Walking on Water

Modern “miracle workers” focus on two effects: speaking in tongues and healing. Neither accords with the Bible models. Speaking in tongues was speaking in other languages (Acts 2:4-11), not the characteristic gibberish of our day. Bible healings were bonafide cases that even enemies had to acknowledge, not unverifiable headaches, backaches, and the like.

If men today can work miracles, where are the others, the physical effects such as turning water into wine or miraculously multiplying food? And who can walk on water, as the gospel writers say Jesus did? (Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-21).

The Sign
After feeding the 5,000, Jesus not only sent away the multitude, He also made the disciples get into a boat and leave. While He prayed alone on the mountain, they fought their way across a contrary sea. Somewhere between three and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. They were frightened, thinking it was a ghost. Jesus reassured them it was He. When He got into the boat with them, the wind stopped. John says immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

The Extension
Matthew records a unique aspect of this miracle. Jesus shared the effect by allowing Peter to also walk on water. “Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:28-31).

Extending the miracle in this way had several benefits. It verified to the apostles the reality of what was taking place. It illustrated the Savior’s favorable disposition toward them. And it taught them the valuable lesson that even in the exercise of supernatural gifts, one must act from personal faith if he is to be successful.

The Purpose
Peter’s success when walking by faith is a great illustration. So is his failure when he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on his circumstances. So is his simple, fervent prayer, “Lord, save me.” So is the Lord’s response.

As with all Jesus’ miracles, however, the main purpose was to show who He is. Mark’s analysis is interesting: “they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened” (6:51-52). It was not hard for them to envision how the creator and ruler of the universe could so easily set aside the “laws of nature.” It was just difficult to see Jesus as that one. Yet that is precisely who He is.

What do you see in Jesus? Have you submitted to His rule?

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