” When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 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. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[b] they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 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
Fact: The storm occurred when Jesus was not yet on the scene. Fact: It was evening and most likely dark. Fact: Jesus came only after the storm was in process and when the disciples needed him the most.
The miracle of Jesus walking on the water is one of the best known in biblical history. It’s right next to Moses and the burning bush or David and Goliath. Jesus walking on the water was spectacular, special and significant.
What makes it spectacular is that Jesus did something no one else has or every will do. This in itself is a miracle. Of course some people might rationalize it out saying since they were three or four miles out they could have been close to shore and maybe he was actually walking on land or a rock outcropping. But imaginative reasons could wish away every miracle if we become cynical. I believe the disciples saw what they saw which was Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water, in the middle of the sea.
What makes this story special is that it was never repeated. Consider if Jesus frequently walked on the water. Then it would be common place and no big deal. But here he is, meeting a very specific need of his disciples — to rescue them while in the middle of the story. Another Gospel account tells how Jesus was about to pass them by but because they were struggling at the oars, he stopped (Mark 6.48). Nice of him. This account is special for many reasons and reveals a God who cares for his people.
Lastly, this passage is significant because not only does it paint Jesus as compassionate but also as divine. He had the ability to walk on water, a fluid surface not strong enough to hold up a stone much less a man. He who has the ability to control earths’ elements, surely has the ability to save his people from their sins. He who proclaimed, “It is I” in the middle of a raging storm, has the ability to calm the fears of his followers and save us from the pain of death.
Jesus’ miracle that evening was spectacular, special and significant because he is all of those things as well. He who is the Word made flesh, who was born of a virgin but who was with God in the beginning of time, is the same God who cares for you and me. Why not trust him with your life, invite him into your day and obey him with your actions for his glory and by his grace.
“O Lord God, you are so faithful. When we are in the storm you come to our aid. You find us struggling through life, straining at the oars, and you whisper “Peace, be still.” Come now, Holy Spirit, help me find truth in your word and solace in your Spirit. Help me be the person you have called me to be that I might walk according to your ways. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen