15 ¶ When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. 16 And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, 17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. 18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. 19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. 21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
Many fundamentalist preachers make the nonsensical statement that the Jews were saved in the Old Testament by looking forward to the Cross as the Christian is saved in the New by looking backward to it. Here is one of the many verses that show this is ridiculous. The Jews were looking for a conqueror, a king to lead them out of domination by Rome and into the status among the kingdoms of the world they had been promised. Here are Jesus’ own disciples after His resurrection.
Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
Messianic fervor was rampant in first century Judea and among the Jews everywhere. People calculated according to the popular chronology of the day that the age was on the threshold of the appearance of the Messiah. Later, it would be said that a Messiah ben Joseph would appear and suffer and die for his people and then a Messiah ben David would appear in victory and conquest. The Jews did not see the appearance of the same Messiah to suffer and die, and then to return from the dead in victory. They were not looking forward to the Cross at Jesus’ time but looking forward to Israel’s lost greatness to be restored and the vindication of the people. This is clear by many statements of clueless disciples when Jesus would predict His death. (11)
Later in John we will get into the declaration of Jesus’ kingship, probably sarcastically, by Pilate.
In this passage we see Jesus’ command over natural forces, as well as time and distance itself, as He walks on water and immediately causes the ship to arrive at its intended destination.
The disciples take a ship without Jesus and a just a great wind or even a storm comes up. Wind and storm are synonymous.
Job 27:21 The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth: and as a storm hurleth him out of his place.
Mark 4:37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
Luke 8:23 But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.
It is then they see Jesus walking on the water, which terrified them. But Jesus says this wonderful statement to them that is the source of great inspiration for the Christian, “It is I; be not afraid.”
Once he was received into the ship, the ship was immediately at their destination. There are 8 furlongs in a mile so they had traveled less than four miles while the Sea of Galilee is approximately 13 miles long and 8 miles wide, 33 miles in circumference. What is revealed to us is that God has power over time and distance. Consider this when you read about the farthest reaches of space appearing to be 45 billion light-years from earth, a light-year being the time it takes light to travel in one year, as well as the ridiculous theory that the universe is 15 billion years old.
(11) Rabbi Hillel Silver, A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel (New York: Macmillan Co., 1927), 5&84.