Getting Acquainted With Peter, 6: Walking on Water
- Monday, May 24, 2004
My feet were barely touching the earth. I had just come home from a spiritual retreat and was feeling the effects in the most marvelous of ways. For a week I had listened to some of God's most talented musicians and singers lift praise and worship to Him. I had heard some of His most inspiring speakers expound on His Word. I had fellowshipped with brothers and sisters of the Faith.
My joy knew no bounds. Every day - from daybreak to daybreak - had been about Jesus. I can't think of a single moment that wasn't focused on Him...His love...His glory...His love...His majesty...and His love!
Before I had gone, however, I'd undergone a few days of "stormy weather." It seemed life was closing in on me and I was so ready for the change a few days away would bring. When I returned home, I thought, "Nothing but nobody can bring me down from this high." Naturally, I was wrong in that assumption. Within 48 hours, I had taken my eyes off Jesus - looking to the natural "disasters" about me - and I began to sink.
There's nothing like a good storm to bring you down from a good high. The Disciples had just participated in the feeding of the five thousand; had seen Jesus turn five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food to feed the hungry crowd and have some left over. Immediately afterward, Jesus put His men in a boat and sent them on to Bethsaida, the boyhood home of Philip, Andrew, and Peter, while He went up on a mountainside to pray alone.
In Mark's version of the story, it reads: When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. (Mark 6: 47, 48a)
The "lake" is the Sea of Galilee, a body of water 12 1/2 miles long and - at its most broad - 7 1/2 feet wide. The Jordan River empties into it at its northern end and passes out of it at its southern end. An almost unbroken wall of hills - which gives it a bowl-like appearance - can cause sudden outbreaks of storms.
Such was the evening the Lord sat on a hillside watching His men struggling with the circumstances surrounding them.
Walking on Water
Somewhere between 3:00 and 6:00 in the morning (also known as the fourth watch of the night), Jesus must have thought, "Well...I guess I'd better scoot on down this hillside and trot over to the Lads of the Lake." According to the three gospel writers who record this story (Luke is the only one who doesn't), Jesus didn't find another boat and row over. That in itself would have been miracle enough, seeing as He would have had to do so alone.
No. Rather Jesus walked on the waves that threatened to destroy His Disciples.
When they saw Him, they assumed He was a ghost. As if the storm were not enough...now this.
But then Jesus, the one who literally sent them into the storm said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
Zondervan's NIV Bible Commentary remarks on the passage thusly: Although the Greek words for "It is I" ("I am") can have no more force that that, any Christian after the Resurrection and Ascension would also detect echoes of "I Am," the decisive self-disclosure of God (Ex 3:14; Isa 51:12; cf Jn 8:58). Once again we find Jesus revealing himself in a veiled way that will prove especially rich to Christians after his resurrection.
Think about it; if this is true, what the Disciples heard was, "There's no reason to be afraid...God is here."
Do you remember being a child and crying out in the night after having had a nightmare? What happened next? You jumped out of bed, scampered into your parent's room, and crawled between them. They wrapped their arms around you, shushing you, saying things like, "It's okay now. Mommy's here..." or "Daddy's here." There was significant comfort in those words. Why? Because no monster (or ghost) can get to you without going through them first.
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