Mark 4:39
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
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(39) Peace, be still.—Literally, be still, be silenced, The latter word is the same as that used of the man who had not on a wedding garment, and was “speechless” (Matthew 22:12). Note the vividness with which St. Mark gives the very words addressed to the raging sea, as though it were a hostile power rising in rebellion against its true Lord.

The wind ceased.—Better, lulled.



Mark 4:35

Mark seldom dates his incidents, but he takes pains to tell us that this run across the lake closed a day of labour, Jesus was wearied, and felt the need of rest, He had been pressed on all day by ‘a very great multitude,’ and felt the need of solitude. He could not land from the boat which had been His pulpit, for that would have plunged Him into the thick of the crowd, and so the only way to get away from the throng was to cross the lake. But even there He was followed; ‘other boats were with Him.’

I. The first point to note is the wearied sleeper.

The disciples ‘take Him, . . . even as He was,’ without preparation or delay, the object being simply to get away as quickly as might be, so great was His fatigue and longing for quiet. We almost see the hurried starting and the intrusive followers scrambling into the little skiffs on the beach and making after Him. The ‘multitude’ delights to push itself into the private hours of its heroes, and is devoured with rude curiosity. There was a leather, or perhaps wooden, movable seat in the stern for the steersman, on which a wearied-out man might lay his head, while his body was stretched in the bottom of the boat. A hard ‘pillow’ indeed, which only exhaustion could make comfortable! But it was soft enough for the worn-out Christ, who had apparently flung Himself down in sheer tiredness as soon as they set sail. How real such a small detail makes the transcendent mystery of the Incarnation! Jesus is our pattern in small common things as in great ones, and among the sublimities of character set forth in Him as our example, let us not forget that the homely virtue of hard work is also included. Jonah slept in a storm the sleep of a skulking sluggard, Jesus slept the sleep of a wearied labourer.

II. The next point is the terrified disciples.

The evening was coming on, and, as often on a lake set among hills, the wind rose as the sun sank behind the high land on the western shore astern. The fishermen disciples were used to such squalls, and, at first, would probably let their sail down, and pull so as to keep the boat’s head to the wind. But things grew worse, and when the crazy, undecked craft began to fill and get water-logged, they grew alarmed. The squall was fiercer than usual, and must have been pretty bad to have frightened such seasoned hands. They awoke Jesus, and there is a touch of petulant rebuke in their appeal, and of a sailor’s impatience at a landsman lying sound asleep while the sweat is running down their faces with their hard pulling. It is to Mark that we owe our knowledge of that accent of complaint in their words, for he alone gives their ‘Carest Thou not?’

But it is not for us to fling stones at them, seeing that we also often may catch ourselves thinking that Jesus has gone to sleep when storms come on the Church or on ourselves, and that He is ignorant of, or indifferent to, our plight. But though the disciples were wrong in their fright, and not altogether right in the tone of their appeal to Jesus, they were supremely right in that they did appeal to Him. Fear which drives us to Jesus is not all wrong. The cry to Him, even though it is the cry of unnecessary terror, brings Him to His feet for our help.

III. The next point is the word of power.

Again we have to thank Mark for the very words, so strangely, calmly authoritative. May we take ‘Peace!’ as spoken to the howling wind, bidding it to silence; and ‘Be still!’ as addressed to the tossing waves, smoothing them to a calm plain? At all events, the two things to lay to heart are that Jesus here exercises the divine prerogative of controlling matter by the bare expression of His will, and that this divine attribute was exercised by the wearied man, who, a moment before, had been sleeping the sleep of human exhaustion. The marvellous combination of apparent opposites, weakness, and divine omnipotence, which yet do not clash, nor produce an incredible monster of a being, but coalesce in perfect harmony, is a feat beyond the reach of the loftiest creative imagination. If the Evangelists are not simple biographers, telling what eyes have seen and hands have handled, they have beaten the greatest poets and dramatists at their own weapons, and have accomplished ‘things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.’

