Walking on the Water

We’re continuing our look through the New Testament at passages highly relevant to the Trinity and especially the understanding of Christ. Tonight, we’ll be in Matthew 14.

22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

 27But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 28“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

 29“Come,” he said.

   Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

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

Of special interest will be the Markan parallel in Mark 6.

45Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. 47When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out,50because they all saw him and were terrified.

   Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

Mark 6 is brought up because when Matthew describes the incident, it could be he had this passage from Job 9 in mind.

8 He alone stretches out the heavens 
       and treads on the waves of the sea.

Many times though when a passage is referenced in the New Testament, it has not just in mind the Old Testament reference but the surrounding context as well. What does that have to do with Mark? Mark says that Jesus was about to pass by them. Let’s look at Job 9:11 with that in mind.

 11 When he passes me, I cannot see him; 
       when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.

The same word is used in this case. It is likely then that this is in mind. Keep in mind that this is referring to YHWH.

Jesus also says “It is I,” in many of our translations but it is literally ego eimi. Now that could simply be “I am,” the way many would say it to describe their condition. If I back then said “I am cold,” it would not be seen as a reference to deity. However, that Jesus says it alone and knowing the way Matthew has been portraying Jesus, he could be expecting his readers to draw something more out of it.

Finally, when we get to Matthew 14:33, we see the conclusion that Jesus is worshipped. Mark has them in awe which is Mark’s style. Mark is a writer of fear and trembling wanting to leave his readers in awe, which makes the traditional ending of his gospel in Mark 16:8 fitting. 

This is more than just showing respect. This is a recognition of who Jesus is in light of a miraculous event. We might wonder, “then how could the disciples be so foolish after coming to a knowledge of who Jesus is?!”

Maybe instead of asking that about them, we should ask it about ourselves.

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