Water Walking in the Storm. Matthew 14.22-27
Where was Jesus when my husband lost his job, and his courage?
Where was Jesus when my son was beaten up, attacked from behind, and now has epilepsy?
Where was Jesus when my wife was diagnosed with cancer? Huh, where was Jesus then?
Regularly, people look up and think, ‘God, are you there? Do you see what is happening? How could this happen if you love me, if you really care?’
The disciples had a similar thought when they feared for their lives, caught in a violent storm in the middle of the night, on the Sea of Galilee . . . ‘Where is Jesus? We need him now! I mean, at Jesus’ instruction, we served folks all afternoon and evening, feeding them, walking up and down the grassy hillside, when Jesus told us to get on a boat and head for the other side, and now a storm? Where is Jesus now, when we so desperately need him? We are afraid, and this storm might just get the better of us—where is Jesus?!
Ah come on, you’ve thought similar thoughts. Where is Jesus, when I need him so desperately now?
Matthew paints a clear picture of the exhausted disciples:
“Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
The gospel writer, John, stopped at this point.
Some may think, ‘Come on, the men are on a lake—how big a storm can it be? Why even mention churning seas?’ Fact is, the Sea of Galilee is very large, and sits close to 700 feet below sea level; it is about 150 feet deep—and surrounded by hills. These physical features are conditions for the perfect storm, particularly when you take into account the first-century fishing boat.
How do we know anything about the boat, particularly the boat that Jesus and the disciples might have used on the Sea of Galilee? Once again, archaeology, friend of the Bible, lends us most important details! In the mid 1980s that region experienced several years of drought, which caused a dramatic drop in the water level of the Sea of Galilee. In the winter of 1986, two young men were walking near the shore, and noticed the outline of a boat, which was subsequently
very tediously excavated. Because of its construction design and two pottery vessels found near it, archeologists judged the boat to be from the Roman period; then carbon tests indeed confirmed the boat to have originated from between 100 BCE to 70 CE. Wow! This was a very significant find! The size of the boat—approximately 8 feet across by 26 feet long—large enough to carry 15 people,* small enough to be greatly affected by a tumultuous storm.
So the disciples were in the midst of a stormy night’s crossing on the tempestuous Sea of Galilee, exhaustingly trying to row safely to shore, and wondering where the Lord was, and why he wasn’t there with them. Where was Jesus when they needed him?!
Not far off, and not unaware, because in due time, Jesus came. He came quite unexpectedly to his disciples that night, walking right across the tops of the waves they were battling. As soon as they heard his voice, they calmed down, and so did the storm.
Jesus knew what his men were up against; he knew they were in a storm . . . that they were worn out and worried, too. In one act, he showed them his power over nature, over that which he had created—by walking on water! In the same act, he showed them his power over the storm that assailed them, and he showed his faithfulness by showing up when they were looking for him. (Are you in a storm? Read this paragraph again and personalize it—Jesus knows what you are up against, that you are in a storm …)
When God’s children look for him, he shows up. When God’s children look to him, he quiets storms. Whether in the storm or quiet, he is never far off . . . and he is always watching. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” ~ his promise to us.
Christine Todd DiGiacomo
Joshua 1.9; Deuteronomy 3.16; Hebrews 13.5 – Look these up.
Did you do it? Did you look up these verses? Now check these out:
Exodus 14.14; 2 Chronicles 20.15