John 6:16-24, NIV

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 three or three and a half miles, they saw
Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were
terrified. 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.

March 22, 2011
The roller coaster ride isn't over yet. The disciples plunge from the
heights of being associated with Jesus in the great feeding of the 5000
to feeling abandoned with night coming on. Now at this point Jesus is
totally absent from the picture. We watch as an unexpected storm blows
in on these disciples while they try to row their way back to civilization.
In the midst of their distress, they see a form walking on the water near
their boat.

This episode has a safe and secure ending, but the disciples don't know
that yet. They distrust their eyes. They were seasoned fishermen who
rowed these waters many times before, yet never had they seen any thing
like it. They were terribly frightened. For all they knew, it could have been
the angel of death.

Not until it spoke to them, did they recognize the figure as Jesus. These
were Jesus' trusted disciples and constant companions, but even they
did not expect to see Jesus coming toward them on foot out in the
middle of the Galilean Lake.

What a relief it was to have Jesus back, but did he have to approach
them in such a frightful way! The words, "then they were willing to take
him into the boat" suggests to me that maybe some of them were not
so eager to forgive Jesus for treating them badly--first by going off alone
without them, and now by scaring them out of their wits. Could he not
have returned on time!? By sundown? Before dark and the storm rolled in?

Their reunion may have been bitter sweet. And I'm thinking how true it is.
We can identify with these feelings--in our relationships with other people,
even at times in our relationship with God. "Jesus, I'll take you back.
Get into the boat, but give me a little time to get over this wild ride."

                                                                                 More journal entries

January 15. 2002
It seems to me Jesus had set a bad precedent when he feed those
5000 men plus women and children who had followed him out into the
countryside and up the side of a mountain. Won't other crowds, when
they hear about it, want similar treatment?

And now, Jesus getting into the boat with his exhausted disciples, out
in the middle of the lake somewhere, and suddenly they are safely at
their destination on the farther shore.

It's not good to be given what you want without having to exert any effort
to gain it. I think I learned that little gem before starting first grade!

Jesus may have been raising unreal expectations which he would come
to regret. Also diminishing the value of "good hard work." Ah, good hard
work--it held a place of highest honor in my childhood home and I still
have those tapes running through my head.

So here I am being critical, like the Pharisees when they saw Jesus heal
someone on the Sabbath. Instead of expressing joy at the works of God,
like them I find fault. Shame on me!

Didn't those disciples deserve to be home immediately? Of course they
did. Didn't many of those in the crowd deserve to receive a free, even
sacred, meal? Of course they did.

Maybe my thinking I have to work for everything is a hindrance to receiving
the living water and bread of life which Jesus wants me to reach out and
accept. All my striving will not get me eternal life. It's a gift of grace, freely
given to any one who will open their hand to receive it.

April 2, 1983
The disciples saw something coming toward them and were terrified.
They didn't know it was Jesus. The object of their terror soon became
the source of their joy, relief and salvation. Jesus let them experience
the storm but wouldn't allow them to perish. Jesus allowed them to be
terrified, but then came with comfort and reassurance.

These verses about how Jesus and his disciples returned to Capernaum
seem to be a brief interlude in the bread of life chapter. If it fits into that
theme, I haven't recognized it yet. To me it almost feels like going off on
a tangent which distracts from the focus of the rest of the chapter.

April 4, 1983
"It is I."  Jesus had to identify himself. It was dark, stormy, windy with
waves whipping high. They saw him coming, but when he was beside
the boat they weren't sure whether he was real or apparition, signaling
life or a warning of death. The other gospel accounts indicate they
thought he was a ghost. What else could walk on water!

But when Jesus spoke, they knew they would be saved. "Don't be afraid;
it is I"--the one you were seeking, missing, worried about, without whom
you felt lost.

"Don't be afraid; I am here." How real these words can be to some
people when in a crisis. Blessed are those who believe and find comfort
and strength from these words every day. Jesus had a similar promise
for his disciples after his resurrection. It is the thought Matthew recited at
the close his gospel: "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

April 5, 1983
Of course they were glad and relieved to take him aboard. With Jesus,
they were safe, no matter what. Suddenly, whether it was night or day
meant nothing. They forgot time or else Jesus performed a high velocity
miracle to get them to the shore at once.

Once more, Jesus led and they followed. It must have felt nice to be
together again. The disciples no longer needed to worry or wrestle with
decisions; and they were safe from harm. At least for now.

April 6, 1983
Today I am deeply pained and do not want to talk. I am in the storm and
it is very dark and frightening. Keep me close with the assurance that
your Spirit is with me always, and will bring me safely home.

Guide my day, the decisions I make, the work I do, the people I am with.
Help me be an instrument of your love, and not feel beaten down and
afraid when the storm gets rough.

                  <prev                                                                 next>