A word of loving rebuke and encouragement follows. Matthew puts it before the stilling of the storm, but Mark’s order seems the more exact. How often we too are taught the folly of our fears by experiencing some swift, easy deliverance! Blessed be God! He does not rebuke us first and help us afterwards, but rebukes by helping. What could the disciples say, as they sat there in the great calm, in answer to Christ’s question, ‘Why are ye fearful?’ Fear can give no reasonable account of itself, if Christ is in the boat. If our faith unites us to Jesus, there is nothing that need shake our courage. If He is ‘our fear and our dread,’ we shall not need to ‘fear their fear,’ who have not the all-conquering Christ to fight for them.

‘Well roars the storm to them who hear

A deeper voice across the storm.’

Jesus wondered at the slowness of the disciples to learn their lesson, and the wonder was reflected in the sad question, ‘Have ye not yet faith?’-not yet, after so many miracles, and living beside Me for so long? How much more keen the edge of that question is when addressed to us, who know Him so much better, and have centuries of His working for His servants to look back on. When, in the tempests that sweep over our own lives, we sometimes pass into a great calm as suddenly as if we had entered the centre of a typhoon, we wonder unbelievingly instead of saying, out of a faith nourished by experience, ‘It is just like Him.’4:35-41 Christ was asleep in the storm, to try the faith of his disciples, and to stir them up to pray. Their faith appeared weak, and their prayers strong. When our wicked hearts are like the troubled sea which cannot rest, when our passions are unruly, let us think we hear the law of Christ, saying, Be silent, be dumb. When without are fightings, and within are fears, and the spirits are in a tumult, if he say, Peace, be still, there is a great calm at once. Why are ye so fearful? Though there may be cause for some fear, yet not for such fear as this. Those may suspect their faith, who can have such a thought as that Jesus careth not though his people perish. How imperfect are the best of saints! Faith and fear take their turns while we are in this world; but ere long, fear will be overcome, and faith will be lost in sight.Peace, be still - There is something exceedingly authoritative and majestic in this command of our Lord. Standing amid the howling tempest, on the heaving sea, and in the darkness of night, by his own power he stills the waves and bids the storm subside. None but the God of the storms and the billows could awe by a word the troubled elements, and send a universal peace and stillness among the winds and waves. He must, therefore, be divine. The following remarks by Dr. Thomson, long a resident in Syria, and familiar with the scenes which occur there, will farther illustrate this passage, and the parallel account in Matthew 8:18-27, and also the passage in Matthew 14:23-32. The extract which follows is taken from "The land and the Book," vol. ii. p. 32, 33: "To understand the causes of these sudden and violent tempests, we must remember that the lake lies low - 600 feet lower than the ocean; that the vast and naked plateaus of the Jaulan rise to a great height, spreading backward to the wilds of the Hauran and upward to snowy Hermon; that the water-courses have cut out profound ravines and wild gorges, converging to the head of this lake, and that these act like gigantic "funnels" to draw down the cold winds from the mountains.

On the occasion referred to we subsequently pitched our tents at the shore, and remained for three days and nights exposed to this tremendous wind. We had to double-pin all the tent-ropes, and frequently were obliged to hang with our whole weight upon them to keep the quivering tabernacle from being carried up bodily into the air. No wonder the disciples toiled and rowed hard all that night; and how natural their amazement and terror at the sight of Jesus walking on the waves! The faith of Peter in desiring and "daring" to set foot on such a sea is most striking and impressive; more so, indeed, than its failure after he made the attempt. The whole lake, as we had it, was lashed into fury; the waves repeatedly rolled up to our tent door, tumbling over the ropes with such violence as to carry away the tent-pins. And moreover, those winds are not only violent, but they come done suddenly, and often when the sky is perfectly clear. I once went in to swim near the hot baths, and, before I was aware, a wind came rushing over the cliffs with such force that it was with great difficulty I could regain the shore. Some such sudden wind it was, I suppose, that filled the ship with waves so that it was now full, while Jesus was asleep on a pillow in the hinder part of the ship; nor is it strange that the disciples aroused him with the cry of Master! Master! carest thou not that we perish."

