This article on Mark 4:36 is about the human nature of Jesus Christ.

Source: Clarion, 1990. 2 pages.

Mark 4:36 – More than Jonah!

And leaving the crowd, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was.

Mark 4:36a

storm at sea

Small words sometimes mean a lot. So it is with the observation in the gospel of Mark that the disciples took Jesus with them in the boat just as He was. Some maintain that we are not to see any special significance in these words, since Mark only wants to point out that Jesus was already in the boat when He gave the command to go to the other side, and that He simply stayed in the boat He was in as they set out to go. Literally the text says: "they took Him as He was in the boat," a formulation which can be read in various ways, but certainly does not demand special emphasis on Jesus state or condition at the time. Others suggest that the term means that He went without delay, without care, or without any equipment.

The context does not force us to decide between these interpretations. But the words should not be treated as if they were not there! They indicate that Jesus did not get out into another boat or take a rest before His departure. He had been teaching for the whole day by the sea and we can assume that He was very tired, Mark 4:1. This gospel also stresses the relentless tempo of the coming of the kingdom of God. God does not leave His Son alone for a moment; Jesus goes immediately from one place to the next, cf. Mark 1:12, 21, 29. He is soon overwhelmed with crowds and with work. He never rests, not even on the Sabbath. It is no wonder that He appears exhausted. In fact, this is the only time in the gospels we read of Him sleeping. Imagine the circumstances! He slept on what probably was one of the seats in a small boat, and even the raging waves did not awaken Him.

So He is portrayed here as the Man of weakness, a Man of a nature like ours. In this moment He is the model of stark humanity. He left just as He was, tired, and hungry, and without a break. And in such a state He is pursued by God's raging storm. Again God does not allow Him a moment's rest. The storm also illustrates Satan's attempt to block the progress of the gospel. As a man exhausted Jesus labours under the wrath of the Father, and under the onslaughts of Satan who tries to weaken and destroy the church.

Yet it is this Man who rebukes the wind and says to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And He rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith. His words make clear: someone greater than Jonah is here! Jonah had also been sound asleep in the boat at one point in his life, when he fled to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, Jonah 1:3. Then, too, the sea raged, and a great wind was hurled on the sea. Jonah knew why the terrible storm had come upon the sea, and told the sailors that they would have to throw him overboard in order to have the sea calmed for them. Jonah knew that in some measure he had to suffer for his sin, and be punished for what he had done. He felt the force of guilt exposed in the relentless pounding of the waves, and in the terror of God which threatened to destroy everyone on board the ship.

boat water

Not so the Lord Jesus! He also lay asleep in the boat. But He did not need to be thrown overboard on being awakened. For He had no guilt! He did not need to pay for His own sin; indeed, He would give His life to pay for the sins of others! Therefore, under the same conditions He only needs to say: "Peace! Be still!" More than Jonah is here!

Here the disciples' faith was tested. For in His fatigue the Lord Jesus appeared as only too human. So they are impertinent in their attitude towards Him. But they should have known that He would lead them safely to the other side. And here they come to know the Man of weakness as the royal Son of power. They see how a Man on their side receives authority over all creation. They see creation restored to its paradise order in which man has dominion over all creation. And they see One who is at the same time true God, having power to dispose of all things in heaven and on earth.

The church may receive such a Saviour: one like us in all things, except without sin! He becomes Lord of a new creation! Here the gospel shows us the Lord of heaven and earth, who may rule because of His willingness to humble Himself and show perfect obedience in the form of human flesh under the curse. And in the measure that the Lord Jesus manifests His power. He indicates His willingness to humble Himself even more – indeed, even to the death on the cross.

For us who know that this has happened in history there is comfort indeed. More than Jonah is here! He was manifested in weakness, but raised in power! And He received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore we know that our lives are safe in His hands and He will also usher His church safely to the final shore.

"Have you no faith?" asked Jesus. Then He shows us who He is: the right Man on our side! The Son of glory and power! And yet a Man of weakness, who is thus able to sympathize with all our weaknesses, Hebrews 4:15. Therefore we may answer with the church of all ages: "I believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, my Lord and Saviour." God be praised for His gift!

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