“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.” (Mark 4:35–36, ESV)
We need to resist the urge to see the Gospel of Mark as a willy-nilly construction of Mark (and Peter’s) memory, as if they were in a brain storming session together asking each other, “now what happened next in Jesus life? Thinking, thinking.”
Mark constructed his gospel carefully to suit his own ends, it is up to those who study his gospel to discover why he placed stories where he did. Beginning at Mark 4.35, Mark inserts a series of four miracles of Jesus which demonstrates his power over different types of forces: Demons who possess a man, death, illness, and a wild storm at night.
The Zondervan NIV Study Bible comments:
Jesus’ identity has been Mark’s primary concern from the opening sentences of his Gospel. After relating four “word” parables (see note on 4:2), Mark records four mighty “deed” parables that raise even more emphatically the question of Jesus’ identity (cf. 4:10).
Mark begins with a scene at evening. Jesus has been teaching during the day and a crowd has gathered to hear him. As night falls, Jesus suggests that they get into a boat and cross the Sea of Galilee, a journey of several miles. On the one hand, Jesus is among a bunch of fishermen who are accustomed to fishing at night, so being on the water, even without any source of light (or perhaps a very dimly burning olive oil lamp) does not necessarily phase them. On the other hand, it is the night and there is nothing quite so dark as being on the water at night with little or no light. This is a world that was lit only by fire, so there are not lights along the edge of the Sea (in all likelihood) and if they began by starlight or moonlight, even that light would quickly disappear because a nasty storm was going to strike.
What began as a normal outing on the water at night, rapidly descended into chaos and life-threatening waves. If you want to experience what they did, dear reader, go out in a nasty storm on a moonless night in the equivalent of a mid-sized rowboat. It’s not very fun.