Daily Readings in John - Day Nineteen - Reservoir Church
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Daily Readings in John – Day Nineteen

October 22, 2017

John 6:16-24 (NRSV)

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

Jesus’ four memoirs included in the Bible all tell stories of nighttime boating adventures. The Sea of Galilee was important landmark in Jesus’ hometown region, some of his apprentices had been fishermen, and these stories were important to them. In some of them, Jesus is purported to have walked on water, meeting them at night, in the midst of a small storm.

Power over the waters was a feature of what it meant to be God in the Hebrew Bible. The ancestors of the Jews were very much not sea-faring people, and the waters of the Mediterranean – the largest body of water they would know of – represented fearsome chaos that only God could control.

For Jesus to walk upon these waters would for his apprentices, have been a mark of his connection to the divine. I suppose it would be for us too, for other reasons. Not only that, but the Greek line translated “It is I” could also be read “I am.” We’ve heard this phrase, I am, out of Jesus’ mouth, and it sounds suspiciously like the personal name that Jews had called God ever since Moses encountered the divine in a bush set aflame out in the Middle Eastern desert.

This is an odd little story – a beautiful little myth, or a truly nature-bending moment in history. John insists, though, again and again that Jesus had the capacity to bring an encounter with God to ordinary people, to infuse human lives with an experience of God.

I invite you to consider an area of life where God appears absent. This could be an area of your life, or something in the world. Mediate on that area for a moment. Call to mind a personal disappointment, or a friend’s grief, or a rusty pipe in Flint or a refugee in Jordan. Then invite Jesus to walk into the scene, and to announce, “I am. Do not be afraid.”

Be still, and sit in this hope.