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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

SERIE: STRETCHED BY THE MIRACULOUS - 'IT IS I'- John 6:16-37 - August 13, 2023



Jesus walking on water is an interesting miracle and sign because it is closely related to a few big events

  • Feeding of the 5000 (5 loaves and 2 fish)

  • And the famous statement of Jesus, “I AM the Bread of Life”

John emphasizes miracles as signs that help us navigate to faith in Jesus as the Son of God

  • Miracles are a dime a dozen with Jesus!

  • The miracles serve a purpose in the greater plot

John’s account is also the shortest of Jesus walking on water compared to Matthew and Mark

  • Sandwiched in John 6, which has 71 verses (The longest chapter in John)

    • 14 for Feeding the 5000

    • 6 for Jesus walking on water

    • 38 for the I AM the Bread of Life discourse

    • 12 for the conclusion of many disciples choosing to no longer follow Jesus

So you can see John’s point:

  • From the inexplicable things Jesus does and can do

    • Turning water into wine

    • Healing a child remotely

    • Walking on water

  • And the illogical and irrational things He does (cultural)

    • Secretly providing wine for some random wedding

    • Going way out of His way to talk to an “immoral” SAMARITAN woman BY HIMSELF, AND spending days teaching a bunch of SAMARITANS .

    • Saying that He is the Bread that comes from heaven and that if you eat His flesh, you will live forever!

Jesus is literally out of this world.

  • Jesus is not of this world

  • Specifically, if you piece everything together, Jesus comes from God

  • He is doing things people have only read about - that God did for the Israelites in the days of the Old Testament

  • And He is teaching them things the likes they have not heard since Mount Sinai when they received the 10 Commandments

When Jesus said, “It is I”,

  • Jesus was saying, I AM the Bread of Life, the Holy One, Son of the Living God, The Christ, The Messiah

  • But it is up to us to SEEK HIM for whom He is after having heard about Him

    • And He has prepared and sent out people who have dedicated their lives to tell the world about Himself

  • So Jesus is not hard to FIND and KNOW

  • And once you MEET Him, you can BELIEVE in Him

1 - Waiting & Seeking

The miracle of Jesus walking on water follows right on the heels of an exuberant miracle where Jesus was able to feed anywhere from 15 to 20-something thousand people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish

  • Verse 14-15 says that people were so elated after the miracle they were ready to force Jesus to be their king

  • So Jesus slipped away from everyone

  • Mark and Matthew’s account doesn’t have the bit about people wanting to make Jesus king, just that Jesus sent everyone home

    • But adds that Jesus INSISTED the disciples get in the boat to cross the river without Him.

So now you have the disciples on their own and the crowd rabid for more FROM Jesus.

Most of us have read and heard about the miracle of Jesus walking on water

  • But have you tried to imagine what it was like??

  • For me, I’ve always wondered - when Jesus was walking, was He cutting through the water, or stepping on the surface of the water, and how the waves would have affected the whole experience…

I’ve read commentaries describing what it was like, but words cannot do it justice

  • Even if you’re Tolkien - which is why I love someone like Peter Jackson (New Zealand' s moving director "Lord of the Rings") coming along and bringing the writing to life through cinematography

  • And even, or maybe especially the bible, can come alive in the same way - which I think the creators of The Chosen drama series have done a phenomenal job

So let’s watch how the miracle could have happened with a short video clip from The Chosen.

Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus slowly and intentionally sending the disciples out by themselves

  • Sometimes they do very well, but there are quite a few times when they flounder without Jesus

  • Yes, I think Jesus intentionally sent the disciples out into the stormy sea by themselves

They trusted Jesus to follow instructions but that was’t the test.

  • The storm would be the test

What makes someone a fan or follower, say in a sports team?

  • Belief in a greater vision

  • Hope of sharing in the collective joy of victory

  • But the joy is only real when you have been with them through all the lows

Are you a fan of winning or are you a fan for the love of the game and your relationship with your team?

That’s kind of like faith

  • Faith means following when nothing is happening

  • When all we’re doing is waiting and looking

  • When the answer to our prayers is, “No”

In the video clip, while standing in the middle of the sea in a storm, Jesus asks, “This surprises you? Have you learned nothing from today?”

  • What was the lesson?

  • Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

  • This begins with Jesus, but must be learned and practiced personally - often in times when it feels like He is not there or working in our lives

We also have the CROWD, who wanted Jesus as their king based on what satisfied them physically in the short-term

  • The crowd looking for Jesus post-miracle actually grows bigger with people joining them from Tiberias by boat - maybe people who were late trying to hear Jesus teaching

  • They do some detective-work and track Jesus to the other side of the sea

  • And Jesus directly confronts their fake fandom

The crowd asks: “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

  • Meaning,

    • “What are you doing here? Not with us who want to make you king.

      • Why are you making us chase you?

- They found Jesus, but they have not found the Messiah

They expected their Messiah to come to them on a platter as a buffet

  • And Jesus is telling them, and us, I’m not your 5-course meal

Jesus didn’t come to satisfy our desires and meet our expectations.

  • He came to save us from our sins, so that we can have everlasting life

Are we wanting a saviour, or someone who will give us the winning lottery numbers?

