Jesus Walks on the Water

Posted by Thaddaeus

Matthew 14:22-33


After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.  When it was evening he was there alone.  Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.  During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.  “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.  At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.”  Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  After they got into the boat, the wind died down.  Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”


Background:  This story is set at the beginning of the Galilean ministry.  Jesus has been sending the apostles out to the surrounding villages in pairs giving them authority over unclean spirits to cure diseases and to heal.  Meanwhile Herod beheads John the Baptist.  The apostles rejoin Jesus to tell him all they had done and taught.  They withdraw in a boat to a place where they can be by themselves to rest and debrief.  The crowds discover where they are going and get there ahead of them.  As they step ashore there is a huge crowd waiting.  When evening comes the apostles go to Jesus with the suggestion he dismiss the crowds so they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.  Jesus tells them to give them something to eat themselves.  The apostles do not grasp the power Jesus has given them.  After collecting twelve baskets of scraps, Jesus sends them ahead by boat to the other side of the sea.


Background:  According to the early Church Fathers, the twelve apostles are represented by the twelve baskets. The Church is an extension of the twelve tribes, the twelve apostles and their successors.  Twelve is seen as the number of the Church.  Twelve symbolizes God’s power and authority.  The Tree of Life bears twelve kinds of fruit.  Jesus waits to come to the apostles aid until the fourth watch: between 3 a.m. and sunrise.  The first watch symbolizes the Law, the second of the Prophets, the third His coming in the flesh and the fourth His return in glory.  Jesus lets them row against the headwinds of their faith where they are in danger the entire night and worn out; so, that they might be humbled in order to gain self-knowledge and understand the reality of who He is – the Son of God.    It is said that nothing shapes our existence so profoundly as the self-knowledge we gain by taking a low view of ourselves.