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"Jesus Walks on the Lake"

January 5, 2011

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This incident is so singular in the Synoptic narratives that many commentators believe that it originally belongs to the resurrection appearances of Jesus. This is quite possible. Certainly the geography remains vague – there are no “mountains” in the vicinity of the lake, and we don’t know whether the boat was just offshore or in the middle of the sea. In any case, the story as it exists, points to a deeper truth. All three accounts – from Mark, Matthew and John – place this episode immediately after the multiplication of the loaves, at the height of Jesus’s popularity in Galilee. The air is electric with expectation. The people want to make Jesus messiah - by force, if necessary; His disciples are also eager for this, so Jesus has to force them back into the boat and onto the lake. while he himself disappears into the wilderness to pray. The appearance of Jesus walking on the water takes place in the early morning, between 3.00 and 6.00 am. The disciples in the boat see Jesus and think he is a ghost. They are terrified. Jesus speaks to them and his words encourage them: “Take heart, do not be afraid. It is I.” These last words imply a divine identity. In revealing himself to them in this way, Mark points to God’s assurance that he is faithful to his promises of salvation.
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