The Gospel of John – Walk on Water

This is the by far one my favourite signs and wonders Jesus performs. In this part of John’s account of the Gospel, Jesus walks on water, we’ll get to the details in a bit. There are similar accounts of this story in the Gospel of Matthew 14:22-33 and Mark 6: 45-52, but it is only in the book of Matthew that we learn that Peter also walked on the water. It is this particular part of the story that I love so much! Keep reading to find out why.

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Jesus Walks on the Water

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 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. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

22 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. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 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

Obedience can lead us into a storm

Obedience to God does not always lead to blessing and favour. This part of the story is one such example. Jesus sends His disciples away from the crowd for a few reasons. We see in John 6:15 that the crowd is willing to use force to make Jesus king. To involve the disciples in political unrest would put them in a difficult situation with the Roman Empire. Also, we could consider that Jesus doesn’t want the disciples to let the crowd’s admiration feed their egos. Christ’s miracles are always attached to a Spiritual lesson, feed the 5000, is no different. Removing His disciples from this situation solves all three of these problems at the same time.

The disciples are sailing to the other side of the Sea of Galilee specifically in obedience to Jesus instructions. Jesus told them to get into a boat and head across the water. As we’ll see later, their obedience leads them directly into a storm on the sea.

If God calls you to His will, and you obey, you will face backlash from this fallen world!

But, the good thing is Jesus is watching them from the shore, during their struggle with the storm (Mark 6:47). John 6:17 states that Jesus “had not yet joined them” out on the water. Even while the men were afraid about their situation, they were under His watchful eyes.

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There is purpose in our trials. Rest assured – God is watching us always!

Jesus will come

At the time of day described here, the disciples are in the middle of a mess: a rough, stormy sea long before sunrise. At this point, Jesus walks out on to the water. Their fear is of the storm, but also that they first assume Jesus is a ghost. Jesus’ intervention here happens in an unexpected way. In the same way, in our lives, God intervenes in ways we do not expect – at first this may frighten us, but it will always be for our good. We can trust Jesus will come to rescue us.

This is the part of the story I love the most. Jesus is miraculously walking on the water. Jesus says to them: ” 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (John 6:20). Although the Gospel of John does not include this next part, it is found in Matthew’s account. Peter (being the forward and bold one of the group), says to Jesus: 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28). Peter gets out the boat and also walks on the water, the same as Jesus does. But something goes terribly wrong – instead of keeping his focus on Jesus, he becomes aware of the storm and shifts his attention to the storm. What happens? Peter begins to sink. Why did he sink? He lost faith! But, Jesus was there, ready and waiting to catch Peter before he sank.

You might feel you are sinking in your circumstances. Trust Jesus will show up. At exactly the right time!

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Look to Jesus

  1. Look for Jesus and keep looking to Jesus. Although a storm surrounds us, we must look to Jesus. The problem is when we stop looking at Jesus. The principle is clear: especially when life is a tumultuous storm, look for Jesus and keep looking to Jesus.
  2. When Jesus commands you, obey Him. Jesus told Peter to “come” to Him on the water. Even though it made no sense, Peter did what Jesus said. This is what obedience looks like–doing what Jesus says.
  3. Faith is simply taking the next step. Peter took one step to get out of the boat and onto the water. Peter was doing just fine when he was focused on the next step and got into trouble when he lost sight of his next step. 
  4. Faith unleashes the supernatural. Peter did not experience the supernatural power of God that allowed him to walk on water until he trusted as evidenced by his actions.
  5. Fear will sink you. When Peter had faith, he walked on water. When he had fear, he sank in the water. The same is true for us. Fear will sink us.
  6. Jesus saves you from many things. Jesus not only saved Peter from hell but on this occasion, Jesus saved Peter from drowning.
  7. A little faith is better than no faith. The Lord Jesus spoke of Peter’s “little faith”. This means that he was capable of even greater sustained faith.
  8. You can choose to worry or worship. In an instant, the men went from worrying about their circumstances to worshipping their Christ.
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