What does Mark 4:40 mean?The storm on the Sea of Galilee must have been exceptionally fierce to frighten Andrew, Peter, James, and John—experienced fishermen. The twelve have awakened Jesus who calms the storm and then addresses them and their lack of faith.
The twelve are not wrong to wake Jesus. It would have been appropriate to warn Him of the danger, to ask Him to help bail the water, or to suggest He may need to get ready to swim. Violent storms and little ships are an unpleasant combination, and if the twelve had thought about it, they could have even asked if Jesus could do something about the wind.
But they aren't quite so level-headed. They fear for their lives and, like the crowd who desired healing (Mark 3:7–10), grasp at Jesus to do something. Jesus has told them He has a purpose for them (Mark 1:17; 3:13–14) which they haven't fulfilled yet. That should reassure them that they will not perish that night. But in the moment, the faith that draws them closer than family (Mark 3:31–35) is not enough to trust Him with their lives.
Jesus understands human limitations. He only teaches the crowds as much as they can hear (Mark 4:33), letting His simpler messages percolate in their hearts until they are ready for more. But He expects the twelve to be beyond such limitations. They are the good soil that accepts the word to "bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold" (Mark 4:20). They are open to His message (Mark 4:23), absorbing all they can get (Mark 4:24–25). He gives them "the secret of the kingdom of God" (Mark 4:11). But their lack of faith put them in danger of being the seed sown in the shallow, rocky ground, that sprouts quickly and withers under hardships (Mark 4:16–17).
Despite our limitations (Mark 4:33), Jesus expects us to do the best we can with what we have. Bring the biggest "measure" we have (Mark 4:24), and serve Him with all He gives us (Matthew 25:14–30). The disciples have seen Jesus heal physical ailments, cast out demons, and now quiet a storm. In Mark 5, they will see even more.