John 6:16-24: Walking on Water
October 19, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
After such extreme exertions, you would think there would be a period of extended recuperation. But now we come to one of the most astonishing—and famous—miracles of them all. God neither slumber nor sleeps, and while the incarnate Jesus was fully human, he was also fully God, and his power is displayed in this walking on the water.
So often we limit what God can do to our pint-sized human expectations of the possible. Can a ministry survive in such a tough area? We determine it by statistics. Can a new work of the gospel thrive in this country of the world which has so long been resistant to the gospel? We determine it by the track record of history. Can the Western world again see revival? We extrapolate from tend lines and sociological analyses and determine the answer in each case is limited to a simple, practical, human-sized no.
But then God does an extraordinary work in China, after the missionaries had been expelled from the country; God plants a church in tough hard ground and it flourishes; and God, if he has mercy, may again cause the church to walk on the stormy water of secularism and opposition to the gospel to land safely on the other side of renewal and fresh vitality. It is a good thing Jesus is not defined by our expectations as he astonishes us all by walking on water.
But such power is fearful. The disciples are not described as frightened by the strong wind blowing, but they are frightened when they see Jesus walking on the water. How gracious is Jesus in his response! Some leaders would lap up the awe and respect accorded and seek for more adulation and to be held in greater terror; but Jesus speaks the words of the Good Shepherd, and the love of God, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
It is possible that the phrase “it is I” (literally: I am) has something of double entendre. It is not only saying, perhaps, the simple “It’s me” but also “I am that I am, the Great I Am, God himself.” John loves such intentional variegated meaning within the control of the context of the story, and nowhere else (other than the resurrection) could so show Jesus’ divinity than in this moment of walking on water.
And then they are “immediately” on the other side. Unhurried power, untroubled majesty, unsullied divinity, extraordinary might: without any further travel they arrive, at once, immediately on the other side. Sometimes our trials can seem to go on for so long; they can drip and drab throughout endless days, until Christ intervenes, at his will, and in his perfect timing, in answer to our prayers. And then, if he wills, we can be through the storm and on the other side.
Take heart, faint hearted; take heart, burdened one; take heart, you who feel you are sailing through heavy seas. Our God is a God who walks on water, and with him in our lives we can come immediately to the other side. Be “glad” then to take Jesus into the boat of our life today; ask him to lead you and guide you, and be your Lord and your King. Rejoice in his presence and beauty and the power that he has to guide you safely to the other side of the storm.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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