In one of the most stressful and exhausting days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Jesus sent the disciples ahead of him in boat across the Sea of Galilee. He was going to meet up with them later. He stayed behind to spend time in prayer. The disciples could have never imaged what would happen next.
When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid!” Then they were willing to take Him on board, and at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading. (John 6:16-21)
The Mighty Storm
In the night, a sudden storm descended upon the Sea of Galilee. Some of the disciples were seasoned fisherman, who had spent their life on this lake. They and the other disciples worked furiously to navigate the boat through the storm, trying to get to safety.
In the midst of the storm, things seem really dark. In the story you see that it was evening, and that darkness had already set in. That would have made it dark enough. But when the clouds, thunder, lightning, winds and waves roared, it seemed really dark. The phrase “high wind” in the passage literally means “mega-wind.” This was a big, angry, dark storm. Maybe you’ve battled some dark storms in life: financial storms, relationship battles, health challenges and more. In the midst of the storm, things can seem really dark.
In the midst of the storm, human effort may get you nowhere. The disciples rowed as fast they could row. They worked and struggled to get out of the storm and onto the shore. But after rowing three or four miles, they were still in the midst of the storm. We try the same thing today. We try to fix our problems without going to God prayer. Rather than relying on human strength or wisdom, why don’t we first go to God in prayer, asking him to lead us, guide us, provide for us, and strengthen us as we battle the storm one moment at a time?
In the midst of the storm, vision may get cloudy. The storm would not have been the thing that surprised the disciples the most. What surprised them the most was that someone or something appeared to be walking toward them on the water! They were afraid. It reminds me of how the children of Israel must have felt staring at the Red Sea. With the Egyptian army pursuing them and the Red Sea in front of them, the children of Israel were gripped with fear. They feared that they were going to be killed by the Egyptian army or drowned in the sea. But God performed a miracle, sending a mighty wind to separate the water, making a dry path for the children of Israel to walk through. God saved them. Now back to the disciples and the Sea of Galilee: they needed God to save them. And what do they see? It looks like a ghost walking on the water. In reality it is Jesus, but they don’t recognize him yet. Because of the storm, their vision is cloudy. Our vision gets like that sometimes. But the story doesn’t end there.
The Almighty Lord
The person walking to them on the water is Jesus himself. The Bible tells us over and over that he is more than a prophet, more than a teacher, more than a great example. He is God-in-the-flesh. He is the Great “I AM.” Moses was used by the Lord at the edge of the Red Sea. When Moses obeyed God’s instructions, God dried the path for the Israelites to walk through the sea. But Jesus is greater than Moses. He doesn’t have to wait for dry land — he can walk on the sea!
The Lord is there in the midst of the storm. Jesus was the one who had sent the disciples in the boat ahead of him. He knew they were going to encounter the storm. It was a test of faith. Notice that he doesn’t stay on the shore to see how they are going to respond. He goes to them in the midst of the storm. And he does the same with you today. He walks with you through the dark valleys, through the storms. Just call out to him in prayer, and you will recognize that he is there.
The Lord is the master of the storm. God created the heavens and the earth, the seas and the land masses, and he is in charge of all creation. Jesus, who is God-in-the-flesh, has the ability to control the storms. On a different day, in the midst of another storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus says, “Peace, be still!” and the wind and waves obeyed him. In this story, Jesus demonstrates by his ability to walk on the water that he is master over the elements. If Jesus can walk on water, he can help you with whatever storm you are battling. He is the master of the storm.
The Lord speaks truth to you in the midst of the storm. While the storm is raging, we need to know what to do. We get fearful, overwhelmed and confused. The disciples surely felt that way. So Jesus spoke the most important truths to them. He didn’t give them instructions for how to row better, nor did he scold them for not getting out of the storm yet. He spoke to them at their most important point of need. He said, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” He literally said, “I am. Don’t be afraid.” They needed to know that it was him, the great “I AM,” coming to them on the water, and they didn’t need to be afraid. Because the truth of the matter is that if Jesus is with you, you have everything you need. We hear the truth of God speaking to us in the midst of our storms as we read His Word. He speaks to us through the Bible, through prayer, through his people and through circumstances. His Word is our guide. He is our guide. As the great “I AM,” he will be everything that we need him to be and provide everything we need.
The Lord gets you from where you are to where you need to be. In this story, as soon as Jesus gets into the boat, immediately he and the disciples reach their destination. Jesus’ presence with them is the key. If he would have wanted them to remain on the sea for a little while longer, that would have been fine because he was with them. But on that day, he was ready for them to reach the shore. As you battle the storms of life, realize that Jesus will get you from where you are to where you need to be. Trust him one day at a time, always walking in line with his Word, trusting him moment-by-moment to guide you. His path is always the best path. Keep following him.