Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink (7:25-44)

Thirsty

Like I said in a previous post, if John 6 is a chapter about Jesus making it clear just who he is, then John 7 is a chapter which challenges readers and listeners to start making their mind up about who Jesus is. This section absolutely continues that theme.

What seems clear in John 7 is that the people listening to Jesus knew that they had a decision to make about him. He was clearly making claims about his identity and mission which made the crowds and the authorities sit up and listen, and now the job of those listening was to measure up the things Jesus was saying with the things that they already knew from their religious tradition. The crowds begin to wonder how it is that Jesus can say the things he is saying and not evoke any response from the religious leaders. Naturally the crowd begins to conclude that the leaders have maybe decided that what Jesus is saying is true; that Jesus is the Messiah – but that just doesn’t add up to what they already know. They know, according to their tradition, that when the Messiah comes no one will know where he has come from – but they know where Jesus is from. He is a Galilean! Later on at the end of the passage, it appears that not knowing where the he has come from is not actually a factor in identifying the Messiah because other crowd members are saying that the Messiah will come from the town of David (Bethlehem). Jesus is a Galilean! There is no way he can be the Messiah, right?

In the middle of all this Jesus cries out saying that the crowd clearly know who he is and where he is from (although they seem to have no idea where he was born) but these things are not actually anything to do with his identity as the Messiah. The Messianic identity comes from the fact that he is not doing what he is doing or saying what he is saying on his own authority, but the authority of the One who has sent him. According to Jesus, the problem is not that they do not know him, the problem is that they do not appear to know the One who sent him. They do not know God. Of course this statement infuriates them – no one like to have their faith and belief called into question – and they try to seize Jesus. They can’t get a hand on him because his time has not yet come. Here again John is slipping in another sign for his early readers who might be hearing the story anew for the very first time. The Jewish leaders cannot get a hand on him now because it is not his time – this statement implies that his time will come though. John is saying to his readers that they need to stick with the story because Jesus’s time will come!

Jesus makes the statement to the crowd that he is not going to be around forever and that he has another place to go – a place where they cannot go. When he says this they wonder what it is he is talking about – “Where can he go that we cannot go? Is he going to where the Jews are living among the Greeks?

This passage illustrates one of the biggest obstacles that exists in choosing to follow Christ: Mystery. We do not deal well with mystery and with things that we do not fully understand. This truth can be seen all the way through this text:

Is he the Messiah? Fact Check – No one will know where the Messiah is from, but we know this dude is from Galilee. He is not the Messiah.

Is he the Messiah? Fact Check – The Messiah will come from the town of Bethlehem, but we know this guy is from Galilee. He is not the Messiah.

He says he is going to a place that we cannot go to? Where might this be? Maybe he is going to our people among the Greeks.

At every question mark in this passage, the Jews have to have an answer and if Jesus’ story does not stand well in their established narrative then it is very simple – he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy! (Couldn’t resist!) The same applies to most humans I know in the 21st century world too. If we do not have a clearly cut answer to our questions, one which stands well in our established narrative, then we are not satisfied.

But Jesus does not come to merely tick the boxes of our established traditions and narratives.

Jesus comes to establish anew the work of God for all people.
Jesus comes so that all people – ALL PEOPLE – may receive the grace, love and mercy of God.
Jesus comes so that anyone – ANYONE – who is thirsty may come to him and drink.
Jesus comes so that ANYONE can believe in him and see rivers of living water flow forth from their lives.

The problem, it seems, is that humans want Jesus to fit into their neatly squared off boxes, which is preposterous – I mean how can light illuminate the darkness if it is contained and stuck inside a box?

John 7 demands that we begin to allow Jesus to obliterate the narratives and traditions that we have allowed, figuratively speaking, to keep us bound up in chains. For Jesus to do what Jesus has come to do his listeners must allow their pre-established notions to be called into question so that they can freely follow him and walk in his way.

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The Face Off (7:14-24)

john-gospel

When I was a teenager I used to catch the bus to visit my friend in his town. he had a bunch of friends that he hung out with there and I enjoyed spending time with them and getting up to mischief. One of those other friends was a guy my age called Roy Essandoh. Roy was a handy footballer (soccer player) and i can remember at the time he was playing for one of the bigger local youth football/soccer teams in Northern Ireland. We all knew he had the potential to play professionally at some level of the game. We hung out a few times, had a few laughs together and that was that. He was a friend of a friend who I knew personally. After a few years the friendships drifted apart and that was that.

