John shares with us the story of Jesus walking on the water in our reading today. Matthew and Mark gave us a lot more detail about the actual event. I’m not sure if John’s account is abbreviated because he figures the central events were covered quite well already or if the details he is giving us, through the Holy Spirit, is where he wants us to focus.
In John’s account he makes certain that we know how far away from land the boat was. “When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat” (verse 19). John makes certain that the reader KNOWS that Jesus wasn’t simply walking in shallow water when they saw Him.
This reminds me of a joke I heard once. (If you don’t like jokes, skip this section.) There were two boats on the lake and they were a little bit away from each other. One had a Baptist Minister, a Methodist Deacon, and a Pentecostal Youth Minister. The other had a Catholic Priest. Everyone was getting ready to fish. The Baptist Minister looks around the boat and realizes that he forgot to bring the bait. He tells his friends, “I better run back and grab the worms.” He then hops out of the boat and walks across the water, grabs the worms, walks back to the boat and gets back in. The Catholic Priest in the other boat watched this with a fair amount of awe!
After a few minutes the Pentecostal Youth Minister remembers that he left his phone in the tent. He tells his friends that he will be right back. He hops out of the boat, walks across the water, grabs his phone, walks back across the water and gets back into the boat. The Catholic Priest is understandably awed again!
Another hour passes. Then the Methodist Deacon decides he is hungry. He tells his friends he is going to go grab them some lunch from the cooler. He hops out of the boat, walks across the water, grabs the cooler, walks back across the water and climbs into the boat with the cooler.
The Catholic Priest is beside himself. He knows these men and their professions. Surely God wouldn’t let them walk on water and not him. He wants a turn too. So he hops out of the boat and immediately sinks. He struggles a bit but was able to pull himself back into the boat. The three friends look at each other and one says, “Do you think we should tell him where the rocks are?”
My point being, there were no rocks for Jesus to walk on. There was NO earthly way he could have been doing this feat. John is quite simply pointing that out for anyone who may still be harboring doubts about Matthew and Mark’s accounts.
John also shares one more thing with us that his counterparts didn’t include. John shares that as soon as Jesus was in the boat they arrived at the other side. This was a special gift that Jesus bestowed on His disciples because He knew their needs even better than they did.
These men had been in the boat from about 6:00 PM until around 3:00 AM. They had been fighting the wind and the waves for many hours! Their trip didn’t start out arduous, but it got that way before too long. They had to be exhausted! Jesus knew they were in the palm of God’s hand and were not it real danger, but they didn’t know that. They were fighting for their lives. They were giving it everything they had, and then some! They were also only half way across the sea.
When Jesus stepped into the boat two things happened. First, the wind and the waves stopped dead in their tracks. That alone was a miracle worth getting excited over. If the story had ended here Jesus and His disciples would have had to row the rest of the way across the sea. I’m imagining that would be quite a tiring job. Remember, there isn’t any wind to push them with the sails any more. The sea is dead calm. Jesus could have brought up a gentle breeze to bring them in, but then they would also have had to raise the sails again and work the rigging to complete their journey. Not something they couldn’t do or wouldn’t if Jesus hadn’t blessed them in a special way.
But instead of Jesus requiring His disciples to continue laboring away on this journey, Jesus immediately performed a second miracle. He got them to their destination instantaneously. No need to break out the oars. No reason to raise the sails. Instead, break out the snacks, pillows and blankets. They were done for the night, after they finished thanking and praising Him that is.
He granted His disciples rest. Not only physical rest, but rest from their fear of drowning and rest in their spirits that He was still in charge of their lives, even if He wasn’t physically with them at the moment. His Spirit always knew where they were, even in the midst of their “faith building exercise.” He knew what they needed, before AND after the storm.
Father God, You do SO MANY amazing things! Things that I don’t even think about until You point them out to me. I never thought about how Jesus filled His disciples’ unspoken need.
Only You Jesus! You keep every aspect of my life within You sight. There is nothing that I have, am, or will go through that You don’t already know about. Looking back over my life I see where You blessed me with an unexpected gift on MANY occasions. Thank You for those blessings!!! Thank You that I KNOW I am never alone. Thank You that Your Spirit is ALWAYS with me wherever I go. Thank You for my unexpected times of rest too. Thank You even more though that the journey didn’t end there. You provided a respite, not an ending. And You promised to be with them after the respite just as surely as You had been there before. Remind me to look back again whenever I think the waves are going to overtake me. Show me where Your “rocks” are. You didn’t need them, but I sure do at times.