Why Does The Gospel Writer Mention that Jesus Slept in the Boat

Here is my latest post at the Gospel Coalition website about the possible reasons Mark selects out the fact that Jesus was sleeping in the back of the boat in Mark 4. I offer three possibilities that are by no means mutually exclusive. This article is an adapted excerpt from my book, The Wholeness Imperative: How Christ Unifies our Desires, Identity, and Impact in the World (Christian Focus, 2018).

The story of the sea storm in the Gospel of Mark picks up right after Jesus has given a series of sermons. He’s preached to a crowd so large that he had to speak from a boat pushed a short distance into the water.

Mark 4:35–41 tells the story of Jesus calming the storm—but, curiously, we find the Lord asleep as the chaos breaks out around him:

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:37–39)

Why was Jesus asleep in the boat?

There are a few possible explanations. Mark, as well as most of the other biblical authors, is spare with his details—including only those elements necessary to the author’s agenda—so we could assume it’s a salient element to the story. There are three possibilities.

Read the rest here.

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