In this sermon, Pastor Neil talks about Jesus walking on water, part of our pastor’s series on “Travels with Jesus.” Here are some excerpts:
It was not a long trip across the lake for the disciples, but it was one they would never forget. A storm came up, not unlike the one they had encountered earlier, when Jesus was with them, asleep in the back of the boat while they did everything they could to keep from going under, until they woke Jesus up and He calmed the storm (Mark 4:35-41).
On this occasion, though, Jesus was not with them. Once again, the disciples struggled against the storm as the boat was buffeted by wind and waves. During the fourth watch of the night, which means sometime between 3 and 6 AM, when they must have been exhausted and ready to give up, when their strength and hope were just about gone, Jesus came to them in the midst of the storm, walking on the water.
Really? Did Jesus really walk on water? Some people, of course, think it is utterly impossible and couldn’t have happened. In a 2013 article in The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik wrote: “We know … that in the billions of years of the universe’s existence” [some may argue with that] “there is no evidence of a single miraculous intervention with the laws of nature.” He went on to assert: “We need not imagine there’s no heaven” [like John Lennon]; “we know there is none, and we will search for angels in vain.”
Eric Metaxas replies to these claims in his book Miracles: “The reason (Gopnik) makes these statements has to do with his presuppositions that this world is all there is. That way of seeing the world dismisses outright any possibility of anything beyond the material world of time and space. It can be summed up in the words of the late Carl Dagan, who (famously) intoned: “The Cosmos is all there is and ever will be” “ (Eric Metaxas, Miracles, 3-4).
A materialist world view dismisses the possibility of miracles out of hand.
Another attempt to “explain” the miracle is the suggestion that Jesus was actually walking on a patch of ice. That is the theory proposed by Dr. Doron Nof, an expert in oceanography and limnology. Do you know what limnology is? It is the study of the biological, chemical, and physical features of lakes and other bodies of fresh water (www.Lexico.com). Dr. Nof and his co-authors speculate that an unusual combination of atmospheric conditions can cause rare patches of floating ice on the Sea of Galilee. According to their calculations, the chances of this floating ice phenomenon happening are less than once every thousand years (and there is no evidence of it ever happening). But it didn’t stop them from publishing an article in 2006 in The Journal of Paleolimnology advancing their theory.
Of this Mark Batterson says: “I’m not sure which one would be more amazing. Surfing a piece of floating ice across the Sea of Galilee would take miraculous balance. And if those patches of ice appear only once every thousand years, it would take miraculous timing, too…. Dr. Nof’s theory may reveal more about the human psyche than the circumstances behind Jesus’ miracle. We have a natural tendency to explain away what we cannot explain.” Which is why so many people “miss the miracle” (Batterson, The Grave Robber, 174-175).
There is at least one other possible explanation: Several years ago, the Coast Guard rescued a man attempting to “run” from Florida to Bermuda in an inflatable bubble. Seriously. (Source: Ralph Ellis, CNN, 10/4/2014; www.preachingtoday.com, “Running on Water.”) Maybe Jesus was in a bubble?☺I don’t think so.
The best explanation for this and the other miracles recounted in the Bible is that they really happened. Jesus really could and did walk on the water because He is, as the disciples exclaimed in their infant faith, “the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33). As with the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus walked on the water to send a message to His disciples and to us: that He really is the Son of God. That He really is Sovereign over creation. He controls the wind and the waves. He makes things happen by the power of His word. That what is impossible for us is Himpossible with Jesus. And, as Peter found out, with Jesus we can do impossible things.
If you ask whether I believe Jesus actually walked on the water, the answer is: Yes! Absolutely, unequivocally, with all my heart and mind and soul, yes!
Jesus walking on water. Pastor Neil has much more to say about this topic. Please click on the link below to hear the sermon in its entirety.