Mark and the Ark

The Book of Mark is unraveled using... Noah’s ark. This article explains.

Mark begins the second in his quartet of super stories by recounting the story of Jesus calming the winds and the waves. This story opens the quartet and establishes the theme that each parable will be based on: Crossing the Sea of Galilee by boat.

35On that day at evening he said to them, Let us pass to the passing. 36And they left the people and took him away while he was in the boat, and there were other boats with them.

37And there arose a heavy storm and wind, and the waves kept falling into the boat, so that the boat was nearly filled up. 38But Joshua was sleeping on a blanket in the stern of the boat, and they came and roused him and said to him, Rabbi do you not care that we are perishing? 39So he got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind quieted down and there was a great calm.

40And he said to them, Why are you so fearful? Why do you have no belief? And they were exceedingly fearful and said to each other, Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey him? Mark 4:35-40

The most famous boat in all of the Bible is the Noah’s Ark. No other boat plays a prominent role in the historical account of the Bible. Each time Mark references a boat throughout this section of his epistle he is referring to Noah’s Ark. Mark’s reference to the other boatsMark 4:36 is his clue that other boats are part of this story. Which boats? The other boat references that he will use across the next 4 chapters.

In this particular parable Jesus and the disciples are riding together with Jesus in the boat. The storm builds just like the events in Noah’s story where the heavens burst forth and the world was covered with water. Here in Mark’s parable the boat itself fills with water so the disciples believe they will perish in the storm. This is what happened to everyone except Noah and his family during the flood.

Jesus remains at the rudder, though asleep, in Mark’s parable. In the original account of Noah’s flood, the Lord sealed Noah into the Ark. In both cases it appears the Lord himself is steering, though the Lord never speaks in either case.

Eventually the disciples gain Jesus’ attention and he rebukes the wind and the waves, leading to a great calm. In Noah’s case the storm subsides as well as Noah interacts with the Lord at the end of the historical flood.

At the end of this ride across the Sea of Galilee, Jesus asks the disciples about their faith. Faith, properly defined, is our ability to see into the future things which Jesus has revealed will happen, but are not yet. In Noah’s case it took great faith to understand the world could be rebuilt, though at the time it was a muddy mess.

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Phil Stone, Updated 2016-11-06