Fast forward from those days in the mid-1990’s to 10th March 2001. As usual I was spending time on that Saturday afternoon watching the football/soccer scores come in – I have always had a keen interest in sports. That day, in the soccer/football world, was a day when fixtures were played in the F.A. Cup tournament. The F. A. Cup is a tournament like no other because every single soccer club in England gets to play their part, from the very smallest and least successful clubs through to the largest and most successful clubs. The beauty of the F. A. Cup is that because it pits all levels of clubs against each other, there are times when smaller clubs get everything right on the field and cause an upset by defeating the larger teams. There is always an air of excitement when a fixture takes place between a small club and a big club. That day the smaller club were Wycombe Wanderers F.C., who played in the third their of English football at the time, and they had been pitted against Leicester City who played in the Premier League. Wycombe had succumbed to a bit of an injury crisis in their team and they had a distinct lack of strikers. Their manager, desperate to sign a player in time for the fixture, placed an advert on the national television media service (Ceefax) and hoped for the best. Roy responded to the advert and having literally come from nowhere in footballing terms, he found himself in the match day squad. Not only that, he came into the game as a substitute and with only seconds remaining in the game, he rose above every defender to head the football into the goal and score the winner.

Having come from footballing obscurity, Roy Essandoh’s name was now headlining every single news media outlet. In this footballing equivalent to the David and goliath encounter, Roy was the David and he had absolutely just played the giant. As I watched the results coming in that night, I smiled as I remembered the days that we had all played together as teenagers. If I have piqued your interest you can watch the story told by the players and characters themselves here

Sometimes, just sometimes, individuals come from absolutely nowhere and do something profoundly special and noticeable.

In this passage of John’s Gospel, Jesus arrives from nowhere and pretty much wows the Jews in the Temple Courts.

The Festival of the Tabernacles has been going for 3/4 days now and Jesus has quietly managed to hide his presence there until now. He has decided to go up to the Temple Courts to teach. The text does not say this explicitly, but the teaching of Jesus must have again been significantly strong and on point because the Jews there were left wondering where on earth Jesus had learned the things. Afterall, Jesus is the son of a carpenter, he is not, by upbringing, a part of the educated class in first century middle eastern society. And yet here he is teaching in the Temple Courts, and teaching well enough to make the Jews around him wonder where this teacher with this teaching appeared from.

In response Jesus reminds them that the power behind what he is teaching and saying is not a power that has come from any education system – it has come from the One who sent him. Again, Jesus is making the point that he is who he has been saying he is from the very beginning of the gospel: Son of God, Chosen One, Word become flesh, Light of the world. He is all that he has said he is and because he is sent from God, and the things that he says will always ultimately be found to be true. How does he know this? Where is his proof of this? Simple. Jesus tells the Jews that anyone who wishes to work out whether he is being truthful or not just needs to look at his motives. All that Jesus does and says points away from himself and towards the Father:

“Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”

Jesus is all about the business God the Father’s mission. He has been sent by the Father to do the work of the Father and this is his complete focus. The people listening to him are left with the decision as to whether or not Jesus is telling the truth. If John 6 was about Jesus declaring aloud his identity to the Jewish people, then John 7 is Jesus demanding their response to what he said about himself in John 6.

Is Jesus a liar?
Is Jesus delusional?
Or is Jesus Lord.

In John’s gospel the reader is faced with a demand to respond to the claims of Jesus. We either choose to believe him or not. In this passage, Jesus is challenging his listeners to judge him fairly and with integrity because he knows when they do, they will know that his teaching comes from God.

So the question comes before you and me again: Is Jesus liar or Lord? Working out our answer to this question is simply the most important thing that we can do in our lives because the answer we arrive at has the potential to direct every future step we take.

My time is not yet here (7:1-13)

clock

Mo Farah is a uniquely talented British athlete. He has worked, and worked, and worked some more to make his way to the top of the men’s long distance running tables. He is a double Olympic and World Champion in both 5000m and 10000m disciplines. The guy is an amazing ambassador for sport and is a living testament to the power of dedication, determination, and vision in an individual’s life.

Watching him race is absolutely exciting. He is one of those long distance runners who likes to stay at the back of the race until just the right moment. Whether it is 5000m or 10000m he always places himself at the back of the field at the beginning of the race. Then, at just the right time, when the field is breaking up a little, he will take things up a gear and make his way to the group at the front of the field. Then, one more time, at just the right moment (normally with about a lap and a half to go) he will kick into his highest gear and will break away from the group at the front and power himself all the way to the finish line. It is exhilarating to watch each change of pace take place at just the right moment in the race, and for Mo Farah, knowing that exact moment in each race is a vital skill to have.

