To Walk on Water

When evening came, His disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum.  By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them.  A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.  When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat  walking on the water, and they were terrified.  But He said to them,  “It is I; don’t be afraid.”  Then they were willing to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.  John 6:16-21.

 We aren’t going to deal with all of the other stories for now because I want to speak to John’s point instead.  John had to be aware of the whole story, since he experienced this incident, and for some reason he decided to leave out Peter’s part in it.  Also in another gospel, Jesus commanded His disciples to cross the lake, dismissed the people, then withdrew from sight until He saw the disciples struggling at the oars.

John decided to speak to the context of what happens next, I believe, because to him this is far more important.  Peter’s story probably got told and retold until some almost made a demigod out him, something John would have objected to quite strongly.  So John ignores Peter’s part and focuses on the fact that Jesus crossed the lake supernaturally.

As I read this story again, it struck me how in obedience to God many times we will find the wind against us, the pathway growing rougher, slick or tough to navigate, then Jesus shows up just as we are about to give up.  He walks into the situation supernaturally and takes over, bringing peace where there had only been frustration, insecurity, fear and doubt.

We don’t usually recognize Him when He arrives on the scene because He always does so outside our expectations or ability imagine.  Walking on the water to the disciples was an extreme way to get their attention and solve the problem, wouldn’t you say?  Yet this is the method He chose to reach them.  To us His method is supernatural, to Him it ain’t no thang, because He created the substance and could command it to do whatever He wanted from it.  We look for help in one way and He sends it in another, which usually means we don’t recognize it as “help” when it arrives because its outside our experience or what we understand as normal.

Jesus walked on the water to the disciples, though He could just as easily grabbed a boat and rowed as well.  I guess walking was faster.

Two miraculous events in a row should have been enough to show the disciples and all the others who Jesus is, but it wasn’t.  His followers still struggled to believe or have faith; the multitudes remained driven by the desire for a circus act instead of the God of heaven coming down to their world to change it.  What follows Jesus crossing the lake on His own is the real point of John even mentioning the story.

The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with the disciples, but that they had gone away alone.  Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten bread after the Lord had given thanks.  Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.  John 6:22-24.

It sounds like they wanted to find the Lord; it sounds like they were searching for the Master, but they weren’t.  I’m pretty certain many of those who had stayed on the opposite shore were either Pharisees or some sort of leaders in the Jewish world for later in their dialogue with Jesus John refers to them as “the Jews” to set them apart from the common people.

The penny dropped, they saw with wonder another impossibility jump out at them out of nowhere and those that could grabbed boats to cross the lake.  These people had stayed the night at the place where Jesus fed them, hoping to crown Him king, hoping for another miracle, and I think realizing they didn’t really need to go back to work and their homes because Jesus could supply the food to keep them alive and well.

The point is they realized there was no possible way Jesus could have crossed that lake without a boat, and since they saw the disciples take the only boat available without Him in it, they knew something was up.  Jesus withdrew up into the mountain, yet since this region doesn’t have a lot of trees, He would have been visible to those looking for Him unless He found a cave to hide in—which the story doesn’t suggest, so we must assume they kinda’ knew where He was in general.  When He turned up gone with no way to travel toward the disciples, they concluded something even more spectacular had happened while they were asleep and determined to find out just what went down.

People search for truth for different reasons.  People come to Jesus for different reasons—some of them honorable and sincere, others with selfish motives.  I can’t tell them apart all the time but Jesus can.  The disciples reluctantly obeyed their Master, remaining in God’s will by doing so.  The crowd, however, wasn’t seeking God’s will, they were going after the meal ticket.  The disciples witnessed an even more astounding miracle than the one just before it because they were in the path of God’s purpose for them…struggling, for sure, because the elements were against them completing their task, but still obedient.  The crowd didn’t care about God’s will or Jesus’ purpose for being on earth, they only saw what was in it for them:  healing, food without sweat or working themselves to the bone and deliverance from poverty, if Jesus became a king who conquered their oppressors and enemies.

All of us come to Jesus out of self-preservation and self-interest.  How we continue in His presence, however, tells the tale of our hearts.  The disciples were no better than the crowd in most ways because they looked at the world in the same light and with the same skewed vision for their future.  What made the difference was their willingness, however reluctant it might be, to obey the Word of the Lord.  Their faith might be small and weak, but it was never the less placed in their Master.

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One Response to “To Walk on Water”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    The timing of this post was perfect. I had a man come to me for prayer this week. His walk has always been weak but his words struck me. “The world is calling me and honestly, it sounds a whole lot better than the Lord.”

    How could someone who has tasted of living water desire anything else? Only you’ve reminded me that everyone’s interest is different and perhaps he hasn’t come through the “what have you done for me lately’ mentality.

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