One bible story that any of us raised in 1970s Sunday School are familiar with is Jesus walking on water. In a nutshell, The Twelve get into a boat, there’s a severe storm, Jesus walks on water and calms the weather and his crew. You’ll probably also remember that Peter jumped out of the boat (in Matthew’s retelling) started to walk on water, then panicked and began to sink.
Jesus walking on water, Peter having faith to try–all super stuff but not where I’m going right now using the Gospel of John.
Three verses before Jesus takes his infamous walk, we are told the disciples piled into a boat and started across the sea. Without Jesus. This I can relate to. If I have something I want to do or somewhere I think I should go, I just take off and do it, often without any consideration to where God might want me.
I understand that in Matthew and Mark, it is explained that Jesus tells his Beloved Twelve to go on ahead. Still.
A couple of verses prior to their getting into the boat, we are told Jesus withdrew to the mountain by himself. The Twelve know where He is. If we stay with John, it appears they have just charged ahead, as I do all too often.
Regardless of how they get to the middle of the lake by themselves, John 6:17, reads darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. Its dark and there is no Jesus. Yet.
How often am I in darkness (by choice or not) and I wonder where is He? And I wait and wonder some more while things ramp up and the situation appears bleak.
In verse 18, a high wind arises and the sea begins to churn. Still no Jesus. I’m guessing at least one of the Twelve pipes up and suggests they ought to have waited for Jesus to get in the boat before setting oars to water. Verse 19 tells us they rowed 3 or 4 miles. In the churning sea. That had to have taken serious time. They must be tired. And perhaps filled with regret. Been exhausted and sad about your own choices a time or two? All we want is rescue, right?
And this rescue comes B-I-G. Jesus with the waves lapping around his ankles, maybe his knees or waist since that churning thing is going on. He tells them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” The churning stops–both the waves and the stomachs of the disciples. Immediately, they arrive at their destination. Unharmed.
When darkness begins, that’s when I want to be rescued. No waiting required. But if Christ had shown up at the dropping of dusk rather than the center of the storm, the miracle would not have happened. The disciples would not have shared the story.
And children in church basements who grow up to find themselves middle-aged and in the midst of their own storms would not carry this powerful lesson in their hearts. The lesson that the rescue is coming. And it’s coming B-I-G because it’s already been dark for awhile.