This passage is all about Jesus knowing just the right moment in his “race.”

After the conversation in the synagogue at Capernaum and the reactions of the Jews to what he had said there, Jesus does not want to make his way to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Tabernacles. This festival was an eight day long gathering of the Jewish community in which they would literally erect tents to live in, eat in, and sleep in. The significance of the tents was that they symbolized a remembrance of the time when their Jewish ancestors lived in tents as they wandered in the wilderness. It was a time of lavish celebration, dancing and feasting for the Jewish people, and, similar to Passover, it was a time when this community collectively looked forward to the time when the ‘Messiah’ would come. The Festival of the Tabernacles was a big deal.

Jesus’ brothers have been watching his ministry unfold and have been seeing the signs he has been performing. They are excited about their brother’s ability to perform these signs, but it appears that even Jesus’s own earthly brothers have failed to understand who their brother was and what he was on earth to do! They are so wrapped up in his abilities to heal people and transform things that they are overly eager for him to go to a bigger town and achieve even more fame. Galilee was a small town and jesus would not, for them, achieve his potential there. They wanted him to head off to the big city so that people there could see what he was capable of. In a sense, their vision for his fame was similar to the visions of fame and fortune that many people have when they pack their bags and head off to Nashville or Hollywood to “make it big” in the industry.

But Jesus knew that this was not his time. In saying as much he was indicating to his brothers, and to you and me as the readers of this gospel, that a time would come when Jesus would make it on a much larger scale. This is another little trick being used by John to keep his readers hooked and wondering where Jesus is headed, what he is going to do when he gets there, and, of course, when exactly this is all going to play out. Of course Jesus’s time would come and it would be in Jerusalem, and it will be during another Jewish festival. We will read more about that later on in the gospel, but for right now this is not his time.

Even though it was not the right time for Jesus to fulfill his ultimate destiny, he did end up secretly going to the Festival of the Tabernacles. While there his assumptions about the intentions of Jewish leaders were proven correct – they were on the look out for him.

In the last two verses of this section John reveals the polarized reactions of the people to the things that Jesus has been saying and doing in his ministry so far. For some Jesus was a good man, and for others Jesus was a deceiver. In the context of a passage which seems to be about the right timing of Jesus’ walk along his path of destiny and purpose, it seems strange that John would put these two verses here, but we must remember that John wastes nothing in his telling of Jesus’ story. For me, John is keeping before before his readers the fact that all of us have a choice to make about Jesus. If he is the word made flesh; if he is the Chosen one of God; if he is the light of the world; if he is the Messiah then we each have a response to make. We can either regard Jesus as a good man who is telling the truth and ought to be believed, or we can regard Jesus as a deceiver who is lying about God and whose words we can reject outright.

John’s purpose in writing this gospel was to identify Jesus as God’s Son, and to challenge his readers to believe in who Jesus is and what he has to say. This was his purpose 2000 years ago and that purpose remains unchanged.

So who is Jesus? Is he liar or Lord? Our answers to this question will indeed direct the next steps of our lives. If John’s gospel is to be believed then the most important thing we can do is to answer this ultimate question by saying that Jesus is Lord, and by dedicating the rest of our lives to following him.

If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen (6:60-71)

whereshalligo

“This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

On the back of Jesus’ ‘bread of life/eat my flesh, drink my blood’ statements some of his followers were having difficulty with what had been said. For you and me, reading this text 2000 years later away from the context of first century ancient middle eastern religious norms, that difficulty might be a literal difficulty in understanding. But that is not the case here. The conversation in the previous verses took place in the synagogue. jesus was talking with people who would have been well able to understand exactly what he was saying. No this was not hard in the sense that reading the works of Chaucer or doing calculus can be hard, this teaching was hard because it was demanding and it was taking them out of their comfort zones. Religious people (yes – that includes you and me) are generally very similar in this regard in that we have comfort zones of established belief and teaching that we have become happy with in our lives. When someone comes along and begins to say or teach something different; something which might stretch us or our established religion in a new direction we have a tendency to be extremely uncomfortable with it. It is difficult teaching. For example when mainline churches began to ordain women to ministry it was (and somehow remains to be) considered difficult teaching – so difficult that some folks left churches. It was hard teaching pulling them in a direction they felt they could not go in.

