaphone’ through which the human voice was magnified, and is prevalent in the present usage of English as a prefix in such words as ‘megastars’.
‘A great windstorm arose, and [as a consequence], ‘the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling’ (Mark 4:37). So ‘they woke him’ and anxiously asked him: ‘“Teacher, do you not care that we are [all, Jesus included] perishing?”’ (Mark 4:38).
‘He [instantly] awoke’ and performed two distinct actions: (a) he’ rebuked the wind’ –because its source was satanic; (b) ‘and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”’ Two results followed: (a) ‘the wind ceased and’ (b) ‘there was a great calm’ (Mark 4:39). If Peter was the source of John Mark’s journalism here, it is clear that he still recalled vividly the events of that night – both the ‘before’ and the ‘after’. Not only was the storm ‘great’ and the resulting waves overwhelming their fishing craft but the subsequent windless, waveless calm also was ‘great’.
- Provoke one another about the significance of what has happened
The third scene in this drama was the inner sense of awesome wonder that all the fellows sensed had taken hold of them completely. ‘And they were filled with great fear’ (Mark 4:41).This caused them now at last to ask themselves as a group: ‘“Who then is this that both [Greek/English New Testament] the wind and the sea obey him?”’ It was dawning on them that they were being trained by someone who was unlike any rabbi they had ever known, or any Messiah they had ever imagined. Their understanding of Jesus increased.