When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
Monday 14th November
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.
Last week, we saw that things had become volatile after Jesus had fed a crowd of thousands with five little loaves and two pieces of fish. The people had decided] to try to make Jesus king and, in order to prevent this, Jesus had had to withdraw to a safe place. Now we are reminded that the disciples were also in danger. Their association with Jesus put them at risk. If Jesus did not want to be made king, neither did his disciples want to become mixed up in an insurrection. So the disciples got into a boat and set off across the lake. It was night time and the weather, like the mood of the crowd after Jesus’ sign, was rough.
Today in our world, there are Christians who are in volatile situations like this. They are living and working in dangerous situations in which not everyone is sympathetic to Christianity. In some places, followers of Jesus are living under threat. Their families and friends are also suspect because of their association with them. They may be mission personnel or people trying to live their ordinary lives. Take some time to pray today for countries you know in which the name of Jesus is a threat or in which the situation with regard to religious freedom is volatile. Pray for the witness of the community of believers in such situations. Pray too for anyone you know for whom their association with Jesus is causing strife within their family, at work or in their community.
Tuesday 15th November
When they had rowed about three or four miles they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened.
It’s a big lake! But these men are strong and are experienced fishermen. They are about four miles away from the shore and the last thing they expected to see was someone walking towards them! No wonder they were frightened! The incident may have reminded them of Job 9:8 which says of God, “He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.” In what ways does this help you to understand the significance of Jesus’ action here? This gospel begins by telling us that Jesus was present at the time of the creation of the world (1:1). He was involved in creation and is Lord of the natural world. What does this mean to you? How does it affect your day to day life in the world which he created? Christians are called to participate in Christ’s work in the world, and this must surely involve taking care of the world that he created. Take time today to think and pray about how you can do this.
Wednesday 16th November
But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
Jesus tells them not to be afraid. He says “It is I!” It’s me, Jesus!” At least, that is the way the phrase is usually translated. But in John the phrase really means “I am”. Throughout John’s gospel Jesus speaks of himself in different ways to help his followers understand who he is – “I am the bread of life”; I am the good shepherd”, “I am the way the truth and the life”. Here, however, he simply says, “I am”. The phrase is reminiscent of God’s words to Moses in the story of the burning bush – rather than give a name God simply says “I am who I am”. So Jesus is identifying with God himself. How does this help you to understand who Jesus is in your life?
In the gospels, Jesus often tells people not to be afraid. Being with Jesus and being afraid seem to be mutually exclusive. But is “do not be afraid” really an instruction? Fear is not something we can just switch off. It is not something that we can stop doing at will. And sometimes fear is the only appropriate reaction to certain situations. It tells us when we need to react to threats, for example; it warns us when things are not right. Perhaps Jesus is not telling us that we should never be afraid. Perhaps he is saying that there is no need for us to be afraid. There is no need to be afraid because he is with us. How do you react to this idea? Is there anything you are afraid of at the moment? Try telling Jesus about it. Fear can make us shut God out, but the disciples let Jesus into the boat. Take some time to think about this image today – what would it mean to you to allow Jesus into the boat when you are feeling terrified and threatened?
Thursday 17th November
The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
Jesus and the disciples are being watched. The people want to know what they are up to, every minute of the day. There is no let up. They have been talking amongst themselves – they know that the disciples went over to the other side of the lake, but what about Jesus? Where had he gone? Why were they looking for him? Different people would, no doubt, have different reasons – some may still have wanted to make him king, others may have wanted to see another miracle, while others may simply have wanted more free food!
It is interesting to note that the disciples, while they were still in the boat, were given special revelation as to the divinity of Christ. The crowd have not had that revelation, but they sense that there is something special about Jesus, and their motives for seeking him out would no doubt be complex and mixed. Pray for someone or a group of people you know who are interested in Jesus but have not yet realised who he is. Even those of us who have made the decision that we want to be disciples of Jesus, and who recognise that he is God, can have very mixed motives for seeking him out. Pray that God will help us to become self-aware about our own attitude to Jesus and our motivations for following him.
Friday 18th November
Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
There is always a difference between the crowd and the disciples in the gospel writings. Do you consider yourself to be part of the crowd or one of Jesus’ disciples? Are you ever tempted to hide behind others in order to avoid being seen by Jesus? Crowds can be great for enabling us to remain faceless and anonymous. They can also be dangerous and we can easily find ourselves caught up in unhealthy thinking. Have you ever been tempted to follow the crowd rather than be the person that God wants you to be? Do you know anyone who is hiding behind the crowd at the moment?
Every week we welcome a “crowd” into the City Mission’s buildings and to activities held in other locations. Each Friday, at the City Centre many come for food and then stay for a worship service. At the Child and Family Centre too, parents come to groups and activities. These “crowds” are made up of diverse people who come from all walks of life and from all over the world. Some already understand that Jesus is Lord, while many others are undecided or confused, and may not even have clear understanding as to what they are looking for. As with the crowds who move through this gospel – so our buildings and activities can be filled with people who have different motivations and levels of understanding. Pray for the people who come to all our events and activities and for staff and volunteers as they welcome these “crowds” and point them to the Jesus who is Lord of all.
Saturday 19th November
“This is what the Lord says—
Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no God.
7 Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and lay out before me
what has happened since I established my ancient people,
and what is yet to come—
yes, let them foretell what will come.
8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”
Sunday 20th November
I called on your name, Lord,
from the depths of the pit.
56 You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears
to my cry for relief.”
57 You came near when I called you,
and you said, “Do not fear.”