Besides the Resurrection, I think Jesus walking on water is His second greatest miracle. Mainly because it defies nature and physics. Most of all, it tests our faith. Let’s dig in…
Mark 6:45-56 – Jesus Walks on Water
45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.
47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning (the 4th watch of the night), Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 50 They were all terrified when they saw him.
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I AM is here!” (from original Greek) 51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, 52 for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.
53 After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. They brought the boat to shore 54 and climbed out. The people recognized Jesus at once, 55 and they ran throughout the whole area, carrying sick people on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 Wherever he went—in villages, cities, or the countryside—they brought the sick out to the marketplaces. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.Mark 6:45-56 NLT
Let’s Unpack This…
Jesus just finished feeding between 15-20,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. It was nighttime and Jesus did 3 things…
- He sent the disciples back to the boat to cross the Sea of Galilee to go to Bethsaida. Clearly, no Galilean fisherman worth his salt, would cross the sea at night. It was just not done. It was too dangerous. Nevertheless, they obeyed Jesus and went.
- Jesus sent the crowd of people home. I can imagine that they would have stayed listening to Him all night if He was willing.
- Next, Jesus goes up into the hills (some versions say “to the mountain”) to pray. He did this often. Going off, by Himself, to talk to God the Father. How often do you pray?
Because Jesus was up in the hills, or on a mountain, He could watch the disciples in the boat. There may not have been a storm, per se, just wind and high waves. They were struggling, rowing hard.
The Great I AM Walks on Water
- It’s the darkest time of the night. Jesus knew they would be exhausted and weary from using their own strength and resources. They had been rowing for around 8 hours — and not getting very far!
- Jesus was going to walk past them! The Amplified Bible says He “acted as if” He intended to pass them. We don’t know.
- They thought it was a ghost! They were terrified. Who wouldn’t be?!
- Jesus then spoke to them over the wind and the waves. He said, “Take courage; I am here.” In the NLT (New Living Translation) there’s a footnote on this verse indicating that the original Greek, it reads “the I AM is here.” “I AM” is what God called Himself in front of Moses at the Burning Bush. Check out all of the “I AM” statements — they truly reveal WHO God is!
- He then climbs into the boat and the wind stopped. He calmed the sea after He got into the boat.
- The only other Gospels that tell the story of Jesus walking on the water are John and Matthew. Matthew is the only one who recounts Peter wanting to go walk on the water to go to Jesus and he loses focus and faith and starts sinking. Why would both John and Mark leave Peter’s part out of their Gospels? Probably because they wanted to focus their Gospels on revealing who JESUS is and thought Peter’s reckless move was unnecessary.
A Test of Hearts
Why did Jesus feel the disciples still needed a testing of faith? They still didn’t get Him. They didn’t get the significance of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Their hearts were still too hard. They were thinking like mere humans when Jesus wanted them to think of the greater and higher power that Jesus was bringing.
When they reached land, in seconds, people recognized Jesus and they went and got all their sick people so He could heal them. No matter where they went, they brought the sick and begged Jesus to heal them or at least allow them touch His robe. Apparently, the news of the healing of the bleeding woman got around.
I’m going to borrow from the lesson in the Free, YouVersion Bible app…
This scene can portray two different images: one of selfish motivation if the people only came to Jesus to receive a healing, and the other of immense faith in the One they believed could heal. We obviously will never know their intentions; however, we can draw from their example of bold faith and take the temperature of our own faith in comparison…
Sometimes, it can be easy to get caught up in doubt and uncertainty when it comes to the supernatural power of God. When we can’t fully understand a concept or guarantee an outcome, we tend to minimize it to a size that can fit in our hands or an explanation that works in our minds, yet this is not what faith consists of.
As the author of Hebrews puts it, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). Our faith should therefore be in God and His promises. When we have faith in our God, who is Jehovah Rapha—the God who heals—we can approach Him with faith that He can and will heal whether it be on this side of heaven or not.
Though it can sometimes be scary to approach God confidently for physical healing because we don’t always know if it will be granted to us, we do know that in God’s grace He’s already healed us eternally for our faith in Him! As Paul says in Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8–9 NIV)! In view of this, may we approach Jesus as boldly as the crowds did, not solely for His power, but to worship Him in faith and love!Samantha Rodriguez, The Gospel of Mark (Part Three):
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom — a peace that surpasses all understanding, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…