BSF Study Questions John Lesson 8, Day 5: John 6:16-21

Summary of passage:  After feeding the 5000 and preaching all day, the disciples set off Capernaum in a boat without Jesus.  The waters were rough.  3 1/2 miles into their row, they saw Jesus walking on the water towards them and they were scared.  He told them not to be scared.  He climbed in the boat and made it to the other shore.


10a)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Mark says they were obeying the Lord’s command.  God sends us through storms sometimes.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This passage doesn’t.  John no where says the disciples were obeying anyone so without Mark and Matthew we’d never know.  John just tells us they got in the boat and went.  As written, it seems to me they decided it themselves.

11a)  Jesus went to them and announced his presence.  They were afraid at first but when Jesus spoke they accepted him.

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Accept Jesus into the boat and have faith he’d help them and presumably row (but they didn’t).  Jesus is faithful by helping his disciples and providing a way out by calming the seas so they can row to shore.  Have faith Jesus is there in the situation and will provide a way through to the other side.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus meets you right where you are.  Jesus saves.  He is always with you.  He never changes.  He takes away all of our anxiety because he loves us so.  I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me.  Jesus’ presence is enough and his words are soothing and provide the answer to all I seek.

Conclusions:  Without Mark, I was wondering why Jesus was left behind in the first place.  John makes it seem like they just up and left Jesus.  I would have liked to have dissected the actual event more.  I don’t like question 10 that is based off of the Mark account.  If we’re gonna look at Mark, we might as well look at Matthew as well.

After  reading the commentary on this passage (summarized below), I got a ton more out of it.  BSF’s questions makes sense but only because of the commentary and the explanation of the disciples’ behavior which is mostly gleaned from Matthew and Mark.  John is matter of fact here as always.  I think BSF either needs to just stick to John’s account or include all accounts for this section.

End Notes:  This account occurs in Matthew and Mark as well with Matthew being the only one to include how Peter walked on water as well.  It seems to me Jesus wanted to stay behind and pray alone without delaying their mission.

Rowing at night was no big deal for these fisherman who probably knew the Sea of Galilee like the back of their hands.  This is actually the 2nd time it is recorded of them being in a boat on the Sea of Galilee the first being Matthew 8:24 where Jesus calmed the waters.  One would think  after the first time, a storm on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus nearby would be no big deal and him walking on water after calming the seas the first time would be no big deal either.  Like Jesus says, “You of little faith.”

The Sea of Galilee is well known for its sudden, violent wind storms that quickly make the lake dangerous.  According to Tenney, “The Sea of Galilee is six hundred feet belong sea level, in a cuplike depression among the hills. When the sun sets, the air cools; and as the cooler air from the west rushes down over the hillside, the resultant wind churns the lake. Since the disciples were rowing toward Capernaum, they were heading into the wind; consequently, they made little progress.”

In the first storm, fear reigned.  Here, frustration reigned since Jesus told them to go across the lake and the wind is against them, hindering their progress.

Matthew tells us this is between 3 and 6 am so the disciples have spent 6-8 hrs rowing and only making it about half-way across the water.  They are exhausted.  Jesus is watching them the whole time according to Mark, never abandoning them.  Jesus is stable on the mountain; we are tossed about at sea.

Matthew and Mark explain the fear of the disciples:  they think he’s a ghost.  Only Mark tells us that Jesus was just going to pass by them, allowing his presence to be enough.  But that wasn’t enough.  The disciples had lost faith and Jesus had to address them.

Jesus announces his presence, calming the disciples.  Jesus was invited in and then the miracle takes place by reaching the shore (another 2 miles away) without rowing instantly.  He rescued them from futility and frustration.  This miracle again reassures the disciples who he is.  He had just refused to be king but that doesn’t mean he’s not powerful.

Map of probable feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water HERE

Fun Fact:  This miracle is the first time the disciples worshipped Jesus as the Son of God (and called him thus–found in Matthew’s account)–and why it’s important.  Full description of significance in the Bible and for us HERE

Key points of this miracle:  1)  Jesus always comes to us in the storms of life.

2)  The disciples were not looking for Jesus and hence did not recognize him.  Fear cannot live side-by-side with faith for fear blinds us to God’s presence.

3)  Jesus is in command of the elements–something only God can do–proving beyond a doubt Jesus is God.

Conclusions to Lesson 6:  We see Jesus proving he is the Son of God.  He feeds the 5000 and he walks on water.  This is for the people and the disciples so they know who he is.  His miracles attract multitudes but still many do not understand.  It will take Jesus’ death to finally reach millions.