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John 6:15-21

Jesus Walks On The Water


John 6:15-21 YLT   Jesus, therefore, having known that they are about to come, and to take him by force that they may make him king, retired again to the mountain himself alone.  (16) And when evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,  (17) and having entered into the boat, they were going over the sea to Capernaum, and darkness had already come, and Jesus had not come unto them,  (18) the sea also--a great wind blowing--was being raised,  (19) having pushed onwards, therefore, about twenty-five or thirty furlongs, they behold Jesus walking on the sea, and coming nigh to the boat, and they were afraid;  (20) and he saith to them, `I am he, be not afraid;'  (21) they were willing then to receive him into the boat, and immediately the boat came unto the land to which they were going.


Jesus runs away from earthly glory. Just a few verses before (John 5:41) He had said that He refused to receive glory from men, now He demonstrates what He meant by heading away from the crowd that wanted Him to be King and entering into solitude and prayer – he “retired again to the mountain himself alone.”


Jesus was battling for His soul. This study is late because this evening I went and saw the movie Kingdom of Heaven, which is about a Crusade and also about keeping our souls in the midst of severe temptations and struggles. In it the hero has to choose again and again to be honorable. There is a great line in it “Allah says submit, but Jesus says choose”. (BTW it is much better than the critics have said).


And here Jesus Himself had to choose. He knew he could have claimed the Kingship, which was rightfully His, bypassed the cross and used twelve legions of angels to overthrow Rome. He was seeing great miracles, healing the sick, feeding the five thousand and walking on water - His powers must have been intoxicating. He was popular and He was anointed. He could easily have been King.


But instead He goes to prayer and then heads into a storm. This is a picture of much Christian ministry. We strain and struggle and nearly sink and row “twenty-five to thirty furlongs” (3 to 4 miles) through big waves until our muscles ache, and then just at the point of weariness and panic Jesus turns up and we are at land. That happened to me last week with a project that has been going in circles for a year, seemingly going nowhere and which had worn me to a frantic frazzle. Now suddenly it looks like actually happening. What happened? Jesus got in the boat!


Now it is up to Jesus to decide when He will turn up – and meanwhile we have no choice but to row hard!  It is not a lack of faith to do the hard work, but it is sheer grace and blessing and relief when the Lord turns up!


“And darkness had already come, and Jesus had not come unto them,” Darkness in John’s gospel always has a spiritual meaning “ and Judas went out – and it was night” being the most famous. The darkness is the evil that opposes the good and struggles against the light but cannot overthrow it (John 1:5).


The darkness had come and was all around the disciples - they were in the midst of a storm and were wet and cold and weary and frustrated and in the midst of their abandonment and anxiety they began to see a terrible apparition, someone walking on the water towards them, perhaps a ghost come to take their souls! They were doomed - and where was Jesus! Right in the midst of their fears!


Jesus often seems to turn up at the worst of moments when my mind is thinking weird frightened thoughts. And He often steps out of the blackest night with a cheery: `I am he, be not afraid;’ and when He arrives His presence changes everything.


Why does God put us through such things? Why are we left to row our boat in the storm? To test us, grow us, and teach us. If everything was miraculously “snap-of-the-fingers” convenient we would still be infants in our faith.


At the end of the Kingdom of Heaven one of the Saracens (Muslims) says to the spiritually perplexed hero: “God must love you or you could not have done such things”. When we look back and see our almost sinking boat touching dry land, in an instant, then we know that God is with us. Suddenly the impossible becomes possible and when that happens, after we have done all we can and got nowhere, then we know it is God’s love.


Jesus never deserts His friends but neither does He pander to them like little children. He always treated the disciples as very capable grown men. We need the dignity of the human struggle in the darkness and the storm, and we also need the miracle.


Jesus walked on the water. Just like that, as if the elements were His to command – and they were. The chaos that disturbs rocks and us and our boat is under the feet of Jesus.


Romans 16:20 MKJV   And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.


Ephesians 1:22 MKJV   And He has put all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church,


All our problems are under the feet of Jesus! Praise the Lord!

Blessings in Jesus,

John Edmiston