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.

4 thoughts on “BSF Study Questions John Lesson 8, Day 5: John 6:16-21

  1. If you want to obey the command of the Lord Jesus yourself,
    you should know which command is the Most Important One according to Jesus himself.
    No, it’s not “Love” or “Love your neighbor.”


  2. 10 b is referring to Mark 6:45 – Jesus made the disciples return to the boat, so they did obey. The crowd was trying to make (by force if necessary) Jesus king because they thought he was the prophet promised in Deut 18:15. – Jesus wanted the disciples separated from these “messianic enthusiasts” – I think he sensed the danger or effect this would have on the disciples.


  3. Regarding obeying the Lord’s command:

    Parable of the House Painters

    A homeowner called his friend, who was a painting contractor. “Friend, I want to hire you and your team to paint my house and my garage. Paint the house first, and I’ll stay in the garage until you’re done. Then when the paint is dry, I’ll move back into the house, and you can paint the garage.”

    The painting contractor hired a new foreman named Paul, and gave him the homeowner’s instructions. (Paul insisted that all the workers show respect for him by addressing him as “Boss Paul.”) Paul called the team of painters together and told them:
    “Boys, we need to paint this garage and house. The quicker we do it, the more profitable it is for us. So get to work! Since the garage is smaller, we can finish that quicker. Then those who finished the garage can go help the others finish the house.”

    One worker objected: “But Boss Paul, those were not the owner’s instructions! We are supposed to paint the house first. Only after the house is finished and the paint is dry can we go and paint the garage.”

    Paul replied: “I’m Boss, you work for me, and you do as I say. We are painters, and we paint. We don’t have time for debates about ‘which one is first’. We need to get to work applying that paint to the garage and house as quick as we can. Which owner would be upset if we finished early? The job is to paint the garage and house – what difference does it make ‘which one is first’”?

    “It makes a big difference to the owner,” the worker objected. To which Paul replied, “you’re fired.” Paul then took his team of painters, and started painting the garage and the house.

    When the homeowner returned in the evening, he was furious. He had nowhere to sleep, and had to go stay in a hotel for several days. The homeowner’s friend, the painting contractor, apologized, and explained:

    “I hired a new foreman named Paul, but that was a huge mistake. He ignored your instructions that I passed on to him. You don’t know him, and I’ve just barely met him.
    To be extremely polite, I could say that Paul ‘says some things which are difficult to understand.’ To be more direct, I could say Paul talks like an arrogant megalomaniac with a messiah complex, proclaiming; ‘I am not under the law’ but yet making up his own laws as he goes along, that everyone else has to obey. Paul said: ‘I became your father…. therefore I urge you to imitate me,’ and ‘I have become all things to all men.’ Paul thinks he’s Boss, and doesn’t need to listen to your instructions that I gave him.”

    In Matthew 22 and Mark 12, Jesus identified two commandments, saying one of them is the first and greatest most important one. Which one is it? The one in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, or the one in Leviticus 19:18 ?


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