In my previous post I spoke about the peculiar nature of some of Jesus’ miracles and suggested that the turning of water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana had symbolic significance. Today I want to look at another one of Jesus’ miracles that at first glance seems slightly odd which is the time that He walked on water. Usually Jesus’ miracles were clearly helpful to other people but walking on water is a bit odd, one might even take it for a bit like showing off. But this was Jesus and that would hardly fit His profile. Now a lot has been said about the faith lessons that can be learned from Peter’s stepping out of the boat and subsequently sinking into the water but I believe that there was something deeper going on beneath the surface (see what I did there?). Yes, there is a lesson in faith to be learned in the story but there is more.
Beginning in John chapter 6 we see that immediately following the water-walk that the crowds are said to have been unaware of how Jesus had gotten across the sea therefore they asked Him how He had arrived, Jesus says to them in verse 26 that, “You seek Me not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled”. I believe then that this was more than a miracle but a sign as well communicating something else to us.
The sign I believe that walking on water reveals is that Jesus was and is God. Let me explain, in the previous chapter (John 5) we see that the Jews sought to kill Jesus because He said that God was His Father, thereby making Himself equal with the Father (verse 18). So how exactly would walking on water be a demonstration of that? According to the Torah, Yahweh had power over the sea and most Jews would have been familiar with the passages below:
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. – Exodus 14:21.
And with the blast of Your nostrils the waters were gathered together; the floods stood upright like a heap; the depths congealed in the heart of the sea. – Exodus 15:8.
He stirs up the sea with His power, and by His understanding He breaks up the storm. – Job 26:12
This one is particularly interesting because in Matthew 8 Jesus calmed a storm simply by rebuking it. We read a similar verse in the Psalms as well:
He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. – Psalm 107:29
Perhaps even more convincing is this gem that I stumbled across in Job:
He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea. - Job 9:8
Then this one as well:
Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters - Isaiah 43:16
So Jesus was clearly doing something beyond amazing by walking on water, He was doing something only God Himself could do. In fact, in Matthews account when everyone saw Him walking on water and started freaking out. Jesus called out, “It is I, do not be afraid”. This is actually a poor translation and most English Bibles get it wrong. Jesus does not say, “It is I” but rather, “I AM” This of course is a reference to Exodus 3:14. It is fitting therefore that when Jesus climbs into the boat that it says that those who were in the boat ‘worshiped Him’ (Matthew 14:33). Were a bunch of Jews deliberately breaking one of the Ten Commandments or had they grasped something of whom Jesus was in that moment? I believe that it was the latter. Perhaps Jesus walking on water was not so strange then after all...
To see the previous post in this series, click here.