16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
Ask and answer questions. Questions unlock new discoveries and meanings. Ask questions about the passage using these words: who, what, why, when, where, or how. Jot down your answers to these questions
The Sea of Galilee is about seven miles wide at its broadest, so if the disciples “had rowed about three or four miles” (v. 19) they were right in the middle of the lake. At that point, “they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened” (v. 19). Naturally! Job 9:8 says that God “alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea.” Who could walk on the sea? Water does not hold together under the weight of mortal man. It separates, and we sink when we step on it. Not so with Jesus.
In response to the fright of the disciples, Jesus “said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid’” (John 6:20). Those words “It is I” could just as well be rendered, “I Am.” And he is. Jesus has been announced as God (1:1), and he has asserted his equality with God (5:17; cf. 5:18). He does what only God could do by walking on water (6:19), and now he identifies himself as Yahweh, the one who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, by announcing God’s own covenantal name as his means of self-identification (cf. Mark 6:48; Ex. 34:6).
Jesus is the prophet like Moses (John 6:14). He is the son of David (v. 15). And he is the incarnation of Yahweh (v. 20). He has fed the five thousand in the wilderness with the Passover near, fulfilling the pattern of provision in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. Like Moses, he withdrew to the mountain alone. And just as Israel went through the Red Sea on dry land, Jesus has walked the waves of Galilee as one treads the turf of terra firma. (1)
- What stood out?
- Why were the disciples fearful when they saw Jesus walking on the water?
20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
End in Prayer