Remember Jesus is saying that he is the one chosen and sent of God. Jesus is saying that he is the Word made flesh. The folks listening to him were ready for another Moses, they were even ready for a kingly leader who might lead them in a political charge, but a carpenter’s son from Nazareth as the Messiah of God? That was a stretch too far for some of them. Jesus tries again to explain to them what is going on. The leader they are looking for – an earthly, worldly, political, kingly leader – is not the leader that’s coming because this work of God is a work of the Spirit. It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh gives nothing. As he will say in a few chapters time, Jesus has come from God to bring life in all its fullness. The words that he has been speaking are words full of the Spirit and life.

Jesus’ words were too much for some. They walked away and no longer followed him choosing instead to go back to the comfort zones of their familiar old story. Having witnessed Jesus’ signs, and having heard his teaching some people walked away deciding that it was just too much for them. In response to this Jesus turned to his other disciples and asked them if they wanted to walk away too. It was Peter who spoke up on their behalf (as he so often did) and said:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the holy one of God.”

I think that these are some of the most powerful words that any of the disciples speak in the entirety of the gospels. They are a declaration of understanding and complete commitment. In uttering these words, Peter is saying that he and the other disciples get it. They know that Jesus is who he says he is. They have intellectually assented – agreed that Jesus is the Messiah, AND they are saying that they are ‘all in’ because believing that Jesus is the Messiah leaves them no other option but to be all in – “Where else can we go?

I hope that, if nothing else, these opening 6 chapters of John’s gospel have made you think again about who Jesus is and just what it means for him to be the Word made flesh. Perhaps some of the significance of Jesus’ identity has been lost on us as we have become used to the story we grew up hearing, and have allowed it to become nothing more than a familiar fable that teaches a good moral. Perhaps the good news of the Word becoming flesh has lost some of it’s potency in our lives. If that is the case then we need to stop here for a moment.

Stop.

Stop for a moment, close your eyes and focus your thoughts on Jesus.
Think intentionally about all that we have been learning about in these opening 6 chapters:

Jesus is not merely a carpenter’s son.
Jesus is not just another good moral teacher.
Jesus is not a preacher telling the same old story.

Jesus is the Word of God
Jesus is the light in the darkness.
Jesus is the Chosen One of God
Jesus is the Messiah sent by God to reconcile all things to God.

Jesus is here to announce and enact the rule of God over all the earth.
Jesus is here to announce again and enact the very heart of God for God’s people – that we would walk in new life.

New life.

Jesus is calling all people, including you and me, to follow him in this world; to join Him in being light in the darkness; to live distinctively and differently, modeling the kingdom of God.

If you and I have lost that vision of Jesus; if we have become stale and allowed Jesus to become just another character in a moral story that we like, then we need to stop and ask Jesus to do a work in us so that we can join in with Peter and say:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the holy one of God.”

Either the teaching and demands of Jesus are too much for us and we walk away, or the teaching and demands of Jesus are the only place that we can come to, and we must surrender to him as the Word made flesh and go ‘all in.’

There is no in between.

Which way will we go?

Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever (6:37-59)

be-born-again-bread

To me, there are two types of people in the world. Firstly there are those people in the world who possess the ability to simply answer a request with a yes or with a no and nothing else. Secondly there are those people in the world who do not possess the ability to simply answer a request with a yes or with a no; those who feel that a yes or a no must be backed up with a full explanation for the reasoning behind the yes or the no. This passage is an example of Jesus fully explaining himself and the things he has just said.

Having just stated that he is the bread of life and that whoever believes in him will never hunger or thirst, Jesus seems compelled to tease it out a little further because these people he is speaking to keep hearing and seeing who he is and what he does and still they do not believe. They do not believe that he has been sent by God. They do not believe that he is God’s chosen one. They do not believe that he is the Messiah sent from heaven.

But he is.

He has come down from heaven to do the will of God, and the will of God is that all people accept what God is up to – fulfilling all that has already been promised to them and to their ancestors by sending the Son to move among them; to show them the way to everlasting life.

As Jesus explains this the Jews, who are full of doubt and suspicion about what he is saying, begin to grumble and moan: “How can he even be the bread sent down from heaven? Is he not Joseph’s son? We know the family – this guy has not been sent from God.”

Jesus is quick to stop them in their tracks. He tells them that no one can come to him unless the Father draws them because, as the Prophets say, ‘they will be taught by God!’ If God has been at work within them, if people have heard God in their lives and made room for God in their hearts then they will know that Jesus is not deceiving them.

