17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.
21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
Jesus sought God in “alone” times, and presented Himself as the Son of God always.
“It is I; be not afraid.” Jesus, the gospel tells me, withdrew to a mountain alone, probably seeking God the Father. I find myself with lots of questions over this passage. What took the disciples away? For what reason did they deign to leave without their Lord? The outcome, for me at least, would be too predictable. Leaving without thought or regard for my Lord would be the surest way of getting myself into a fierce storm that I know of.
I am not told why the disciples felt the need to go over, but is it not interesting that they found themselves on a wayward course just as soon they found themselves without the Lord? I would assume that Jesus walking on the water was, in part, for the benefit of presenting Himself as God to the disciples.
I also find it odd that John leaves out Peter’s walking on the water. No commentator that I have read seemed to speculate on this—and I surely do not know the answer. I speculate that the purpose of John was to do just as he said with his gospel: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Surely this was the apostle’s aim in recording what he did, and he may have just felt that telling of Peter and his walk on the water would detract from the miracle of God.
Interestingly McGee looks at some of these verses with the same sort of questions I have had when I first committed much of the gospel to memory. Immediately, it says, they got to the other side. I have always wondered whether that in itself was another miracle. McGee says: “This may be another miracle, or John may mean that with no delay they reached the other side since the water was now calm. Or it may be the language of love—with Him in the boat it didn’t seem far to the other side.”
“It is I, be not afraid.” Are not these His first words to a believer? Do they not echo always in my life? Encountering God has got to be the supreme experience of my lifetime, and the testimony of the Spirit of God seems to resonate with my Spirit, that knowing Jesus should put me beyond fear. There is little that man can do to me in comparison with that which the Lord has already done with me. Disease and death may ravage this aging body, but I do not fear disease or death, for that which the Lord has given me is greater. I think of Paul’s declaring: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” My life, my soul, indeed all of my fortune, is wrapped up in the promise of God. As Paul also observes, “If these things are not true, then we are, of all creatures, most miserable.
But they are true! The atheist says in his heart, and sometimes aloud, there is no God. Scripture says that he is a fool. God looks at their rebellion with a mixed attitude. On the one hand He derides their folly and will condemn, but on the other hand, God has sent His Son into the world for this very reason, that whosoever believeth may come freely to God. I do say freely, but notice I do not say without punishment, for the sins of the world were taken by the Son of God, that all men might have the possibility of pardon, if they will but believe. I can follow my friends right down to their graves with the good news, but past the grave there is nothing that I can do for their salvation. There is nothing that God can do either, for He has done everything already. “He that believeth not is condemned already, because He has not believed in the name of the only begotten of the Father.” What a mercy we have to receive forgiveness right now!
McGee, J. Vernon (1990-01-30). Thru the Bible 1-5 (5 Volume Set) (Kindle Location 100962). Grupo Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed
1. Alas, and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?
2. Was it for crimes that I have done,
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
3. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut its glories in,
When God, the mighty maker, died
For his own creature's sin.
4. Thus might I hide my blushing face
While his dear cross appears;
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.
5. But drops of tears can ne'er repay
The debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
'Tis all that I can do.
Lyrics: Isaac Watts