Summary: Jesus does back-to-back miracles: the mass feeding and then walking on water. But He downplays both miracles. Why would He do that?
WHAT JESUS WALKING ON WATER ACCOMPLISHED: Seeing this miracle strengthened the disciples’ faith in Jesus.
- John 6:16-21.
- The disciples have just seen Jesus multiply the loaves. It is an incredible miracle that they got to see happen up close.
- That evening, Jesus sends the disciples across the lake while He disperses the crowd.
- The disciples are struggling with the wind and rough waters when Jesus comes walking on the water.
- There are actually four miracles that happen as part of this story:
a. Jesus walks on the water.
- John 6:19.
b. Peter walks on the water.
c. The wind and waves calm at Jesus’ command.
d. The boat is miraculously transported to its destination shore.
- John 6:21.
- Why did this last miracle happen? Robert Deffinbaugh has a helpful suggestion. Perhaps it was because Jesus wanted to be on the far shore before dawn. As we will discuss momentarily, He is not interested in making a public spectacle of this walking-on-water miracle.
- How do we know that this walking-on-water miracle strengthened the disciples’ faith?
- We don’t have a direct statement here in John, but we do in Matthew. After seeing Jesus walk on water, empower Peter to walk on water, and calm the wind, those in the boat proclaimed, “Truly You are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
- In other words, it strengthened their faith in who Jesus was.
WHY KEEP QUIET ABOUT IT? When directly questioned, why didn’t Jesus tell everyone about the miracle?
- John 6:22-25.
- I think we can all agree that walking on the water is one amazing miracle. If any of us could do it, we’d probably tell all our friends, videotape it and post in on Facebook, and generally publicize it in any way that we could. “Check out what I did!”
- Jesus, though, goes in the opposite direction.
- Jesus is directly asked about when He got there (v. 25). The crowd that was with Him the previously day knows that He didn’t stay with them, that He didn’t get in the boat with the disciples, and that He didn’t get in one of the boats that came the following morning (vv. 22-24). They ask when He got there, but implied within that is also them asking, “How did You get here?”
- Right there it is – the perfect open door. All He has to say is, “Well, actually, now that you ask, I walked here, but not around the lake. I walked across the lake!” The disciples would corroborate His story and the crowd would be even more hyped to make Him the king.
- But Jesus doesn’t do that. Instead (and we’ll get more into His actual answer in a moment), He doesn’t say anything at all about walking on water. Can you imagine? Why not tell everyone about it?
- There is something going on here that is important. Jesus downplays the miracle, not even mentioning it when there is ample opportunity. Why?
THE PROBLEM WITH THE CROWD: Don’t pursue Jesus for secondary reasons.
- John 6:14-15, 26.
- Sometimes people say that Jesus is good at everything, but I’m not sure that’s true. I can tell you one thing Jesus is bad at: P.R.!
- Here He has a terrific public relations moment and He completely squanders it. Why? Because He has other, bigger goals.
- When the people experience the bread miracle, their response is to try to make Him king (vv. 14-15). That sounds like a good thing, right? Making Jesus king sounds like a good thing.
- Yet Jesus withdraws from them (v. 15).
- Why did He walk away from them like that? Verse 26 tells us it was because they were only pursuing Jesus for secondary reasons. In this case, because He looked like a source of endless food.
- Note the “Verily, verily” or “I tell you the truth” that starts v. 26. That’s a recurring phrase in John that always points us to Jesus sharing a key truth.
- They didn’t want Jesus because He was the Son of God. They wanted Him because He could provide them with the stuff that they wanted.
- That translates into the lives of many people concerning why they seek Jesus.
- Many people seek Him for secondary reasons. What might that look like?
- Examples of secondary reasons:
a. I bring my kids to church because I want my kids to behave.
b. I want my spouse to shut up about all this God stuff.
c. I need healing from my sickness.
d. I’m depressed.
e. I’m about to go bankrupt and need help.
f. This guilt is killing me.
g. Going to church will make my mom happy.