“They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
The story of Jesus calming the storm has many similarities with the first chapter of Jonah: In both passages there is a (1) departure by boat (Jon 1:3; Mark 4:36); (2) a violent storm (Jon 1:4; Mark 4:37); (2) a boat in danger of sinking (Jon 1:4; Mark 4:37); (3) a sleeping main character (Jon 1:5; Mark 4:38); (4) badly frightened sailors (Jon 1:5; Mark 4:37); (5) sailors fear they are going to perish (Jon 1:6, 14; see also 3:9; Mark 4:38); (6) a miraculous calming of the storm (Jon 1:15; Mark 4:39); (7) the sailors respond to the miracle with “great fear” (Jon 1:16; Mark 4:41). I believe Mark wants to make two points with this intentional comparison. First, because Jesus is the one who calms the storm in the parallel story, Jesus must be God! Second, by asking the question, “Who then is this?”, the Jewish disciples demonstrate themselves to be completely unlike the Gentile sailors with Jonah on the boat, who realized immediately who had calmed the storm and began to worship him! “Then the men feared the LORD greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows” (Jon 1:16). Mark’s Gospel affirms a truth I have seen played out on countless occasions, and one that also challenged me to consider the truth of the gospel many years ago: God uses Gentile followers of Jesus to provoke Jewish people to jealousy by their living knowledge and vibrant faith in the LORD God of Israel!
“But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous” (Rom 11:11).