Jesus is the one who has seen the Father. Jesus is the one who knows the Father intimately. Remember the beginning of this gospel – it says in the opening verse that Jesus, the Word of God, was there in the very beginning with God. Jesus knows God and knows what God’s mission is because Jesus, as John has stated from the beginning, is God. The mysterious and unfathomable nature of that statement does not in any way take away from its truth. Jesus is the very image of the invisible God, the only one to have seen God and therefore Jesus is uniquely qualified to say the things that he is saying.

Jesus is the bread of heaven sent down to nourish and save the soul of humankind, and the ones who believe this will have eternal life.

Having said this, Jesus then starts to change up the language a little as he moves the imagery from that of bread to that of flesh, namely his flesh. He says that the bread of life is his flesh which he will give for the world. In dropping this in here, John is creating another signpost for what is to come later in his gospel. The Jews are again confused and ask how it is that Jesus will give them his flesh to eat, to which Jesus simply responds by telling them that if they do not eat of his flesh and drink of his blood then they will have no life in them. In the same way that Jesus says he is in the Father and the Father is in him, so to are these Jews (and every one else) invited to experience a similar intimacy by receiving all that Jesus is giving (his whole self): “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them.

All this talk of blood and flesh can, of course, be off putting for any reader, but please, take a minute to hear the invitation of Jesus in what he is saying here because it is simply an extension of what he has been saying all the way though John’s gospel so far:

He is the Son of God.
He is the one Chosen and sent by God.
He is the Word of God made flesh.
He is the light which will persistently shines in the darkness.

I know…I know I keep saying that again and again in these reflections, but it is impossible to read this gospel and not keep coming back to these statements over and over again. Jesus is all of the above and Jesus has been sent by God to fulfill the mission of God in the world. He is the bread of life sent from God and he is able to nourish and sustain all who come and partake.

For millennia people have struggled to understand the significance of this and even more so to receive it for themselves.

Maybe you are one of them?

If you are struggling to receive Christ at his word; if you are struggling to make sense of what he says then please hear this:

Your job is not to understand it fully.
Your job is simply to take Christ at his word, receive the invitation he has made to each of us, and invite him to remain in us.
Your job is to allow all the fulness of God to dwell richly within you and experience the newness of life that only God bring.

Will you take Christ at his word today?

Don’t be afraid… (6:16-25)

Breadoflife

If you think that feeding 5000+ people at the same time with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to work with is crazy and hard to fathom then i have bad news for you. The crazy hard to fathom continues into the next section of John’s gospel because this is the part when Jesus walks on water.

John tells us that after the big picnic on the mountainside, evening came and the disciples made their way back from the mountain to the lake where they got into their boat and began to make their way back across the lake to Capernaum. The distance that they would have had to row was around 7/8 miles. John is specific about telling his readers that Jesus had not yet joined the disciples. This particular event was also recorded by Matthew and Mark, both of whom recorded it at the same point in time – right after the feeding of the 5000.

Let me draw your attention back to the distance that these guys had to row that night. A distance of 7-8 miles is no short distance to have to row. It was also night time so these guys were rowing in complete darkness, and there was a storm blowing. Even before any weirdness sets in to this story, it is already a grim situation by most people’s standards. At around the half way point of their journey they see Jesus approaching them, walking on the water. I had never it of this until today, but for Jesus to be within view of the boat means that he is also half way across the lake. This means that not only is Jesus walking on the water in the present moment of this story, but he presumably has been walking on the water for three or four miles by the time he has come into view. Either that is the case or Jesus has somehow teleported from the edge of the lake to the middle of the lake. However it went down that night the reported facts of the event i.e., that Jesus was walking towards the boat on the top of the water, are certainly enough to freak out even those who knew Jesus best. Even though some commentators have attempted to explain this event within the realms of human possibility (e.g. William Barclay), there is just no way to make sense of it in any kind of rational way. The disciples are justifiably afraid – there is a man walking on the top of the water – and Jesus said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid. Then the disciples were willing to allow him into the boat and immediately they were on the edge of the lake at the point to which they were headed.

N.T. Wright believes that John has placed this story here to continue revealing Jesus as the Chosen one of God, who has come to be the fulfillment of the law and the very completion of the story of God’s relationship with Israel. It is Wright’s understanding that this is what John 6 is all about. At the beginning of John 6 the loaves and fish used to feed the hungry crowd in a miraculous way harkens back to the story of the Exodus and God’s provision of manna from heaven for the hungry, journeying people. Ans then this passage, where Jesus walks on water and rescues his disciples from their predicament, harkens back to another very defining moment in the Exodus story – the parting of the Red Sea. In a sense, John is connecting the dots of the big picture of God’s salvation for humanity. He is connecting the old, dominant narrative, passed down through the generations, to the narrative of the new work of God which is now taking place in Christ. John is saying again that this man Jesus is the very Word of God, the Chosen One, the Messiah for which these people have been waiting – and he (Jesus) is intimately connected to the Exodus/Passover narrative which has bound these people together across the generations.

