“They were terrified, but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!”
Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination! “ (John 6:19-21).
Following the amazing display of power when Jesus fed a crowd of 5000 with a few barley loaves and a fishes, the disciples got in their boat to cross the lake, while Jesus went to the mountain to be alone and pray.
Following a series of very public incidents that culminated with the breaking of bread for the crowd, Jesus gave His disciples a private lesson, away from the demanding multitudes.
They were in their boat making the short 6-mile trip across the lake. The trip was harder than it should have been because the weather was against them. While they were straining at the oars and fighting the wind, Jesus was alone on the mountain praying, from where He had view of His disciples’ dilemma. Mark says, “He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them” (Mark 6:48).
His unexpected appearance and His unheard-of mode of travel—making the surface of the water His solid ground—elicited a reaction of strong fear, even terror, in the disciples.
Once they recognized Him, they took Him into the boat, and the very moment He stepped into their experience, the wind died down and they arrived at the place they had been laboring so hard to reach. “And immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading” (John 6:21). What the disciples were learning is that the presence of Jesus is the destination. When we receive Him into our experience, everything else is put in perspective. He is our safe haven.
Jesus, remind me that I don’t have to row against the wind and strain at the oars. All I need to do is let You into the boat.
“There is an experience of the love of God which, when it comes upon us, and enfolds us, and bathes us, and warms us, is so utterly new that we can hardly identify it with the old phrase, God is love. Can this be the love of God, this burning, tender, wooing, wounding pain of love that pierces the marrow of my bones and burns out old loves and ambitions – God experienced is a vast surprise. “ (Thomas R. Kelly)