PEOPLE WANT TO MAKE JESUS KING
JESUS WALKS ON WATER, CALMS THE WIND
Jesus’ miraculous ability to feed thousands has a strong impact on the people. They conclude that “this really is the Prophet who was to come into the world,” the Messiah, and that he certainly would make a desirable ruler. (John 6:14; Deuteronomy 18:18) So the people plan to seize Jesus and make him king.
Jesus, however, realizes what the people are planning. He dismisses the crowds and instructs his disciples to get back in their boat. Their route and destination? They are to head toward Bethsaida and then on to Capernaum. As for Jesus himself, he withdraws to the mountain to pray alone that night.
In the light of the moon shortly before dawn, Jesus observes the boat from a distance. The waves of the sea are being whipped up by a strong wind, and the apostles are ‘struggling to row, for the wind is against them.’ (Mark 6:48) Jesus descends from the mountain and begins walking over the waves toward them. By now “they had rowed about three or four miles.” (John 6:19) The disciples observe Jesus seeming to pass by them, and they cry out in fear: “It is an apparition!”
Jesus comfortingly responds: “Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid.” But Peter says: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you over the waters.” Jesus answers: “Come!” At that, Peter gets out of the boat and actually walks on water toward Jesus. But when he looks at the windstorm, Peter becomes afraid and starts to sink. He cries out: “Lord, save me!” Stretching out his hand, Jesus catches hold of Peter and says: “You with little faith, why did you give way to doubt?”
Peter and Jesus get into the boat, and the wind abates. The disciples are amazed, but should they be? If they had grasped “the meaning of the loaves,” the miracle Jesus performed a few hours earlier when he fed thousands, it should not have been amazing that he could walk on water and calm the wind. Now they react by doing obeisance to him, saying: “You really are God’s Son.”
Soon they reach the beautiful, fruitful plain of Gennesaret, south of Capernaum. They anchor the boat and then come ashore. The people recognize Jesus, and together with others from the surrounding country, they bring the sick to him. When these just touch the fringe of Jesus’ outer garment, they are made completely well.
Meanwhile, the crowd that had witnessed the miraculous feeding of the thousands discover that Jesus has left. So when little boats from Tiberias arrive, the people get aboard and sail to Capernaum to find Jesus. When they do, they ask: “Rabbi, when did you get here?” (John 6:25) With good reason, Jesus rebukes them, as we will see.
Jesus’ miracles not only benefited people living in ancient Israel, but also indicated what he will do for humankind in the near future.