In this passage John is continuing to reveal who Jesus is, and he is setting it all in the context of the old story so that the people he is writing for will have a clear understanding that jesus is the one they have been waiting for. But also in this passage is the very simple, but very profound truth that when the wind howls, when the waves roll, and the friends of Jesus literally feel ‘all at sea,’ Jesus joins his friends and simply says: Do not be afraid!

Are there storms raging in your life right now? I assume so – there are storms raging in my life too. With that being the case, perhaps you will permit me to remind you that in these times; in these storms, our friend Jesus is right here with us and is still saying to all his friends (you and me): Do not be afraid.

Perhaps it is time to welcome Jesus into the boat, huh?

Don’t be afraid… (6:16-25)

If you think that feeding 5000+ people at the same time with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to work with is crazy and hard to fathom then i have bad news for you. The crazy hard to fathom continues into the next section of John’s gospel because this is the part when Jesus walks on water.

John tells us that after the big picnic on the mountainside, evening came and the disciples made their way back from the mountain to the lake where they got into their boat and began to make their way back across the lake to Capernaum. The distance that they would have had to row was around 7/8 miles. John is specific about telling his readers that Jesus had not yet joined the disciples. This particular event was also recorded by Matthew and Mark, both of whom recorded it at the same point in time – right after the feeding of the 5000.

Let me draw your attention back to the distance that these guys had to row that night. A distance of 7-8 miles is no short distance to have to row. It was also night time so these guys were rowing in complete darkness, and there was a storm blowing. Even before any weirdness sets in to this story, it is already a grim situation by most people’s standards. At around the half way point of their journey they see Jesus approaching them, walking on the water. I had never it of this until today, but for Jesus to be within view of the boat means that he is also half way across the lake. This means that not only is Jesus walking on the water in the present moment of this story, but he presumably has been walking on the water for three or four miles by the time he has come into view. Either that is the case or Jesus has somehow teleported from the edge of the lake to the middle of the lake. However it went down that night the reported facts of the event i.e., that Jesus was walking towards the boat on the top of the water, are certainly enough to freak out even those who knew Jesus best. Even though some commentators have attempted to explain this event within the realms of human possibility (e.g. William Barclay), there is just no way to make sense of it in any kind of rational way. The disciples are justifiably afraid – there is a man walking on the top of the water – and Jesus said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid. Then the disciples were willing to allow him into the boat and immediately they were on the edge of the lake at the point to which they were headed.

N.T. Wright believes that John has placed this story here to continue revealing Jesus as the Chosen one of God, who has come to be the fulfillment of the law and the very completion of the story of God’s relationship with Israel. It is Wright’s understanding that this is what John 6 is all about. At the beginning of John 6 the loaves and fish used to feed the hungry crowd in a miraculous way harkens back to the story of the Exodus and God’s provision of manna from heaven for the hungry, journeying people. Ans then this passage, where Jesus walks on water and rescues his disciples from their predicament, harkens back to another very defining moment in the Exodus story – the parting of the Red Sea. In a sense, John is connecting the dots of the big picture of God’s salvation for humanity. He is connecting the old, dominant narrative, passed down through the generations, to the narrative of the new work of God which is now taking place in Christ. John is saying again that this man Jesus is the very Word of God, the Chosen One, the Messiah for which these people have been waiting – and he (Jesus) is intimately connected to the Exodus/Passover narrative which has bound these people together across the generations.

In this passage John is continuing to reveal who Jesus is, and he is setting it all in the context of the old story so that the people he is writing for will have a clear understanding that jesus is the one they have been waiting for. But also in this passage is the very simple, but very profound truth that when the wind howls, when the waves roll, and the friends of Jesus literally feel ‘all at sea,’ Jesus joins his friends and simply says: Do not be afraid!

Are there storms raging in your life right now? I assume so – there are storms raging in my life too. With that being the case, perhaps you will permit me to remind you that in these times; in these storms, our friend Jesus is right here with us and is still saying to all his friends (you and me): Do not be afraid.

Perhaps it is time to welcome Jesus into the boat, huh?