John's narrative of Jesus walking on water offers a rich tapestry of symbols, shedding light on faith, challenges, and God's presence in our lives.
John 6:16-21 — When Caught In A Storm — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel with Aneel Aranha. Today we will reflect on John 6:16-21. Listen.
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid." Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
Have you ever been in a situation where destruction seems imminent and there seems no chance of survival? And to make matters worse, does it appear God has forsaken you, leaving you to fend on your own? This narrative of the apostles caught in a storm can be seen as a metaphor for those moments in our lives when we are surrounded by chaos and uncertainty, and God appears absent.
As usual, John's narrative is packed with symbolism, so let's dig deep. John speaks about the apostles embarking on their journey in the evening. They soon find themselves enveloped in darkness, a biblical symbol often associated with chaos, danger, and the unknown. However, the darkness is not merely physical; it represents the spiritual darkness that can engulf us when we are isolated from God. Haven't you noticed how life becomes dark when we move away from God?
The sea is another symbol. In biblical imagery, it often represents chaos and danger, a place where we experience great vulnerability. Here, the disciples are literally and metaphorically at sea, representing life's uncertainties and trials. The apostles, who are seasoned fishermen familiar with the Sea of Galilee, find themselves battling a strong wind. Their familiarity with the sea didn't exempt them from its challenges, much like our familiarity with faith doesn't exempt us from life's storms.
John then tells us that the disciples had rowed about three or four miles when they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water. The distance they had covered is possibly another spiritual metaphor, signifying the journey of faith, which is often marked by periods of strenuous effort. The destination often seems elusive, and God seems distant.
Why did Jesus choose to walk on water? It is his declaration of his lordship over the rules of nature and nature itself. This act is not just a miracle; it is a theophany, a manifestation of God who is above all powers and principalities. The apostles are afraid; their fear a complex mixture of awe and wonder.
Then Jesus says, "It is I; don't be afraid." (John 6:20). In the original Greek, the phrase "It is I" can be translated as "I AM," echoing God's revelation to Moses in Exodus 3:14. This isn't just a reassurance of identity but a declaration of divinity. Jesus is not just saying, "It's me, don't be scared." He's declaring, "I AM is here; there's no need for fear."
The narrative concludes with John saying that now the disciples were "willing" to take Jesus into the boat, and with that, they "immediately" reached their destination.
This story is a powerful reminder that God is ever-present in our lives. When we go through storms, we often fail to recognize his presence because our eyes are fixed on the difficulties we face. We must remember that God is not far away, and look out for him as he doesn't always appear as we expect him to appear. We must welcome him into our situation as the apostles welcomed him into their boat. The moment we do that, we will no longer be afraid because we know God is with us.
May he bless you.