Jesus walks on water

Matthew 14:22-33

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’

28 ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’

29 ‘Come,’ he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Reflection

Some things in the Bible are difficult to accept. These events challenge us about how we think the world works, who Jesus is, and what our response should be.

This is one of those passages. I mean, why walk on the water?

I can understand healings - people are sick, Jesus heals them. I can understand the feeding of the 5000. People are hungry, Jesus miraculously multiples food to feed them.

In this story, however, Jesus sends the disciples away in the boat (when he could’ve just travelled with them!), and then turns up strolling on the water, bold as you like.

Honestly - what does this story add to the Bible other than to make us think - Hang on - did this really happen?

I think that’s the point. The important thing about this passage isn’t how we apply it to our lives allegorically e.g. Jesus walking on water is like when he calls us to do difficult things in our lives. Because walking on water isn’t a difficult thing, it’s a completely impossible thing!

No, the most important thing about this event is that it actually happened. Three out of the four gospels tell this story - it’s something that was well known.

So why tell it? Well, what that tells us is that the disciples saw Jesus walking to them on the water and they wanted to tell people - He is not an ordinary person!

Many people nowadays want to say that Jesus was a great moral teacher, but nothing else. This story puts the lie to that. This story says - ‘No. However great a moral teacher might be, they can’t walk on water and that’s what we saw him do.’

This story tells us that Jesus was the Son of God. The challenge is whether we believe it.
Phil Hoyle lives in Shepherds Bush, West London, with his wife Jen, and their three boys. He’s a reverend and works as the Pioneer for Missional Communities in London. You can read more of Phil’s writing at www.driftwoodpilgrim.com - in his spare time, Phil is learning to run, likes listening to too many podcasts, watching movies, and crafting stuff.
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