The Water-Walking God

Reading through a commentary on John by Theophylact (circa A.D. 1055-1107) I came across a proof of Jesus’ divinity that had escaped my attention many times (pp. 101-02 of the English translation of his “Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John). Surely all the readers of this blog are already familiar with the event:

John 6:19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

(Matthew 14:25-26 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.)

This extremely marvelous miracle is so familiar, many of us may even have come to treat it almost as a matter of course. The expression “he walks on water” is idiomatic in English for a person being really wonderful. Nevertheless, it is truly an extraordinary event.

Theophylact reminds the reader that this miracle shows that Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses parted the Red Sea with his staff, so that he and the people could walk through it on dry ground. But Jesus doesn’t have to divide the sea, he can just walk across it.

Elijah and Elisha also parted the Jordan with Elijah’s mantle (2 King 2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. 2Ki 2:13-14 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.)

Joshua and the Levites bearing the ark also parted the Jordan.

Joshua 3:14-17
And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; and as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) that the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

That shows that that Jesus is greater than Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha, but it doesn’t quite show that Jesus is divine. Why then conclude that Jesus is divine from this miracle? The reason is that we are given prophecy in Job. Job describes God this way:

Job 9:8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.

Jesus’ walking on the water was a testimony to His divinity. God alone can do this. No ordinary man, not even Moses could do that. Simon Peter tried and could not:

Matthew 14:28-30
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

We’re not told that the disciples remembered the prophecy from Job, but we are told that the disciples worshiped Jesus in response:

Matthew 14:32-33
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Not only did the wind cease, but there was a further miracle:

John 6:19-21
So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

Notice that although they had gone about three and a half miles, once Jesus came into the ship the ship immediately arrived at the land where they were going. This too is a remarkable miracle. Who can move a ship instantly to its destination? Only God has this sort of power.

What mere prophet ever did a miracle like that? We can compare walking on water with dividing the water and walking through on dry ground, but to what will we compare this transportation of the ship? Jonah fled from the face of God in a boat, but on his account God kept the boat in the midst of the tempest despite the efforts of the sailors (Jonah 1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.).

The Apostle himself was only able to his fellow travelers that none of the people on the ship would die, although the ship they were traveling on would be destroyed (Acts 27:22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.)

Jesus was greater than the greatest apostles and prophets, for he could walk on water and could instantly transport a ship to its destination. No mere man has these abilities, but only God. God alone spreads out the heavens, and treads upon the waves of the sea.

Praise be to the Great God and our Lord Jesus Christ!


5 Responses to “The Water-Walking God”

  1. Resequitur Says:

    awesome post, Tur8inFan. I've never even made that connection. Keep up the good work!

  2. Alan Kurschner Says:

    Thanks for that nugget Tur.

  3. natamllc Says:

    What a wonderful insight.I cannot say I saw that!It just establishes the Truth of the Word, here:::>1Co 12:3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit. 1Co 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 1Co 12:5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 1Co 12:6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 1Co 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1Co 12:8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 1Co 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 1Co 12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 1Co 12:11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 1Co 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 1Co 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 1Co 12:14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 1Co 12:15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 1Co 12:16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 1Co 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 1Co 12:18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 1Co 12:19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 1Co 12:20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1Co 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 1Co 12:22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 1Co 12:23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 1Co 12:24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 1Co 12:25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 1Co 12:26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1Co 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1Co 12:28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 1Co 12:29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 1Co 12:30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 1Co 12:31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. Thanks again TF for such a refreshing drink of Life!

  4. natamllc Says:

    Also, when reading this this morning and since we are making the distinction about Christ and His Divinity, I came to remember something I read about the great Puritan, John Cotton,when he too made an application to His Divinity.In a work, "A Habitual Sight of Him" written by Joel R. Beekes and Mark Jones, they write about an insight of John Cotton's, pages 37-8: "Christ Excels Joseph" "Now when Christ comes first out of the other world, from the dead, clothed with that heart and body which He was to wear in heaven, what message does He send first to them? We would all think tht as they would not know Him in His sufferings, so He would now be as strange to them in His glory, or at least that His first words would be to berate them for their faithlessness and falsehood. But here is no such matter, for His first word concerning them is, "Go tell my brethren…" (John 20:17). You read elsewhere how it is a great point of love and condescension in Christ so to entitle them. Hebrews 2:11 says, "He is not ashamed to call them brethren," though surely His brethren had been ashamed of Him. For Him to call them so when He is first entering into His glory argues the more love in Him toward them> He carries it as Joseph did in the height of his advancement, when he first opened his mind to his brethren; "I am Joseph your brother," he said (Gen. 45:4). So Christ says here, "Tell them you have seen Jesus their brother; I own them as brethren still," But what is the message that He would first have delivered to them? "That I," says He, "ascend to my Father, and your Father" (John 20:17).This is a more friendly speech by far, and argues infinitely more love than that of Joseph (though his was full of compassion), for Joseph, after he had told them he was their brother, added, "whom you sold into Egypt"; he reminded them of their unkindness. Not so Christ. He says not a word of that; He reminds them not of what they had done against Him."Oh my Jesus; He utters not a word of my failures and sins against Him when I come before Him evening and morning, day by day and seek His lovingkindness and favor!What a Divine Creature indeed He is, when here and now there, He that walked on water and forgives us all of our sins!

  5. involutedgenealogies Says:

    This is awesome. The more closely one listens to the Lord Jesus speak, and watch Him act, the more one sees that every fiber of His being practically shouts at the reader that He is God Almighty become flesh. I was recently expositing Psalm 5 and came across the phrase "workers of iniquity" in the context of King YHWH judging the wicked and showing mercy to those who trust in Him, and thought of referencing the New Testament. When the Lord Jesus uses the phrases "ye that work iniquity" and "workers of iniquity," the context presents Him as King judging the wicked and showing mercy to His sheep. I'd like to write more, but I don't want to fill too much space up here! Anyway, if you want to check out my short blog entry, which deals, secondarily, with the Deity of Christ as presented in His teaching about Himself in relation to Psalm 5, see my entry here.-hiram

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