16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was already dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 A strong wind started to blow, and the sea became rough.19 After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea toward their boat, and they were afraid.20 But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid!” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.22 The next day, the crowd that stayed on the other side of the sea noticed that only one boat was there. They also knew that Jesus had not stepped into the boat with his disciples, but they had gone away without him. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came to shore near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord gave thanks. 24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
Being caught in a storm can be a scary thing. I remember once when I lived in Wisconsin that the tornado sirens went off in our community. It was a scary moment when my wife and I saw the funnel clouds approaching. As we retreated to the basement we couldn’t help but wonder what would be left of our home when the storm passed over. Would we even live to see what was left? Fortunately the tornado didn’t touch down in our community. We escaped with no injuries and no property damage. But others aren’t always so lucky. Bad storms often result in serious damages to homes and the loss of life.
Now imagine what it was like for Jesus’ disciples as they were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night. The Sea of Galilee is known for sudden storms. Some of the disciples were experienced fishermen. They had probably lived through storms like these before. They knew a hard task was in front of them as they fought for survival in their wooden fishing boat.
But then something else occurred that terrified them even more. After Jesus performed a miracle of feeding thousands of people on a small amount of food (See John 6:1-15) he sent his disciples on ahead by boat. Now it was time for him to rejoin his disciples. As the Son of God he didn’t need a boat to catch up to them. He has full authority over all creation. Jesus was able to simply walk on water. He had no fears of the wind and the waves. All forces of nature must submit to him. But from a distance his disciples didn’t know it was him. Fear took over. According to the account of this same event in the Gospel of Matthew, their sinful minds came to the conclusion that this must be some kind of spirit. (See Matthew 14:26)
Even from a distance, Jesus knew their fears. He brought peace and calm to his disciples as he called out, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” That simple sentence changed everything. The disciples knew Jesus’ voice. They fully trusted him. Their fears left them as Jesus climbed on board the boat. Immediately he caused the boat to reach the shore. Everyone was safe.
Jesus’ words made all the difference in the world for his disciples. His comforting proclamation that he was with them was enough to convince them that no harm was going to come to them in what seemed like a life-threatening situation. We are Jesus’ disciples. His words make all the difference in the world for us also. What situations in life cause fear to well up inside of you? Are you ever afraid because of your health, financial matters, family troubles, conflicts with others or problems at work? Listen as Jesus says to you “It is I. Do not be afraid.” It’s true that we might not hear Jesus’ actual voice speaking to us. But he does promise us in John 10, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28) We hear Jesus’ voice speaking to us every time we read the Holy Scriptures. Our Lord assures us that he remains with us in good times and bad. He will never leave us under any circumstance. Even when our times of trouble linger, our Lord assures us that no power in the universe can ever snatch us out of his hands. No matter what happens, his comforting voice tells us he is with us always. He gave his life to save you. Just believe. He will give eternal life in heaven to you.
1 – Jesus’ disciples had seen him do amazing miracles before. Why were they terrified as they saw him walking on water?
The disciples were sinful human beings like all of us. Our Lord has graciously delivered us from many times of trouble. Yet when another time of trouble occurs, doubts and fears often take over and we forget our Lord’s gracious promises to be with us always. But our Lord was gracious to his disciples in their time of doubt. He is gracious to us and delivers us also, even in our times of doubts and fears.
2 – Why did the crowds follow Jesus when they discovered he had departed?
They had witnessed an amazing miracle when Jesus fed thousands of people on five loaves of bread and two fish. They wanted to see more. Their motives were not God pleasing. In the next section of John 6, Jesus confronted the crowd with these words, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: You are not looking for me because you saw the miraculous signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” (See John 6:26)
3 – What does Jesus teach us through his miracles on the Sea of Galilee?
As is the case with all of Jesus’ miracles, he teaches us that he is the true Son of God and our Savior. We also learn that even in the worst times of trouble his comforting words speak to us in the Holy Scriptures. He assures us as he did his disciples, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to