45 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. 46 After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.
47 When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. 48 Seeing them[g]straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the [h]fourth watch of the night He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. 49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were [i]terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and *said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” 51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, 52 for they [j]had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but [k]their heart was hardened.
Weird things about this passage I’ve skipped over before :
1) Jesus sends his disciples ahead of him to get some quiet time.
2) It’s NIGHT when Jesus sees the boat… in the middle of the sea, during a storm. How did he do that?
3) He decides to casually walk out on the water—perhaps just to check on them? And he intends on passing by.
I puzzle over these things and I think Jesus wanted to give his disciples a chance. He saw that they were having a tough time rowing and decided to pay them a visit. I don’t think he was planning on getting in the boat at this point. I think he just wanted to say hi. It was when we saw that they were terrified and thought he was a ghost that he spoke to them.
If Jesus didn’t think they could row the boat, he would have sat down and rowed with them. He wanted them to know him, so he stopped the wind.
Their key hang up wasn’t their physical struggle at handling the oars, it was their spiritual blindness at discerning his identity.
I think Jesus is more concerned with our ability to see and know him than our ability to physically and emotionally handle life’s situations. He does see and care that I am struggling. He knows my pain. But he is adamantly more interested in my ability to notice him in the storm and see his power, his ability to get me through it than giving me a hand out.
The point of their day; the loaves, the wind the waves, was to test and prove their belief in Jesus and see him as wholly sufficient and able.