5. Jesus Walked on Water
Read John 6:16-21
Jesus told His disciples to go ahead and cross the sea to head back toward Bethsaida by way of Capernaum while He stayed back to dismiss the crowds. (Mark6:45-46) Jesus then went up into the mountain to spend time communicating with His Father and stayed praying through much of the night. The disciples were used to traveling by boat and were probably relieved that Jesus sent them away early. They were also heading to the hometown of some of the disciples. However, on this night, the wind was blowing hard against them so they had only made it a few miles after hours of hard work.
Between 3:00-6:00 in the morning, they saw a figure passing by them. It is said that there were a lot of rumors about ghosts or demons being present on the Sea of Galilee, and they were often blamed for the sudden storms that would start. Seeing Christ from a distance, they were terrified assuming that He was one of these spirits. Jesus calmed their fears immediately by assuring them of His presence.
Matthew gives us even more to the story by telling us that Peter asked to come out on the waves with Jesus. He did step out onto the water but was quickly overcome by fear and began to sink. Jesus pulled him out of the water, stopped the wind, and they both got back into the boat. Jesus, then miraculously and immediately brought them to the shore they were rowing toward.
Even though they had witnessed so many miracles, and had just seen Jesus provide food for thousands, they still allowed fear to control their initial responses. They missed the point of the miracles up to this point, and Mark tells us the reason for this.
For they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:52)
Study it Out
- Notice that Mark tells us that Jesus meant to “pass by” the disciples. This is similar to the language used when God “passed by” Moses revealing His glory to Him. What aspects of His glory had Christ been in the process of revealing to His disciples throughout His miracles to this point? Consider both His attributes of greatness (power, authority, majesty) as well as His attributes of goodness (compassion, kindness, love). What aspects were they still not able to grasp?
- After many of the crowds stopped following Christ because of His statements about being the Bread of Life, what was the response of the twelve voiced by Peter found in John 6:66-69? Now, read Matthew 16:13-23 for another account detailing the disciples’ faith and subsequent fearful, ignorant responses to Christ. The disciples often missed the point of Christ’s miracles and parables because of their hardened hearts. However, by God’s grace, they also believed in Him, loved Him, and followed Him. How does their often shallow faith along with Christ’s patience and commitment to them bring comfort? How does Christ’s prayer to the Father for His chosen ones similarly bring comfort? (See John 17.)
- According to passages like Proverbs 4, Philippians 4:4-8, and 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; what tools/habits (used with the Holy Spirit’s help) does Christ give the believer to guard our heart against lies and unbelief?