2. Finding & Learning

It’s easy to over-simplify faith

  • We think Peter stepping out onto the water from the boat was THE act of faith

  • But maybe, that wasn’t all

  • The last bit of the video clip showed Jesus asking Peter, “Do you still have faith?”

    • While Peter was standing on the water

    • And He begins to slowly look around…

    • I’m sure most of you know what happens next

This kind of oversimplification is what Jesus is addressing with the crowd in verses 25 and on

  • Notice the disciples are not mentioned any more until the end of the chapter when some from the greater group of disciples besides the 12, complain about Jesus’ hard teachings and choose to no longer follow Jesus.

Faith in Jesus is not a simple, instantaneous and spontaneous occurrence

  • I’m coming to think of faith as being akin to fitness

  • Can anyone attain an absolute and complete state of fitness?

  • We are continually and repeatedly stretched and stressed towards becoming fitter

    • No pain, no gain, right?

  • Think about how muscles are built - by stress and technically, damage that heals.

Faith is faith when it is continually exercised - that is, stretched and stressed

“Do you still have faith?” Jesus asks.

  • When what we find and see is not what we expected

  • Or wanted

This was the situation of the crowd that was chasing after Jesus after the miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fish

  • The 12 disciples were stretched in the boat in the middle of the storm with an object lesson from seeing Jesus’ 2nd miracle in the space of a few hours

  • The crowd is being stressed with the thought of coming face of face with their long-awaited Messiah who now says they must eat His flesh!

Exercise for the same faith toward the same object, but from 2 differing perspectives and sets of obstacles

  • I think this probably covers everyone in this hall today

I’ve had some people ask me

  • When did you know she was the one?

  • When did you know you were ready to get married?

  • When did you know you were ready to be a dad/want to be a dad?

Truth is, you don’t.

  • Often, you don’t know what you are looking for until you find it/are face to face with it

  • And that you have been looking for it the whole time until you find it

  • This is what faith is like

It may seem Jesus is always being coy when people ask Him about His identity or too ambiguous

  • If you think about it holistically, the full combination of the miracles, teachings, and knowledge of Jesus leaves little doubt who He is.

  • What I think He was doing is trying to help people come to faith of their own

  • Which many did of course, starting with the 12 disciples

  • Jesus was encouraging questions and doubts so that people could arrive at their own personal faith

  • Kind of like teaching someone to fish instead of just giving them a fish

In verse 27 Jesus tells them,

  • Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

  • To which people counter with,

    • We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?

      • People are just thinking Jesus is a mighty prophet blessed or approved by God

      • So they’re thinking, well maybe we can be like this prophet Jesus too, to do mighty works of God

      • Because they’re only seeing the miracles as powerful acts - not signs

So Jesus tries being a little more obvious…

  • This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the One He has sent.

  • To which people counter,

  • Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’

    • Well just the day before Jesus DID feed over 20,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish

    • And while He didn’t part the sea of Galilee, He just walked ON it for a few kilometres

  • Graciously, Jesus says,

    • The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

And then reminiscent of the Samaritan woman at the well, people reply,

  • Sir, give us that bread every day.

  • And Jesus replies,

    • I AM the bread of life

Jesus was trying to help move people from the WHAT, to WHO

  • To move on from their preoccupation with, “What else can you do, Jesus?”

  • To “Just who ARE you, Jesus?”

You may have been feeling like you are in the middle of a storm, or wandering in the wilderness, or unable to sustain your family and yourself

  • Jesus asks, “Do you still have faith?”

  • Because I AM, your bread of life

3. Seeing & Believing -

John 20:31 says that the signs are recorded,

  • so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

In verse 29, Jesus tells everyone the the only thing God desires from everyone is:

  • Believe in the ONE God has sent

  • The One sent by God is from heaven like the manna in the desert after the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt

    • When God gave the Israelites sweet bread every morning miraculously for 40 years

  • But unlike the manna, the One who came from heaven is the TRUE BREAD that gives life to the WORLD.

  • This expansion of scope is not just quantitative, but also qualitative

    • To the whole world, but also life that is everlasting

God’s desire for everyone to believe is not an authoritarian and autocratic order to be obeyed without reason

  • God’s desire for people to believe is so that everyone could have eternal life, which means everyone could be with God

  • It is for relationship

Bread is not given, but believed

  • Sustenance is not something that is completed by being given out

    • It must be received and consumed

      • As the Psalm says “Taste and see that the Lord is good”

    • People need to receive the Bread AND eat it

Believing requires going to Jesus as it says in verse 35

  • "Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”

  • Faith is a being full

  • Satisfied

  • Contented and safe in God

But it is so easy to be distracted by everything around us

  • And as some of us know happens to Peter, as much faith as he had to get off the boat and step onto the water

  • When he looked at the waves and the storm around him, he sank into the water

  • When our frail and human realities tear focus away from Jesus

  • But Jesus, who is already rock-steady, standing on the water, says, “Don’t be afraid. I AM here.”

Faith becomes real when we let go of ourselves and grab onto Jesus

  • We let Him decide and define

  • We let go of our understanding, logic, expectations

  • This is when we can start to see with spiritual eyes and believe

And we will realize that Jesus is right there with us, having never let us go

  • and He will calm the storm and the waves

  • So that we can be still, in peace.

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