I commend to your reading Mark 6:45-52. To understand Jesus’ walking on the water, we need to remember that God separated the waters of chaos to create the world, and that Moses separated the waters of the Red Sea, and that Joshua, and Elijah, separated the waters of the Jordan to possess and to renew the land of the promise. All of this ancient connection with the power of God and control over the sea is involved in this story. Jesus comes to his disciples by doing what God did at creation, by overcoming the power of the sea. By doing this, Jesus reveals in Himself the full authority and power of the Father.|
Mark is telling those who hear and read his words that Jesus is not only greater than Moses and Elijah, but that Jesus is the Son of God. When Jesus walks on the water he reveals his command over the elements. When the wind that prevents the disciples from making headway ceases, Mark cements the fact that: Jesus, the Son of God, has complete authority over the world around him.
This is ultimately a message of great hope for the disciples and for the church today. It is little wonder that the early Church Fathers read stories like this one allegorically. For them, the boat and the terrified disciples represented the church adrift on the wide, wild sea of the world, threatened with calamity. Given that the early years of the church were indeed marked with turmoil and the ever-present threat of persecution and destruction, it is a powerful image, readily understood by people living constantly with the stresses of the times.
But the early Church Fathers saw a church that survived the worst of persecutions. Somehow - perhaps miraculously - the little boat, the church, was not swamped. Somehow - perhaps miraculously - the wild winds that held up the boat's progress, despite the very best efforts of the disciples, did not prevail. The church not only survived the storm, it continued to grow and flourish. Ultimately faith won the day. In spite of the difficulties, the Church Fathers held that faith in the Son of God was the source of their safety and salvation. Because of this faith, Jesus enters their boat and the wind disappears.
The source of all Christian safety, security, and salvation remains with this same Jesus Christ, Son of God. The message is the same today as it was for the disciples then. Those people whose faith reveals Jesus as the Son of the Living God have the hope and the assurance that Jesus will enter their places of insecurity and danger, and bring a peace that is real - despite the unpredictable nature of life, despite the raging of storms, despite the wildness of the wind.
In our Christian journeys, there will be times of frustration, anger, terror, pain, and suffering. Remember that Jesus never promised smooth sailing. What Jesus says to his disciples he says also to us, the church today: “Go on ahead to the other side.” Not just "go on ahead" but actually to the other side. We do not know what wind or storm we will encounter during our journey here on earth, but we have the promise of the presence of the Son of God, and, while we remain faithful, we will indeed get “to the other side.”
Whatever situation, dilemma, problem or storm we face, wherever we may be, Jesus is within easy walking distance, and he will make the trip-and we are never alone. The disciples saw that Jesus was with them -- and they were very surprised, and they were frightened. We are called to expect the Lord to be with us, no matter what, and to take heart that he will be with us so we need not be afraid.
It is not the undisturbed, smooth sailing of the journey that makes it worthwhile and, even enjoyable or exciting, but the presence of Jesus, the One who will never abandon his people, the One who is always ready and willing to climb into the boat beside us! The One for whom even the winds and the storms of life obey.
Rev’d. Fr. Colin Humes