Jesus walked over the water to the disciples who felt they were in the grip of death. This story is a parable that tells us Jesus will come to us at the hour of our death. He will take us safely to the other shore.
The meaning of the story becomes clear when we consider what body of water it was that threatened the life of the disciples. It was called the Sea of Galilee, but actually it was just a wide place in the Jordan River. (Much as a hundred miles south of Jacksonville a wide stretch in the St. John’s River is called Lake George.)
In the Book of Joshua, Chapter Three we have the story of the people wanting to pass over into the Promised Land after forty years of wandering in the desert. It was springtime, and the snows from Lebanon have turned the Jordan River into a mile-wide barrier.
The people who had survived those forty years in the desert were a remnant who had proved themselves obedient. Joshua had the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant take a stand next to the flooded Jordan. Then he had the people line up four abreast in a line back from the ark. At Joshua’s command, the priests carrying the ark stepped into the flooded river, and as the people followed, the waters backed up, clearing the river bed.
The priests carried the ark down to the middle of the riverbed, then, they took their stand there. The long line of Israelites passed by them, mounting the shore into the Promised Land. For us in death Jesus on the cross will take the place of the priests carrying the ark. We will pass by, mounting the far shore.
The storm at night in Chapter Six of John’s Gospel is a picture of our death. If we have been true to him Jesus will come, and take us to the far shore.
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