If you were to ask the man in the street about Jesus one of the first things they would bring up is probably walking on water. It’s the source of many jokes, the inspiration for satirical cartoons, in Jesus Christ Superstar one of the things Herod challenges Jesus to do is ‘walk across my swimming pool’. I was reading the account in Mark’s gospel today and wondering why did he do it?
At first glance, it seems like an odd thing for Him to do. If you read the chapter He’d actually been trying to get away with the Disciples for some peace and quiet so they could eat and catch up because the Disciples had just got back from their first solo missions. But there were too many people pressing in so they headed somewhere quiet. The people, however, weren’t so easily left behind. They worked out where Jesus was off to and headed Him off. This led to the feeding of the 5000 – where the Disciples saw the incredible power of God. Then Jesus sent them to Bethsaida in the boat while He had His alone time. It says He prayed on the mountain and could see over the sea where the Disciples were sailing – or trying to; the wind was against them.
This was after Jesus had calmed the storm, they had just been casting out demons, healing the sick and literally hours before seen bread and fish multiplied exponentially. I wonder if Jesus watched them struggling to row and looked up to Heaven with a sigh. The people had pursued Him around the lake believing, trusting that He had something to offer but His Disciples, those handpicked by Him were struggling to do what He told them.
Think about it. He told them to cast out demons and they were cast out. He told them to rely on God to provide and God provided. He told them to feed the people and a miracle happened. He told them to cross the lake but they couldn’t make the connection to access the power they had seen in Him to calm the wind. So Jesus walks out across the water, against the wind to pass them by and they are so fixated on the problem they don’t even recognise Him.
52 although they had just witnessed the miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 with bread and fish, and other signs besides, they didn’t understand what it all meant and their hearts remained hard.
Then to compound the issue when they landed people recognised Jesus and carried their sick and infirm on beds to just touch the fringe of His robe and be healed.
To be fair, I am sure the Disciples were overwhelmed with this return to normal life. They were fishermen, the wind had always had a role in their lives controlling how they sailed, where they fished. That wind had battered and defeated them so many times when they were out fishing when they had been subject to its whims for their daily work. I think Jesus walked on water to show them possibilities that the wind was no longer the thing that directed them, controlled them.
He does that for me, He’s not just interested in changing my life when I am in church or doing ‘religious stuff’ He is interested in the washing up times, in the shopping times, in the traffic jam times, in the money running out times, in the Facebook times, in the lying on my bed reading a book times. There are winds in my life that I have always bowed down under, always been swayed by – He walks on that water too. I pray my heart won’t remain hard and I won’t fail to recognise Him as He passes by showing me the way. I want to get out of the boat and walk with Him!