Reflection on John 6:16-21

Scripture: John 6:16-21

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.


As I opened up my Bible to read and prepare for this blog post, I immediately noticed the heading “Jesus Walks on Water.” I got excited because I know that story well. I’ve even preached on it before. But what I realized pretty quickly is that I am far less familiar with John’s version than I thought I would be. His is remarkably short compared to the other gospels that tell this story. Matthew’s is, perhaps, the most well known. In it, Peter also walks on the water for a few steps before he starts to sink. And then as Peter and Jesus both get into the boat, the storm calms. That story is a good deal different than this one.

In these verses, Peter never gets out of the boat, Jesus never gets into the boat, and the storm never stops. But the detail that does remain constant in each version is Jesus’ answer to the fear of the disciples. He always says something very similar to that of this passage: “It is I; do not be afraid.” The first half of that – the “It is I” – is important to note. A different translation might simply read “I AM.” And if you recall from God’s very first interaction with Moses atop Mt. Sinai, that is the name with which God identifies himself.

The Gospel of John has made no attempts to hide the identity of Jesus as God, incarnate. This detail is yet another example meant to further convey that identity to his readers. Jesus, this guy who can feed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, who can heal a man on the Sabbath, and who can turn water into wine, is the same God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. He is still there with his people calming their fears and bringing them through dark, stormy seas into safety. And he’s still here with us, today, doing the exact same thing.


Christ, you who are ever with me, calm my heart when I’m afraid. Guide me through the strong winds and the storms that seem to blow my life off course at times. Lead me to you. Amen.

Thought for the Day:

God can walk on water, so he can get to you when you need him wherever you may be.


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