Light and Dark- Jesus Walking on the Water

Matthew 14: 25, Mark 6: 48, John 6: 16, Luke 9: 10

The timeframe of this story in Jesus’ ministry and the setting of this event are very important. The dark part is easily shown, it is the light part that I am going out on a limb with so please bear with me.  The mighty wonder of Jesus walking on water occurs right after the miraculous feeding of the 5000 men + women and children. It occurs on Lake Galilee during one of the frequent storms that happen on the lake.  Mark and Matthew tell us it happened during the fourth watch of the night. This Hebrew term places it after 3 a.m. and before sunrise (In Roman terminology it was the 3rdwatch.)  A dark stormy night

Rembrandt Storm on Galilee

in the middle of a lake, how did they see the “ghost”.  John said they “saw Jesus” your eye works off of light, where did it come from?

I think Jesus brought His own light or His angel was lighting the way!  We all glow with infrared-light and in just a little while He would shine with His glory in the Transfiguration. The disciples were “straining” at the oars not looking around on a pleasant sail across Galilee.  This entire episode carries many things in common with the Exodus – bread and fish (manna and quail) and possible “pillar of fire by night” (Jesus). In just a few months He will be going to Jerusalem to die.  How better to focus His disciples for the days ahead?

Studying this event, in its placement on the timeline of Jesus’ ministry definitely shows that preparations for His death and the Church He was founding were underway.  There are three major events that will help you see this:

  1. Jesus sent out the Twelve on their first solo mission trip.
  2. The Demonic of Gadarenes was healed and also sent out as an evangelist.
  3. John the Baptist, the greatest Old Testament prophet, is killed by Herod.

I studied Jesus as the Master Teacher and saw in the Gospel of Mark a learning cycle with a reteach sequence.  Jesus’ statement of “You give them something to eat” in Mark 6: 37 was the exam for their mission trip.  Jesus walking on the water started the reteach cycle that ended with the feeding of the 4000, as the retest.

Three– The “three” here can be several things.  John says they rowed three or three and a half miles (6: 19).  Jesus was in His third year of ministry, just before His death. If you use the Roman system of watches, it was in the third watch.

End and Start – The fact that all of the Gospel writers include the feeding of the 5000, thus the walking on the water (Luke only tells the feeding, not the walking), makes this very important.  John, the last eye-witness to write a Gospel, focuses his work around seven major miracles that prove Jesus was the Son of God.  He connects back to Passover/Exodus with the crowd wanting Jesus to always feed them with manna and the Feast of Tabernacles.  John continues with the raising of Lazarus that leads to parade into Jerusalem. The other writers tell the stories of the Transfiguration and the Gentile woman.  Luke adds the sending out of the seventy-two on mission trips.  All of these things would have been part of the preparations for the Church to grow after Pentecost.

John the Baptist’s death was the end of the Old Testament prophets thus allowing for the start of the New!  I have the feeling that these events, feeding and walking, signal a new start/phase in Jesus’ ministry.  As I have already said, the connects with the first Passover/Exodus are numerous.  So, if these are a prelude for a “new” the events of the first Passover would be mirrored.  What about the Red Sea?  (I am smiling here!)  Jesus did not walk through the water, He walked on the water!

FURTHER THOUGHT – Storms, we tend (I tend) to see them as not good.  Seldom do you/I think we are walking on top of the problem.  Think back to “advances in your life”, did you have a storm just before it?

See– Test, Attacks, and Storms Part 1, Part 2, Part 3; Miracles and Storms; Storms Revisited; Test Revisited 

Jesus as the Master Teacher

As the master teacher, Jesus used a variety of methods and presentation styles but His course content was consistent; whether by parable, teaching, or preaching His message was the Kingdom of God.

Jesus knew who He was speaking to and used examples that were at His audience’s level. With the crowds, He spoke parables using examples that they saw every day. Yeast in flour, marriage feasts, and sowing crops are examples of things He used in parables to illustrate the Kingdom of God. His parables could be taken on multiple levels of understanding but I think the meanings were always hidden because Jesus wanted people to ask questions. Isaiah had talked about this fact when he said that they would be “ever hearing but never understanding”; just because you enjoy a story does not mean that you understand the symbolism and metaphors that are written into it by the author.  With the leaders, His meanings were still veiled but they knew when he was talking about them; the example here is the Good Shepherd vs. the hired help.

He used current events as part of His teaching like when he talked about the tower that fell or when Pilate mixed pigs blood into the sacrifice.

Jesus used various strategies for where He was and whom He wanted to reach. He talked to massive crowds, small groups, and even one-on-one when the people or persons needed that in order for His message of the Kingdom to be gotten out and understood.  He would launch a discussion question like, “Who do the people say I am” or He would ask a question and patiently wait for an answer like when the woman was about to be stoned for adultery. (Of course, that could be Him as a Master Judge also.)

He had chosen the disciples they got special treatment. He would explain parables to them but He knew that He would have to send the Holy Spirit (re-teach) because they were not progressing fast enough. They got quantity and quality time with Jesus and I think He even gave them tests. If I may, the teaching that God can provide was the feeding of the five thousand and their test was the feeding of the four thousand. (see Test Revisited)

The picture was taken at Houston Baptist University.