Get in the Boat
The book of John is undoubtedly my favorite gospel. I love the unique feel and distinctive tone these words carry in comparison to the other gospels.
In our Sunday morning Bible class we have been studying the miracles recorded in this book. While there are 35 miracles or signs of Jesus recorded in the gospels, only 8 are documented by John. Of all the miracles that John could have recorded, why only these 8? They are worth digging into.
Plus, of the 8 signs, 6 are exclusively in John. He seems to be very systematic, very purposeful in the ones he chose to write down. He even provides an explanation as to why. “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (20:30-31) If these signs were recorded for the purpose of belief and life then we would do well to pay close attention.
The latest miracle we studied was of Jesus walking on the water. A man walked on water. This statement alone should be enough for us to believe that at the very least, this man Jesus was like no other. When I was younger I reasoned that maybe the disciples had piled up sand and Jesus wasn’t actually walking on the water. Of course as an adult, I realize how absurd it is to believe that mere humans could do either. Jesus was special.
While there are many applications from this miracle, I have been simmering on just a few words all week. One detail that only John mentions is small but significant. “…they saw Jesus walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’ Then they were willing to take him into the boat.” (John 6:19b-21a)
Did you catch it? They were willing to take Jesus into the boat. Jesus didn’t force himself in. He didn’t beg and plead. There was something that had to shift in the disciples before Jesus got into the boat.
We all want something from Jesus, right? But we don’t actually want to change our desires. We are content to keep Jesus on the shelf, only to take him down when we need something or when Sunday morning rolls around. But being willing to have Jesus come into the boat with us-that demands something more than just putting on our Sunday best.
There have been (and still are) many times I wanted Jesus half way in my boat. I reasoned that there would still be room for my desires as well. If he were fully in the boat that would mean a loss of something I held tightly to. A willingness to invite Jesus in may mean loss. It may mean loss of job, loss of relationship, a loss of identity. It may mean rearranging to make room. Or it may mean dumping everything else overboard. The loss is always worth it but you gotta take that first step. And when we are willing to invite Jesus into the boat we get to experience the rest of verse 21.
“…and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” Jesus got in and immediately they were at their destination. How awesome is that?! Wouldn’t it be great if it always worked like this? You invite Jesus in and immediately see results? Your emotions calm or you don’t have to struggle with the loss you experienced? Or suddenly you love your new identity? Sometimes change is immediate. But whether the results are seen instantly or not, one thing is always certain: when Jesus climbs into the boat he always works immediately. Maybe you have invited Jesus to consume your life only to wait years before seeing results. But with some perspective you know that he went to work right away, although it may not have been obvious at the time.
Willingness on my part leads to immediate action on Jesus’. When the actions are not always obvious it takes a little more faith. Sometimes walking by faith means getting out of the boat to walk on the water. Other times, it simply means a willingness to allow Jesus into the boat with us.
Today, our challenge isn’t to jump out of the boat to walk on water. That is for another day. I simply want to us to dare to have Jesus come into the boat, and know that he is immediately going to work for us.