“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. 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 his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the 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 6:16–24 NIV)
John, the writer of this Gospel, is a true storyteller. He does not want us to miss what he is saying about Jesus. This is the fifth signs, and as I have been saying, signs and wonders point towards Jesus. He is the Saviour, the King and now Jesus is the I AM.
Once again, like last week, this account of Jesus walking on water is part of a larger story that began with the feeding of the five thousand. At first, this story seems to be out of place. But it isn’t, it is very much part of the narrative and an essential one. What John does here is to disclose the very nature of Jesus. Yes, Jesus was a man and lived as a man. “He took the form of a servant being made in human likeness yet he is also the firstborn of all creation, he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together”.
I have pointed out the so many similarities with Moses, especially the link of the loaves of bread with manna. This link with Moses is here as well. Why? because someone more significant than the prophet Moses is here.
Now this story is divided into two parts: there are two threads to the story. One is, the disciples and Jesus. The other one is, the crowd looking for Jesus. What I am saying is this: “This account is about those who are in the inner circle with Jesus and those who are seekers!”
So let me ask you: Are you in the inner circle? Or, Are you seeking for Jesus? But whether you are in the inner circle or if you are a seeker for Jesus we all, but all go through challenging times like sufferings, trials, opposition, we all at one point in our lives have been terrified and fearful.
Therefore, it is so right to ask God, where are you? Jesus, where are you?
- We are
“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 about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened” (John 6:16–19 NIV11-GKE)
Let’s set the scene. Remember that Jesus was about to become King by force. The crowd wanted to make Jesus because they understood that Jesus was the prophet that was to come. Moses prophesied this, that a prophet greater than him would come and he urged the people to listen to this prophet. It was never the plan of God to make Jesus King by force. The only way that his kingship was to be fulfilled was through his death and resurrection. So Jesus disappears into the mountain.
It was evening, and the disciples are heading down to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was not there; they went down to the beach, got on their boats, and headed to the other side of the sea, to Capernaum. Remember, they are going to the very place where the Royal Official came from, one who asked Jesus to come down with him so that Jesus can heal his son.
Now, Jesus was not with them; he did not get into the boat and sailed with them.
Jesus and boats
- Now, Jesus is familiar with boats, with sailing. He used a boat to teach the crowds.
- He asked the disciples to throw the nets to one side so that they can have a larger catch, and he was on board when he did this. It was here where Peter became aware of his sins! “Get away from me, Lord, because I am a sinner”.
- He once fell asleep and a powerful storm came, and when he was awakened, he did two miracles: one he rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith, but brought peace into their hearts as well as a sense of wonder about Jesus. Second, Jesus spoke to the storm, and it stopped.
But now Jesus is not in the boat; Jesus is not with his disciples!!
Whenever Jesus is in the boat, he calms the storms, and he feeds the disciples. Jesus is not with them; they went ahead without Jesus. We don’t know if Jesus told them to go without him or that he would be late. We don’t know, and it seems that the account does not lean that way.
So what happens? Well, whether we are with Jesus or without him, as I said earlier, we will face challenges, and some of them are going to be big ones. We could handle them with Jesus (even if he rebukes us because of our lack of faith), or we will encounter them without Jesus.
What I am saying is that we either live with a heavenly mindset or with an earthly perspective. There is a big gap between them; one leads to be dependent on Jesus, and the other leads to be independent.
Do you want to know how I become aware of being dependant or independent? It is when I become a fixer! If there is a problem, I need to fix it! – think about that!!
So, they are 4 miles into the sea, and a storm came in. There are two elements of the storm that have spiritual significance.
The strong wind makes you unbalanced, you are tossed here and there, and you don’t feel secured. You are not anchored, you are not standing firm. The rough sea is a picture of being overwhelmed; waves can be significant, pushing us down under the sea.
You are tossed back and forth with the added danger of going under!
I believe that some of them were afraid of the strong wind and high waves, but some of them were fishermen, they were used to this.
- I am
“Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. John 6:20 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 6:19–21 NIV11)
If the storm was bad enough, what is about to happen is even more out of the ordinary; in fact, it is extraordinary. To put it in another way; it is well within the realm of nature to have storms, it is natural. What was about to happen was totally and entirely supernatural. Jesus appears out of nowhere, remember it was dark, he was not in another boat, he was walking on water! That is physically impossible. This challenge the law of physics and rationality. What was their reaction? They were frightened, and they were terrified! “when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless” (John 6:19 MESSAGE) This did not make any sense, and fear took hold of them, they panicked!
This fear is on another level, this is not just an emotional reaction, but this kind of fear penetrated their very spirit, their very souls. They were afraid, terrified, this another type of anxiety! But it was in this precise moment that they experienced a divine, an all-powerful disclosure of who Jesus is!
Jesus appears here as Lord of the waves and the seas, the personal manifestation of the Almighty who walked upon the waters at the Red Sea. “The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were in anguish; The deeps also trembled.” (Psalm 77:16 NAS95) “Your way was in the sea, And Your paths in the mighty waters And Your footprints may not be” (Psalm 77:19 NAS95) This is a poetic way of remembering the Red Sea crossing and it is a powerful declaration of the victory of the battle against the waters of chaos!! “The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.” (Psalm 29:3 NIV11)
Jesus on waters because he is making a powerful declaration “I am greater than Moses.”
Paul understood this when he described Jesus as “…the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:15–16 ESV)
Jesus then spoke these amazing words what we all need to hear!!
“But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” (John 6:20 NIV11-GKE)
Jesus naturally described himself as “It is I”, but I believe Jesus does not just use these three words in this way. Just think about it! Chapter six of John starts concerning the Passover, food is multiplied, just like mana, and now Jesus walks on water, which is a firm reference to the crossing of the Read.
I am sure that the intention John, is for us to capture and understand that “I AM” is here! This is why John in the very first chapter of this Gospel says “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18 NIV11-GKE)
I believe that any irrational fear brought to us by the high waves and turbulent sea can disappear when you hear the “I AM” saying DON’T BE AFRAID!
As soon as they heard Jesus saying these words and got into the boat, they reached Capernaum. This, I believe, is another miracle!
This sign is not for the crowd; it is for those who are in the inner circle, his disciples. This means it is you and me unless you are still seeking him!
- They are
“The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realised that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. Once the crowd realised 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 NIV11)
The people who were fed realised that Jesus and the disciples were not there. There was one boat left. They also discovered that Jesus was not with his disciples. So, they got into boats sailing to Capernaum in search for Jesus!!
This always gets me! Because I know that today there are people who are still searching for Jesus, and somehow I know that I have not represented Jesus well for them to find Jesus here.
Supernatural surfing is for Jesus walking on water and for us is to surf the high waves knowing that the I AM is always with us. This fifth sign points to Jesus the I AM. What a revelation for those in the Inner circle! What an invitation to those who are seeking!