Sorry about the picture. Couldn’t resist.
There are a lot of jokes, some good, some not so good about walking on water and about Jesus’ intent and the Disciples reaction. This sign also appears in popular culture. If you say,”Sally thinks she walks on water” or “the boss thinks Joe walks on water”, what do you mean?
Walking on water, something everybody knows is impossible is an over the top sign that whoever is doing it is somehow different/better. Only flying could top walking on water.
John records the sign in John 6:16-24 and the same sign appears in Matthew 14:22-33 and Mark 6:45-52. John and Mark give us the barest of the accounts, the disciples are rowing across Lake Genneserit to Capernaum (or Bethsaida in the other gospels), there is a strong wind they are rowing against and Jesus walked across the water toward them. They saw him coming and were afraid (who walks on water). When they realized who he was they let him in the boat.
And why did John and the others include this incident? Mark gives us the best clue in 6:52 where it says of the disciples,”for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.”
I think their hearts were hardened in three ways (as are ours):
1) They thought Jesus had come to change the world. Just like the crowd they may have believed that Jesus had come to be an earthly king, to overthrow Roman rule in Palestine, they could not see the significance of the Loaves because they were looking for the wrong kind of king and the wrong kind of change.
2) As we discussed last week in class, perhaps at some level they were more interested in what Jesus could do for them in terms of meeting their physical needs than in how he could/would change them. Its not that Jesus does not meet our needs or that they were wrong to look to him to have their needs met. Its valuing the miracle more the the one from whom the miracle comes.
3) The felt proprietary towards Jesus, he was theirs and did not belong to the crowd. This was, if not the most one of the most widely experienced miracles. There were 5,000 men there plus women and children, in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps, like we do sometimes, we consider people not fit for church or for the things of God.
Into the middle of that hardness of the heart, Jesus comes with an over the top display of his otherness, his deity. He reminds the disciples of who he is and, by implication, who they are not. That it is the Father, not they, who determine what his goals are, what needs he will meet and with whom he will associate. What over the top thing or series of things did it take to convince you that Jesus is Lord? Are we continuing to permit him to be Lord or have we decided on a safe place to put him?