Tag Archives: Walking on Water

Imposs-ability

What the heck just happened?  Or, what was that all about?  When you read about Jesus, you may find yourself scratching your head, asking that kind of question.  Good!  If you want to get the most out of Jesus, you have to ask.  Because Jesus frequently used object lessons, where there was more to be learned in what just happened than there was in what He said.  Here’s a good example:

“During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if (since) it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.” (Matthew 14:25-32 – I’ve changed “if” to “since” in v. 28 for clarity)

What was that all about?  What just happened?  One obvious lesson is this: When  Jesus asks the impossible, keep your focus on Jesus, not on all the scary things that hinder you.  Jesus let Peter learn that truth through what happened to him.  Jesus underlined the principle with what He said to Peter:

…“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”” (Matthew 14:31b)

That important principle, is repeated in the Book of Hebrews:

” Therefore, …, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  [How can we do that?] Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, ….” (Hebrews 12:1-2 – excerpts plus my question in brackets)

Jesus frequently asks or motivates us to do things considered impossible in the world.  Impossible things like forgiving.  There are times that forgiveness seems as impossible as walking on water.  But, when you fix your eyes on Jesus, and not on all the hurt, when you allow faith to push aside doubt, you can walk across that impossible “water,” you can walk toward Jesus.

That’s just one example.  When Jesus asks the impossible, do what Peter did.  Call out to Jesus and say, “Lord, since it is You, tell me to do the right thing, the thing that looks so impossible.”  Then trust.  Likely, you will be amazed, as were His disciples on that windy night:

“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”” (Matthew 14:32-33)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Why and How

Do you want to know how Jesus walked on water?  You’ve probably heard people telling jokes about walking on water (I think my wife walked on water once when she saw a snake) but how did Jesus do it?  What Jesus told His disciples gives us a clue.

“When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”” (Matthew 14:26-27)

You may want to review how Jesus set this experience up (See: Jesus Throws a Combination).  Point is, they were really terrified.  When you first experience terror, it’s like suddenly falling.  Most people scream and their arms fly out involuntarily.  Some faint.  Like that time your brother pranked you with a fake spider that dropped on your head?  Like that.  Jesus set that up.  He deliberately terrified them.

And then, He told them three things, important things.  Things He wanted them to really know.  Us too.  Two of those things were commands:

  • Take courage!
  • Don’t be afraid

Essentially, “Stop freaking out and get a grip.  Allow your heart to be filled with understanding and confidence.”  And then, “Don’t become afraid in the future.”

But it’s what Jesus said in between those two commands that is the key to why they make sense.  (It’s also the key to how He walked on water.)  It’s not clear in the English translations, but Jesus pronounced the Holy Name of God, applying it to Himself.  He said, “I Am!”  Which meant, “I am God!”  In our culture, where people use the names for God in a casual and disrespectful way, it’s hard to understand what a big deal this would have been.  But know this: when Jesus said those words in public (John 8:58-59), the people picked up rocks and tried to kill Him.

Jesus could have gone with the disciples in the boat.  But He sent them off by themselves, into a developing storm and came to them, walking on the water.  He intentionally blew their minds, shaking them loose from everything they thought they understood.  Then, with them in that vulnerable condition, He explained, “You can take courage and confidence; you can put away fear.”  Why? “Because I, Jesus, am God. With Me, all things are possible.”  That is why Jesus walked on water, so they would know that in their bones.

So then, how did He walk on water?   Same answer.  He is God; He did it any way He wanted to.  Sorry about that…   But the important thing is to know why He did it, to fully understand it and believe that He is God, take courage and put away all fear.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.