Photo of a raging seaThe story of Jesus walking on the water has been the foundation for many sermons by preachers of all ages to a multiplicity of audiences and different religious faiths.

Many preachers have pondered the miracle of Jesus walking on the water. How did he do that?

Did he even do it, the skeptics would say, or was he stepping on rocks lying near the surface of the water as he moved along the lake? I doubt this was the case as it was dark when this event occurred. Though you could argue that Jesus is the all-seeing one and could have seen a path of hidden rocks.

While the heading in my Bible for this passage of Scripture says “Jesus Walks on the Water” (Mark 6:45), it is not the real news item here. While it was amazing, miraculous, unbelievable and impossible for mere humanity to conceive and even more so, to do, it was not the “after” event conversation piece that took place once the disciples landed on shore.

I think to make this story relevant, we need to simplify it and look at what happened that day by the Sea of Galilee.

What happened?

1. Human physical needs were met in the feeding of the 5,000 (see Mark 6:30-44). People were hungry and Jesus found a way to satisfy their hunger.

2. Emotional needs were met.

And so we ask, what were the emotions of the day?

  • Maybe they were distraught at being sent away by Jesus rather abruptly. “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat” (Mark 6:45). It was late in the day, so why couldn't they just stay with him and go later in the boat together? That's what I would have thought and fought for if I were there.

  • Then there was fear. The winds picked up as they were known to do on the Sea of Galilee and the disciples were struggling to make headway. It says that “Jesus saw them straining on the oars, because the wind was against them.” Have you ever been on the water, in a boat, in a raging storm? It is not a pleasant feeling, and fear is apt to overtake you.

  • There was also the fear of the unknown. Who or what was this thing coming toward their boat? Was it a ghost? Was it a man? Was it their minds playing tricks on them?

  • Then there was the emotion of relief as this man stepped into the boat and the waters grew still. Yet they still did not recognize Jesus.

I'm sure that whatever emotions the disciples had in those hours while out on the raging waters of the Sea of Galilee, disappeared when Jesus “climbed into the boat with them” (Mark 6:51).

As we allow Jesus to come alongside us, our emotions are calmed, just as the waters of the sea calm down when the winds subside

I don't know what winds are blowing in your life today, it might be a wind of doubt and uncertainty, a fear of the unknown, anxiousness over the fate of a loved one, or maybe a wind of sickness that just won't go away.

May you know, just as I do, that Jesus can calm that wind, that storm; no matter how severe it is. He can give you peace even in the midst of the storm.

 Major Larry Jennings is executive director at the Meighen Health Centre in Toronto. Last fall, he and several other Salvation Army officers participated in a tour of the Holy Land.

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