16 When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17 and they got into a boat and started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It was already dark, and Jesus had still not come [back] to them. 18 The sea was getting rough and rising high because a strong wind was blowing. 19 Then, when they had rowed [c]three or four miles [and were near the [d]center of the sea], they saw Jesus walking on the sea and approaching the boat; and they were [terribly] frightened. 20 But Jesus said to them, “It is I (I Am); do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take Him on board the boat, and immediately the boat reached the [shore of the] land to which they were going.
— John 6:16-21 AMP
It is one thing to know in theory that Jesus is God, and another to believe it and apply it to one’s life. When the Holy Spirit gave me eyesight into this incredible truth, the gospels suddenly gleamed. What a gift! By studying the life of Jesus, we study God. We can be confident that the things Jesus did then, God does now – because Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. And boy, how this passage speaks about the character of God.
In this passage, the Holy Spirit speaks through John of literal and metaphorical storms – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. Essentially, humanity.
These storms we experience are not mutually exclusive. Our bodies are frail, our minds are loud, our emotions need reassurance, our spirits are rebellious. All at once.
In this case, the disciples most likely were each travailing through multiple varieties of storms, both individually and collectively. Many had abandoned all they knew to follow this mysterious man named Jesus. Undoubtably, they doubted their decision. And now, put in grave physical danger, they fearfully wondered – will they even see the days to live this new life?
Winds blew ’til they wound up in the eye of the storm. And, right on queue, Jesus appeared. They could see Him…but they were still afraid. Even while he was approaching them!
I love John’s sobering storytelling. It’s as if He’s saying: “Here’s how weak our faith was – we physically saw God, and we were still afraid!” It wasn’t until Jesus spoke were they then willing to take him into the boat, and immediately, they arrived at shore.
What’s important to note here is that after Jesus spoke, they were willing to take him into the boat. That doesn’t mean that the storm ended. It doesn’t mean they were no longer afraid. But it does mean that in that one moment, in the presence of God, faith triumphed fear just long enough for them to invite Him in. And immediately, Jesus delivered them.
Let this be our prayer – that as we hold on to the sides of the boat of this life, we wouldn’t hesitate to invite God in…immediately. May our ears be ever inclined to hear His voice. And may we trust in His word more than what we see.