“Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Mark 6:47-50).

After Jesus fed the 5,000, He sent the disciples home via the boat. Jesus wanted to spend the night in prayer. The disciples in the boat hit a storm at 3:00 AM and they’re battling the waves in the midst of the lake. This time, they do not have Jesus in the boat with them. Or should I say, His presence was not apparent. Mark accounts for this event by stating that Jesus saw them toiling at the oars. Jesus was overlooking the sea, watching them. They couldn’t see Him, but Jesus saw them. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Jesus lives to make intercession for us.” He’s watching and praying for you.

So, Jesus decides to go to them, walking on the water. For the disciples, just when it couldn’t get any worse – about to drown and now they see a ghost. They may have thought, “This could only be a bad omen. We’re going to die and the grim reaper is coming for us.” Our imaginations run wild with paranoia and assume the worst because the devil wreaks havoc on our emotions if we live in fear, not faith.

The Bible says He was intending to pass them. Why was Jesus passing them by? The Greek word is paraerchomai. This word appears in the Old Testament Greek translation. In Exodus 33:18-19, Moses asked, “Show me your glory” and the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you” (paraerchomai).

In 1 King 19:11, the Lord said to Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord.” But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Then came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard the gentle blowing, he went out and the Lord passed by. Jesus showed His divine nature to them.

The reason Jesus says, “Do not fear” is because He follows it up with “It is I.” The translation from the Greek, Ego eimi are the same words that God used to declare His name to Moses: I AM. Jesus is saying, “It is Me, the great I AM, God in the flesh.” He’s saying, “Do not be afraid because God is here to protect you.”

Jesus is God, come down to earth to rectify our sin problem. No human entity could accomplish this. No philosophy or system of behavior modification has been able to rid the world of sin. When you see Jesus as someone who gives you good advice, you miss what He is able to accomplish within and through you. Matthew refers to Christ as Immanuel, God with us. That is why Jesus can bring peace into the storms we face. He changes circumstances, and changes you within.

Situations terrify us: an illness, a divorce, unemployment. Inevitably, we find ourselves up against strong winds, huge waves with no life jackets; remember Jesus is always with us. He’s the master of life and death, so the worst thing is not the last thing.

Adapted from “It Happened on the Sea” by Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis