Worship with Us This Sunday - 10:15 a.m.
Getting into a boat was not new. In fact, at least four of Jesus’ disciples had spent a great deal of time in boats. Before Jesus fed the crowd he had been on his way to that solitary place – dessert place, wilderness space. On his way the crowds had spotted him. He acted with compassion and healed their sick. Jesus, if we follow Matthew’s narrative, still seems interested in some alone time.
Remember, he had just learned of John’s death. Devastating. Especially poignant is the imagery of the Roman installed civic puppet killing the prophetic forerunner to the Messiah.
Jesus leaves the wilderness place – or the space he found on the way – and finds a mountain. The disciples, he insisted, should take a boat. Fishing on the water was one thing. Venturing out late in the day is quite another. Even the steeliest fisherman would be subject to the stories of what lies in the deep.
Some time between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Jesus approaches the boat, albeit without his own boat. He is walking to them on the water. The safest place for the disciples was in the boat. Jesus knew that. He had them get in the boat.
But now, Jesus is on the water outside the boat approaching them when otherwise they would be asleep. Ever wonder why the disciples are in the boat that early in the morning and why are they awake? Maybe they were already a bit nervous being in the boat that early in the morning. Afraid.
Add to that Jesus appears and they immediately must have wondered if the stores of ghosts hovering above the waters were true. All they had ever heard about what hovers over the water seems true. Think of the images Daniel sees above the waters. They may have been familiar with those stories.
We may be familiar with the rest of the story. But, is it possible to think about Jesus on the water as a reminder of how God had delivered his people through the water. Think the Red Sea. Think the Jordan River. These obstacles to freedom and promise stood as important moments for Israel. Now, the people of God would share the story of Jesus’ command over the water and the wind. Retelling this story would stir the imaginations of future Jesus people who would wonder from where their future deliverance would come and how would the promise of the restoration of all things be fulfilled – in Jesus.
Before you get out of the boat, it may be we need to think about Jesus on, even over, the water.