Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Back in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, all eyes were on Cathy Freeman. She was a wonderful ambassador for this country, and even though it seems a long time ago, those of us who were in Sydney at that time will never forget her remarkable achievements as she lit the Olympic flame and won the 400 metres.
At the Homebush stadium there was a banner that read, Cathy walks on water. It was reported by the media at the time, and I guess was typical of how many people felt about her inspiring achievements. It was as if people everywhere had found a new idol—Cathy Freeman, who was so cool, like a goddess who could do anything. She could walk on water!
Of course she couldn’t walk on water. But in the aftermath of her Gold Medal win, she couldn’t put a foot wrong. She was treated like royalty and almost worshipped. If someone said you could ‘walk on water’, it implies you have God-like qualities doing unbelievable achievements. This phrase ‘walk on water’ comes from a New Testament account of the night Jesus actually walked on water, something we find a bit weird, but he did it for a reason.
Jesus’ friends were in a boat on Lake Galilee in Israel. Needing some time to himself, Jesus stayed behind having told them he would meet them on the other side. But during the night a frightening storm blew up. The Sea of Galilee is about 21 km long and 11 km wide and is usually a calm body of water. However, there are two mountain ranges to the north and together they form a tunnel that sometimes catches the wind and hurls it with great velocity across that usually peaceful sea. And, because of this, the tranquil waters of Galilee can suddenly become turbulent and stormy and this is what happened that night.
The storm was so bad that the disciples—many of whom were professional sailors—were fighting for their lives! It was about 3 am and the Gospel of Mark says:
[Jesus] walked out to them on the water. He started past them, but when they saw something walking beside them, they screamed in terror, thinking it was a ghost, for they all saw him.
But he spoke to them at once. “Its all right,” he said. “It is I! Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat and the wind stopped!” (Mark 6:48-51 – TLB).
You don’t need to fight your battles alone
It may seem a weird thing to do—why wasn’t he in the boat in the first place? I believe he walked on water that night to prove to his followers that he was who he said he was—God in human form. He was the Saviour who could perform miracles. After all, they knew the day before he had performed a miracle when he fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two small fish. There were probably more than 5,000 people that day because the women and children would not have been counted—the Gospel of Matthew tells us that.
You would think that, having witnessed that miracle, a little walk on the lake wouldn’t be that hard. But they were amazed! So in the midst of this storm comes Jesus’ calming voice. Next Peter spoke up and said, “Lord, if it is really you, then order me to come out on the water to you.” This sort of reckless idea was so typical of him—it was impetuous Peter, who often leaped before he looked! And Jesus said—and I think with a smile—”Come!” So Peter got out of the boat and started walking to Jesus.
But then, when he noticed the wind, he was afraid and he started to sink down in the water. At once Jesus reached out and grabbed hold of him and said, “What little faith you have! Why did you doubt?” Then they both got into the boat, and the wind died down. And the disciples in the boat worshipped Jesus. They said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Isn’t it amazing? Jesus is here with us today, not to walk on water—but to face the battles and storms of life. You may have had some battles yourself. Jesus then is our Saviour. The Apostle Paul said, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 – ESV). He also said, “[It] is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27 – ESV). I pray that God will bless you and that, during the turbulent times of your life, Jesus comes to you.