I Am He, do not be afraid (John 6:14–21)

The Passage

This week we will study ‭‭John‬ ‭6:14–21‬. So let’s read the passage, “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.”

The Realization

In ‭‭John‬ ‭6:14–21‬, this passage is John’s account of Jesus walking on water. This miracle occurs right after the feeding of the five thousand. We see that when the crowd realized where the food had come from, they wanted to make Jesus king. This likely confirmed what many were thinking, that Jesus was the coming Messiah or a prophet. They realized that all the bread and fish came from a young boy’s small lunch and it seemed to come from nowhere. This made them want to make Jesus king, which was not a bad desire, but they wanted Him to be an earthly king, when that is not what Jesus came to earth for. What the Israelites and disciples fail again and again to realize was that Jesus did not come to overthrow earthly authorities. One reason this was such a widespread belief was because there was a prophecy at the time, that said the Messiah would come as a judge-like authority to overthrow Rome. This prophecy prevented people from believing in Him, because He was not the Messiah they were expecting. That is the danger of prophecy that comes from man’s wishful thinking and ideologies, instead of from God. Jesus came to set them free of two more pressing authorities in their lives that had ruled over them long before the first empire was established. These authorities go all the way back to Genesis chapter three, when mankind first sinned and ever since we have been enslaved to sin and death (Romans 6:20, Hebrews 2:14–15, Genesis 3).

His Kingdom is not of this World

We see all throughout Jesus’ ministry, He tries to explain that He is a king, but that His Kingdom is not of this world. Jesus did not want to be king of an earthly kingdom, because He was already the King of everything. In the Garden of Eden mankind chose to take God off the throne of their hearts and placed themselves in His place, because we thought we knew better (Genesis 3:5). What Jesus did at Golgotha, shows you that He loved you so much, that He died to have a relationship with you (John 3:16). Then in the garden where they buried Him, He showed that not even death has power over our God and that any who trust Him will be given eternal life with Him forever (John 3:15, Romans 10:9). What Jesus died for was to pay your wages, because the Bible says that the wages of sin is death and we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, 6:23). Jesus did not want to be an earthly king, but today, He is inviting you to make Him King of your heart. If you would like to live with Him forever, all you have to do is to admit that you are a sinner, repent of your sins (repent means turn away), believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and God raised Him from the dead, then confess Him as Lord and Savior of your life (Romans 10:9).

Crossing by Boat

We see that Jesus perceived they wanted to make Him king and that they misunderstood who He was, so He dismissed them and withdrew to the mountains by Himself to pray (Matthew 14:23). Mark tells us that Jesus told the disciples to get into the boat, then Jesus completely withdrew from everyone (Mark 6:45). Because His disciples likely wanted to see Jesus made king, just as much as the crowd if not more (Acts 1:6, Mark 10:37). So, when evening came the disciples started across the sea by boat. The passage tells us that it was dark and Jesus had not come to them, which makes me think that they waited until it got dark before departing, not wanting to leave Jesus. Mark tells us that when the disciples were halfway across the sea, the wind picked up and the sea became rough (Mark 6:47–48). Matthew says that the boat was being buffeted by the waves because of the wind (Matthew 14:24). We know that in modern times the waves, on this sea, often get as high as five or six-feet during storms. These waves were probably about three-foot, since they were only buffeting the boat instead of threatening to sink it. The disciples knew that Jesus had power over storms, since He had already calmed a storm, but this time Jesus was not with them (Mark 4:35–41). It says they were rowing, so I do not think they were as scared as they were before, which shows the growth in their faith in Jesus.

Walking on Water

The passage continues by saying when they had rowed three or four miles, that Jesus came walking on the water and when He came near to them, they were frightened because they thought He was a ghost (Matthew 14:26). Which in my opinion, testifies to the heightened supernatural activity during Jesus’ life. I think this means that spirits manifested more often back then. The Greek word used in Matthew for ghost is phantasma (φάντασμα), which does not mean what the world thinks of as a ghost, which is a soul that is stuck in limbo. According to the Bible, there is no such thing as stuck in limbo, you are either separated from God in hell or you are with God in Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8, Luke 23:43). What has a better connotation in our language is the word spirit, which is an angel or demon. There are two reasons I think that there is so much supernatural activity in the New Testament: The first is that Jesus’ coming caused the supernatural world to be more active; The second is that their worldview allowed for supernatural activity, unlike our post-enlightenment worldview which is so scientific-based and says that everything is physical. Their thinking was less physical and more spiritual, whereas ours is more physical and less spiritual, it is not bad for us to have a more scientific worldview. Because as Johann Kepler said, “science is thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” But, we need to realize that the world is not just physical, but also spiritual and there are things that science cannot explain.

Do not be Afraid

Jesus calls out to them, “It is I; do not be afraid”. The words, “It is I” is the Greek word Eimi (εἰμί), is translated as, I Am and is a call back to the name of God gave to Moses for Himself (Exodus 3:14). Jesus is literally calling Himself God in this instance. Many people say and believe that Jesus never claimed to be God and that He was just a good man. This is literally one of many times that Jesus claims to be God or to be God’s son. Eimi is also the same word that is used in John 14, Jesus’ I am statements, and also the same words that Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, that caused the soldiers to fall back (John 18:6). Jesus is literally telling them, I Am He, do not be afraid. I think this made them remember the time when He calmed the storm and made them realize that if God is with them, then who can be against them? It then says that they were glad to take Him into their boat and immediately they were at the shore, where they were going. They were at least two miles from their destination, but yet, when Jesus got into the boat, they were immediately where they were going. I have done an entire blog on this, link right here https://www.wbem.org/2021/03/21/miracles-we-miss/ or https://youtu.be/lu3fAXFMNMs. So this week, know that Jesus is the Messiah and God, and that you should put your trust in Him today, because we are not promised tomorrow. Also, this week pray that God will open your worldview more to the things of Him and show you that not all things are physical and that the spiritual is just as real as the physical world.

Check out the other blogs in this series A Study through the Gospel of John

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Weekly Biblical Encouragement

Weekly Biblical Encouragement

This account’s mission is to encourage the viewer to grow in their relationship with God through weekly Bible studies and encouraging verse images.