Jesus coming over the stormy sea is his promise to come to you at the hour of your death.

Sunday, 8/6/11

After Jesus fed the five thousand with the five loaves the people wanted to seize him to make him king. That was very much to the liking of the Apostles, but Jesus did not let them stay to share in his fame. He used his authority to make them pull out onto the water in a boat big enough for them all. Then, he cleverly avoided the great crowd, slipping away into the mountains.

Making things worse, at night the Apostles ran into a wild storm that threw them about so that they felt that death was upon them. The Gospel’s account of that night near death on  the lake was actually a parable.

The body of water on which that storm came up was known as the Lake of Galilee, but it was actually just a wide place in the Jordan River. (We have a similar thing here where a wide place in the St. John’s River eighty miles south of here is known as Lake George.)

Now, in the time of Moses when the chosen people had finished their forty years in the desert their way into the Promise Land was blocked by the Jordan River’s being in a full springtime flood. The Jordan looked like certain death to anyone who would wade into it, but at God’s bidding Joshua told the people to move to the water. When those with faith enough to put their feet into the Jordan it opened up for them, just as the Red Sea had opened forty years before.

I cannot remember the priests in my seminary speaking about the Jordan as a symbol for death blocking the way to the Promised Land, but America’s slave seemed to be aware of the Jordan’s meaning. When they felt that death was their only way to escape slavery, they welcomed plunging into that Jordan. They sang, “Show me that stream called the River Jordan, that’s the old stream what I longs to cross.” Also, “Deep river, my home is over Jordan.”

So the threat of death faced by the Apostles that night was a metaphor for the fear of death which you will face alone some day. Now, Jesus has conquered death. He can walk on the waves. Our Lord’s coming walking on the water to the Apostles is his promise that he will be there for you, taking your hand, and leading you into the Promised Land.

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