The story of Jesus walking on the water is a favorite one to tell to children in a Sunday School class, but it is also probably one of the stories we remember with fondness into our adult years. This story can be found in Matthew 14, Mark 6 and John 6. Let’s look at this story anew and see what we can learn from it.
Matthew 14:22-33 “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come.
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”
Mark 6:46-52 “And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled.
And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.”
John 6:16-21 “And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.”
The main event preceding this story is the feeding of the 5,000. The disciples had all seen a great miracle. They had all experienced the compassion and power of Christ. Yet in each version of this story, they were still surprised to see Jesus do another miracle. This can be seen as a simple child-like wonder at the greatness of the Lord, or as a lack of faith. I am not entirely sure how to view their reaction, yet it depends on your view of God as to how you will perceive the way He works in your own life.
Jesus had fed the 5,000 men (plus women and children). Then He went apart to pray after sending the disciples to the other side of the sea of Galilee towards the cities of Bethsaida and Capernaum. The disciples were caught in a storm on the sea. They had worked hard to get to the other side. Between 3 and 6 in the morning the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water and they were afraid. They thought He was a spirit or ghost. Yet it was their friend Jesus coming to them. They knew it was Him when He spoke to them.
The Matthew passage is the one that says Peter also walked on the water. While they knew it was Jesus because of His voice, Peter wanted more proof. He asked Jesus to let him walk on the water too. This can be seen as a lack of faith, or that Peter wanted to do so much more than say he believed. He wanted to trust the Lord for greater things.
Peter stepped out of the known and into the unknown. He chose to get out of his comfort zone and trust Christ to do something greater with his life. He took his eye’s off of the harsh conditions around him and focused on the Lord. Peter expected Jesus to do a miracle in his life.
At some point though, Peter took his eyes off the Lord (Matthew 14:30) and began to sink. This verse is interesting because Peter already knew there was a storm, but he had previously chosen to ignore it in the presence of the Lord. However, now maybe he got comfortable and began to look at his surroundings once again.
After helping Peter into the boat Jesus took them safely to the other side. The disciples began to have a greater understanding of who Jesus was. They had been told many times by the Lord that He was the Son of God, but now they admitted that they really knew it was true (Matthew 14:33).
Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God? The disciples saw Him as their friend and leader, but they had to grow in spiritual maturity to truly understand and trust Christ fully.
Resources – The Holy Bible, King James Version; YouTube video “Walk on Water” by Audio Adrenaline