The Storm Treader
Jesus walked to the water’s edge and began to walk out into the water. Though the sea churned and the waves rose, he did not sink but miraculously walked on the surface of the sea. He made his way toward his disciples’ boat with the intention of passing them by and meeting them on the other side of the lake. (Mk 6:8)
But the disciples saw him approach. Rather, through the darkness and the swells, they saw a silhouetted figure walking on the water toward them. The figure wasn’t just walking on the water, he tread upon the storm. Terrified, they clung to each other and cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
The storm treader immediately called out to them: “Do not be afraid. It is I.” (Mt 14:27)
Peter moved to the edge of the boat, peering out into the darkness, looking for some tell-tale sign that this was Jesus. Peter cupped his hands around his mouth and called out, “Lord, if it is you, then call me out to where you are on the water.”
Jesus said, “Come.” (Mt 14:28)
With the wind still blowing hard and the boat still rocking to its rhythms, Peter swung one leg over the side of the boat, and then the other. When he set his weight down on his feet, he did not sink, but managed to take a small step on the surface of the sea, and then another. Before he realized the impossibility of what was happening, he had made his way to within only a few feet of Jesus. The reality caught up to Peter when he turned his eyes from Jesus to the raging storms around him. His faith began to fail and he began to sink, which only panicked him more.
“Lord, save me! I’m going to drown,” Peter said, trying to reach for Jesus’s hand. (Mt 14:30)
Jesus took hold of Peter and kept him from sinking. He looked into his friend’s fearful but exhilarated eyes and said, “Why did you fear, Peter? Where did your faith go?”
Jesus knew the quality of Peter’s faith. He knew Peter was a man whose faith rose and fell, and that it could turn on him quickly. But he also knew Peter was the only one who dared to step out of the boat in the first place.
When they got back to the boat and climbed aboard, the wind and the waves became as still as glass. (Mt 8:23-27) The disciples felt an ever-increasing feeling of astonishment in Jesus’s presence. Seeing him walk on water had come right on the heels of seeing him feed well over five thousand people with only a few loaves and fish. They worshiped him, regarding him as the Son of God. But they did not know what that meant beyond a basic comprehension that though he was one of them, he was not like them. (Mt 14:33)
With these two wondrous signs back-to-back, the disciples were seeing more and more that Jesus was sovereign over everything in the entire world, and nothing about this was simple. Though he had to walk, he could walk on water. Though he got hungry and had to eat, he could create food from nothing. For every new category he added to his identity, he seemed to take others away. He was a man, but not just a man. He was a rabbi, but he connected to God in uncommon ways. Jesus stood fully in their world, but as sure as he sat there among them dripping in the boat, they did not stand fully in his. And this moved them to fear as much as it moved them to awe.
About the Post: This post is an excerpt of chapter 12 of my 2015 release Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
About the Art: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Jesus Walks On Water, c.a. 1768-1770, private collection.