39. And he arose, and rebuked the wind—"and the raging of the water" (Lu 8:24).

and said unto the sea, Peace, be still—two sublime words of command, from a Master to His servants, the elements.

And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm—The sudden hushing of the wind would not at once have calmed the sea, whose commotion would have settled only after a considerable time. But the word of command was given to both elements at once.

See Poole on "Mark 4:35" And he arose and rebuked the wind,.... He arose from off his pillow, and stood up; and in a majestic and authoritative way reproved the wind, as if it was a servant that had exceeded his commission; at which he shows some resentment:

and said unto the sea, peace, be still; as if that which was very tumultuous and boisterous, and threatened with shipwreck and the loss of lives, had raged too much and too long:

and the wind ceased, and there was a great calm; which was very unusual and extraordinary; for after the wind has ceased, and the storm is over, the waters of the sea being agitated thereby, keep raging, and in a violent motion, for a considerable time; whereas here, as soon as ever the word was spoken, immediately, at once, the wind ceased, and the sea was calmed: a clear proof this, that he must be the most high God, who gathers the winds in his fists, and stills the noise of the seas and their waves.

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
Mark 4:39. Observe the poetic parallelism in this verse: wind and sea separately addressed, and the corresponding effects separately specified: lulled wind, calmed sea. The evangelist realises the dramatic character of the situation.—σιώπα, πεφίμωσο, silence! hush! laconic, majestic, probably the very words.—ἐκόπασεν, ceased, as if tired blowing, from κόπος (vide at Matthew 14:32).39. rebuked the wind] All three Evangelists record that He rebuked the wind (comp. Psalm 106:9), St Mark alone adds His distinct address to the furious elements. On be still see above, Mark 1:25. Comp. Matthew 8:26; Luke 8:24, and note. The perfect imperative of the original implies the command that the result should be instantaneous.

the wind ceased] Lit. grew tired. We have the same word in Matthew 14:32, and again in Mark 6:51. As a rule, after a storm the waves continue to heave and swell for hours, but here at the word of the Lord of Nature there was a “great calm.”Mark 4:39. Σιώπα, be silent) cease from roaring.—πεφίμωσο, be still) cease from violence [i.e., the σιώπα refers to the noise; πεφίμωσο, to the furious violence of the waves].—γαλήνη, a calm) of the sea; which, under other circumstances, would have continued in a troubled state even after the wind had lulled.Verse 39. - And he arose - literally, he awoke (διεγερθεὶς) - and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still (Σιώπα πεφίμωσο); literally, Be silent! be muzzled! The Greek perfect implies that before the word was uttered, the thing was done by the simple fiat of his will preceding the word. The combined descriptions of the synoptists show that the storm was very violent, such as no human power could have composed or stilled. So that these words indicate the supreme authority of Christ as God, ruling the sea with his mighty power. Thus Christ shows himself to be God. In like manner, Christ is able to overrule and control the persecutions of the Church and the temptations of the soul. St. Augustine says that "when we allow temptations to overcome us, Christ sleeps in us. We forget Christ at such times. Let us, then, remember him. Let us awake him. He will speak. He will rebuke the tempest in the soul, and there will be a great calm." There was a great calm. For all creation perceives its Creator. He never speaks in vain. It is observable that, as in his miracles of healing, the subjects of them usually passed at once to perfect soundness, so here, there was no gradual subsiding of the storm, as in the ordinary operations of nature, but almost before the word had escaped his lips there was a perfect calm. Peace, be still (σιώπα, πεφίμωσο)

Lit., be silent! be muzzled! Wyc., rather tamely, wax dumb! How much more vivid than the narratives of either Matthew or Luke is this personification and rebuke of the sea as a raging monster.

Ceased (ἐκόπασεν)

From κόπος meaning, 1, beating; 2, toil; 3, weariness. A beautiful and picturesque word. The sea sank to rest as if exhausted by its own beating.

There was (ἐγένετο)

More strictly, there arose or ensued. The aorist tense indicates something immediate. Tynd. has followed.


Wyc., peaceableness.

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