Summary: This is the fifth sign found in the book of John, the walking on water.
Walking on Water
During my last four Bible studies I have covered the first four signs in the book of John.
I said that in the Gospel of John, he makes no secret of why he write his account of Jesus’ life.
... that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John wrote the Gospel so that people may know who Jesus is, that He is Christ, the Son of God, and so that people might have life by believing in Him. John therefore picks out events in Jesus’ life, and teachings that He gave, that display Him for who He is. These events are meant to show more than who Jesus is in Himself, but also, and just as importantly, who He is in relation to fallen man, to you and to me.
John himself admits, in the verse before the one that we have just read, and at the end of his book, that there are many other things that he could have included. But instead John includes those miracles and teachings he records as evidence of who Jesus is to the people. Included are seven miracles which John explains, are signs, to show that Jesus is the one the prophets spoke of in the old testament. Through these signs John displays how Jesus is the fulfilment of the old testament.
Just like the signature of a person is a sign upon a document that it has the approval of that person, these signs were the Fathers signature upon Jesus’ life, that He had His approval. They are the signature of God upon His new covenant.
In the first sign, the turning of the water into wine, Jesus revealed how He is able to take useless ritual, and turn it into an everlasting covenant. In the second sign, the healing of the officials son, Jesus demonstrates how He is the word of God. In the third sign, the healing of the man at the pool, we discovered that Jesus is the one who is able to forgive sins. In the forth sign, the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus reveals that He is the bread of life. We now come on to the fifth sign, the walking upon water.
14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.
15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
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.
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realised that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone.
23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
24 Once the crowd realised that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, Rabbi, when did you get here?
26 Jesus answered, I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
The first thing that you will notice about this sign is that it occurs almost directly after the feeding of the five thousand. It actually happens before Jesus has concluded His teaching concerning this sign.
In the other signs in this book, Jesus tests the people before the sign, reveals himself through the sign, and then gives further teaching. In this sign John doesn’t appear to have included any of Jesus’ teaching in regards to this sign, and so I am going to concentrate on the test, and then the revelation.
Before I do that I want to look at what’s missing in this account of this miracle that is included in the account of this same miracle contained in the book of Matthew. This account does not contain any reference to the fact that Peter got out of the boat and attempted to join Jesus on the surface of the water. Matthew 14:22-36 clearly makes reference to the fact that after Jesus has said ’It is I; don’t be afraid’ Peter then jumps into the water and has a go himself.