Thursday, July 22, 2021

John 6:16-21

John 6:16–21: Jesus Walks on Water


A short passage (I’m following the ESV section headings), but a significant one. Frankly, whether people know the full story or not, the fact that Jesus walked on water seems to be one of the more universal pieces of knowledge the general public has about him, and that one fact seems to be John’s only focus in writing this passage.

This event takes place right after Jesus has fed the 5,000. (Actually, 5,000 men, which means the number of people fed was much higher than that—see the previous passage.) The disciples go on without Jesus, get in a boat, and start to cross the Sea of Galilee, but the weather starts to get rough. Three or four miles out they see Jesus walking on the water toward them, which frightens them. But Jesus reassures them that it’s really him so they don’t need to be afraid, after which they happily take him into the boat.

Immediately after he gets in they reach the other side of the sea. (The ESV Study Bible notes indicate that, “If the feeding of the multitude took place at the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, the shortest distance to Capernaum would be 5–6 miles,” so they’d still have been somewhat close to the middle of the sea when Jesus joined them, he didn’t just happen to reach the boat as they were landing.)


Like the feeding of the 5,000, this is a short account of a well known miracle. In fact, John cuts this miracle down to just the barest essentials: there is no mention of the disciples thinking he’s a ghost (though it’s sort of hinted at here), no mention of Peter getting out of the boat and joining him on the water (and then losing faith when the reality hits him), just Jesus simply walking on the water.

John’s point doesn’t seem to be to illustrate anything other than the fact that Jesus is able to perform miracles.

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