I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Little faith

with 7 comments

I’m thinking about Mark 4:40, the storm and the miracle, and Jesus’s question, “Have you still no faith?”

The disciples ask if Jesus cares for them, and later marvel at his authority. So it seems they were lacking in faith both in Jesus’s power and compassion. I wonder if Jesus’s question is meant to apply more to one or the other. Certainly we can be encouraged by this passage to trust in both Jesus’s power and his care for us: we should run to him, confidently, in every circumstance.

I also wonder if there is a specific theological reason this story is at this point in the text. James Jordan points out that in Biblical symbolism, the sea regularly represents the Gentiles. Plugging that into the progression of Mark 4:

  1. The word is going out, and people (and peoples?) will respond to it in different ways (vv. 1-20)
  2. The word is going to be displayed, and the disciples must take part in that (vv. 21-25)
  3. It is going to be scattered (to the Gentiles) and will produce fruit (vv. 26-29)
  4. It will produce great fruit (among the Gentiles) (vv. 30-34)
  5. Have you still no faith, reader, disciple? Even the Spirit and the raging Gentiles obey him (vv. 35-41).

Then in Mark 5, Jesus heals a demoniac and sends him to minister to Gentiles. To a Jewish woman experiencing ceremonial death, he gives healing. To a Gentile daughter experiencing physical death, he gives life. Seeds are being planted and are sprouting.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 17, 2011 at 6:30 am

Posted in Biblical Theology

7 Responses

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  1. Your analysis seems to stop short of Ch6 where Jesus then cautions that, regardless of faith, they’ll face rejection among their home/friends. Jesus then proceeds to commission the Twelve with very faith-reliant instructions (“Take nothing for the journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money, no extra tunic”), launching them out into ministry.

    Tim Chase

    November 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

  2. Excellent, thanks! So it is all building up to the need for a sort of faith that is willing to see the seed sit dormant, for the tree to grow slowly, and for the stormy nations to rage and the peoples to plot.

    He who sits in the heavens laughs; the tree will nevertheless one day be full.

    Scott Moonen

    November 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm

  3. To the contrary, I see Ch4-5 and 6:1-4 as preparation—exercising & testing their faith for the true goal of executing the commission. Stopping the analysis before 6:5ff is like turning off the movie mid-climax 🙂

    Tim Chase

    November 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm

  4. Can you elaborate on what you see as the contrary? Is it the missing out on Matt. 6, or is it having a different spin on it altogether?

    Scott Moonen

    November 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm

  5. And by Matt., naturally, I mean Mark. 🙂

    Scott Moonen

    November 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

  6. My “contrary” referred to your suggestion that Mk4-6:4 prepares for dormancy. I see it more as a crescendo toward the climax; the pep-rally before the big game. Very little dormant about it, save perhaps for portions of 4:1-20. Reaching even a bit further back, you have the progression of picking his team (3:13-19), showing he’s the boss (3:20-30), declaring that the opinions of family are immaterial (3:31-35, cf. 6:1-6), various declarations regarding the importance of boldness & the perseverance in growing faith (4:1-5:43), a warning that even friends & family may be against them (6:1-4), and lastly launching them out onto the field.

    Tim Chase

    November 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm

  7. Sounds good to me. 🙂 I wonder if something like this happened:

    [Scott says] Postmillennial faith and confidence!

    [Tim says] Mark 6!
    [Scott hears] Hold it on the postmillennialism: rejection and deprivation!

    [Scott says] True, rejection and deprivation and apparent dormancy, albeit for a season
    [Tim hears] Dormancy

    [Tim says] Faith and confidence!

    Scott Moonen

    November 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm

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