A Bible study through John 1-6
The feeding of the five thousand was an amazing miracle meant to build the disciples’ faith, reveal Jesus’ power over all things and ability to create food from nothing, and show the world Jesus’ compassion and provision for needs. However, after that mountain top moment, Jesus withdrew from the crowds and His disciples and retreated to spend some quiet time alone with God. Eventually the day came to a close and the disciples decided it was time to head towards their home base in Capernaum even though Jesus was nowhere to be found. But this didn’t seem to faze the experienced fishermen, so they got in their boat and started across the Sea of Galilee.
“When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.”
The Gospel of Mark also gives an account of this event and provides more details, including the fact that the disciples did not recognize Jesus at first and thought He was a ghost, which would definitely add to the terror of the situation. In both gospel accounts, the Bible says that the disciples were frightened or terrified. Remember that most of these men were experienced, sea-weathered fishermen. They had experienced their fair share of storms and bad weather and had been around Jesus long enough to know that He didn’t always do the expected. However, the entire situation still filled them with fear. A knee-knocking, heart-thumping, sweat-inducing type of terror.
But what does Jesus say? “It is I; do not be afraid.” In the midst of the raging sea and blowing wind and into their deep fear, Jesus speaks the only words that could bring His disciples true, abiding peace. He assures them of His presence and the fact that He has come so they need not fear.
Have you been in a situation like the one the disciples were in? Are the waters of life raging around you in a fierce storm that seems to be tossing your world into upheaval? Do you feel like you’re making little headway in the direction you feel called to go because of rough seas and buffeting from life situations and circumstances?
The disciples knew the feeling. Notice that John states that they rowed for three or four miles. They were not floating aimlessly and allowing the storm to have its way with them, they were toiling to reach their goal and working hard at the oars to get their boat back on track. However, in their own strength their efforts were in vain. But that’s when Jesus came walking on the water.
Walking on the water—not walking through or above or below. Jesus came walking on top of the raging waves. He had full contact with the churning sea and was not untouched by the storm. Yet in the midst of it, He was able to walk calmly, surely, and with utmost confidence on top of the tumult. In the midst of chaos, His gait was sure and steady. He was unfazed by the crashing waves and strong wind and kept walking right on top of it all.
This reminds us that Jesus is above life’s problems. As our great High Priest who can sympathize with our every weakness, He still knows and sees the pain, heartbreak, challenges, and trials we face, but He is above it all. He is sovereign and in control, so in the midst of life’s storms He can come to us, walking on the water. And the same words of comfort and hope Jesus gave to His disciples, He gives to us: “It is I; do not be afraid.” In the middle of life’s hardest moments and most turbulent seasons, Jesus comes and reminds us that we have no need to fear for He is with us, walking steady and sure on the waves that seem so big as the storms rage.
The disciples immediately clung to Jesus’ promise and welcomed Him into their midst and onto their boat, and as they did so what happened? John tells us that they were immediately transported to the other side, away from the storm, fear, anxiety, and strife and directly into peace and safety.
While we might not be physically delivered from our trial, painful circumstance, or challenging situation, the moment we accept Jesus’ presence and promise of peace, we can obtain immediate spiritual deliverance from the fear, anxiety, and disquiet in our souls. We can experience the abiding hope and confidence Jesus gives as we take our eyes off the storm in our life and focus them on His shining face.
So as you navigate the storms of this life will you look up and see Jesus walking toward you on the water? Will you have eyes to see your Savior above the trial and difficulty and accept His promise of “I am here, so do not fear”? Will you embrace Jesus in your midst and allow His presence to bring you the peace, hope, and faith you need to not only survive the storm you’re in but thrive in it?
Life is full of many storms. We will not be able to avoid them. But as we face the storms, may we remember this lesson from John 6 and cling to the promise that God is always with us, upholding and protecting us in the midst of life’s most difficult moments.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”